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Hidden Bodrum: An insider's guide of things to do

Bodrum’s tourist hot spots are many, and, thanks to the peninsula’s status as Turkey’s original holiday destination, pretty well known.

However, just like anywhere you really have to be in the know to find those truly special places. Lucky for you, we know Bodrum inside and out and have compiled a list of the most remarkable spots that only the locals know about.

Take a packed lunch and some sunscreen and head off the beaten path to discover hidden Bodrum’s best.
 

Hidden ruins

As with most of Turkey’s coastline, Bodrum is scattered with ruins. Some you’ll see as you walk around the streets. Others take a little more uncovering. Our favourites are the ancient ruins of Sandyma, Pedasa and Kiril. You will need to take a dolmus to the start of a winding path, and be prepared for a hot climb (since these sites are always perched on hilltops), but the fact that you’ll have these incredible, vast ancient sites - and the striking views - to yourself is worth the effort.
Bodrum ruins
 

Traditional villages

Escape the cheerful summer hustle and bustle with a trip to another place in time. There are a handful of quiet villages on the peninsula where you’ll find a traditional way of life and atmosphere in spades. Derekoy is usually overlooked by tourists who eschew the village for nearby Gumusluk. But those who do stop and wander the stalls selling gourd lanterns and traditional crafts are enchanted by the sleepy village. Another favourite of ours is Dagbelen. It’s a favourite with hikers who explore the nearby pine forests, but the village is very pretty and a good destination on its own, with ruins and pretty streets.
Derekoy
Photo by ​Jay at the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide ​

Zeki Muren Arts Museum

Described as Liberace and Elvis rolled into one, Zeki Muren was one of Turkey’s biggest - and most flamboyant - music and cinematic stars. In Turkey he’s a household name, and most Turks can belt out a ‘Pasha’ tune without hesitation. After his death in 1996 his Bodrum home was turned into a museum. Have a wander around and try to get a sense of who he was - from the glitzy outfits to the awards displayed on the wall. Muren’s flamboyant way of dressing and comporting himself did a great deal to pave the way for a more modern and tolerant Turkey.
Zeki Muren
 

Walk over water to Rabbit Island

This tiny island off Gumusluk’s shore is accessible by a sunken causeway built during the Hellenistic period. The island is so called because the ancient King of Halicarnassus loved to take his queen there to feed the creatures and watch the sun go down. You can still see the descendants of the original rabbits cavorting around the island. Climb to the top of the island, sunbathe or snorkel in the clear waters and explore the submerged ruins that surround the island.
Rabbit Island
 

Aquarium Bay

This secluded and very pretty bay is accessible only by boat or on foot. It got its name due to the numbers of fish in the waters, but on a busy summer’s day the boats tend to scare the fish away. Nevertheless, it’s a really lovely spot and the perfect place to kill a few hours on a sunny day. There is a lovely hiking trail that goes from Bitez to Aquarium Bay, passing through olive and citrus groves. A coastal path that takes you around Bitez Bay’s eastern edge and over the hill to the bay.
Aquarium Bay
Photo by Jay at the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide ​

Cokertme Bay

A sailor’s favourite haunt, this stunning, sheltered bay, backed by pine forests and olive groves is just outside the peninsula but well worth the trip. The boat trip from Bodrum centre takes a couple of hours, but it’s well worth it. Cokertme’s pretty bay is quiet, with just a handful of cheap and cheerful seafront restaurants and a few small family-run hotels. The locals are famously friendly and welcoming and love visitors. It’s a good place to haul anchor for a night before sailing over the Gokova Gulf.
Cokertme Bay
 

Limon Cafe

This bohemian haunt is well off the beaten path on the hill overlooking Gumusluk Bay and is one of our favourite spots on the peninsula to watch the sunset. With mismatched tables and chairs and comfy beanbags placed in a garden setting, this quirky cafe offers relaxation - and that little something different. The food is tasty but on the expensive side. We think it’s well worth paying a little more for such character. If you’re on Gumusluk’s seafront, look for the Gumuscafe Fish Restaurant. Follow the steps in front of the restaurant to the top, turn left onto the main road and walk for about five minutes. Make sure you try the homemade lemonade.
Limon cafe
Photo by Jay at the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide 

Dibekli Han

Located in Ortakent, this art and cultural centre is an artist’s hub where you can browse traditional crafts and paintings and have a slap up meal at the cafe. It’s built in the traditional ‘han’ or caravanserai style, with a central courtyard. The architecture is striking and there’s a very pretty garden to explore. During the summer months there are events and classical concerts happening most days.
Dibekli Han
 

Ortakent Beach

It’s rare to find a chilled out beach in modern Bodrum where the coastline can feel a little crowded during the summer months. However, if you’re feeling like you need a break, head to Ortakent Beach, a low key, chilled out stretch of coastline backed by market gardens and with a quiet village feel. It’s quiet, peaceful and you won’t be competing for space with your neighbours. A range of watersports are on offer including kayaking and wake boarding.
Ortakent Beach
 

Bardakci Hamam

Bodrum’s oldest bath house dates back to the eighteenth century. From the outside, it’s unassuming. But inside you’ll find the most authentic Turkish bath experience in the area. The interior is decked out in marble and old fittings. You can either choose to give yourself a scrub, or pay for one. Massage is also on offer. Be warned: this is not a spa experience: massages and scrubs are very vigorous and a bit like experiencing a spin cycle, but you will leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and very clean.
Turkish bath

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