A town full of surprises, that is Bodrum! Once an ancient capital, Halicarnassus, home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Bodrum is more than it surface lets on. Yes this is a beach destination and the peninsular is full of large hotel resorts, but at the beginning of May, the town is still sleepy, there are very few tourists, the weather is good and you are surrounded by ancient manmade and natural wonders. If you are looking for a wild party town then I would head there later in the summer, peak season kicks off towards the middle of May.
Bodrum is an ideal place to use as a base to explore the peninsular and surrounding delights that Turkey has to offer, such as Ephesus. There are plenty of tour companies offering day trips to ancient and natural wonders, but there is also the bus station which has a large array of destinations on offer. Hotel wise Bodrum has such a variety its hard to choose! We stayed at a small locally run pension, the Hotel Gulec, located about 10mins walk from the sea. Tucked away down a small street the hotel covered in bougainvillea, with its simple rooms and delightful garden where breakfast is served was just what we wanted. It was away from the main hustle and bustle of the tourist streets but close enough to walk everywhere!
The beaches around bodrum town are pebble beach’s, and at night the restaurants fill them with tables. It is possible to get water taxis to other beaches, which is what we did, and managed to convince a quiet hotel to let us use its sun loungers for the price of a few drinks, and what a delightful day it was! The sea was crystal clear, as you looked out on the azure blue water you could see everything, this is sea like I have never experienced!
If sitting on the beach for more than a day isn’t your scene, then there is plenty to occupy yourself with. There is of course the ruins of Mausolus mausoleum, once an ancient wonder of the world. The site is located at the top of the town. There isn’t much left at the site but it does certainly give you an idea of scale ( the main art work is currently at the British Museum). Further through the town is the amphitheatre which you can see from most parts of Bodrum. The walk to both takes you through the small, narrow streets of real Bodrum. It’s a great walk that lets you explore the non tourist parts of the town and take in a bit of real Turkish life. One of the highlights for me, was the Castle of St. Peter, a crusader castle from the 15th Century that has now been turned into the Underwater Archaeology museum. The museum houses some of the most spectacular underwater and maritime finds, they have even reconstructed some of the ships found and it gives you a real sense of scale and ancient life. Being housed in a crusader castle also gives you a great atmosphere, as you walk around the ramparts you can gaze out onto the sparkling sea.
Ships are a constant theme in Bodrum, and its marina is a great place to walk in the evening as the sun sets behind the masts. Its home to a variety of vessels, from the small water taxis and day trip boats, to beautiful wooden gulets that you can hire ( already wondering when I can fit a holiday in on one of them!), to the private yachts and sailing boats of those with far too much money! Bodrum’s marina blends together the world of the fabulously rich with those people just looking for a sunshine escape.
The food on offer ( always an important part to any of my trips!) is great. Much cheaper than Istanbul, you can get a variety of Turkish food for a great price in lovely al fresco destinations, and enjoy the people watching. My friends diving instructor recommended a Kofta restaurant right opposite the marina, and it was good – Marina Koftecisi . We went on our last day at lunch time and it was heaving with Turkish families out for a meal together.
However the best restaurant we found in Bodrum was surprisingly a Spanish restaurant La Pasion – http://www.lapasion-bodrum.com/ . Located down a little street just off the main strip, this was a foodie paradise. An elegant out-door restaurant, atmospheric from start to finish. The menu, mainly tapas dishes but there were also larger main dishes to choose from, were flavourful, simple and elegant. If we had been in London we would have paid an extortionate amount for the quality of food we received, but here in Bodrum we paid about £25 per person ( and that was with a bottle of lovely Italian wine). This is certainly a destination to head to when in Bodrum!
Bodrum as I said is full of surprises! Lovely people, food and amazing scenery! This is a destination to go and relax in, soak up the sun but also fill your day with activities and culture if you want. Some people scoffed when I said I was going to Bodrum ( because yes it does have that night club, beer chugging brits abroad reputation), but I found a rather delightful seaside resort that draws in very nice yachts!