We started counting on two hands all of the beautiful, adventurous, beachy and sunny places to go in Turkey and well, we completely ran out of fingers (and toes!) There is so much to do in this historic mish-mash of East and West from spending time on the mesmerising beaches to strolling around thousand year old ruins.
There isn’t a place where this is more evident than in the Bodrum holiday resort, which is home to the perfect mix of old and new, ancient and modern, museums and discos. Here’s the latest in our weekly feature with your full guide to Bodrum and its many amazing avenues for fun.
A city of two halves, Bodrum is the site of the famous ancient city of Halikarnassus, one of the old Seven Wonders of the World – but it was destroyed by earthquakes in the Middle ages. A big sailing town, it’s the place where the Turkish elite go to holiday and draws tonnes of British visitors every year. One half of the city is home to beach clubs, bars and cafes, with miles of beaches to choose from while the old side is home to the fancy yachts that sit at the Marina and exclusive shops that stock expensive foods and drink. So let our handy guide help you find out where to go and what to do.
Family affair: If you’re looking to get away with the kids this summer, Bodrum is top notch. Go for an all inclusive option and your little prince or princess will have the time of their lives. Most of the hotels and apartments have pools especially dedicated to little ones, while boat trips, safari jeep adventures, the many beaches and nearby waterpark will leave youngsters itching to come back for more.
Into cycling? Join a bunch of other biking fanatics and take the cycling high road from Izmir to Bodrum. The tour is organised by a non profit group and led by expert local guides who will bring you along the sea front and lakes and past ancient sites like Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World.) There’s more info here.
Hamam: Also known as a Turkish bath this is *the* place to go and completely chill out. First thing is a nice sit down in a warmed room, before being scrubbed to within an inch of your life by an attendant who is there just for that reason. If that sounds a little on the groovy side, head for a roll around the nearby mud baths instead.
Nights out: In the immortal words of, erm, Usher, I like to say ‘yeah’ really loudly to the beach clubs and bars of Bodrum. Home of some epic nights out, there are tonnes of clubs to choose from just by the water’s edge. Usually opening around 10, Bodrum’s nightlife is centred on the bars, restaurants and clubs we’re all familiar with in holiday hotspots. It’s actually a nice mix though, of clubs for hardcore party animals and beach bars for a quiet, chilled out drink. Halikarnas is one of our top picks, the outdoor venue is massive, holding around 4,000 people and has some of the best foam parties of the summer.
Haggle: Bodrum’s home to a heap of bazaars open six days a week. There you’ll be able to test your negotiating skills over everything from a needle and thread, to fruit up to beautiful hand painted silk scarves, silver jewellery and leather goods.
Get to the Greek: A quick trip across the water will leave you on the sandy shores of Kos or Rhodes, two of the most famous Greek Islands. These are great for a day trip to spectacular beaches and great lunches.
Camel wrestling: Yes, you did read that right. Every year down the Aegean Turkish Coast, the locals like to indulge in the furious sport of camel wrestling. It’s not that well known amongst us, but it should be! The travelling festival starts with a camel beauty pageant (!!) where the entrants are dolled up with bells and banners before moving on to the main event of fighting it out over a female. There are three ways which a winner can be crowned – making the other scream, fall over or retreat. It may sound very strange, but there are actually strict rules in place to stop a match and protect the animals and all are specifically trained for the event.
Pamukkale: is a stunning naturally occurring phenomenon that looks like candy floss. Kids and grownups will get a kick out of a day trip to the mountain where you can take a swim in the hot springs. It’s often said, but a trip to the unique surrounds of Pamukkale will be unforgettable.
Bodrum Castle: The historic building is actually the symbol of the whole region. Built by the Knights of St. John, it’s also home to the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Far removed from the idea of stuffy old relics, the museum offers plenty of chances to get your hands dirty and features the remains of underwater excavations from all along the coast. It includes the Uluburun Shipwreck, one of the richest ever discovered.
Blues Cruise: Take one of the so called Blue Voyage trips boat trips that give you the chance to leap into the turquoise salty waters of the Aegean. They usually include a trip to secret coves and secluded beaches as well as anchoring in the middle of the water so you can test your swimming skills. If you get one with lunch cooked on board, it makes the perfect day out to top up your tan with minimal effort.
Ballet boost: If you’re lucky enough to be in town in August, you’ll be able to catch the renowned International Bodrum Ballet Festival. From August 8th, you’ll be able to see some stunning performances in the festival which has been running over 10 years.
Bodrum beach: the bit that stretches between Bodrum Castle and Halikarnas is great for swimming and has plenty of loungers but is a little on the pebbly side.
Ortakent: Just down the road from Bodrum town, you’ll find Ortakent, a little beachy beauty spot that’s over a mile long. Considered by many as one of the best on the whole peninsula, it is chock-a-block full of facilities (restaurants, beach bars, changing areas) and that means lots of people too!
Bitez: sheltered by a bay, Bitez tends to draw an older crowd thanks to its gorgeous location backed by tangerine orchards, its gently sloping sands and unbelievably clear waters. Hop in one of the handy dolmus buses and you’ll be there in no time.
Tropical Camel Beach: I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d ever write something that included so many references to camels, but this one is worth it. It’s usually not so crowded, with a lovely long stretch of sand, plenty of umbrellas and loungers and a handful of delicious fish restaurants. The really great news is here you can actually take a camel ride on a separate part of the beach. Now that’ll make a good profile picture.
Turgutreis: Ideal for little chislers, this beach, although not very sandy, is quite shallow so it’s safer for the little one in your life. It’s also home to a lovely new marina, that is perfect for people watching.
From doner to mezes and baklava to kunefe, Turkish cooking is an absolute treat. Since you’re by the sea, some of the fantastic fish restaurants are not to be missed either. Of course it varies across the country, but Bodrum has its fair shares of great traditional eateries. Have a go of a Dolma (meaning ‘stuffed thing’) which is generally a mix of meat and veggies wrapped in vine leaves or pastry. There are almost too many types of kebabs to count, from steamed to grilled, with meat or vegetarian, spicy or mild, you can’t leave without at least having sampled a few.
Of course no trip to Turkey is complete without a taste of some powerful Turkish coffee. This stuff will knock your socks off! Well, almost as much as the local spirit Raki, with its aniseed flavour. Also known as Lion Milk, that’ll give you an idea of its effects!!