Visiting Bodrum - What to See and Do
(Milas Bodrum Airport BXN, Turkey)
Far to the south of Istanbul
is one of Turkey's true travel gems. The seaside town of Bodrum
is a fantastic mix of traditional and fun attractions. The houses tumble down the hillsides like whitewashed landslides dripping with colourful bushes and plants all the way to the harbour.
From every part of town the imposing St. Peter's Castle reminds visitors of the era of the Crusaders, while the now-ruined Mausoleum was once one of the original Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. This rich history is balanced by some of Turkey's liveliest nightlife in the downtown clubs and bars of Bodrum. You'll also find more than enough quality restaurants to work with in this popular tourist town.
Then there are the beaches. The Bodrum Peninsula is dotted with perfect sandy spots, some quiet and some heavily developed. While this city is hardly a secret seaside getaway, beaches like those of Turkbuku and Torba still impress. There is just enough of the boutique resort scene to make life comfortable, but not so much development that it feels like a package tour trap.
Ten things you must do in Bodrum
- The one landmark you can't miss in Bodrum is St. Peter's Castle. This attraction sticks out into the middle of the two harbours on its own rocky promontory, where it beckons visitors. The Knights of St. John wrested the castle from the Turks centuries ago, but its five towers, seven gates and walls are still in lovely condition. Be sure to check out the dungeon while you are here, and when you get tired, take a break in one of the two shady courtyards.
- While you are visiting St. Peter's Castle, set some time aside for the amazing Underwater Archaeology Museum. Several ancient shipwrecks have been painstakingly reassembled inside the halls of the castle, along with Bronze Age artefacts and lots of other fascinating relics of this city's ancient past. The Carian Princess exhibit is another highlight, featuring the tomb and gold jewellery of an ancient queen.
- It is a shame that people plundered the stones of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, because it must have been an absolute marvel when it stood in 350 BC. It was one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, built by King Mausolus of Caria with a massive stone roof that appeared to float. An earthquake in 1522 toppled most of it, and the crusaders carried off many of the stones to build St. Peter's Castle. The foundations remain, and it is always fun to say that you have stood on such a unique site.
- One of the nicest pieces of old Bodrum is found at the Myndos Gate. This section of the original walls of ancient Halicarnassus runs for some 7 km / 4 miles and includes the immense Myndos Gate, which once served as the entrance to the ancient city that came before Bodrum.
- Bodrum's reputation as a party beach resort is well deserved, so you can expect to find all the fun you can handle in its clubs and bars. The Dr. Alim Bey Caddesi is the narrow street where much of the action begins. Pubs, cafés, shops and tattoo stalls culminate in the congestion of the Cumhuriyet Caddesi street's intersection. This walkway along the Outer Harbour is another great place to drink, dance, eat and socialise.
- The scuba diving around Bodrum is one of the best ways to get out and explore the underwater attractions exemplified by the castle's museum. There are caverns, reefs, and even a few shipwrecks to check out. Several scuba diving companies are based here, providing everything from training to the diving trips themselves.
- The beaches are a big reason why people flock to Bodrum during the summer season. A good swimming beach is right in town, between the castle and Halikarnas. This stretch is roped off from boats in summer and the water is reliably calm. Bitez and Gumbet are also good beaches right in town for a swim or sunbathing. Torba and Turkbuku are even nicer, lined with fancy hotels, slick restaurants and bars.
- Escape the crowds in the little hillside village of Golturkbuku. The jetsetters may have already discovered this little slice of heaven, but that is no reason to stay away. The party crowds are absent, and only upscale beach clubs and comfortable beach loungers line the sand. Although it is not a cheap place to hang out, the atmosphere is hard to beat.
- A popular day trip from Bodrum is the ancient town of Ephesus, one of the nicest historic sites in Turkey. The ruins of this once-important city can easily stir your imagination to ponder the days when Biblical figures like Paul visited. You can easily combine a market town or two like Pamukkale or Kaunos into the trip, which is one of the more popular excursions arranged by Bodrum's tour agencies.
- During the warm summer you can catch a cultural performance at the Antique Theatre of Halicarnassus. This ancient attraction, dating from the 4th-century BC, has been restored wonderfully, and its hilltop location overlooking the twin harbours is as pretty as you can get for an outdoor concert or play. Just check with your hotel to see what is happening during your visit. It is a superb alternative to another night of partying in the town below.