This question regularly turns up on holiday forums and message boards – What’s open at this time of year? Now sometimes I get annoyed by it because frankly 68,000 people live in Kusadasi alone and they do eat and they do go outside and play so actually the only things that are closed are those that cater purely to a tourist clientele or are totally reliant on 30 degrees of sunshine. So whilst the big water parks may be closed (you really don’t want to go down a cold water slide in January do you?) there is still tons to do in terms of exploring, eating and experiencing this place.
BeBop – on the marina, open all year round, jazz music, great steaks, fantastic pasta, cosy open fire, unobtrusive staff, lovely for a romantic evening meal or a chilled out lunch. Be Bop Jazz Club
Mezgit – excellent fish restaurant on the front opposite the marina, always popular with the locals because it’s consistently good. Mezgit Restaurant
The Atinc Buffet – fantastic value for money at the Atinc Hotel on the seafront, 10tl for an all you can eat buffet lunch and 12.50 for the evening buffet. Normally fabulous choice of salads and mezes, couple of hot mains and side dishes, usually a good soup choice as well. Hotel Atinc
Street food – donner meat wraps and toast, koftes and cop sis (bite sized lamb kebabs) all available from a variety of stalls and cafes throughout the town from between 2tl and 5tl. I like the chicken donner wraps from the “to go” hatch of the restaurant opposite the Garanti Bank near the main Belidiye building. Note – the donner meat here is not like the greasy highly suspect donner meat in the UK, it’s tastier, meatier, drier and really lovely.
Cinar Balik – good quality fish restaurant with views down over the bay. I don’t go often because we don’t eat fish much, but I whenever I have been it has been great and it’s highly recommended by friends.
Fish and Chips – from the Salt Box which is only open on Wednesdays and Fridays but do the best fish and chips within oh probably 2000 miles. Always freshly cooked, great batter and huge portions. Also do an English breakfast for those who like to indulge!
Koy Sofrasi – Kirazli’s village restaurants are open all year round but will sometimes close early in the evening if it’s a quiet night and its cold! They are always open for breakfast from 10am and lunch is a great option at this time for year when hearty meals of lamb and chicken guvec, or liver tossed in spices and fried, or rich manta (turkish ravioli) are comforting choices after a walk through the valley.
Ephesus never closes, and off season is probably the best time to visit here and any of the other ancient sites. The bright sun and clear skies make for fantastic photo opportunity and the ruins are quiet and you can explore at your leisure. I never go to Ephesus during high season; I go when it isn’t a trial by sweat and sun and really get to experience the place.
The Dillek Millipark is open from sunrise to sunset every day and the drive through the pine forests, walks through the trails and the views of Samos are spectacular. Well worth an afternoon exploring then an early dinner watching the sun set over Samos from one of the seaside restaurants in Guzelcamli.
The street markets are always running and always buzzing. From the big markets in Kusadasi, the cotton market on a Wednesday, the food market on a Friday, to the weekly markets in Selcuk, Davutlar and Guzelcamli. All have their own characteristics and exploring them off season allows you to see Turkish society as it works and lives.
I don’t shop recreationally in Kusadasi but this is because my shopping addiction is specific in its needs and Kusadasi doesn’t work for someone like me. I take a drive over to Aydin to the forum there or go into Izmir to the shopping malls – there are loads – and you can round off a rainy afternoon with a trip to the cinema, there is normally at least one English language film showing. Forum Aydin Shopping Mall and Forum Bornova Shopping Mall
For opera and ballet fans the Izmir State Opera and Ballet has a full program of everything from Othello and Cosi Fan Tutte to Swan Lake and Don Quixote – the website translates reasonably well with Google and you can find it here – Izmir State Opera and Ballet
Personally I get as much exercise as I want leafing through cook books but if you are one of those horribly healthy people who can’t live without flexing bits of yourself in a public setting then there are a number of gyms with classes in things as various as kick boxing, cardio aerobics and something to do with glutes. Akademia Gym Kusadasi
There is everything from weekly quiz evenings to live music to social evening and charity fund raising with the Anglo Turkish Club (Anglo Turkish Club Website) to regular pool afternoons with a friendly bunch of guys down on the marina.
In addition to all of this there are miles of empty beaches to walk, all the hidden villages to find and explore and the truly awe inspiring scenery to see from spectacular sunsets to dramatic mountain ranges. Turkey doesn’t close at the end of October, it actually gets easier to find without the crowds.