How to do Bodrum in winter: the ultimate off-season travel guide

Swissotel, Turgutreis
Swissotel Bodrum Resort Beach

Turkey’s booming summer resorts don’t need much review when it comes to the year’s warmest months. But did you ever wonder what happens there when temperatures drop below 20, and crowds have left for the year? The off-season appeal of the peninsula might be one of the best kept secrets in Turkey. Once you experience it in person, you’ll begin to wonder why this hasn’t been on the top of your to-do list.

If you have a house in Bodrum

While your summer neighbors most likely won’t be about (this can be either good or bad), and some of your regular haunts will seem more lively than others, you’ll still find all the necessary things to make you feel home in your second home.

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Cooking and eating in

Local bazaars offer a variety of fresh, seasonal produce, just like they do throughout the summer. The fish is particularly great since the fishing season is in full swing. Either accept the challenge and prepare it at home, or pick the one you like and let the pros cook it for you. For the freshest fish, head to Gümüşlük Balık Pişirme Evi, Yalı Mevkii, Gümüşlük; T: (0252) 394 41 53, 0533 368 32 35, 0532 678 46 20.

Keeping up with old habits

There are many ways to keep up with your exercise routine or start a new hobby. Sport centers in Bodrum hotels are well-equipped and offer great discounts if you sign up in the off-season. Plus, there won’t be lines to your favorite equipment. Memberships at the lovely Purovel Spa & Sport includes use of spa facilities. For more info call (0252) 311 33 33. Swissotel Resort Bodrum Beach, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Bulvarı No.42, Turgutreis

Shop till you drop

As you may have already learned in the summer, all of your favorite fashion brands are present in Bodrum. What you don’t know is that the stores are open year round, offering unbelievable discounts on items that are long sold out in Istanbul. Download the Zubizu app to make the most of it and head to Palmarina Bodrum. Çökertme Caddesi, Yalıkavak, Bodrum. For full list of stores visit palmarina.com.tr.

Sail away

Although rough weather isn’t uncommon, periods of calm water conditions are long and reliably forecast. Berths along the cost might be hard to find due to very few yachts on the move, so if you have one that serves you all winter, you might want to consider daily back-and-forth trips during that period. You can find a list of trusted marinas around Bodrum here.

If you’re looking for a place to stay

There are several hotels that remain open in winter, and service tends to be even more attentive than what you would normally experience in the summer. Depending on your budget and personal preferences, the variety is wide enough to address anyone’s desires:

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Swissotel Resort Bodrum Beach, Turgutreis

Swissotel Resort Bodrum Beach is a design gem, envisioned to the tiniest detail by Gökhan Avcıoğlu’s GAD architectural office. Easy on the eyes, the property seems to have found the perfect balance between its boutique size and a resort style of operations. Ideal for couples on a weekend getaway. Gazi Mustafa Kemal Bulvarı No.42, Turgutreis; T: (0252) 311 3333

Caresse a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum
Caresse a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa

Caresse, a Luxury Resort & Spa, Bodrum is where you go in search of finesse and tailor-made service. As delivering beyond expectations is part of the hotel’s DNA, don’t be afraid to have high expectations while making your booking. Probably the most comfortable beds in the entire Bodrum peninsula. Adnan Menderes Caddesi No.89, Asarlik Mevkii, Bodrum; T: (0252) 311 36 36

With their “no kids” policy, the message The Marmara Bodrum is sending to its guests is quite clear – this is where the grown-ups come to stay. Conveniently located in close proximity to Bodrum’s entertainment center, the hotel is a great base for those who like to explore the area at their own pace. Sulu Hasan Caddesi No.18, Bodrum; T: (0252) 999 10 10

Simplistic design and peaceful view of the passing yachts is what puts your mind to rest at Boho. With only five rooms and a semi-secluded location within easy reach of the center of Yalıkavak, you’ll feel balance returning to your life within minutes. Plaj Caddesi No.7, Yalıkavak; T: (0252) 385 25 45

Can’t help yearning for a more “authentic” Bodrum? Try Ha lâ Bodrum, a five-suite boutique hotel located in one of the classic, white stone houses of the peninsula, that stands for nothing less than a true local experience. Davulcu Ali Sokak No.17, Bodrum; T: 0535 507 76 81

If you have plenty of free time

It doesn’t happen often these days, but once in awhile, an extra dose of free time appears on the agenda. With a minimum of seven days off, you can make a minor investment into personal wellness and health. Witnessing a true revival in the last few years, and following the latest fitness trends, Bodrum is slowly turning into a year-round “slow living” destination, helping re-establish work-life balance for busy travelers and like-minded locals. Quiet surroundings are an added bonus.

Sianji Well Being Resort, Bodrum
Sianji Well Being Resort

Operating within three sets of programs: detox, raw or 80/20 diet, Sianji Wellness Resort is a suitable option for those who want to improve their health and lose weight, but don’t quite know where to start. The plan is a no-brainer — just follow it closely for the results you want. Peksimet Mahallesi Kadıkalesi Mevki, Bodrum; T: (0252) 382 82 17

LifeCo’s detox programs are world-renowned, and have been locally-tested by many Turkish celebs. Focusing on nutrition, the place offers a variety of weight-loss programs, depending on how fast you’d like to see the results. Before booking, make sure you’re up for the challenge. Bağarası, Göltürkbükü, Bodrum; T: (0252) 377 63 10

If you’re looking for a calm place to read, work, or chat over coffee, head to Zai Bodrum. Located behind Avenue Bodrum shopping center, Zai is a cultural oasis featuring a library with various Turkish titles, a reading room, a garden, and a café. Children under the age of 15 are not allowed. Halide Edip Adıvar Caddesi No:7, Bodrum; T: (0252) 319 18 88; www.zaibodrum.com

Where to eat and drink

You will notice that although many restaurants are open in winter, only some have the trust of local diners. These places fill quickly on any given day, occupied by groups of friends, families and neighbors, so make sure to plan accordingly and book ahead. Whether you like the venue’s ambiance depends on your personal taste, but the food won’t disappoint.

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Start the day with a lavish Turkish breakfast at Zeytinlina. In collaboration with some of Bodrum’s social responsibility initiatives, the restaurant’s menu features high-quality local produce and cuisine. Enjoy the food and drinks outdoors at its garden beach. Plaj Caddesi No.64/1, Yalıkavak; T: (0252) 385 57 58

Ent by Chef Yoldaş Sönmez is a to-go for modern Anatolian cuisine with local ingredients and genius creativity. The 10-course Grand Degustation Menu features the inventive combination of octopus and bone marrow, with pickled radish, avocado, and eggplant sauce, as well as a seafood tagliatelle with green peas and melt-in-the-mouth citrus butter. Savra Bodrum, Adliye Cd. No.85, Bitez; T: (0252) 369 24 26; www.entrestaurant.com. 

When it comes to seafood, there is only one address in town that matters, Orfoz. Due to high year-round demand, Bozçağa brothers tend to take time off during the slowest season, so make sure to check in advance before your craving kicks in. Click here to read the full review. Zeki Müren Caddesi No. 13, Bodrum; T: 0544 316 42 85.

Kebap. Guru is a waterfront ocakbaşı [grill restaurant] where you can enjoy the warmth of an open fire and the serenity of sea views at the same time. There is no fixed menu, but you can rest assured that all mezze and meats dishes are delicious since the place is usually packed with locals. Kumbahçe Mahallesi, Bodrum Cruise Port No.15, Bodrum; T: 0530 954 27 27

Ortakent is spoilt for dining options, yet Dramalı still stands out. The menu boasts refined meat dishes, as well as desserts by M.O.S. pastry shop. The dining area has a spacious outdoor garden with a central stage hosting live jazz performances on some evenings. Keep in mind that the restaurant runs under a ‘no kids’ policy. Oyder Caddesi, Bahçe Sokak No.11, Ortakent; T: (0252) 348 35 34

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The cozy interiors at Avlu Bistro & Bar are ideal for winter; the fireplace, varied menu of Mediterranean specialties, and homey ambiance makes anyone feel welcome. Pay attention to their local wine list – a great place to start if you’re interested in what’s made in Turkey. Atatürk Caddesi Sanat Okulu Sokak No. 14, Bodrum; T: (0252) 316 36 94, 0535 328 84 41

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Avlu Bistro & Bar

No other Turkish dining concept works better in winter than an ocakbaşı. And if you ask the locals for where they dine most, it would be Neyzar’in Yeri at Bodrum Milta Marina. Meat lovers will enjoy the feast, vegetarians can focus on the selection of great meze. For reservations call 0532 506 98 43.

Malades is where you go to try meze like no other. Blending the flavors of Greek cuisine with local ingredients and expertise, Ali Ihsan Usta (in charge of the kitchen) will make you come back for more. In winter, try cabbage leaves stuffed with chestnuts, calamari meatballs and fish simit! Off-season closed on Mondays. Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi Danacı Sokak No.8/A, Bodrum; T: (0252) 316 88 58

With its seasonal daily menu made from Bodrum’s finest produce, Bağarası has long been a local classic. Off-season, Ummuhan Hanım is even more accommodating, and if you’re making a booking for a larger party, special requests (e.g. tandır) are possible. Pınarlı Caddesi No.59, Bitez; T: (0252) 363 76 93.

There are dozens of restaurants on the main road by the Bodrum Marina, but hardly any of them in the evenings are as crowded as Gemibaşı. If you don’t like to eat alone, this is where you should head. Serves fish, seafood and meze. Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi No. 176, Bodrum; T: (0252) 316 12 20.

A good burger is worth the wait, so don’t be put off by the fact that, in the winter, the Little Burger Shop By The Sea in Gümüşlük opens only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tucked between the waterfront fish restaurants, the place serves classic burgers with plethora of toppings. If you can’t make it until the weekend, try calling the place Wednesday or Thursday – you might get lucky. T: (0252) 394 45 42.

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