Turkey’s beautiful Turquoise Coast offers an unbeatable mix of mountain-backed beaches, classical ruins and adventure activities, with superb food and delightful owner-run hotels.
Bucket list destination:
Destination guide for Bodrum
Bodrum, Aegean Region, Turkey
Famous for its Crusader castle, rows of gleaming wooden gulets and vibrant nightlight, Bodrum is one of Turkey’s best-loved resorts. In spite of its popularity with tourists, it still feels pleasingly down to earth; a working Aegean port where fishing and holiday boats rub along together and where there’s a place, be it bar, beach lounger or market stall, for a greater diversity of pocket.
Stretching out from the town itself, the long Bodrum peninsula is fringed with smaller, low-key resorts and villages, particularly on the north side where Turkbuku’s swanky beach clubs draw a crowd of ultra-fashionable Istanbulites and foreign celebs.
In Bodrum itself, the shopping – particularly for clothes and accessories – is exceptional, and there’s culture too, including an impressive Roman ampthitheatre, and the imposing St. Peter’s Castle, home to the interesting Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
The trick is in combining the peninsula’s outstanding draws – its party scene, classical culture, shopping, boat trips to coves, sun-lounging – according to personal taste.
The town, which occupies the southern shore of the peninsula, has as its hub the port and promenading area, with the Crusader castle bestriding two major bays.
Most of the big attractions are in the old centre, which has few hotels; there are dozens strung out along the coast in either direction. It’s worth avoiding Gumbet, unless you’re not fussed about sleep – it’s party central (and not in a good way).
Beyond the city, the shores of the peninsula are dotted with resort hotels and former fishing villages: Gumusluk, with its strip of shoreside fish restaurants; traditional Yalikavak; and ultra-fashionable (Gol) Turkbuku – Turkey’s Saint-Tropez.
In the middle of the peninsula, where the ground rises, rural Turkey briefly rematerialises.
When to go
Bodrum is rammed during high summer (July and August), not the time to be sitting in a stationary vehicle on the winding coast road or trying to secure a table at the best restaurants. Crowds and temperatures fall away in both spring and autumn, which are perfect times to visit; it’s then that Bodrum takes its foot off the partying pedal and reveals itself as an Aegean town with a more nuanced appeal. The winter months tend to bring grey days and rain.
Getting there and away
Buses and taxis connect Bodrum’s airport with the city in about 30 minutes. Regular minibuses connect Bodrum’s bus station with the various destinations around the peninsula. Ferries and hydrofoils serve Bodrum from the Greek island of Kos.
Car hire is available, though Bodrum’s labyrinthine roads and lack of parking hardly commends the place to drivers. Visitors are advised to use the ubiquitous dolmuses or taxis, while confident/fearless riders might even hire scooters or mopeds. Be prepared for heavy traffic in Bodrum and along the peninsula’s coast roads.
Where to eat or drink
The Bodrum Peninsula is Turkey’s nightlife capital, with the promenade along Bodrum’s eastern bay widely referred to as ‘Bar Street’. Bodrum’s western waterfront, Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi, is altogether chicer, and home to the city’s best restaurants and its marina.
Nearby Turkbuku – Turkey’s Saint-Tropez – is awash with trendy bars and beach brasseries.
Where to shop
The region is famed for ‘Tuesday’ markets in towns including Bodrum, Fethiye and Milas, where everything from local produce to ‘genuine fake’ Breitling watches are on offer.
Bodrum’s covered market area is good for upmarket artisanal products like silver jewellery and hand-made sandals.
For international brands head to Bodrum’s Karada Marina and to the Oasis Mall on the road to Gumbet, or to Turkbuku’s many boutiques.
Other guides relevant to this destination