It takes more than the end of summer sun to take the shine off Turkey’s tourism offering.
June to September marks the high season for sun, sand and sea escapes, but if your clients’ primary aim is not solely to get as brown as a berry in a few days, there’s a lot to be said for holidaying beachside in the low seasons.
Temperatures in October and even November are still quite warm, the beaches are quieter and there are some real bargains to be had. Besides, not everyone wants to visit Turkey in scorching July and August, not least those with little ones.
“After the heat, hustle and bustle of high summer, it is a pleasure to holiday out of season,” says Jane Baxter, Turkey product manager for Ilios Travel, which has a host of off-season options including private villas in Gokcebel on the Bodrum peninsula that feature log fires.
She adds: “Families with youngsters at school can be fairly confident of a warm half-term break and, while November may not be a time to bare all on the beach, it is a time to sit in a beachside or pavement cafe and enjoy the heat of the sun. At this tail-end of the year the sea swimming is also at its best as although the air has cooled down, it takes the sea a lot longer.”
Baxter also points out that in the Aegean region, October and November mark the time of year known as Pastrami Summer, when the sun is said to be hot enough and the air dry enough to cure pastrami. Akin Koc, managing director of Anatolian Sky, recommends Kalkan where the average temperature is 24C in October and 18C in November.
Naturally airlift is a factor as seasonal charters diminish, yet plentiful options remain. Baxter recommends Bodrum, to which charters run from various UK regional airports throughout October, and both Pegasus and Turkish Airlines offer flights via Istanbul from November onwards.
“The Bodrum Peninsula’s winter population is sufficient that there will always be restaurants and cafes open throughout the year and there’s a buzzing scene in Bodrum town,” says Baxter.
Sovereign Luxury Travel’s programme in Turkey runs from the beginning of April to the end of October. Product manager Helen Howard says: “As the winter months don’t offer reliable weather, it’s not part of our programme from November through to March. However, the low season months can offer exceptional value for money for those looking to avoid the scorching weather of the summer.”
Direct Traveller’s autumn options include a seven-night B&B break at Hotel Manistir in Bodrum for £699, departing October 13, including flights with Monarch. While sales and operations manager Guner Surucu says her company wouldn’t really recommend a beach holiday outside April-October, coastal breaks aren’t the only option.
“Although many beach resorts and hotels close down for the winter period, Turkey still offers an abundance of history and cultural activities for people to enjoy out of the high seasons,” she says. “There are also options for clients to discover Turkey with a tour and visit multiple areas of the country.”
Following the recent additions of Pergamon, Bursa and Cumalikizik, Turkey now has 13 Unesco World Heritage Sites. With its wealth of natural and historical attractions, Turkey is ripe for escorted tours, cultural and city breaks, all better appreciated outside the summer heat. Moreover, many local guides take July off, and escorted tour operators such as Riviera Travel omit July and August due to the soaring temperatures.
On the move
Active trips are also good bets outside the heat of summer, with spring and autumn making great times to try windsurfing in the resort of Alacati or take a walking holiday along Turkey’s coastal routes. Inntravel has three walking tours in Turkey running until the end of October, all of which take a break during July and August to avoid the heat, resuming in September. Likewise KE Adventures, which has just added three walking tours in Turkey taking in the Aegean and Turquoise coasts, favours spring departures leaving in late March.
“The magnificent Lycian and Carian footpaths are at their best in autumn,” adds Baxter. “Plants that had faded over the summer suddenly spring into life after a few downpours and the warmth of the sun.” She also recommends the shoulder seasons as an ideal time for wellness breaks at places such as Bodrum’s Life Co Detox centre, which has played host to celeb spa-goers Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Kelly Brook.
The chance for grown-ups to enjoy a break without hordes of screaming youngsters around is one not to be missed either: Neilson’s Seaside Beachclub in Ortakent hosts Just for Adults weeks throughout September, so there’s no need to worry about being outplayed by a youngster in the group tennis sessions or watching them sail circles around everyone else in the daily dinghy sailing and windsurfing lessons.
Even winter doesn’t have to stop play. The ski resort of Erciyes, near Cappadocia, is undergoing an expansion and improvement plan that will increase its 45km of slopes to 160km and its bedstock from 500 to 5,000, while the world’s longest gondola ride, spanning 8.8km, opened in Uludag ski resort in June.
Winter is also a magical time to visit Istanbul, which is truly a year round destination. Advise clients to wrap up, as temperatures dip markedly and you can expect rain, chilly winds and even snow. But the lack of crowds trundling through its lavish palaces, historic mosques and exotic bazaars will only enhance a visit to this enchanting city.
Sample product: Tour
Riviera Travel offers a six-night escorted Istanbul, Ephesus & Troy tour between March and November from £899, including flights from Heathrow, Birmingham or Manchester. The tour is also offered with a five-night pre-tour taking in Ankara, Cappadocia, Konya, Pamukkale, Hierapolis and Aphrodisias, priced from £1,249.
Newmarket Holidays’ eight-day Istanbul and the Ancient Treasures of Turkey escorted tour combines trips to Troy, Gallipoli, Pergamon and Ephesus with beach time in Kusadasi. It runs from September to November, with a lead-in price of £719. A 12-day option is also available from £839 in November.
0843 316 1148
Exodus offers an eight-day Snowshoeing In Turkey tour from £999 departing December 27, including flights from Gatwick, accommodation, equipment and most meals.
0845 863 9601
Sample product: Beach
Ilios Travel offers seven nights’ self-catering at The Cream House in Gokcebel village, which accommodates up to six, from £370 including easyJet flights from Gatwick to Bodrum departing November 1.
Anatolian Sky Holidays offers a seven-night B&B stay in a double deluxe room at the Elixir Hotel in Kalkan from £769 in October, including flights from Gatwick.
0844 273 3585
Sovereign Luxury Travel offers seven nights’ B&B in a double room at the five star Oyster Residences in Olu Deniz from £665, departing October 15, including private transfers, UK airport lounge access and Gatwick flights.
0843 770 4526
Special occasions and cultural events could be enough to tempt clients toward a shoulder-season break. Istanbul’s The Moving Museum (August 1-October 31) is hosting works by 40 international artists, while the Istanbul Design Biennial (October 18-December 14) will showcase cutting-edge creations on the theme ‘The future is not what it used to be’. Alternatively, check out the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, (November 13-16).
For foodies, recommend the Vanishing Tastes Festival (October 10-12). This gourmet exploration in Alacati focuses on traditional autumn and winter recipes, from food tastings to workshops with well-known Turkish chefs. If you pile on any pounds, you can always run them off at the Istanbul Marathon (November 16), or stick to watching from the sidelines at other sporty events such as Bodrum Regatta (October).
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