Turkey

Bodrum: The St. Tropez of Turkey

The Bodrum peninsula, stretching from Turkey’s southwest coast into the Aegean Sea and the hot new under-the-radar luxury travel destination is the seaside city of Bodrum. 

Bodrum is the most exclusive beach resort in Turkey, with a lively nightlife, excellent hotels and a few unique sights. Below is some useful information for a trip to Bodrum, including recommended hotels, landmarks that you should not miss, insider tips and personal experiences.

Introduction to Bodrum

Although more than one million tourists flock to its beaches, boutique hotels and clubs each summer, Bodrum (I Halicarnassus in ancient times) never loses its cool; more than any other Turkish seaside getaway, it has an enigmatic elegance that pervades it, from the town’s grand crowning castle and glittering marina to its flower-filled cafes and white-plastered backstreets. Even in the most hectic days of high summer, you can still find little corners of serenity, in the town and especially in its outlying coastal villages.

Only in the past few decades has Bodrum come to be associated with pleasure, paradisical beaches and glittering summertime opulence. Previously, it was a simple fishing village, and old-timers can still remember when everything was in a different place or didn’t exist at all. Long before the palmed promenades and elaborate eateries, Bodrum wasn’t even desirable – it was actually the place where dissidents against the new Turkish republic were sent into exile. Ironically, all that started to change after one of the inmates took over the prison. Writer Cevat fakir Kahaatach (aka the ‘Fisherman of Halicarnassus) was exiled to sleepy Bodrum in 1925 and quickly fell in love with the place. After serving his time, he proce3eded to turn on a whole generation of Turkish intellectuals, writers and artists to Bodrum’s charms in the mid-1940s. From then on, there was no going back.

Due to the many yachts in the ports, the city is nicknamed “St. Tropez of Turkey “. Anyone who is someone in Istanbul travels to Bodrum in the summer months.

Some of the best 5-star hotels in Turkey are also in Bodrum. These include 5-star all-inclusive resorts and family-owned boutique hotels built in the signature white flat-roof architecture of Bodrum.

Bodrum is also a city with a unique history. The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, are located in the Old Town. Ancient Bodrum was also the home of Herodotus, the founder of modern historiography.

Getting to Bodrum

Bodrum-Milas Airport is about 40km from the city centre, seaside resorts and Bodrum Harbor. The modern airport consists of a national and international terminal. Bodrum-Milas, during the high season, can be reached by direct flights from most European airports. Besides, Izmir Adnan Menderes and Dalaman airports are only two and a half hours drive from Bodrum.

Turkish Airlines take off from Bodrum Milas Airport
Turkish Airlines take off from Bodrum Milas Airport

Bodrum can also be reached all year round, even in winter via Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen airport.

Recommended hotels

Personal recommendation

  • The Marmara Bodrum is a good 5-star boutique hotel in Bodrum, with great views. The second time you check-in, they will welcome you by name.  Welcoming, friendly staff, beautiful rooms, excellent views, brilliant service, funky guests and good food.
  • Caresse a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa with 75 rooms and nine suites, all with a sea view and large balcony or terrace.

5-star hotel

  • Titanic Deluxe Hotel: the ideal choice for an all-inclusive Bodrum holiday away from the city centre.
  • Voyage Bodrum: the popular hotel at the entrance of the port of Bodrum with excellent ratings, direct beach location and many regular guests.

4-star hotel

  • Forever Club: a well rated 4-star hotel on Icmeler beach in the south of Bodrum.
  • Hotel Azka: Located in the south of the harbour entrance on the beach, with excellent ratings from guests.

3-star hotel

  • Hotel Atrium: good and cheap with good reviews on the coast in downtown Bodrum, near the harbour.
  • Hotel Mavi:5-star hotel on Bardakci Bay, south of Bodrum Harbor, right on the coast.

What to see

  • Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: The tomb of King Mausolos, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
  • CrusaderCastle: A castle built by the Knights of Malta at the port of Bodrum.
  • Ancient theatres: sometimes there are events taking place there.
  • Dibeklih Culture and Arts Village: Insider tip with delicious food in the castle-like building and Turkish art.
  • Zeki Müren Art Museum: Private home of the late Turkish singer, poet and artist Zeki Müren
  • Bodrum Maritime Museum: Explore the history of shipping and boat building in thousands of exhibits.
  • Marina: Megayachts, restaurants, bars and beautiful streets in the old town.
Bodrum mosque
Kızılhisarlı Mustafa Paşa Cami. The mosque was originally built in 1720.
  • Myndos Gate: The gateway to the ancient city of Myndos.  Alexander the Great has stood in front of it.
  • Ottoman Shipyard: Located behind the marina, it was built in 1775 after the destruction of the Ottoman fleet
  • Pedasa: Ruins of an ancient city.
  • Karakaya: a 300-year-old village with stone houses and windmills.
  • Rabbit Island: island with the ruins of Myndos, underwater ruins and wild hares.
  • Bazaar: The market is located at the bus terminal of Bodrum. The products are an excellent mix of a farmer’s market, souvenirs, counterfeit products, spices, fruits, vegetables, craft products

Activities and sports

  • Water sports: diving, parasailing, banana boat, …
  • Turkish Night: Turkish Music and Folklore, Belly Dancer, “Dancing Dervishes”, Gala Buffet …
  • Hamam: The Turkish version of Wellness, an afternoon in a Turkish bath with a massage.
  • Sailing Cruise (Blue Voyage): Take a Turkish motor sailing ship (gulet) to remote coves, either all-inclusive on the day or foam party in the evening.
  • Quad Safari: drive through the landscape rugged landscape on the Turkish coast and in the mountains
  • Horse riding: through fields and the beautiful pine forests of Bodrum, to hidden sights

 Pamukkale and Hierapolis: The most booked day trip on the Turkish south coast. Visit the thermal springs and limestone terraces of Pamukkale and the ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis.

Natural travertine pools and terraces in Pamukkale.
Natural travertine pools and terraces in Pamukkale.
  • Ephesus: Ruins of the 250,000-inhabitant city with the Celsus Library, a gigantic theatre and the Artemis Temple, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
Celsus library in Ephesus
Ancient ruins of Celsus library in Ephesus
  • Miletus, Priene and Didyma: Explore the Roman-Hellenistic history of Turkey during a trip to the ruins of the two ancient cities and the Apollo oracle in Didyma.
  • Dalyan: ruins of Kaunos, boat trip on the Dalyan Delta, Karian royal tombs, the protected Iztuzu beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey, where the sea turtles lay their eggs.
  • Kos: Day trip with a ferry to the Greek island, local tour operators offer guided tours.
  • Rhodes: Day trip, guided tours are possible from Bodrum.

Beaches in Bodrum

Most beaches in Bodrum are freely accessible. The sun loungers and parasols cost 5 to 10 euros a day.

The big clubs and hotels have private beach areas.

  • Bitez Beach: In Bodrum sunbathers can be found on the Bitez beach, private beach areas provide tranquillity, restaurants, cafes and bars for eating and the windy weather attracts water sports enthusiasts.
  • Türkbükü Strand: The scene-meeting in Bodrum, see and be seen in beach clubs with designer sunglasses! The clubs have wooden boardwalks built on the shallow beach, on them you can lie in the sun during the day, in the evening you can dance and party on the wooden platforms.
  • Camel Beach: Nice beach for families and children with some restaurants and clubs.
  • Bardakci Cove: A bay just outside the harbour, a water taxi drives to her. The bay is known for its surrounding restaurants.
  • Xuma Beach Club: A well-maintained beach club in Yalikavak Bodrum. The entrance fee is € 20, the food in the club is in the same price range, but it is never too busy and you have your peace in the sun.

Bars, pubs and clubs in Bodrum

In the summer, gravity in Turkey is changing and the entire country is shifting its view of the south coast – stars, starlets and television crews are making a pilgrimage to Bodrum.

The port is becoming increasingly popular. In the summer harbour, the yachts of billionaires anchor in the harbour.

Even the Turks consider Bodrum the party capital of Turkey in the summer, even ahead of Istanbul. So, where does the nightlife take place?

  • Beach clubs: Especially at the Türkbükü beach, with small platforms by the sea.
  • Concerts: In the ancient theatre and in the castle by the harbour. For example, the Film Festival in June, the Bodrum Festival in July, and the International Classic Music Festival in August are all interesting.

Food in Bodrum

In Bodrum, you will find restaurants with different kitchens compared to other resorts in Turkey.

The classic Turkish cuisine is represented in the city as well as sushi bars or Greek food.

Here is a selection of good restaurants in Bodrum that you should have tried:

Personal recommendation: MIMOZA

Mimoza Gümüşlük Restaurant
Mimoza Gümüşlük Restaurant
  • Limon: a nice restaurant on a hill above Gümüslük with Turkish-Mediterranean cuisine. Reservation is necessary for the evening!
  • Orfoz: excellent seafood restaurant near the marina and the castle.
  • Memedof Balik: one of the most famous restaurants in Bodrum, with seafood, fish and mezze, reservation is necessary for the evening.
  • El Vino Restaurant: Turkish and international cuisine with a good wine from Turkey.
  • Claypots: Restaurant of the Ramada Resort Bodrum, an ideal place to taste the regional court Cökterme Kabab.

 Shopping centres:

  • Oasis: a modern shopping centre with international and national brands
  • Midtown: national and international brands in a beautiful shopping centre.
  • Avenue: Supermarkets, Starbucks, brand stores, IKEA, etc …

Bazaars:

  • Tuesday: Textile bazaar with the typical Turkish counterfeits, souvenirs and household items at the bus station “Otogar”.
  • Friday: unlike Tuesday, the bus station market Friday is mainly about fresh fruit, vegetables and less about clothes.

Prices

Hotel/accommodation:

  • Budget hotel with breakfast: 25 to 40 € per day
  • Mid-range hotel / all-inclusive: 35 to 70 € per day
  • High-end hotel / all-inclusive: from 120 € per day
  • Hostel: 15 to 20 €
  • Airbnb: own room from 10 €

Transport:

  • Round trip to Bodrum-Milas: 150 to 350 €, depending on the season and airline
  • A single trip by bus: 0,50 to 1 €
  • Airport transfer by bus: 10 €
  • Havas bus from the airport to Bodrum Otogar: around 2 €
  • Private transfer: from 25 €
  • Taxi to the airport: around 30 € from the old town
  • Day trip, for example, Ephesus: 45 to 60 € including entrance and food

Food, drinks and other:

  • Restaurant in the tourist area, main course: 10 to 20 €
  • Restaurant locals, main course: 7 to 10 €
  • Street food: Simit 30 € cent, kebab 1 €, corn on the cob 40 € cent,
  • A glass of wine in the restaurant: 2 €
  • A glass of beer: 2-3 €
  • Cocktail: from 8 €
  • Coffee: 2-3 €
  • Bottle of water in the store (1.5L): 30 € cent
  • Food in the store: around 40% cheaper than in Europe.
  • Food at the bazaar: Fruit and vegetables are at least 50% cheaper than in Europe
  • Tickets: Ancient ruins 20 to 40TL, museums 5 to 10TL
Bodrum Old Town Street With Restaurants
Typical Bodrum Old Town Street With Restaurants

Total budget:

  • Budget: 40 to 60 € per day
  • Middle class: 60 to 90 € per day
  • High-end: from 120 € per day, on average 150 €

 Conclusion

Bodrum, for me, is one of the most beautiful areas of Turkey.  I love the city especially in the spring, with its blooming trees and the pleasant smell in the air. The beautiful architecture with the white flat roof houses and greenery is also a completely different holiday scene to many other Turkish beach resorts.

Bodrum is also one of Turkey’s seaside resorts with more than just big all-inclusive hotels. Here you also have the opportunity to explore the old town with its many small traditional restaurants, bars and daytime attractions.

Enjoy the warm sun, the balmy sea breeze and the turquoise sea in Bodrum!

In case you have any questions, please leave your comment below and I will answer as soon as I can.

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