Bodrum area holidays deliver a selection box of attractions. Whether you’re into history, beach-bound tanning or watersports, there’s something that fits the bill.
Bodrum splits its attention between age-old sites and modern additions. At one end of the scale, there’s the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Castle of St Peter, and an immaculately kept Roman open-air theatre. Ships, sea life and sunken artefacts are on display at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The party-seeking crowd, meanwhile, have lively nightlife to look forward to. They can add a floating beach club, steamy mud baths and the famous Bar Street to their to-do list.
Sandy beaches don’t come in small portions here – the Bodrum region’s got them stocked in bulk. Gundogan, on the north side of the peninsula, takes on a traditional Turkish image. It’s ring-fenced by bumpy hillsides and villas, with a roomy beach tacked on to the bottom. Things are even snoozier in Akyarlar, which is perched at the tip of the Bodrum peninsula. Pale sands are bookended by tree-freckled slopes, and the water’s like looking through a pane of glass.
Gigs in Gumbet
If Bodrum was Batman, then Gumbet would play the part of Robin. They’re right beside one another, with a pointy headland splitting them down the middle. And while Gumbet knows a thing or two about history, its main skill set has a more up-tempo theme. The beach goes hell-for-leather when it comes to watersports, and in July and August, the shallows are buzzing with jet-skis and banana boats. In the evening, bar-hopping crowds are treated to live music until the early hours.
Things to See and Do in Bodrum area
Turkey knows how to do beaches. And the Bodrum peninsula, tucked away in the country’s southwest corner, serves up some of the best. In Turgutreis, for example, the sands come complete with postcard views over to Kos, while Bitez Beach is a hotspot for windsurfing. And it’s not hard to guess what the attraction is over on Camel Beach…
The big beach
Top of the list is Gumbet Beach. It’s a kilometre-long stretch right in the centre of town. Families love the golden sand and top facilities – you’ll find no end of bars and restaurants here. Active types will be in their element, too – the waters are prime territory for zipping around on jet-skis and banana boats.
The secret beach
If you fancy somewhere a bit less crowded, head for Gumusluk Beach. This little Turkish delight is about half an hours’ drive from Bodrum town. It’s not completely off-the-beaten track – you’ll be able to grab a sunlounger, and there’s a decent helping of seafood restaurants edging the golden sand – but it’s a good spot if you want to escape the hordes on Bodrum’s most popular beaches.
Put on your best poker face, because Bodrum town’s Tuesday market on Turgutreis Cadessi is the place to haggle for bags, clothes and shoes sporting names like Versace and D&G. We're not talking about bank-breaking price tags, either. These are bargain-basement imitations. If it’s olives and handicrafts you're after, though, put Turgutreis' Saturday market at the top of your list. It’s right by the beach.
Leather is big news in Bodrum. Everywhere you go you’ll see shops bursting with leather bags, wallets and jackets, and the hardest part is deciding which one to go in. For some of the best, head into the heart of Bodrum town. You’ll find loads along Bar Street. Prices start at around £20 for a purse or bag and go up to around £100 for a real leather coat.
Dinky villages like Etrim and Mazi are famous for their carpet weaving. In Etrim, 30 minutes’ drive from Bodrum town, the locals have been turning out rugs for more than 500 years. And it’s a similar story in Mazi, 15 minutes further on. If you’d rather not stray too far from the nest, Atatürk Street in Bodrum town is home to a handful of shops selling more of the same.
Bitez, 10 minutes from Bodrum town, is a dab hand at low-key nights out. Here, Turkish restaurants line the waterfront and, after dinner, everyone takes to beanbags to puff on shisha pipes. There’s a similar scene in Turgutreis. The restaurants along the water here serve up fresh-from-the-net fish in view of the setting sun.
Bodrum town’s Bar Street is a real does-what-it-says-on-the-tin type of place. This heady strip along the waterfront is lined with bars and clubs, so you can hop from one happy hour to the next. Gumbet and Altinkum have their fair share of watering holes, too. In the former, you'll find the best around Bar Street. Yep, there's one of those here, too. In Altinkum, you can’t go wrong if you head to the harbour.
It's a casserole, but there's not a chunk of stewed meat in sight. This traditional Turkish stew is made using prawns, red peppers, garlic, chillies and tomatoes. And to top it all off, it's covered with stringy cheese and cooked in a terracotta pot.
This kebab puts its high street counterparts to shame. For this version, meat and spices are mixed together, wrapped around an iron skewer and then cooked over hot coals. It's dished up with grilled tomatoes, houmous and warmed flatbread.
Any Turkish mother worth her salt knows how to cook these popular pastries. But you don't have to score an invite into someone's home to taste them. You'll find stalls selling these triangle-shaped treats everywhere, and the most popular are the ones filled with cheese or lamb and spices.
A salty yoghurt drink? It's not as strange as it sounds. This speciality is made with a mix of yoghurt and water, plus a dash of salt. It’s served cold and usually with kebabs and rice dishes. Plus, it's highly recommended for people with headaches, fevers or dehydration.
This firewater has the nickname Lion's Milk, and it certainly packs a punch. Taste-wise, it's similar to ouzo and sambuca, and it's served with meze and seafood dishes. And – despite its reputation with die-hard party types – it's supposed to be served with water, and sipped rather than slammed.
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Green hill-backed Akyarlar serves up holidays with a touch of tradition. This little place started out as a fishing village, and it hasn’t had a huge growth spurt since. It’s got plenty to offer, though. The village centre’s dappled with a range of restaurants, dishing up straight-from-the-source seafood. Plus, every Thursday, there’s a pocket-sized market, ideal for souvenir shopping.
Altinkum literally translates as ‘golden sands’ – and that’s exactly what you get. This Turkish beach resort has three sandy beaches to brag about. Plus, it’s got the traditional town of Didim in its back pocket for an extra dose of bars and restaurants, as well as historical sites like the Temple of Apollo.
Bodrum does a great balancing act on Turkey’s south coast. By day it’s a quiet mix of bougainvillea-clad houses, sophisticated shops and a swanky marina that has an Ottoman castle as its centrepiece. And then the nightlife takes over, turning the place into a throbbing, neon-lit hub of bars and clubs.
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