Bodrum's come a long way from a quiet collection of fishing villages. Until a few short decades ago, the jewel-green peninsula was a sleepy collection of hamlets, the only sound the waves against the shore. In the 1960s, artists discovered the area, and began waxing lyrical about Bodrum in poetry, stories and art. This heralded a wave of tourism and now Bodrum's synonymous with sunshine and summer holidays.
The peninsula is also home to a new wave of residents: former Istanbul residents as well as retirees and remote workers from all around Europe, keen to enjoy luxury Bodrum villas and apartments (at prices that don't break the bank) as well as everything Bodrum has to offer - including the following nine favourites that keep coming up again and again in any conversation about the peninsula.
1. Stylish people and places
It’s little wonder the peninsula has become a celebrity hang out: it’s just so, well, cool. From the chic cafes lining the waterfront to the sleek bodies sunning themselves on beach platforms, Bodrum is the embodiment of sophistication. It’s little wonder celebrities are choosing to make the peninsula their temporary summer home: Jade Jagger’s opened a club here, Kate Moss detoxes at a Bodrum spa and Bill Gates moors his mega yacht off the Yalikavak shore.
2. Its compact geography
It’s perfectly possible to drive around the Bodrum Peninsula in a day, making you realise just how small (yet perfectly formed) this beautiful part of the country really is. Its compactness means anyone living in Bodrum is able to get from A to B to C perfectly easily. If you don’t have your own car public transport around the peninsula is great - cheap, fast and regular. Dolmuses criss-cross the hills, giving passengers a visual treat in the way of islands, capes and inlets jutting into the shining blue sea.
3. There is a spot for everyone
Depending on what you’re into - partying, chilling out, good food, culture - there’s a place for every holidaymaker or resident on the Bodrum peninsula. Head to Yalikavak for a stylish night out, or to Gumbet to spend the day on the beach before hitting a cheesy nightclub. Gumusluk’s laidback, fishing village vibe will appeal to anyone looking for a quiet night out at a superb fish restaurant. Escape the crowds at Kadikalesi’s quaint village or have a spa day in Torba.
Even Bodrum town itself is a pleasant mix of fashionable bars, restaurants and shops juxtaposed with quaint, quiet streets with cosy cafes.
4. You have the early mornings to yourself
Earlybirds certainly catch the worm in Bodrum. If you’re an early riser, take our cue and head down to the beach first thing. Mornings find the sea flat and still, and most people are still in bed. Head down to the water’s edge and go for a walk, or a swim. Then treat yourself to breakfast, looking out over the sea while you enjoy your cheese, olives, bread and yogurt - all washed down by strong coffee.
5. Its history is fascinating
Bodrum’s legacy stretches back across millennia. You’ve heard of the seven wonders of the ancient world: one of them, the Tomb of Mausolus, was located here and you can visit the museum in Bodrum Town to learn about the ancient tomb, which was built around 353 BC. Another great historical spot is Bodrum Castle. Built in the early part of the 15th century by the Knights of St John, the castle was the centre of intrigue, defence and invasions. It’s had stints as a garrison, a prison and a military stronghold, but today’s incarnation is somewhat peaceful: it’s the centre for the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, an ideal place for history buffs to learn about the various shipwrecks around the Mediterranean.
6. You can lose yourself in its quaint streets
While Bodrum is very much a modern hub, we love how it’s retained its traditional vibe. Stroll the quiet, cobbled streets, where the balconies of whitewashed Bodrum homes overhang with bougainvillea, and try and peer through some of the gates into the pretty gardens of the luxury homes. You can also expect to find a few off-the-beaten-track gems: small restaurants dishing up barbecued octopus, grilled fish or stuffed squid.
7. It's a foodie's heaven...
Bodrum’s restaurants have that certain something that elevates even a simple meal of kofte and rice, washed down with an ice-cold Efes into a special occasion. It could be the setting: overlooking the sea or tucked away in a cobbled street. It could be the lighting - romantic lanterns and candles lighting up diners’ faces. Or the food itself: fresh seafood, crisp greens and zesty tomatoes drizzled with tasty olive oil. Perhaps it’s best not to analyse, and just enjoy. Try Kocadon for its beautiful octopus dishes; head to Limon Cafe for a hippy vibe and great views, or try Liman Koftecisi on Bodrum Town’s waterfront for a simple but very decent kebab.
8. ... and a sailor's paradise
Bodrum’s long green coast with its tucked-away beaches and offshore islands make it the ideal sailing destination. Gentle sailing conditions perfectly complement the sights you’ll see from the water on a lazy-day bay-hopping trip: rock tombs, ruined fortresses, pine-clad mountains, olive groves, sunken treasure and tiny seaside villages. You can even cross into Greek waters and explore the islands of Symi, Kos, Nisyros and Rhodes, just a day’s sailing away. Depending on your experience, you can go out under your own steam or take a chartered gulet. Take a day, or even better, a week to explore the quiet coves and bays.
9. Its sunsets are works of art
Nothing says “I’m on holiday” like sitting with a cold beverage and watching the sun set over the sea. In Bodrum, you have ample opportunity to witness the end of the day in style, as Bodrum’s sunsets are so spectacular that many believe they’re the best to be seen anywhere in the country. Yalikavak is renowned for being the best sunset spot on the peninsula, but we also recommend Turgutreis, Yalikavak’s neighbour, where you can sit at a seafood restaurant and watch the sun sink. In Bodrum Town, the sun sets over the mountains, framing the geography with beautiful oranges and reds.
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