Bodrum, Turkey

City Guide:

Welcome to Bodrum!

photo-1533168000576-6c6e1d63d558.jpeg

The Bodrum Yanmadası (Bodrum Peninsula) seems to be the end-all summer destination in Turkey, with, thankfully tons of unblemished real estate to build on its appeal. The peninsula's secret, aside from some 65,000 hectares of rolling hills with nothing but decrepit windmills and grazing cows, lies in its long littoral.

 

To get the most out of your adventure, please make sure to read this itinerary from front-to-back. It is sectioned into three parts: prep, daily itineraries, and an appendix identifying everything you need to print (lodging, train tickets, etc).

Today – Now

HOME

PLANNING & BOOKING

The dreaded part of any vacation - planning! Every savvy traveler knows that it’s always better to plan and book early in advance to bag those irresistible bargains. Not only do you get to save up to 25% on flight and hotel prices, but you also get to never settle for second-best! Lower flight prices, room deals, and early bird discounts are only some of the many benefits of booking your tickets, excursions and accommodation early on. We recommend planning and booking 3 to 6 months in advance – a surefire way to have a worry-free pre-holiday buzz when the time to travel is near!

Unforgettable Moments - Bodrum Highlights

photo-1500180675541-ed5e861c7b98.jpeg

What truly grabs first-time visitors is the unrivaled excitement of the harbor town Bodrum. The medieval Castle of St. Peter commands the cape from downtown Bodrum's yacht-filled harbor. Near this looming fortress are the foregone remains of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum-one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Both offer plenty to keep sightseers busy during the daytime. Come nighttime, the port roars to life with a laser light display letting everyone know where the party is.

About a dozen unique villages, comprised of blocks of whitewashed low-rises draped in showy bougainvillea, promote the Med's celebrated dolce vita. And, unlike similar uber resorts like Kuşadasi or Marmaris, development here is mostly kept in check. Aside from a highway that connects the peninsula to the provincial seal of Muğla, there's just a single back road that rings this large, scenic headland in the Aegean Sea.

Day-by-Day Breakdown

Day 1: Arrival + Getting Acquainted

Arrival

Günaydın! Welcome to Bodrum! We know the feeling, having your excitement of landing at a new place being replaced by the dread of customs, luggage and how you’ll be reaching your hotel. Don’t worry though, if you have everything planned beforehand, you’ll find that you’ll be done in no time.

 

The airport servicing Bodrum is about 22 miles (30 min) from the town center, and actually closer to the provincial scat in Milas. The two terminals at Bodrum-Milas welcome charter flights daily in the high season from most European capitals, in addition to national airlines, such as Pegasus, Turkish Airlines, and Onur Air. 

Havas shuttles are the pain-free transport to and from Bodrum. These take off from Bodrum's otogar (bus station), stopping on the main highway at Güvercinlik and Torba, two hours prior to the departure time of each international flight. Note that seating availability on shuttles is on a first-come first serve basis. Alternatively, the convenient Taxi Coop shuttles passengers directly into town or to any villages around the peninsula any time of the day or night.

Morning

We absolutely get it, your first morning is bound to be rife with jet lag. So the best to orient yourself with the city is by having a great breakfast followed by a walking tour of the historic center to get you acquainted with the city and excited for the next few days.

Start at the Castle of St. Peter, Bodrum's main attraction which is one of the largest and best-preserved castles of the Knights of Rhodes. It’s also the world's hands-down best underwater archaeology museum. If that doesn't grab your attention, come for the fantastic sea views best seen from the five-centuries-old refectory high atop the French Tower.

 

Afternoon

The garrison lies atop an earlier Selçukian fort on what was once the island of Zephyria, named after Zephyros, the Hellenic God of the Western Vind. With more than 240 coat of arms, varied inscriptions, and armor along the garrison's five towers, the interior and exterior spaces make the fortress a foremost example of European medieval history.

The looming structure has been formally opened to the public as the Bodrum Sualtı Arkeoloji Müzesi. It's an impressive repository for the countless booty collected from nine offshore shipwrecks, some dating as far back as the 14th-century B.C. These undersea treasures are strewn throughout, aptly mixing the site's comprehensive history. Aside from vast collections of barnacle-encrusted amphoras, stunningly ornate gold and silver jewelry, oil lamps, and copper tools, shipwrecks have been perfectly reconstructed just as they appeared undersea when currant sponge divers discovered them. 

Aside from historical artifacts, the fortress' grounds feature samples of almost every flora found in the Mediterranean. Take note of the myrtle tree in the main court. Dedicated to Aphrodite throughout history, the plane tree was sought by royalty for its health-promoting benefits.

Evening

It’s time to relax and unwind! Tarihi Bardakcı Hamam is not only is it the oldest hamam on the Bodrum Peninsula but also delivers the most authentic Turkish Bath experience. Massages take place in the hot room or in a small side room, depending on the number of visitors in the hamam. Finish off of your Turkish Bath experience with a glass of hot tea served outside in the front garden area, where you can watch the world go by, and they can watch you in your pestemal!

Day Two: History, beach, and traditional Turkish food   

photo-1513073945753-eb763d2a99de.jpeg

Morning

Continue your historic tour on the second day with a visit to the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The term mausoleum-or monumental grave derives from Mausolus. Despite various pirate raids in the mid-1st century A.D., the tomb stood pretty much intact until a series of devastating earthquakes destroyed most of its roof around the first millennium. The 36 columns that surrounded the grave and the structure's base were used as fodder for the construction of a Selçukian fortress in the 12th century. The Knights of St. John further picked whatever remained to build the Castle of St. Peter.



The site of the Mausoleum is a pleasant landscaped courtyard. The remains of the monumental grave are strewn haphazardly and are still under excavation. These include some fluted columns, marble drums, one of the grave's grand stairways, and rubble culled from its chambers. Of note, however, are fragments of friezes that appeared on the base of the Mausoleum and a collection of models and representations of what the burial shrine itself and the town of Halicarnassus may have looked like more than 2,300 years ago.

photo-1527443867717-e1485c6993cb.jpeg

Afternoon

Bodrum's best beaches are located on the southern side of the peninsula. Akyarlar tops our list. It even appeared on Forbes Magazine's 15 Best Sandy Strips in the World. The beach owes its reputation to the powdery sand and the string of traditional Greek stone houses that line its tiny, concave bay. 


Coming in second for its traditional Turkish restaurants is Karaincir's long sandy stretch, just next door to Akyarlar. Coming in third is Bitez, a beach that mixes shallow depths, that are ideal for children, and offshore wind conditions, that lend to some of the best surfing and waterskiing on the peninsula. The surfing season runs late May-early November. Winds are mild in the morning and pick up dramatically by mid-afternoon. Owner Rush of Rush Windsurfing is a jovial European and a patient instructor. Equipment rental is available for intermediate to advanced surfers. Windsurfing lessons are typically organized in the mornings.

Evening

Looking for the dinner - the Turkish style? Every local town and village has a lokanta where tasty homemade meals are served. These restaurants are usually pretty basic with a limited menu selection, but offer traditional Turkish dishes at budget-friendly prices. One bustling Lokanta at the top of our list is Nazik Ana, which is tucked down Eski Hukumet Sokak, a quaint little pedestrian side-street. This restaurant attracts a loyal lunchtime crowd of locals, taking advantage of the fixed lunch special. For $2 you get a choice of the main course, rice, and meze from their buffet, and as much bread as you can eat. They vary the menu each day, so there’s always something a little different to choose from.


Day 3: Experience authentic Turkish delights!

Morning

Why not start your day off at a Belediye café, enjoying a Turkish coffee or tea at a harbor-side café, while watching the fisherman at work, and the local area come to life.

All Belediye Cafés serve an assortment of drinks, but the expansiveness of the food menu will vary by location. The most expensive item is a Turkish breakfast at around $3. Other standard items are toasted cheese sandwiches, salads, Gözleme and a selection of pastries.


Afternoon

photo-1517243804125-5bf3fe40f04d.jpeg

Head to the Ottoman Tower which was originally built as a protection against pirates and was restored in 1829. Today, this building is used to host cultural events and functions as an art gallery.

The entire Ottoman Fleet was destroyed by the Russians in a naval battle at Cesme in 1770, and the Bodrum Shipyard was established in 1775 to rebuild the fleet, using wood brought in from the local mountains.

Located behind the Shipyard is the Ottoman cemetery with the graves of the Anonymous Horseman (Adsiz Atli Süvari) and the famous Ottoman sea captain Cafer Pahsa. The Tower and Shipyard are situated on the northwest part of Bodrum Harbour, just follow Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi around the harbor.

Evening

Bodrum hosts two major market days, both held in an indoor hall adjacent to the local dolmuş station. The Textile Market occurs on TOmar Tursićuesdays and the Farmers Market is held each Friday.

At Tuesday’s Textile market the stalls consist of clothing, bags, bedding, towels and other household items. This is where you’ll find the biggest selection of “genuine-fake” designer wear. If you’ve forgotten a beach towel, or want to pick up some souvenir tea-towels to take home, this is where you’ll find the best selection.



Bear in mind that the Tuesday market is a popular destination for day-trippers from Kos, and also on the excursion schedule for visiting cruise ships, so it can get busy and incredibly more hectic as the day progress. So get there early.


Day 4: Turgutreis Day-Trip!

Morning 

Located on the western coastline of the Bodrum Peninsula, Turgutreis is an expansive municipality stretching north to Kadikalesi, and south past Akyarlar. The main road running through the middle of the Peninsula, the D330 Muğla Bodrum Yolu, connects Bodrum to Turgutreis.

As you enter Turgutreis, this stretch of the D330 is known locally as Mehmet Hilmi Caddesi, which leads all the way through the center of the town towards the small boat harbor. The most noticeable landmark will be the large mosque just before the beach. North of the mosque is the local beach and the central tourist hub for shops, restaurants, and bars, and south is the local Marina and Ferry port.

Afternoon: 

At Turgutreis Marina, you can wander along the pedestrian walkways to peruse Ruzgar El Sanatlari, which is the Marina’s Arts and Crafts Corner. Along with the local crafts, jewelry, and clothing, there are a couple of artists selling paintings depicting local scenes. The set of striped-canopied stalls is especially picturesque in the evening.

About a mile from Turgutreis town center, just on the other side of the D-Marin Marina, is Sabanci Park, a waterfront memorial marking the place where Admiral Turgut Reis first set sail. Today, it’s a well-manicured destination, with plenty of interesting props for photo opportunities, and an ideal location to enjoy a peaceful walk away from the hustle and bustle of Turgutreis town center.

Evening: 

Whether it’s shopping for essentials at one of the local supermarkets or hardware stores, browsing for gifts in the labyrinth of tourist shops behind the Mosque, or walking through the gauntlet of hawkers at the Saturday Street Market in search of fresh produce, clothes, souvenirs or housewares – there’s plenty to spend your money on. If you’re returning by bus, don’t forget to check when the last bus leaves for Bodrum.

Day Five: – a day outdoors!

Morning

Spend this day in Bodrum’s neighbor, Gümbet, which is named after the domed water cisterns that appear along the roadside and on the hills. Visit a set of windmills, in need of repair, on the crest of the hill between Bodrum and Gümbet. Plans are underway to renovate the windmills and turn this destination into an attractive tourist draw, but for now, your visit will deliver panoramic views of this corner of the Bodrum Peninsula, with a birds-eye view of Bodrum Castle.

photo-1518352836766-5fc17cfeae78.jpeg

Afternoon

While Bodrum only has a couple of small beach areas, Gümbet offers a mile of sandy beach perfect for sun worshippers, and a bay full of water sports. There are plenty of sun-beds and umbrellas, and you’re never more than a few steps away from cafes, restaurants, and bars.

During the day, this popular local beach is filled with the young and the restless, including families with children, energetic water sports enthusiasts, and those sleeping off the previous night’s hangover. 

Evening

There are restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs spread throughout Gümbet, and lining the bay. Bar Street is the center of bar and club activity, and is located in the heart of Gümbet. There is a large selection of restaurants offering international cuisine, including Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Italian, catering to the influx of European tourists who descend on this location each year. With names like “Queen Vic”, “The Shamrock” and “Victoria Bar” it’s not hard to image the clientele this area caters to.

Day Six

Photo by Emre Gencer on Unsplash

Morning

Along the southern coastline from Gümbet is Bitez Bay. The hill that divides these two locations juts out into the sea and is where you’ll find Aquarium Bay and Cove. This secluded area with its clear turquoise water is a popular mooring point for local day boats.

On the western side of Bitez Bay is Atatürk Boulevard. Follow this road north to reach Bitez Village, or follow it south to weave through the Aktur Bay area. To take a shortcut to Ortakent Beach, turn off Atatürk Boulevard at Selvi Caddesi (aka Musgebi Caddesi), and then take the right-hand fork in the road onto the Bitez-Ortaköy Yolu to reach Ortakent Beach.


Afternoon

While the beach area is a magnet for tourists, the village is often overlooked, and becomes a pass-through on the way to somewhere else. But Bitez Village is actually a sleeping giant, masquerading as a Tiny Tim. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to distract locals and tourists alike, making it a worthy destination.

Whereas all villages on the Bodrum Peninsula have tea houses for men, Bitez Village is unusual that its tea house has an entrance where only women are allowed. It’s called the Kadinlar Kahvesi, and during the summer you can see the village women drinking tea and coffee while kitting or playing backgammon.


Evening

At sunset, walk along the pedestrian promenade adjacent to the beach, and you’ll pass shops selling tourist trinkets and beach essentials like suntan lotion, beach toys, and towels. There’s also a couple of bakkals where you can buy soft drinks and snacks.


The small Mosque near the beach is an easy landmark to spot and is in front of a pedestrian area with a varied collection of restaurants and businesses. Here you’ll find the Huseyin Efe Carsis covered bazaar that features shops and stalls selling crafts, souvenirs, beach clothing, sunglasses, leather goods, and travel accessories. Down a couple of the sides streets leading off the main beach promenade are small collections of craft and souvenir stalls, which are mostly only open in the evenings.


Day 7: Güle güle Bodrum!

We recommend taking an evening flight out of Bodrum so you can have a few extra hours to explore the city.

 For the last few hours, we recommend:

·     Enjoy a traditional Turkish breakfast at a local café.

·     Take a dolmuş ride! It’s cheap, and a great way to get around the local area.

·     Rent a sea kayak and go for a paddle on one of the quiet and calm bays on the Peninsula

·     Support the local artists and buy unique crafts from one of the Municipal Craft Stalls, rather than a mass-produced version from the Pazar.

Take a Bus from Bodrum Otogar to the Bodrum Milas Airport, a trip that will last you about 45 minutes. We recommend leaving for the airport at least three hours before your scheduled departure.

Luxury Hotels and Villas List

photo-1529169436040-836f3d93f0f8 (1).jpeg

While there is an exception or two, finding all-around pleasant accommodations in the center of town is difficult unless you venture further up Bodrum's hill. The nightly hubbub around both marinas can keep early-to-bed visitors counting sheep until 4 A.M. 

Pension owners swear by the efficacy of double-glazed windows, but even this proves no match to the din—and light-emitted by the gargantuan clubs nearby. But if action is what you're after, and you'll be cutting a rug until the wee hours anyway, then by all means, do base your efforts around the port.

Otherwise, the best plan of action is to opt for an idyllic B&B or one of the many sleek resorts along the peninsula. Most hotels are closed November-April, opening for the two weeks New Year's holiday.

Here are some of our top picks on where to stay!



Trip Prep

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

FLIGHTS / BUS / TICKETS

The best time to book your flight is anywhere between 50 to 90 days in advance to avoid the unpredictable fluctuations of the prices. If you’re traveling in peak season (the summer months or Christmas and New Year’s), make sure you book well in advance as well. 

You can stay in Bodrum without having your own transport. Most of the major sights are within easy walking distance. In addition to the local Dolmuş cooperatives, the local Muğla council operates a regular city bus service. There’s large board at the bus station showing the routes and times of all the local services that connect Bodrum to the rest of the peninsula.

Reservations

Although we advise you to book some of your hotels and excursions before you depart, it’s always good to keep somethings spontaneous! Allow yourself the flexibility (and the budget!) to go on an exciting adventure such as a boat trip or book yourself into that boutique hotel you just happen to find.

Insurance

Give yourself peace of mind, and take out some travel insurance for your trip. Although Bodrum is a safe destination and popular with tourists all over the world, it’s still best to be covered for the unexpected. Be sure to inform your insurance company if you plan to do some adventure sports.

PASSPORT

e-Visa

U.S. citizens visiting Turkey for less than 90 days can get an e-visa at www.evisa.gov.tr for US$20. You can also get visa after arrival kiosk for $30. The requirements for entry are simple. Make sure your passport is valid for three months after departure and you have two blank pages for stamps.

Electricity

Most people tend to forget to pack an outlet adapter and/or converter. You definitely need an outlet adapter, so we recommend getting a universal one that works around most cities in Europe and the UK as well. If you have any curlers or hair dryers with you, we also recommend using a voltage converter. 

Phones

International: Dial the international access code (001 in US, 00 in Europe), then the country code (90 for Turkey) then the number. Drop the initial 0 if there is one. 

Domestic: If you’re calling from one number to another within Turkey simply dial the phone number, including the initial 0 if there is one. No country code needed.

Packing Made Simple!

photo-1526857240824-92be52581d9b (1).jpeg

  1. Packing will completely depend on when you are visiting. For winter, bring warm clothes, gloves, mittens, beanies, jackets and lots of layers. For summer, bring lighter clothes, dresses, light shirts

  2. Remember your camera, charger, memory card and power adapter. Be well equipped to capture all of the beautiful sites when wandering the city.

  3. You’re going to encounter some beautiful beaches, so make sure you pack your swimming gear.

  4. Pack light - using packing cubes and roll your clothes!

  5. Edgy fashion seems to be the norm in Bodrum.

  6. Your insurance, passport, copies of tickets and copies of your insurance. 

  7. Very comfortable shoes - you will be walking a lot and the streets need comfortable shoes. Skip the heels. 

  8. Be sure to have cash on hand—it’s not uncommon to find cash-only restaurants and shops, even in major cities.


Booking Checklist 

Flight

For this itinerary, allow 6 nights, 7 days

  • ARRIVE: BODRUM (BJV) in the morning of DAY 1

  • DEPART: BODRUM (BJV) in the evening of DAY 7

Lodging

Bodrum has plenty of lodging options available that cater to all types of tastes. From luxury and boutique hotels to B&Bs, AirBnB’s and hostels - the options are endless. Most places in Bodrum are also very well-connected to the center, so you won’t have trouble navigating around. 


Bodrum, Turkey | DAY 1 - 7, 6 nights

Tickets & Reservations:

  1. Windsurfing

  2. Sea kayaking

 

Recommended Airlines & Routes 

From the U.S

Book a flight to Bodrum via Istanbul. The main carriers from the U.S are Turkish Airlines and each have their own advantages. The best airline completely depends on which airline has the best deals at the time you’re traveling. There are direct flights from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. 

From Europe

We recommend Lufthansa for flights in Europe due to their exceptional customer service and baggage handling. They also offer great in-flight entertainment and a clean, polished interior. 


Apps, Transportation & The ‘Gram

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

  • Tripadvisor | One of the best city guides to use while in Bodrum with real reviews from people. It’s a great app if you want to find less-touristy things to do or if you want to explore areas around you. 

  • Whatsapp | free text messaging and calls to other Whatsapp users

  • Trafi: explore your city under one app icon. Trafi connects and compares your favorite city mobility options and always shows them in real-time. 

  • BiTaksi finds the nearest taxi around and directs it to you.


TRANSIT BOOKING SITES


The Gram

Bodrum @bodrum.bodrum 

Bodrum / Turkey @l3odrum 

Turkey-bodrum @ turkey.bodrum 

BODRUM @ bodrum.travel 

#bodrumbodrum #bodrumturkey #travelbodrum #bodrumtrip #visitbodrum #bodrumnights #bodrumlife #bodrumfood


Most Instagrammable Spots in Bodrum:

  • Ölüdeniz Blue Lagoon. ...

  • Pamukkale pools. ...

  • The ancient city of Ephesus. ...

  • Saklikent Canyon. ...

  • The ghost town of Kayaköy. ...

  • Cliff jumping at Olympos. ...

  • Bodrum town. ...

  • Butterfly Valley, Fethiye.

  • Bodrum windmills

  • Waterfalls around Antalya


Destination Facts 

  • Bodrum has one of the world’s oldest and biggest malls.

  • You might find chicken in your dessert.

  • Bodrum was once called Halicarnassus and was a part of the Caria Kingdom.

  • Bodrum welcomed more than a million tourists last year.

  • One of the Mediterranean’s primary sea turtle nesting beaches is here.

  • Bodrum Castle has been used as a mosque, military base, and prison in the past.

  • Bodrum is home to Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli, the famous Turkish writer.

  • People have been building temples in this area from as long as the hunter-gatherer era.

  • Set your watches to GMT+3

  • Bodrum is home to 35,795 residents

Shenae Curry