The Cildir Lake in northeastern Turkey attracts tourists during each season, but it is especially enchanting in winter.

Located between Turkey’s Kars and Ardahan provinces in the region of Eastern Anatolia, Lake Cildir is a prominent spot for winter tourism in Turkey for both local and foreign tourists.

Each winter, the freshwater lake freezes over and gets buried under snowfall, leaving visitors in awe of its magical sights especially during sunrise and sunset.

Currently, the lake is partially frozen with temperatures falling to -20C (-4F), safe for walking about the lake to adore the views.

1959 meters above sea level, Lake Cildir is the second largest lake in the Eastern Anatolia Region after Van Lake, and the tenth largest in Turkey, with an area of 123 km².
1959 meters above sea level, Lake Cildir is the second largest lake in the Eastern Anatolia Region after Van Lake, and the tenth largest in Turkey, with an area of 123 km². (Ismail Kaplan / AA)

Once the ice sheet above the lake thickens to over 25 centimetres with decreasing temperatures, Lake Cildir becomes a stage for sleigh rides, providing tourists with an unforgettable experience.

Sledders adorn their sleighs and horses with colorful decorations to prepare for tourists.
Sledders adorn their sleighs and horses with colorful decorations to prepare for tourists. (Ismail Kaplan / AA)

Some sledders have already begun taking visitors along the white shores of the lake while they wait for the ice to reach the thickness safe enough for sleigh rides to begin on the ice.

Tourists dance the “halay”, a national folk dance in Turkey.
Tourists dance the “halay”, a national folk dance in Turkey. (Ismail Kaplan / AA)

Cildir Lake offers various other activities aside from sleigh rides. Tourists can also ride horses or bikes, and even fish in the area.

At rare times when the lake is frozen and not yet covered by snow, visitors can observe the lake ecosystem as if looking through glass.
At rare times when the lake is frozen and not yet covered by snow, visitors can observe the lake ecosystem as if looking through glass. (Cuneyt Celik / AA)

During the winter months when the lake is covered with ice, fishing enthusiasts resort to ice fishing instead of sailing on their boats with fishing rods - breaking the ice sheet and throwing nets to catch their prey.

Tourists can join the local fishermen for a complete Lake Cildir experience.
Tourists can join the local fishermen for a complete Lake Cildir experience. (Ismail Kaplan / AA)

With the Touristic Eastern Express set to begin on December 15, Cildir Lake is almost ready to welcome tourists from all around the world for a magical experience.

The ice sheet sometimes lingers around until April depending on the weather conditions.
The ice sheet sometimes lingers around until April depending on the weather conditions. (Ismail Kaplan / AA)

In the summer months, Lake Cildir continues to attract visitors with its natural beauty and various bird species that migrate when autumn comes.

The lake hosts several bird species including seagulls, pelicans, wild geese, cormorants, and ducks.
The lake hosts several bird species including seagulls, pelicans, wild geese, cormorants, and ducks. (Gunay Nuh / AA)
Source: TRTWorld and agencies