Bodrum in Turkey: The Country’s Top Leisure Destination
Fronting the Aegean Sea and facing Greece’s Dodecanese Islands, Bodrum in Turkey commands respect for its self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking lifestyle. Its reputation since the 1960s has attracted not only wealthy and influential people from all over the world but also budget holidaymakers eager to tap into carefree vibes.
In part, it owes much of its fame and success to one man, the fisherman of Halicarnassus. His real name was Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli, and when exiled there in the 1920s, for his literary work, he was distraught.
Deciding to pass his three-year exile by exploration, he spent time on fishing boats exploring historical ruins and coastal villages inaccessible by the main road. Inviting friends to join him, they spread the word everywhere and Cevat would become what Cornucopia magazine coined as “Turkey’s first professional tour guide.”
Such was his influence, Bodrum embraced mainstream, package tourism and is now Turkey’s top Aegean touristic hub and a prominent Turkish Riviera destination.
Although the name Bodrum refers to the main town centre, it is also the name of the larger peninsula containing many more quaint seaside resorts and places of interest. Hence, anyone planning a visit is certain to find a destination suiting their idea of a perfect holiday.
About Bodrum in Turkey: Travel Guide
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Bodrum’s main tourism season runs from May to October, and during this time, everything is running on a full tank. All bars, restaurants, shops, and hotels open round the clock and excursions and tours regularly depart to see delights of the peninsula and Turkey.
Hence beach holidaymakers should visit during this time but to get out exploring, be aware the months of July, August and September are the hottest with temperatures often reaching into the mid-40s. To visit historical attractions or go trekking in the hillside, choose April, May, October, or November.
How to Get to Bodrum
The peninsula is home to one of Turkey’s top three touristic airports that runs a regular flight schedule to many countries from May to October. Outside these months, people also use nearby Izmir airport.
Otherwise, the main otogar (bus station) connects all year round with other major places in Turkey and anyone who knows the country well will testify about excellent services and cheap ticket prices. If arriving by car, the main D330 highway leads into the peninsula and for those coming in by sea, the two official points of entry are Gulluk and Bodrum main town.
Bodrum Castle: The Peninsula’s Landmark
Sitting on the rugged coastline, the Ottomans used the 16th century Saint Peters castle, also called the Knights of Saint John Castle, as a defence port in their war with Rhodes. These days, it features on many postcards and in travel publication about the Peninsula. Also home to the Underwater Archaeology Museum, many artefacts within the museum are from shipwrecks dating back thousands of years.
Nice to Know: Halicarnassus
Bodrum is built on top of Halicarnassus ancient city, home to the mausoleum of the same name, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Many stones from the ancient structure were used to build the castle, but visitors can still visit the remains today.
Nightlife and Eating Out
Across the peninsula, hundreds of bars and restaurants excel in after dark leisure. Given that Bodrum is a peninsula, seaside dining is the favourite way to do it, and in many smaller resorts, fresh fish and seafood are the main menus.
However, restaurants offer every type of cuisine from around the world. Aside from dining seaside, rooftop terrace dining is another theme, and people also head to Gumusluk, that is renowned for their harbourside restaurants.
After dining, sit down entertainment bars offer cocktails, spirits, beer and more, but for the hardcore pulsating music to party to till dawn, bar street in the main town centre is where it is all happening. Club Catamaran, a floating nightclub also sell tickets to dance parties throughout summer. (Our favourite places to eat out in Bodrum.)
Shopping Choices Galore
Shoppers have three choices of where to drop the cash. For the high end, luxury brand names, Yalikavak marina is a good place to start. Combine a shopping trip with lunch or brunch in the nearby restaurants serving high-end cuisine.
If sticking to a budget, traditional weekly markets are a time-honoured Turkish tradition and a great place to pick up souvenir and clothing. Otherwise, shopping malls like Oasis and Midtown combine Turkish and international brand names for around the world shopping experience.
Where to Stay
Holidaymakers have a choice of 18 resorts to stay and each offers something unique. From quiet to lively water sports to a luxury spa and wellness centres, our comprehensive area guide to Bodrum talks about each resort more in-depth, but some favourites are…
Stylish Yalikavak: Rising from the ranks of a small fishing village to major sailing hub, Yalikavak is the place to be, and this is clear with the international, luxury mega yachts often docking into the marina. Alongside the glitzy sailing world, Turkey’s traditional face still shines through in the old part so Yalikavak accommodates everyone with finesse and style regardless of your budget.
Action in Gumbet: British people enjoy Gumbet, a small resort near the town centre with a long beach and a huge choice of water sports. For after dark, the range of sit-down entertainment bars also makes it the number one choice for families with teenagers.
Rustic Gumusluk: This small resort maintaining a lost in time atmosphere attracts people who want peace, serene beauty. Known by its landmark Rabbit Island, think lazy days, beach BBQs and exploring green hillsides.
Bodrum Town Centre: Yalikavak has overtaken the town centre as the peninsula’s king, but that does not stop thousands of visitors descending on it every year. As a favourite holiday destination of Turks, traditional vibes surround the old part yet to go upmarket, look at the area around the marina and numerous five star plus hotels.
Turkbuku: Once called Turkey’s Saint Tropez, Turkbuku is all about money and the resort often host millionaire celebrities and influential businesspeople. You need a hefty budget to holiday in this resort but will receive top-notch service with everything at your fingertips.
The Best Beaches in Bodrum Turkey
Bodrum does beaches well. We are talking miles and miles of long sandy stretches and hidden coves and bays. Whether you want to avoid crowds, go snorkelling or soak up the rays, with beachside drink service, Bodrum is the go-to destination for beach lovers.
Some favourites include….
Yahsi Beach: Sitting in the Ortakent district, this long stretch of sand offers everything for a day beachside including sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports, toilets, and plenty of places to eat and drink. Its reputation for cleanliness often brings in locals from the town centre.
Bitez Beach: Sitting within the resort of the same name, Bitez offers everything a perfect beach holiday should look like. Sitting around a small bay, many restaurants backing the beach offer free sunbeds if you eat and drink with them. Pontoons in the sea and a range of water sports also keep kids entertained.
Karaincir Plaji: Families with young children prefer this stretch of sand because the two hillsides surrounding it, shelter it from wind and thus ensuring calm waters. This wide, sandy bay sits near Akyarlar resort and there is plenty of space to splash about.
Camel Beach: Many daily boat trips stop by this stretch of sand which adhering to the name also offers camel rides. When the boats leave, it is quiet and a great place for some downtime.
Things to Do in Bodrum
Whether you want to relax, get active, or absorb culture, many activities and places to visit ensure a fun-filled week. Independent travellers often hire a car to get out and explore but otherwise, local tour shops sell a variety of half-day and full-day trips to highlighted landmarks and other places in Turkey like Ephesus and Pamukkale. So aside from beaches, scuba diving, partying, shopping, and visiting Bodrum castle, other things to include….
Daily Boat Trips: By far, this is the most popular activity with many boats leaving from harbours around the peninsula every morning during summer. Lunch is included, and with swimming breaks along the way, it is a great way to explore the peninsula by sea. Bodrum is also a Turkish riviera hub and local sailing shops sell three-night four-day gulet cruises across to the Dodecanese islands.
Go Traditional: Bodrum offers modern, and glitzy with style but there are several ways to experience traditional Turkish culture and traditions. First stop should be a Turkish bath, a tradition that stemmed from the Romans and one that preps your skin up for a golden, sun-kissed tan.
Men should venture into a barbershop for the traditional shave while heading to the old town part is a nostalgic glimpse into its history. Look for lokantas which are Turkish restaurants to sample a variety of Turkish cuisine and last, buy the Turkish eye as a souvenir.
Horse, Jeep and Quad Bike Safaris: Bodrum’s hills hold many scenic landscapes, picturesque views, small villages and off-the-beaten-track places to explore on foot, but many tourists opt for four legs or four wheels to get about. You do not have to be experienced either as full training and safety gear is given out. For a four-day peninsula road trip, hire a car and go at your own pace.
Go Greek: Bodrum in Turkey is great for a holiday but swap for the day to Greece! During summer, people arrive from other resorts to catch the daily ferry across to Kos, a Dodecanese island with sandy beaches, and an old town centre with many Roman landmarks. It is also a great opportunity to try Greek cuisine and experience two cultures within one holiday.
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