Bodrum, described by The New York Times as “Turkey’s Saint Tropez”, is a small, fascinating Turkish port and resort town on the Bodrum Peninsula, 270 km south from Izmir. You may also know it by its ancient name – Halicarnassus of Caria. It was the birth place of Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian.
Being a place where the traditions mix with the modern lifestyles, Bodrum is popular with history buffs, sun worshippers and adventure seekers. The resort town attracts visitors who love the sun, sailing, wind-surfing, kite surfing and scuba diving, as well as those wanting to relax or shop.
Here is a short list of Bodrum’s main attractions:
• The traditional Turkish cuisine: you should try vegetarian variations of Pilaf, Borek, as well as Cig Kofte, Menemen and Coban Salatasi.
• St. Peter’s Castle seems to rise from the water like an island, but it was actually built on a small promontory of the town’s mainland about 600 years ago. The castle is the symbol of the city and is worth spending a few hours to visit. Here you will find the Museum of Underwater Archaeology which contains many artefacts from various ages that archaeologists have found on the bottom of the sea. The Castle and The Museum are closed Mondays, and opened from 9 am to 4 pm during the rest of the week. The entrance fee is about 10 USD.
• The ruins of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum, once considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, is an open air museum. It is open from 08:00 am to 17:00 (5 pm), closed Monday. Admission costs are around 4 USD.
• The Windmills are another popular tourist attraction. Built in the 13th century, they were in use right up to the mid 12th century for grinding flour. It is a beautiful place to take photographs. In the same area there are refreshment stands and you can go for a camel ride.
. Another ancient site worth visiting is the Bodrum Amphitheatre, dating back to the 4th century BC, which is still used for live performances today.
• Bodrum’s beaches are can be quite crowded during the high season, but this is not usually a problem as there are several beaches to choose from:
Gumbet: is the nearest beach to Bodrum, some 3km away. In recent years it became a self-contained resort with its own shops, bars, and discos etc. Gumbet is also one of the most popular water sports centres. The beach is equipped with umbrellas and sun beds. It is suited for those who love the sun and family holidays.
Ortakent: a gorgeous stretch of sand, situated just 13 km from Bodrum. The beach is very pleasant due to it’s fine sand and clear water, making it a favourite with families. It is popular for sailing and other water sports.
Bitez: this beach is on the other side of the hill from Gumbet. The wind there makes it good for windsurfing and other water sports too. It is a quieter beach and the water is very shallow, making it perfect for families with young children.
• Sailing and Sports activities
With it’s clear water and favourable wind currents, Bodrum is popular for sailing and water sports. Many tourists like to charter a “gulet” (sailing schooner) for one to several days to explore the spectacular coastline and visit the neighbouring Greek island of Kos. Don’t forget your passport! Most tourists visit Kos by ferry as it is only 4km off the coast from Bodrum.
Other sports available for tourists to enjoy include kayaking, windsurfing, water skiing, mountain biking, tennis, volleyball, basketball and mini golf. Horse riding (about $60 for 3 hours) is a lot of fun and comes your own personal trainer and good quality equipment.
The high season and therefore the busiest time to visit Bodrum is between June and September. You might like consider going there in the shoulder seasons when there are less crowds and you might get cheaper prices on accommodation. From the UK you get there by plane either via Istanbul, or directly from some UK airports (e.g Luton and Manchester) to Bodrum airport, located 20 miles (35km) from the town centre. One of the best ways to travel in and around Bodrum is by “Dolmus” mini-buses which are abundant and inexpensive.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts about holidaying in Bodrum:
- Don’t wear swim suits or revealing clothes beyond the beach.
- Don’t request a smoker to stop smoking in a public place (restaurant, bar) to stop. Smoking while eating is still common and acceptable in Turkey.
- Don’t drink the tap water.
- Don’t change money at home. Exchange rates are much better in Turkey.
- Do visit gorgeous, neighbouring villages along the the Bodrum Peninsula (like Yalikavak, Gumusluc and Turguteis) on Dolmus minibuses that go to and from the centre of town.