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, they are pretty well known. However, a few places remain off the mainstream tourism grid. We are talking about secluded places not often frequented by tourists or visitors. These places can be natural wonders like hidden beaches, hiking trails, or mountain peaks that require a bit of effort to reach. Alternatively, small towns, villages or remote areas offer peaceful and calm environments away from urban life.

These places are great for travellers who seek solitude and want to disconnect from modern life. They offer a chance to experience nature and local cultures without crowds of popular tourist destinations. In addition, people can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, or kayaking. They don't have the same infrastructure and amenities as popular tourist destinations but offer authentic and rewarding travel experiences.


Alternative Places to Head to in Bodrum

Discover Hidden Ruins

As with most of Turkey's coastline, Bodrum is scattered with ruins. Some you'll see as you walk around back streets. Others take a little more uncovering. Our favourites are the ancient ruins of Sandyma, Pedasa and Kiril. The 7th century BC Pedasa ancient city was a significant centre of commerce and trade and had several well-preserved structures, including a temple and a theatre. 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 you'll have great, vast ancient sites - and striking views - to yourself.

Fun Fact to Know: Bodrum was home to the Halicarnassus Mausoleum. This ancient 4th-century BC tomb was built for Mausolus, the ruler of Caria. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is one of the most outstanding examples of classical architecture. Unfortunately, nothing remains, but this fact proves Bodrum's worth as a significant historical destination.

Explore Traditional Villages

There are a handful of quiet villages on the peninsula to find a traditional way of life and atmosphere. Derekoy is usually overlooked by tourists who eschew the village for nearby Gumusluk. But those who do stop and wander stalls selling gourd lanterns and traditional crafts enchanted by the sleepy village. Another favourite of ours is Dagbelen. It's a favourite with hikers who explore nearby pine forests.

Located about 20 km northeast of Bodrum, Gundogan, a traditional fishing village, has also retained charm and character over the years. Narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and old fishing boats offer glimpses into Bodrum's maritime heritage. Exploring small villages, away from tourist hotspots, gives insight into the true authentic Bodrum, where tourism all began.

Bodrum Gumusluk restaurant

Zeki Muren Arts Museum

Described as Liberace and Elvis rolled into one, Zeki Muren was one of Turkey's most significant - and most striking - music and cinematic stars. In Turkey, he's a household name, and most Turks belt out tunes without hesitation. After he died in 1996, his Bodrum home was turned into a museum. Wander around and try to understand who he was - from glitzy outfits to awards displayed on the wall. Muren's flashy way of dressing and comporting himself paved the way for a more modern and tolerant Turkey. Also, see exhibits of Muren's artwork, including paintings and calligraphy. The museum is located in the Kumbahce neighbourhood of Bodrum and is open to the public for tours.

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 ancient King of Halicarnassus loved to take his queen there to feed the creatures and watch the sun go down. Climb to the top of the island, sunbathe or snorkel in the clear waters and explore the submerged ruins that surround the island. Gumusluk is also home to many seafood restaurants, so visitors can eat delicious meals before or after visiting Rabbit Island. Find out more about Gumusluk.

Aquarium Bay

This secluded and beautiful bay is accessible only by boat or on foot. The bay, on the northern coast of the Bodrum Peninsula, about 25 km from the city centre, got the name because of the fish in the waters, but on busy summer days, boats scare the fish away. Nevertheless, this lovely spot is the perfect place on sunny days. Several cafes and restaurants nearby sell snacks and refreshments. A beautiful hiking trail also goes from Bitez to Aquarium Bay, passing through olive and citrus groves. The coastal path takes you around Bitez Bay's eastern edge and over the hill to the bay. More about beaches in Bodrum.

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 pretty bay is quiet, with just a handful of cheap, cheerful seafront restaurants and small family-run hotels. The locals are famously friendly and welcoming and love visitors. It's an excellent place to haul anchor for a night before sailing over the Gokova Gulf.

Limon Cafe

This bohemian haunt is well off the beaten path on the hill overlooking Gumusluk Bay. It is one of our favourite spots on the peninsula to watch sunsets. 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 paying a little more for such a setting is well worth it.

Bodrum cafe

Dibekli Han

Located in Ortakent, this art and cultural centre is an artist's hub where you browse traditional crafts and paintings and eat an enjoyable meal. Built-in the conventional han or caravanserai style, with a central courtyard, stunning architecture sits alongside a pretty garden. During summer, keep an eye out for events and classical concerts.

Spacious Ortakent Beach

It's rare to find chilled-out beaches in modern Bodrum, where the coastline feels crowded during summer. However, head to Ortakent Beach for an alternative break, a low-key, chilled stretch of coastline backed by market gardens and with a quiet village feel. It's quiet, peaceful and you won't compete for space with your neighbours. A range of water sports are on offer, including kayaking and wakeboarding. Find out more about the delights of Ortakent.

Bardakci Hamam

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

Charming Gokcebel

Gokcebel in the Aegean Bodrum region of Turkey is a well-kept traditional village blending old vibes with new influences. Sitting on the outskirts of Yalikavak, mainstream tourism passed it by, yet a small group of Turkish foreign property buyers have made the area their year-round home. The appeal is hard to deny. A low-key reputation keeps Gokcebel off the grid.

Yet, within a five-minute drive, residents arrive in the heart of Yalikavak with the many shops, restaurants and bars. The land that old and new Gokcebel covers is elevated; hence balconies and rooftop terraces give way to magnificent sea views. Nothing is fast-paced about the lifestyle, so you've found an ideal location to relax and soak up the Turkish Aegean sun. More about Gokcebel in Bodrum.


Also of Interest

The Mugla Province: If you want to holiday or live here, the Mugla province of Turkey is an ideal destination. Brimming with coastal resorts, picturesque villages, stunning beaches, calm waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and much more, the province hosts millions of tourists annually. Although it is the name of a city with the same name, we are talking about the region covering part of the western and southern coasts. This includes holiday hotspots like Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris and Dalaman.



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