GREECE: Bodrum to KOS, Greece

Bit of background:

Having moved out of our apartment in July, we opted to spend a month near(er) to the beach as we waited to depart. So in August 2022, we spent our time in the in BODRUM area of TURKEY! We were trying to soak up all the sun and beach time we could before we move to a landlocked state in the USA! (*spoiler* As this is published, we have yet to make that big move to the USA…)

If you are interested in the Bodrum Peninsula, check out our COMPLETE GUIDE to SUMMERING IN BODRUM, TURKEY! As well, I have a whole post dedicated to our first time we visited Bodrum! Most things are still the same (I did updated it a bit since visiting this summer). Check it out for all the BODRUM CITY GUIDE.

Now on to the island of


If you have never been to Greece then Kos, one of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, is a great ‘taster’ island. This harbor town gives you your choice of sandy beaches, Greek and Roman landmarks, 15th-century Neratzia Castle, Ancient Agora ruins, and 3rd-century Casa Romana villa has lavish mosaics.

Kos in Greece is the second most popular island of Dodecanese, after Rhodes, drawing in almost 1 million tourists every year! And just like all the others vacationers to Bodrum, we had to take a day trip over to the Greek Island of Kos!

By the way, this isn’t our first our first Greek island visit from the coast of Turkey! Check out our other articles and videos of our Greek Island visits:


Where is Kos?

Located on the South West coast of Turkey, Bodrum is a province(or state) in Turkey. As well, within the province of Bodrum there is also a city named Bodrum.` `And another quick 30 minute ferry boat ride from Bodrum city gets you to the Greek island of Kos!

The third largest of the Dodecanese islands, after Rhodes (READ OUR GUIDE, Kos island is fairly small – only 11 km wide and 40 km long, highest point of 843m (2,766 ft) with a mere population 34,000 (2011).

Kos Greece Island
Kos Greece Island

Little bit of history

Now that you have learned the location Kos, Greece just off the coast of Turkey, let’s chat about its history.

Kos island has a 5,000 years long history, but archaeological findings prove that the history of Kos starts from the prehistoric times. The Minoans settled on the island around the 14th century BC, followed by the Achaeans and, a few centuries later, the Dorians came and built the ancient city of Kos.

According to Greek mythology, Kos is the sacred land of Asclepius, the god of healing. 460 BC is the year during which Hippocrates, the father of Medicine and founder of the first School of Medicine, was born.

It has been influenced by many cultures, such as the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians, the medieval Knights, and the Ottomans. It actually follows a bit of ancient history similar to Bodrum’s. The Byzantine period brought prosperity and wealth on Kos which also brought on constant pirate raids. The Persians conquered the island of Kos during the 5th century BC but were defeated by the Athenians who took control of the island later.

The same Knights of Saint John, who established on Rhodes, also took the control of Kos in 1315 AD and built the fortress that stands today at the entrance of the harbor of Kos. In 1522, the Turks took the island and held it until 1912. Then the Italian troupes invaded Kos and kicked them out. The Germans replaced the Italians in 1943 during the World Wars and was a very dark period for the inhabitants of Kos like most during this time. Thankfully, the nightmare ended in 1945 when Kos came under British rule. Finally, in 1948, Kos got united to the rest of Greece!

A huge part of this island history is the massive earthquake in 1933, destroying many of the island’s traditional buildings, but also, at the same time, revealed various archaeological sites. Some of the ancient sites have ongoing excavations taking place and are well kept. But other have become hidden and almost ‘abandoned’ like the Agora in Kos City.

I’ll share more about WHAT TO SEE and DO in a few sections below!

Top 7 sites to see in Kos, Greece!

Supposively there is a historic trail around Kos Town that you can take on foot, but we didn’t find any info on it. This town area is flat which makes rental bikes an enjoyable way to explore the sites. Another option is supposively a train that makes its way around the city, but we didn’t see one! No matter, we were able to walk and explore as we went long without any issues. It was all so close!

You can also watch our day tour of Kos here:

1. See the Neratizia Castle!

Ironically, I’m tell you to check out these first couple of sites you should see that we did unfortunately did not get a chance to see! Perhaps the umimpressive, not so imposing height of the Castle of Neratizia deterred us a bit too (compared to the towers of Bodrum’s castle!). Oh, and you need to walk around the Bay Area to get to it! Regardless, it seems that this 14th century castle, sibling to the crusaders Bodrum Castle, went for surface area when being constructed.

2. Plane Tree of Hippocrates.

Interesting fact – Kos is the island of Hippocrates, aka. the Father of Medicine. Hippocrates who was born in 460 B.C. supposively would, as ‘legend has it’ sit under the shade of the tree, teaching his students. I can’t promise that this tree is truly that old but the plane tree of Hippocrates is most certainly ancient, needing help of scaffolding frames supporting its gnarled branches. Over the years, these branches have climbed and twisted out of so many different angles, the trunk can we hard to locate!

3. Shop your way through Kos Old Town!

This habour town is small, walkable, easy to navigate with just enough nooks and alleys lined with shops to keep you wandering the streets for the whole day if you like. In the tips section below, I mentioned some items popular to get here.

Eleftherias Square is a great place to sit for lunch or coffee and people watch. After the 1933 earthquake, the Italian fascist party started to rebuild this area in traditional Italian layout.

WATCH our day tour of Kos below.

4. Casa Romana

Our first main stop after walking inland through Kos Old town was the Casa Romana. In total, it probably 15 minutes from the ferry port.

Similar to the buildings found in Pompeii, the Casa Romana, which means the Roman House, is a beautiful 2nd century mansion that shows the architectural style that dominated on the island in the Hellenistic and the Roman Times.

The partially restored 2 floor Roman villa with its 36 rooms and a group of 3 atriums, shows off a collection of art, including mosaics, frescoes & sculptures. Thankfully the museum does a wonderful job explaining the findings and the excavations they have done. A walkthrough takes roughly 30 minutes to an hour.

5. Ancient Roman Odeon of Kos

Just a 5 minute walk east from the Casa Romana and the entry is free!

Romans built the ancient open-air Roman Odeon of Kos in the 2nd-3rd century, with restored marble seating & galleries. Found in the early 20th century, this theater along with the Gymnasium and the Roman baths, all are in generally good condition. After scaling this smaller 18-row theater, make sure you check out the walkway underneath it and see a couple of pathways used in the past.

6. Western Archeological Zone city Ruins

Walking across the street from the theater back towards Kos Old Town, you will find yourself wandering through the western Archeological Zone. One of the main advantages of this complex is its proximity of many important places like the gymnasium, old market, homes, and church – so much to the point that they can be comfortably visited during just one walk, without having to travel across distant points. Best part? It’s also free and you don’t waste any extra time traveling to see it.

If you do have a bit more time, I suggest checking out the Archeological Museum in Old Town which hold all the islands ancient treasure found here!

7. Spend time at a nearby beach!

Let’s be honest, some of you would rather do just a bit of shopping then move on to the beach to relax! Our other friends did just that.

There are lots a beaches to go to on the island of Kos, but there are even a few beach clubs in Kos town that you can pay a fee for the day and get a chair and umbrella. Our friends when to one of the closest locations, Sophie’s Restaurant & Beach but they said, ‘Beware of the loud music!’ cause they can be loud! (Maybe we are just too old I guess!)

Another option is to rent an ATV and drive up the coast to another, possibly more serene beach for your swimming and relaxation needs.

Our other tips for this area:

Couple of extra notes:

  • Euros are accepted here. Either grab them before you leave Turkey or upon arrival. I thought we would need it more, but most people were happy to take our credit cards thankfully.
  • Museums are closed on Monday (same in Turkey!).
  • What to buy? There are lots of Kos tea towels, trinkets and other souvenirs galore. Leather is a popular trade too – shoes, purses , and belts. I am still regretting not buying that leather purse! Oh, don’t forget the olive wood items.

Getting There:

  • For our road trip, we drove in our own car from Izmir to Bodrum. See more about how to get to Bodrum via our GUIDE to BODRUM.
  • From Turkey, we booked tickets online via the Turkish Sealines website. Just make sure you are on the first fast ferry of the day (8:45 am) so you can be in the front of the 2 (YES ONLY 2) passport lines! We were on the first one and we still waited FOREVER! (Check out our video!) You will need to arrive at leave 45 minutes early with all the lines (and multiple ferries), checking in and getting your ticket, and especially passport control! The lines for all the ferry merge at passport control and it’s madness!
  • Going elsewhere from Kos? I learned that Kos actually has 2 ports! Kos is also connected by ferry with the other nearby islands of Rhodes, Patmos, Leros, and Kalymnos. Patmos is the closest island to Kos and the ferry route between those two destinations takes 2 to 3 hours. There are also some ferry routes that link Kos with Bodrum in Turkey.
    • You can also travel to Athens from here by boat (but I would probably take a flight!) Kos by ferry from Piraeus port in Athens, run about 4 times per week but take approximately 11 hours!
    • Want to fly? Just 24 km from Kos Town, Kos International Airport “Hippocrates” runs domestic flights all year round mainly to and from Athens. Less frequent (perhaps more seasonal as well) flights from Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Heraklion and Astypalea can be found, too. 


  • Since we only went over for the day, we unfortunately have no personal recommendations! But I can recommend using for ease of check-in/check-out and Airbnb for more unique stays. I would suggest looking near Diagora Square.

When to go to Bodrum:

  • Since it’s just off the coast, Kos is like Bodrum, which has a Mediterranean climate, is actually a town that can be visited in all seasons. Winters are warm and rainy, and summers are very hot. And perhaps a bit windier in all season just do to the sea breezes! In short, it may be more accurate to determine the season according to your needs and when you are able to travel.

In fact, the first time we ever visited Bodrum was in the wintery off-season. And even in off-season, it was still a wonderful place to visit (you can read out here).

Cute shops:

  • Not a shop but don’t forget to take your pic in front of the I LOVE KOS sign by the Bay Area!
  • Olive Wood Shop – All the handmade olive wood items you could ever want. Gosh I wanted to buy so many things. I did come away with a small puzzle for Sofia and few salad serving utensils (one for me and a couple for gifts!

What to eat:

  • Greek Frappe – Enjoy this traditional cold drink made from whipped Nescafe and sugar until it’s frothy – add water and ice and wallah! What differentiates a Greek frappe from a simple iced coffee is the thick, creamy froth that forms as you make it.
  • Feta Saganaki – “Saganaki” refers to various Greek appetizers, which are prepared in a small, two handled heavy bottomed frying pan, itself called a saganaki or sagani. The most common traditional Greek recipes cooked in that kind of pan include cheese saganaki, mussels saganaki and shrimp saganaki. So of course we went with the cheese one. Imagine this delicious cheese in a crispy fried crust all soft and melting on the inside. Drooling just thinking about it now.
  • Pork Gyros – Basically the Greek version of a Turkish Döner but with pork. Why pork? Because we live in Turkey, and it’s not an option.

Restaurants we enjoyed: 

Since we were only here during the day, I don’t have too many recs. I will put the *** by the ones we personally went to. All others were on my list of potentials!

  • ***Bianco Nero – This is one of the first places after the long walk from the ferry. It did not disappoint! We loved our omelets with bacon and delicious cappuccinos. After breakfast (or brunch) we were ready to take on the rest of the day! (See our video for the food and atmosphere!)
  • *** Ambrosia Meze Restaurant – Of course, eating some local food (especially pork) was on our list! This little place is located in the cute Diagora Square. The flowers were all in full bloom, climbing over every inch of arches providing shade for customers. It was truly delightful to just chill and eat in the shade!

This website could be a good guide if you have a few more days to spare or have a very empty belly!

If you have more time:

Man, I wish we could have stayed the night! It’s always fun to see how a place is on the edges of the day- the evenings and mornings. But alas, we just were not able! There is so much more to explore on the rest of the island too! Check out this website for more sites to see on the island!

Overall, Kos is a fun day trip and a bonus country for those visiting Turkey! I loved seeing some similarities and differences from Turkey to Greece even though they are so close!

Don’t forget to check out our KOS TOUR via video and BODRUM PLAYLIST on YOUTUBE!

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • Do you want to travel to Kos, Greece now?
  • Have you traveled to Kos before?
  • If so, what did you love? What did we miss?!

Don’t forget, you can explore all of Bodrum, Turkey with us over on our Following The Funks YouTube Channel via our Bodrum Playlist videos.

As, well check out some of our other Greek Island Guides!

Gümüşlük Bodrum Turkey

TURKEY: Your guide to BODRUM

Why summer in Bodrum?

Having moved out of our apartment in July, we opted to spend a month near(er) to the beach as we waited to depart. So in August 2022, we spent our time in the in BODRUM area of TURKEY! We were trying to soak up all the sun and beach time we could before we move to a landlocked state in the USA! (*spoiler* As this is published, we have yet to make that big move to the USA…)

Yazlık (Summer House) Culture: Turkey has a winter and summer culture. Those families who can afford it, have a summer house near some coast line to escape the heat of the city. Families will sometimes buy one together so that all can enjoy it. Three of our of 4 sets of our neighbors do this exact thing ever year. Ever since we moved to Turkey, we had wanted to try it out.

In summer 2020, after a strict and exhaustive COVID lockdown (I know no one wants to remember that time!), Jason and I tried out our first Yazlık summer spending 3 weeks in a summer villa located in Kalkan, Turkey near Kas. You can check out some of our other travels during COVID times to Kalkan that summer.

And now once again, we are we opted for a month in a yazlık… this time in Bodrum, Turkey.

Now on to BODRUM!

Bodrum is a year round city for some expats and locals. But in the summer, Bodrum truly shines. This vibrant, coastal town vibe draws in all sorts of tourist, but especially British ones! Tons of villas and property are own by Turks and internationals as their summer getaway. And when they aren’t able to enjoy, some choose to rent their properties out to others. 


Where is Bodrum?

Located on the South West coast of Turkey, Bodrum is a province(or state) in Turkey. As well, within the province of Bodrum there is also a city named Bodrum.` `With its surrounding 32 islands and islets, forming a 174 km long coastline, it is one of the most well-know places in Turkey when it comes to beaches and summer travels.

Here are some of the closest cities:

  • 100 km N from Didim – 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 165 km SE from Marmaris – 2 hour 20 minutes
  • 235 km SE to Datça – 3 hours 45 minutes or 1 hour (car ferry)
  • 233 km SW to Fethiye – 3 hours 20 minutes
  • 243 km N to Izmir – 3 hours 30 minutes

From our home in Izmir (depending on where you live) to Bodrum, travel by car takes around 3.5 hours. Check  

Little bit of history

Now that you have learned Bodrum’s location in Turkey, let’s chat about its history.

Bodrum’s history goes back to the Lydians in the 6th century passing into the hands of the Persians in 546 BC, after which the Persians took complete control of South West Anatolia (aka Turkey). Halicarnassos fell to the Seljuk Turks in 1071 AD. Yes, that’s right, this is the Mausoleum of Halicarnassos – better known as one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (By the way, Turkey is home to 2 of the 7 with 1 being just of the coast on the island of Rhodes!)

A main feature of Bodrum is the castle of St Peter was constructed in the 1400s. During the time of the crusades, it served as a place for Christian refugees. The city, then known as Petrion, eventually came under Ottoman rule in 1522 AD and the name of the town changed to Bodrum as it is known today.  History follows the rest of Turkish history from here.

Today the town of Bodrum, has grown and changed while restoring and protecting its historical areas. Each of the Peninsula little towns mentioned below has its own centre, and hub with restaurants and shops, all of the differing character, with local markets selling local fruit and veggies and Peninsula resorts.

I’ll share more about WHAT TO SEE and DO in a few sections below!

Areas of Bodrum Peninsula:

Now that you have learned a very brief overview of Bodrum’s history, let’s chat about the Peninsula and its smaller towns. This could give you a better idea about where you may want to stay if you are looking to vacation in Bodrum!

Photo credit:
  • Bodrum City: Bodrum proper draws in more year-round residence expats and even the winter seems to teem with life with its mere 120,000 population. The summer is when it really shines at it explodes with visitors, both locals and tourists alike! The marina is one of Turkey’s best, along with lots of shopping options. The transportation options and excellent bus network make it ideal for visitors who don’t want to rent a car. We love that new and old parts of town are easily walkable and close to the waterfront where one can catch any type of boating tour to explore the seas.
  • Bitez: Bitez Beach is well known for its shallow bay which extends out almost 500 meters! Sofia and I both loved that we could enjoy the warm, clear water while standing so far out! This laid-back local vibe offers boat trips and varied selection of restaurants, bars and shopping. [Note: Its neighboring town of Gümbet (going west from Bodrum before you make it to Bitez) is so overcrowded, loud and a MAJOR tourist destination for Europeans, especially Brits. The lounge chairs are back to back and squeezed into every bit of sand, leaving no room for others to enjoy the coastline. We stayed 5 minutes and said NOPE, quickly moving on to the somewhat calmer Bitez.]
  • Turgutreis: This is a close second to Gümüşlük and has a bit more room for all the tourist. This is another coastal resort and also does well with British fans still being close to Bodrum city, but I found it to be less party style and more relaxed, a good option for families with kids. Its varied portfolio encompasses a wide range of apartments and villas to stay. Sitting near other towns, it offers seclusion yet easy access via local minibuses opens it up to the rest of the peninsula. Even I found myself looking at apartment hotels as we meandered for potential trips in the future.
  • Gümüşlük: This was our first Bodrum week long vacation with some friends a few years ago(2019). White houses scaling the hillsides along stretches of winding roads make this area comparable to Santorini. The main village boasts of it walkable seafront area lined with popular seafood restaurants. It is our favorite spot for a sunset dinner by the water. Steeped in history, there are still a number historical areas nearby. The most interesting site to see in the bay is the underwater ancient road of Myndos, as well as a Byzantine church restored into a present day cultural centre. This is one of the few places on the Peninsula that has been awarded a blue flag (The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary awards for beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.)
  • Yalıkavak: Near our private rental villa in Gökçebel, Yalıkavak is positioned on the North of the Peninsula. The marina, surrounded by high quality boutiques and restaurants, draws in some of the wealthiest locals and foreigners with their impressive yachts.  Towards the eastern side of town, Yalıkavak has a small, but busy centre with a more traditional touristic covered bazaar. Unfortunately, their prices reflect the crowd that is drawn to this area, even ice cream was double the price here!
  • Gökçebel: This is where we stayed! We definitely took a chance on this little hillside village of traditional stone houses knowing that Yalıkavak and Gündoğan were close by. It definitely helped that we had a car. Nearby is the abandoned village of Sandima – check out my video about it here. We found both locals and guests enjoy this quiet way of life off the beaten track and local Sunday market but noticed, too, its growing popularity due to the close distance to shops, bars, and restaurants of Yalıkavak and Gündoğan.
  • Gündoğan: Gündoğan Beach (one of our favorite free public beaches), is one of the longest beaches on Bodrum Peninsula, is beautifully situated among the tangerine, olive and pine trees. I would say it is more favored by the Turks and thankfully protected from all the businesses with their chairs that go up to the water! While there isn’t much to do in Gündoğan apart from swimming, sunbathing and yachting (and WOW, there were some amazing yachts!), there are a few cafes and yummy restaurants to enjoy.
  • Torba: While we didn’t make it to Torba, we heard it was worth a day trip to enjoy this little town. Though it’s small, Torba still boasts of a few notable tourist resort, several modern hotels, and a few pebbly and sandy beaches. While we had already visited Didim previously, Torba is the port where ferry services between the Bodrum Peninsula and Didyma arrive and depart, and where day excursions can be made to see the famed Temple of Apollo.  The ferry is also a convenient way of visiting the impressive sites of ancient Miletus and Priene for those only staying in Bodrum.
  • Ortakent: I want to briefly mentioned Ortakent because we went through this area quite a bit. While Jason would work, I sometimes would take Sofia here to enjoy the kids play area. There is a large mall, dining, Decathlon Sports store and a huge grocery store called METRO that tends to carry more items than the local grocery story.

What you should see and do in and near Bodrum, Turkey:

1. Explore Bodrum City!

Bodrum city is peppered with historical sights, including the renovated amphitheater and joint Bodrum Castle (Castle of St. Peters or Egion Castle) & Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The open-air Amphi-theatre overlooking Bodrum is another fantastic site to enjoy and concerts are still held there in the summer months.

This city is small, walkable, easy to navigate with just enough nooks and alleys to keep you wandering the streets for more during your week-long holiday. From the glitzy marina to the quaint cobbled back-streets of the shopping area, the multitude of restaurants, bars, shops and cultural events make this location a year-round destination.

The public beach is located right in town making it easy to dip into the water at anytime of day. The harbor nearby offers day trips via boat to other locations so you can enjoy the sea to the max. (Keep reading for all my local to-dos and restaurant recs at the end of this post!)

I have a whole post dedicated to our first time we visited Bodrum! Most things are still the same (I did updated it a bit since visiting this summer). Check it out for all the BODRUM CITY GUIDE.

WATCH our day tour of Bodrum below.

2. Abandoned Village of Sandıma

Sandıma Ghost Town some call it, is Bodrum’s small version of ‘Kayakoy’ but instead of a deserted Greek village, new nearby developments nearby drew residents out of this dying town. This deserted village leans a bit into an eerie ambience. A quick 10-minute drive by car from Yalıkavak, or 35 from Bodrum City, takes you to a hillside of 80 crumbling houses displaying old-style architecture of whitewashed stone walls with wooden shutters. Only one house was occupied for a while, and it use to double up as an art gallery for visitors. Unfortunately, the owner past away last year.

On the way you can stop by Zay Kahvaltı Evi for breakfast and a view!

3. Exploring the different towns of the Bodrum Peninsula

I know that most tourist come here for the all inclusive resorts and parking themselves by the sea to get a proper tan. However, if you are not the lounging type and enjoy exploring more outside your hotel or resort, we suggest take some day trips out to the other surrounding peninsula towns.

Our first recs? Outside of Bodrum, Gümüşlük and Turgutreis… See our description above for the main towns on the Bodrum pennisula. Here I will highlight a couple of towns we enjoyed most:

Gümüşlük: There are many private rentals in this area, all with amazing views of the sea. For a panoramic view of the Gümüşlük town, take a hike up to the top of Gümüşlük Kocadağ. There is even an observation area with a huge Turkish flag that can be spotted from the bay below. There are two restaurants we enjoyed. Located on the mountainside with the best sunset views over the Gümüşlük hills and delicious food is Tashev Gümüşlük Restaurant. Our favorite meals were the meat dishes, a special lavas and meat served over an eggplant puree. The second restaurant, Bi Üst Kat (Çipa Balık), is located in the middle of Gümüşlük Bay town. This seafood restaurant with its fish and mezes, is the perfect location for views of the calm bay waters backdropped with Gümüşlük Kocadag mountain. Plus, everything we ate was fantastic and we only ordered the mezes (side dishes). Oh and enjoy a scoop of gelato from Fonda as you wander through the night market with all the local small shops.

Turgutreis: I personally would love to come back and stay here in a seaside Apart Hotel like the Aybey Apart Otel or the Sunset Beach Apartments. Both hotels just in front of the public beach (which you will read in the next section was one of our favorites!) This town is a bit bigger with an old town shopping area and a newer more modern vibe further south at the marina (think Starbucks and a Barcelona Restaurant Bar). There is a bit more diversity and fun for everyone here. We ate burgers at Bee Bistro&Cafe but honestly didn’t think they were the best. (We are super spoiled by the best burgers in Izmir, Burger Street, being in our neighborhood! It’s hard to beat that!)

As you travel around the pennisula, be on the lookout for the famous windmills of Bodrum. The Bodrum Peninsula is littered with 200 year old reminders of a time before tourism (and Turkey). You will find that these white-washed, circular windmills are in various states of repair and stand out against the landscapes on high ridges to catch the breeze. Near our area, you can enjoy breakfast with them and see the views a windmill would enjoy at MMK Yeldeğirmeni Yalıkavak Windmill. Close by is a place to stop and take in the stunning views of the north west bays of Yalıkavak and Gündoğan.

Pedasa Ancient City near Torba: I don’t have a DON’T DO LIST but we did NOT visit this Ancient City. If you have been around FollowingtheFunks even for short period, we hardly ever miss an opportunity to visit an ancient city! However, I could not find ANY good information or even a recommendation to visit the` Pedasa site. Wait, there was 1 website, but I truly believe they have never visited it personally. It seems like it is an ancient site that is there but not cared for. Meaning, you could potentially get lost in the site that suppossively spreads across several hill-tops…

4. Spend time at the different beaches!

Let’s be honest, this is why you are all reading this post! And it’s the main reason Bodrum is so popular in the summer!

There are lots a beaches to go to in the peninsula of Bodrum. Most towns have companies or beach clubs that you can pay a fee for the day and get a chair and umbrella. As well, almost every town has a ‘halk plaj’, or public beach, to enjoy for free! There are usually umbrellas but no chairs so bring your own if you want!

Here are some of our favorite beach spots:

Bitez Public Beach: I’m listing it not because it was the best, but I do need to give an acknowledgment to the impressive Bay Area. This public beach is fairly tiny, fighting for space next to the rest of the bay lined back to back with lounge chairs. The best part about the bay though? The shallow waters that you can wade in. I was 500 meters out of into the bay before the water even started coming up to my thighs! And the water was clear with fast settling sand. I had never been to a beach like that.

Turgutreis Public Beach: To our surprise, we love this little town and were a bit sad that it was a bit far from us (30-40 minutes). The drive from our villa near Yalıkavak take us through the winding hillside neighborhood and white-washed summer homes. This public beach is right downtown and spacious. the clear water was warm and shallow with almost no waves making it perfect for our daughter to play. See above section for a restaurant rec.

Yalıkavak Public Beach: To the very west of Yalıkavak, away from all the ritzy side of town and almost considered Tilkicik Koyu, is a pebbly coastline shaded with trees. Since it’s not so ‘sandy’ or ‘beach like’ I think it isn’t as popular. But on the hot mornings or afternoon, I loved spending a hour here with my daughter cause it is shaded. She loved all the rocks she could through into the water! This area is near a restaurant I wanted to test out, but never got around to it – Zeytin Lina.

Küdür Public Beach: This beach is located on the small peninsula separating Yalıkavak and Gündoğan. Choose from 3 different coves with shallow, lapping waves. We loved this beach most for Sofia due to the abundant trees and shade they provided. If you want to take a little walk, the Panormus Kaya Mezarları (rock tombs) are situated just behind this area. Nothing special if you already seen this kind of tombs elsewhere in Turkey, but if you haven’t then I suggest checking it out!

Gündogan Public Beach: As mentioned above, this is one of the longest public beaches in Bodrum which also means, lots more room to enjoy the sea. There is a huge carpark right by the beach (paid) as well as a few markets to grab drinks, snacks and food. We also LOVED that there was a park for kids right on the beach! I’m so sad we didn’t discover it earlier in our month-long stay. I think we would have visited it more! Extra side note: Jason and I did a date night here and enjoyed seafood (fish and Meze) here at the waterfront, family run Hasıraltı restaurant. It’s small so you may miss it if you aren’t paying attention! It was lovely and delicious.

Cennet Koyu Cove Beach: When we would ask locals what beaches to visit, this is on every Türk list. While the water and sand were not my favorite, the small cove and lovely views made we quickly realize why others loved it. We went here a few time, but it was always for an evening after the crowds have left. We would pack a picnic and enjoy the sunset alongside the campers and yacht that had set up for the night.

Note: most official public beaches will have some type of facilities – beach watch/tower/lifeguard, changing rooms, outdoor shower to rinse off, bathrooms if its really nice!

5. Day Boat Trips, Water Activities and Scuba Diving

The boat trips, water activities such as jet skis and paragliding, and scuba diving are a must for this area.

If you are staying in a resort or hotel, most have connections and can provide bookings for such activities. However, if you are like us and went the private rental route, then I suggest using the company EasyBookTours. They can handle any type of water activity, boat tour, or land tour you could possible desire for the Bodrum area. I personally did not book with them, but I did have friends who were very happy with the service they provided for their private boat tour!

The boat tour go all over the pennisula depending on what and where you want to go. One popular option is going to Orak Island, east of Bodrum, a long, mostly uninhabited stretch of the peninsula. You can visit on a day-long cruise making a stops at 2-3 swimming spots such as Red Bay, on your was to Orak Island where you can swim and snorkel in shimmering waters. Most all tours include a lunch which normally involves a fresh salad, grilled chicken, fruit, and of course, Turkish tea. Another boat tour option is to Çatalada, a.k.a. Çatal Ada, located just 3 miles off the coast from the town of Turgutreis. An island with three conical hills, its name means literally “fork island”. It is also a popular scuba diving place.

The most popular scuba diving location is Kara Ada Island, well known for its scuba diving airplane. Most of the companies leave early from Bodrum city and the nearby areas. If you have family members or friends that want to join but don’t want to dive, they have a special price for them too!

Bodrum also boasts of a Dolphin Park. They offer daily show and even an option to swim with the dolphins. The tickets are not cheap though (by Turkish standards). We ended up not going as our daughter is only 3 years old. Maybe when she is older it will be fun to spend $150 for our family to see a dolphin show.

Most large resorts have some type or multiple even water parks! The biggest indolence water park is Bodrum Aqua Park. It is best for older child. I did find another small part called Pirate Inn that may provide a bit more enjoyment for those families with smaller children.

Scuba diving was definitely on my list to do, but between guests and Jason’s work (yep, he works from anywhere so it’s not just a vacation for us), I never made it. We also have done boat tours before, both the 100 people a boat with crazy loud music and the private ones where we brought our own party!

BUT, don’t do as we did. Definitely take advantage of all these fun water activities, especially if it’s not something you get to do often… or ever!

6. Day Trip to Kos, Greece

A quick 30 minute ferry boat ride from Bodrum gets you to the Greek island of Kos! If you have never been to Greece then Kos, one of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, is a great ‘taster’ island. This harbor town gives you your choice of sandy beaches, Greek and Roman landmarks, 15th-century Neratzia Castle, Ancient Agora ruins, and 3rd-century Casa Romana villa has lavish mosaics.

I am currently working on my complete GUIDE TO THE GREEK ISLAND OF KOS and will post it here when it’s done!

Until then, if you are curious about other Greek Islands accessible from Turkey, check out these other links:


I marked this as a ‘bonus’ because honestly, it’s a bit of a drive to get to all of these locations and not all a doable day trip. But they would be a fun overnight or add on to your time in Bodrum.

While we don’t have a blog post for everything, a long standing website I have gleamed so much info from should have some info about all of these sites – even to just get you started. So, make sure to check out Turkeysforlife.

  • DIDIM: 100 km N – 1 hour 45 minutes (or ferry from Torba)
  • MARMARIS: 165 km SE – 2 hour 20 minutes
  • DATÇA: 235 km SE – 3 hours 45 minutes or 1 hour (car ferry)
  • FETHIYE: 233 km SE from Fethiye – 3 hours 20 minutes

Our other tips for this area:

Getting There:

  • For our road trip, we drove in our own car from Izmir to Bodrum. Even thought the drive is only 3.5 hours, we usually like stopping about halfway at the Çeri Restaurant (Instagram) located on Bafa Lake and did the breakfast Turkish style. The food and the views of the lake and the surrounding mountains were amazing. 
  • If you don’t want to drive from Izmir, taking a bus will be the easiest and quickest route. You can find bus tickets here. Looks like most companies go and take approximately 4-5 hours.
  • The closest airport to the Bodrum area is still the Milas-Bodrum(BJV) airport and then take a shuttle or taxi which is approximately 40 minutes to the Bodrum City.
  • FROM ISTANBUL, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines offer a quick 1 hour direct flights from both airports (Pegasus mostly operating out of SAW).
  • Airlines do not offer direct flights from IZMIR to Milas-Bodrum airport as it is too close. But you can fly with a stopover via Istanbul or Ankara airports.


  • We stayed in a private villa with a pool we found on Airbnb with the intentions of have friends come on and off to share it with us. There were some quirks but overall it worked out. I would suggest a checking out these websites:
    • Airbnb – We found our villa (Turkish owned) via Airbnb. Located up the mountain side 15 minutes from Yalıkavak in the little Turkish village of Gökçebel, our villa was large enough for 2 families to share with a pool. There was some things not mentioned in the listing and some quirks we had to work through but overall it worked out for us. We loved being a bit more secluded in a smaller, less populated area with all the fun stuff located nearby. Remember to check for monthly discounts! You can find it LISTING HERE.
    • VRBO
    • Holiday Lettings (UK)
  • Of course you can go with the Turkish site but you will not have the protection that these other rental sites provide you for cancellation and property issues. So I DO NOT recommend it, especially if you don’t speak Turkish.

When to go to Bodrum:

  • Bodrum, which has a Mediterranean climate, is actually a town that can be visited in all seasons. Winters are warm and rainy, and summers are very hot. In short, it may be more accurate to determine the season according to your needs. 
    • Like us, most people go for the summer season to cool off in the many villas with pools, apartment site, or swim in the sea, you should choose hot or hot weather in summer, and
    • However, if you want to escape the cold winters were you live and be in a warmer place, you can choose it even in winter – just don’t expect the pools to be open! The sea however, is always available for a chilly swim!

In fact, the first time we ever visited Bodrum was in the wintery off-season. And even in off-season, it was still a wonderful place to visit (you can read out here).

Restaurants we enjoyed: 

Usually I list by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but here I will just list with the locations at the beginning starting nearest to our location in Gökçebel near Yalıkavak. The ones with the *** are the ones we personally ate at. The rest was my list of places I wanted to try or were recommended.

  • ***Yalıkavak – Sefte Bahçe – We loved this little breakfast spot of the side of the hill overlooking Yalıkavak! The atmosphere was calm and beautiful. We picked the spot in the corner by the kids area so our daughter could play. The breakfast variety was outstanding including some Balkan Turk style pastry (borek).
  • ***Yalıkavak – Safiye Kahvaltı Evi– Kahvaltı/Turkish Breakfast. This restaurant had only been open a few months. We picked it for it’s kids area, but honestly we found it to be overpriced, and lacked attentive service to refill our dishes…
  • ***Yalıkavak – Meet Lab Coffee and Lilith Natura Gelato – It seems every little marina town has a Starbucks but we always look for an alternative option. This was a serene, well-design open coffee shop with delicious cold brew and scrumptious desserts. Within the cafe is a little gelato bar with some of the most expensive ice cream on the Bodrum peninsula at almost double the price of other scoops of ice cream. We had it once, and it was worth it!
  • *** Yalıkavak – VOI Coffee – This had a gorgeous view overlooking another bay of Yalıkavak. Their egg Benedicts was outstanding as well. It’s great for relaxing but not so great for getting work done as it’s all open air and the sun is ever moving.
  • ***Yalıkavak – Antepli Pide & Lahmacun Salonu – Hand down one of the best Turkish meals we had all summer! I still dream about this beyti kebab. It’s a little hold in the wall place that attracts more locals. The atmosphere is less than impressive, but the food is EXCELLENT! Don’t let the location deter you from going here!
  • ***Turgestis – Bee Bistro and Cafe – Burgers but we didn’t really like them.
  • ***Gümüşlük – Tashev Gümüşlük – Located on the mountainside with the best sunset views over the Gümüşlük hills and delicious food. Our favorite meals were the meat dishes, a special lavas and meat served over an eggplant puree (Tashev Spesiyal Köfte).
  • ***Gümüşlük – Bi Üst Kat (Çipa Balık), is located in the middle of Gümüşlük Bay town. This seafood restaurant with its fish and mezes, is the perfect location for views of the calm bay waters backdropped with Gümüşlük Kocadağ mountain. Plus, everything we ate was fantastic and we only ordered the mezes (side dishes).

  • ***Gümüşlük – Fonda – Enjoy a scoop of gelato from as you wander through the night market with all the local small shops.

  • Gümüşlük – Melengic Balik Restaurant
  • Gümüşlük – Tiki Taka – On your way from Yalıkavak to Gümüşlük is a tiny little taco stand. We never did stop to try it but maybe you can!
  • ***Bodrum City – La Pasion Restaurante Espanol – Spanish cuisine with the matching vibes. It is on the higher end of prices but we loved everything we ordered here. You can read more about it in our Bodrum City Guide.
  • ***Bodrum City – Zakka – One of our day tours of Bodrum took us by this place. The homemade food (ev yemekleri) was delicious. One of my favorite dishes is Çökertme Kebabı and it did not disappoint! The manager was so friendly and our daughter loved the beans and rice he served her!

  • ***Bodrum City – Bitez Waffle and Dondurma. If you are looking for a favorite local ice cream place. This is your place. Bitez Waffle and Dondurma is a chain that you will find in many areas. They do the famous dessert waffles and their ice cream is more of the icier(less creamy side) which Turks seem to love.
  • Bodrum City – Dukkan – “Mukkemel food” and I really wanted to go here! Looks a bit small so maybe make a reservation.
  • Bodrum City – Avlu – More date night style but also looks like it has a great atmostphere.
  • Bodrum City – Red Dragon- Intenational option Chinese food
  • Bodrum City – Keci – While we didn’t make it here, all the reviews rave about this restaurants twists on the mezes they make (this small dishes, appetizers, tapas). I am not sure how family friendly it is. Maybe we will try it another time!
  • ***Bitez – Ricks Place – Traditional British style fish and chips. With all the Brits that come to Bodrum, it’s no surprise that fish and chips places do well here. Sofia and I stopped here for some British favs. It’s a bit heavy and the portions are large. Consider sharing.

Few other tidbits to wrap this guide up:

  • Seasonal area: While some parts of Bodrum are more year-round areas, a lot of the smaller beach town and businesses are more seasonal. The requirement? Sunny and warm, maybe places start to get to open around April and May, and they live for the crowded June-September season. Don’t be surprise if a lot of these recommendations are closed if you are going in the winter. Bodrum City will mostly stay open, so we suggest staying there in the winter months!
  • Any weekly local pazar (market) in the area you are staying! It is a fun thing to check out if you have never been to a local market. It can also make the area around it a bit congested. We actually did do this in our area of Gökçebel every Sunday! The little shop of ……. made the BEST gozleme and tepsi borek (pan savory pastry) with yummy cheese and greens. I craved it all week.
  • Other Market Shopping: I thought it would be helpful to note that regardless of where you are staying, there will be some or multiple markets/grocery stores that carry all your food and household needs. We shopped mostly at the Migros and Carrefours. Twice I went to the big METRO store in Ortakent to pick up some other harder to get items. If we couldn’t make it into METRO, almost every beach town has a Macrocenter which is known for carry more imported food items (and the prices reflect it too unfortunately. Things like limes, cilantro, tortilla chips… they are generally stocked here when other places don’t have them.
  • Beach clubs: Personally I thought the public beaches were nice and I personally preferred them. But we aren’t a family to spend all day, hours upon hours at the beach. We like to go for a hour or 2 and then be done. However, if you want to spend a whole day on the water with facilities, restaurants, etc. – then check out the local beach clubs or companies that provide lounge chairs on the sand.
  • Hamams and Beauty Care: Most resorts will have some time of hamams or Turkish baths. They service to both resort guests and outsides. I called around to a couple and the cheapest price was 50 Euros but most were more. Bodrum Rashid’s Hamam/Turkish Bath is more traditional style and seemed to be highly recommended and it’s located towards Ortakent in the middle of the peninsula.
    • I did get my nails done once at Tırnak Nişantaşı Bodrum. All I have to say is that both myself and the sweet gal doing my nails, it’s way too expensive…. (like almost 3 times as expensive as getting them done anywhere else in Turkey… and that is without ANY polish included. geezsh).

Overall, Bodrum is a fun getaway for everyone! Plus, there are so many Brits on summer holiday there that I never felt like a foreigner! If anything I felt more Turkish since we live in Turkey and speak Turkish. While our goals were more to hang out with friends and relax for this trip, we did enjoy checking out the rest of the Bodrum peninsula.

Don’t forget to check out our BODRUM PLAYLIST on YOUTUBE!

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • Do you want to travel to Bodrum now?
  • Have you traveled to Bodrum before?
  • If so, what did you love? What did we miss?!

Don’t forget, you can explore all of Bodrum, Turkey with us over on our Following The Funks YouTube Channel via our Bodrum Playlist videos.

TURKEY: Your Guide to Skiing in Erzurum + Palandöken

After last years ski trip to Kars, Turkey, I can now declare (after 7 years of marriage too) that we are a skiing family! Yes, both Jason AND Sofia both when out skiing with me in Kars. Check out ALL of our KARS videos and Blog post!

This year we were itching to go again! We consisder meeting friends from Dubai north of Antalya to ski Davruz, and it didn’t work out. So this time, after a lot of change of plans, we are on our way to Erzurum to ski at Palandöken Ski resort!

And of course… in usual ‘Catie’ fashion, we can’t just ‘go skiing’! We wanted to see some of the other sites around Erzurum as well! Check out ALL of our ERZURUM videos linked at the bottom off the article

Hopefully your 2022 winter season got you to the slopes as well!!

By the way…. IMPORTANT: This post covers only the ski portion of our trip to Kars, Turkey. Check out our other Kars post below:

Now on your guide to skiing in Turkey!

Where should I ski in Turkey?

This post is all about skiing near the area of Erzurum, specifically Palandöken. BUT I wanted to live you with a list of other options kayak merkezi (or ski centers) to explore if you aren’t wanted to head that far east. The other places we have skied are Sarıkamış (Kars) and Uludağ (and I don’t have a post on it).

In no particular order, these are some of the most popular (not all of course):

  • Uludağ Ski Center near Bursa (easy weekend from Istanbul and Izmir)
  • Kartaltepe Ski Center near Bolu (easy drive from Istanbul)
  • Erciyes Ski Center, south of Kayseri Airport (aka Cappadocia region)
  • Davraz Ski Center, north of Antalya near Isparta (2 hour drive from Antalya)
  • Sarıkamış near Kars (east Turkey)

Check out this article over at the Daily Sabah for a brief description of each.

Where is Erzurum + Palandöken?

Erzurum city, capital of the Erzurum province, is located in the far northeast region of Turkey just north of the Palandöken Mountains. Situated at an elevation of 1,890 m (6,200 feet), it’s 140 meters higher than its neighboring city of Kars (1,750 metres/5,740 feet). This city sits on the historical Silk Road and preserves much of it’s legendary Anatolian hospitality.

Palandöken ski center is just 10 minutes south of town and a half hour drive from the Erzururm Airport traveling through the city of Erzurum.

Erzurum Palandoken Ski Turkey
Erzurum Palandoken Ski Turkey
Erzurum Palandoken Ski Turkey

Little bit of history:

Situated on the historic Silk Road, Erzurum has been a residential area for centuries, dating back to 4900 B.C. Like most of this area, it has fallen under the rule of many nations such as the Urartu, Meds, Persian, Parthian Romans, Arabs, Seljuks, Byzantines, Mongols, and Ottomans.

The city of Erzurum is best known to Turks as the seat of the Erzurum Congress which met in summer of 1919. Crucial decisions were made among 62 delegates determining the path for Turkish national independence.

Today, Erzurum is still a Turkish stronghold protecting the Eastern region. It is called the “City of the Dadaşlar” which means “brave men. ” The famous touristic Dogu Express Train also passing through this city from Ankara onto Kars.

It is also favorite getaway for local and foreign tourists, especially in the winter season for those who love winter sports.

To learn more about Erzurum, check out part 2 – TURKEY: Top 7 sites in Erzurum City – YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE

About the Palandöken Ski Center:

Palandöken Ski Center (also known as Ejder 3200 World Ski Center) is built on the 3,000-meter-high mountain named Büyük Ejder (The Great Dragon). Palandöken offers local and foreign tourists a true skiing experience boasting of its title for having the longest ski track in Turkey.

Thanks to the University Winter Olympics held in Palandöken in 2011, serious investments were made in the facility. When you look at the map, you can see how long the ski slope appears. Tracks Ejder and Kapıkaya are actually approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) for Slalom and Grand Slalom competitions. All these have made Palandöken very appealing to outsiders.

Unlike Sarıkamış, most of their slopes are more suitable for intermediate to advance skiers. There is very little area for beginners. Local businesses providing ski equipment rentals and private lessons are located at the entrance to the ski lift areas.

Snow falls at the Palandöken Ski Center is about 50 days a year and it stays on the ground for about 113 days. The season usually starts around late November lasting until mid-April.

Palandöken Erzurum Turkey
  • Facilities in Palandöken: It has 3 chairlifts and 1 ski lift. 
  • Height of Palandöken: Tracks starting from 2200 meters go up to a height of 3,176 meters. 
  • Ski tracks in Palandöken: With an altitude at 3,000, Palandöken has a total of 22 tracks (2 of these are declared Olympic tracks). For the tracks: 4 black, 3 red, 9 blue and 8 green. (I will explain more about this in the PROS and CONS section below). There are 28 kilometers of tracks in total. It is possible to ski 12 km without interruption on the longest track (which wasn’t open when we were there). On paper, Palandöken seems to beat Sarıkamış, but in practice things are complicated. Due to unmaintained lifts and closed runways due to avalanche risks, there are a lot of underutilized runways.
  • Times and Lift hours: General season is late November to mid April. Lift closing hours vary from month to month. But it usually opens at 9.00 and closes at 16.30 – 17.00 depending on the weather conditions.
  • Lift wait times: The total number of ski lifts claim to be 13 but we only ever saw 3 or 4 that were open. (I belief this number includes the separate private lifts for the Polat and SWAY hotel which I will explain more in the hotel section.) There are 2 gondola (bottom to mid-level then continuing from mid-level to top of the mountain) and 11 Chairlifts. During our stay, the gondola never opened to the top of the mountain. As well, we found that we had to walk a bit from the chairlifts or gandola to get to the ski path -can we say exhausting!? The open chairlifts and the gondolas both seat 4 at a time.
  • Electronic Passes: There are electronic pass readers on the lifts. You swipe the plastic card over the magnet and pass it on. The card has lanyard. You can use all the lifts with a single pass in Sarıkamış Ski Center.
  • Ski equipment: Most of the hotels have their own private ski rental companies usually located in the hotel. The prices are reasonable and if you forgot anything, they have it! As well at the entrance of Palandöken there is a ski rental room not attached to any hotel.
  • Food/Drink the slopes: For lunch, our hotel was full-board and we always just took a break to eat there to eat. It was also a natural stopping time for our daughter who is still 3 years old and can only really be out about 2-3 hours. On the runways, there is a cafe at the entrance/bottom of the mountain and mid-area, and all of them have hot and cold drinks. However, not all of them have much choice of food. There are also a restrooms.
  • In case of emergency, loss or injury: The gendarmerie is the first to respond to accidents. The search and rescue team will come to you with snow vehicles as soon as possible. There are doctors on the mountain and if necessary, transfers are made to nearby hospitals. Take the contact number of the hotel you are staying in with you in case of an emergency.
  • Extras: There are a few folks that provide a VERY small area to snow sled. It is also the area that beginner skier use for lessons… I saw most people almost running into one another. This trip we didn’t get the chance to do any other winter activities with our daughter.
Palandoken Ski prices

Our Experience with the Ski Center:

Palandöken ski center definitely has a variety to offer. From luxury hotels to more modest ‘pansyon’ type hotels and even private Airbnb type rentals, you can make this ski destination as expensive or as affordable as you would like. The prices are more than Sarıkamış but not as steep in cost as Uludağ. And while the mountain has great slopes, we found a lot was closed to skier while we were there and the snow to be less fluffy and much more icier.

We did stay in an all-inclusive ski lodge type accommodation but it wasn’t on the slopes (which was by choice but prefer being right on the slope). We loved that the town of Erzurum was not far. We were able to go into town one night and do a day trip another day. Something that you can’t do, or at least isn’t as easy, in Sarıkamış to Kars.

Keep reading on to see our final decision between Palandöken vs. Sarıkamış below.


  • Ezurum is so close! The best part of Palandoken is the convenience of transportation. Being only 15 minutes away from Erzurum, when the skiing is done, one can head into town and enjoy some site seeing. It also means that an all-inclusive hotel is not necessary as you can commute from town to ski or get a more affordable hotel option and enjoy trying out the local restaurants instead of staying in the hotel all the time.
  • The roads are always clear and sparkling coming to and from the Erzurum airport. It is part of the city and the roads are taken care of properly. Since the elevation was already so high, the ride to the hotel was easy and clear. No shuttle issues or curves to fear.
  • No one thought twice about giving us skis for our 3 year old! If you read our Sarıkamış post or watched our video, you will remember we had issues with them even allowing us to rent skis for our daughter (2.5 years old at that time).
  • Since this is a huge district, the state brought services such as schools and train stations here. There is a hospital and it’s possible to reach the hospital quickly in case of an accident.


  • Even though we went during the weekdays, I felt like it was still crowded everywhere. Because schools are near, there were many ski classes out during the day. This ski center is just a bit narrower and I felt the need to keep an eye out around me for less experienced (or even more experience one!) flying by us.
  • Since it is a more formal ski center, the prices of food and beverage etc are marked up.
  • Our hotel’s kids play area was not nice. We had to ask for the lights to be turned on most times and the toys were all half broken.

Palandöken vs. Sarıkamış

We would 100 % choose Sarıkamış over Palandöken in the future. There were no closed lift in Sarıkamış or ski paths. 🙂 While snowfall and season lengths seem to be the same, I’ll post our points below comparing why we like Sarıkamış more:

  • Snow: The snow is powdery and crystal with very little ice.
  • Tracks: The facilities are open and spread out allowing room for skiers even on the busier days of the season. The tracks of Sarıkamış seem a little wider to us around 70m. More difficult tracks in Palandöken are narrow, but since these tracks are for super advanced levels it’s not an issue. It is an issue with those skiers that are not ready for those slopes.
  • Fog: As well, we did not encounter any fog on the tracks in Sarıkamış. However in Palandöken, we came across a fog during our skiing, which thankfully didn’t cause any accidents. Since Sarıkamış ski center is surrounded by yellow pine forests, it affects little if there is a wind blowing.
  • Wind: Since Sarıkamış ski center is surrounded by yellow pine forests, it affects little if there is a wind blowing.
  • Risks: After the avalanche that fell in Palandöken, experts from abroad were brought and the tracks were examined. Unfortunately, they found a lot of runways risky and closed them. (We did not know this prior to going.)
  • Crowds: While both are quite spacious during the week, both get crowded during the holidays and especially on the weekend. Difficult tracks are still calm in Sarıkamış. It is empty enough that you can choose a lane and slide straight down without ever leaving. We found that we were always aware of other people moving while skiing in Palandöken. In summary, although the capacity of Palandöken is higher, its tracks and lifts are denser. Sarıkamış’s calmness makes a difference for us – especially with having our daughter with us.
  • Beginner? Our recommendation is Sarıkamış again, as it is less likely to be disrupted by the weather conditions in Sarıkamış. Considering that there is a lot of fallout while learning, Sarıkamış seems to be more suitable as it has less icing and more space to practice!
  • Nature: The hills of Palandoken are bare. Sarıkamış is surrounded by yellow pine forests. When skiing, Sarıkamış was a 1000 times more enjoyable. It is not surprising to see wildlife like rabbits and foxes in Sarıkamış.

When Should I Go to Palandöken?

If you came to Palandöken, you probably came to ski. That’s why you should make sure to come in the best time of winter. Snow falls here for 5 months of the year, from the beginning of December to mid of April. December’s new snow and March’s warmer weather seem to be popular times to go.

Getting There:

  • For our trip, we flew a 2 hour direct flight from Izmir to Erzurum on SunExpress Airlines and took a free shuttle offered by the hotel.
  • If you are going to come directly to Sarıkamış by plane, the nearest airport to you is the Erzurum Airport. The airport is 18m (30 minutes) away from Palandöken. Before buying your flight ticket, we recommend that you compare the ticket prices of different airline companies. Both Pegasus Airlines and Sunexpress offer direct flights from Izmir but not daily. You can always find connecting routes to Kars with layovers in other airports via Turkish Airlines (which some of our friends who joined us did).
  • Alternative options: The historic Doğu (Eastern) Express is an alternative option for those with a bit more time on their hands. Passing through Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, Erzurum and Sarıkamış, it arrives at the second to last stop, Erzurum, before finishing in Kars. Coming to Erzurum with the Orient Express is an experience that must be experienced in itself. It’s a bit difficult to figure out the ticketing system and times (and it’s usually sold out) but if you are able to figure it out, go for it! This article is a bit old but it’s a great start!


Around the Palandöken ski center, you will find a variety of accommodations. From luxury hotels to more modest ‘pansiyon’ type hotels and even private Airbnb type rentals, you can make this ski destination as expensive or as affordable as you would like. It’s hard when searching online, where exactly you should stay. (I outline all of this more in detail in my video.)

There are 3 sections of accommodations near the Palandöken Ski Center:

  1. SWAY and Polat Hotel: Lower area. You pass this as you go towards the Palandöken Mountain base and ski center. SWAY is a luxury full board hotel and perhaps the most popular hotel in Palandoken. It has wifi and spa facilities. Polat Hotel is a A full board five-star hotel option with 3 types of rooms: deluxe, family and standard(old rooms). These two hotels have their own ski slopes not part of Palandöken. Using these runways are included in the price. 
  2. Palandöken Mountain base area: This is where we were at. This hotels usually have some type of shuttle to the nearby base and we found are more affordable than the 1st and 3rd areas.
  3. Mid-mountain level: Located on the mountain and at the top of the first gondola. Funny enough there is a Dedeman Hotel at both the 2nd and 3rd levels so it can be a bit confusing when looking at the hotels on a map.

Where we stayed:

  • Palan Otel: Our friends recommended this hotel to us, and this was the good option for our family because it had a more affordable 1+1 room option. The hotel is located near the entrance to the ski center with a free shuttle taking you to and from the lifts. The staff was kind and quick to respond to any request. I was even able to WhatsApp with one of the workers in English which helped bypass any miscommunication in Turkish. For Sarıkamış we did a package via, but for this trip we booked everything for Palan Otel via their website. You get a cheaper price when you book on their website and pay the non-refundable deposit. The food was good and varied and that was nice to have included in our stay. They were a bit of sticklers about take your lunch the day you arrive and wanted to make us pay extra which we did not have too. The ski rentals where just down the hall from the main lobby of the hotel. You will need to pay in cash or transfer via your Turkish bank account like we did.
  • Here are a few other recs if you want to stay in town or nearby:
    • The Erzurum Hotel – Just outside of the city center before getting to the 1st area with the SWAY hotel going up mountain. Breakfast is included, free ski shuttle to the base of the mountain, and ski rental area in the hotel.
    • Hotel Zade – Hotel Zade is a hotel option from the center of Erzurum, but it is a 7-minute drive from Palandoken Ski Center. Breakfast is included, wifi is available. 
    • Grand Catalkaya Hotel – In the center of town if you are wanted an extra night to explore the city and be ‘in the middle of it all’

Must Try Foods: 

Although the hotels do provide food service, feel free to taste local delicacies in Erzurum via our tour with Silk Road Moments.

  • Cağ Kebabı: Originating from Erzurum, cağ kebabı, also called Yatik Döner, is a horizontally stacked marinated rotating lamb kebab and is one of the specialities that you must try. Apparently, it is the tradition that they will keep bringing the kebab until you tell them to stop.
  • Burma Kadayif: I would recommend to take another speciality of Erzurum desert after the meal. This type of baklava is made with shredded kadayıf dough rolled around ground or whole pistachio nuts or other nuts like walnuts. Burma, literally meaning wringed or twisted, is baked like most other baklava varieties, soaked in a simple syrup, and sprinkled with ground nuts before serving.
Cag kebap Erzurum Turkey


  • Because our hotel was all-inclusive, meaning it offered breakfast, lunch and dinner, we did not really explore much more outside our ski resort and ski park. We take a day tour and tried a few places in town. Check out our Erzurum Guide here: TURKEY: Top 7 sites in Erzurum City – YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE

Sites In Erzurum:

There is quite to see in and around Erzurum. I have another post to check out that is all about touring this area here: TURKEY: Top 7 sites in Erzurum City – YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE

Nearby Erzurum:

  • Some people like to do Erzurum and Kars in one trip! The drive is about 2.5 hours from Erzurum to Sarıkamış. However, we think you should always tour the area nearby too! You could fly into Erzurum, tour, ski, drive on to Sarıkamış, ski, then tour Kars a few days, and depart from Kars! If you do head to Sarıkamış and Kars, we suggest to visit Kars City, Ani Harabeleri, Lake Çildir, and Boğatepe Cheese farms! All the links for the videos are below.
  • North about 4 hours by car, Rize is home to Turkey’s famous tea fields and the nearby Trabzon’s Sümela Monastery (Explore Trabzon Part 1, Turkey – POST and VIDEO).

Overall, Palandöken was not our favorite ski center in Turkey, but we did enjoy trying it out. We really enjoyed touring the city which you can watch a video on that AND read our complete guide to visiting.

You can check out our trip via video over on our Following The Funks YouTube Channel and see what all we did in our ski week!

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • Have you gone skiing in Turkey?
  • Have you visited Palandöken Ski Center, Turkey in Erzurum? 
  • Share a memory you have about skiing! 

Check out our 2 part video for Erzurum, Turkey:

Want more info on skiing in Turkey? Check out our Kars, Turkey skiing and touring videos and blog posts!