Bodrum holidays

Experience Bodrum

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

The windmills of Bodrum City stand guard high on the hills overlooking the bay, and although many are in a state of ruin, they are still a quirky sightseeing and photo opportunity if you want a fairly easy day out. Several of the local bus tours include the windmills as a stop-off point, although usually only for a few minutes, so if you want to spend longer you might want to arrange transport of your own. Spend some time posing for photographs and peering at the exposed mill mechanisms where the crumbling stonework has revealed them, and don't forget to turn around for one of the most spectacular viewpoints over Bodrum Bay.

Myndos Gate is an evocative destination if you want to experience some of the area's oldest history - it dates back to the 4th century BC and was built by King Mausolus as part of a 7km long wall surrounding the city of Halicarnassus. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great lay siege to the city, and the walls were crucial in holding back his troops, with many losing their lives in the 2.5m deep moat in front of the walls and gate. The Myndos Gate is where Alexander finally succeeded in overrunning the defences, although today it is a peaceful place - you may even find you are the only visitor on your day there. The gate itself has been reconstructed, while there are various ruined walls and stone tombs to explore nearby too.

If you fancy a slightly longer excursion, travel west towards Gumusluk until you find the village of Karakaya. This is positioned above Gumusluk on the hillside, which originally provided a vantage point to watch for pirates and other invading forces. Karakaya dates back three centuries and has an unusual recent history; in the early 20th century it was all but abandoned, and many of the buildings fell into a state of disrepair. More recently however, people have begun to move back into the village, and several of the residences have been brought back to a usable state, either in the summer months or all year round. Once again, look out for windmills dotted around the village, as these date from the 18th century too and further enrich the unique history of this small community, which is once again finding its place among the local population on the Bodrum Peninsula.

Top Landmarks

Many of Bodrum's main attractions are local landmarks, and of course its popular beach, and with no entry fee to pay on most of these sites, that makes it perfect for all-inclusive package holidays to Bodrum. Use your hotel as a base to stock up on food and drink at no extra cost, and then get out for the day to explore the surrounding area - including the chance to see the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World on your Bodrum holidays.

The Castle of St Peter is not just one of Bodrum's most instantly recognisable landmarks; it is also one of its most unmissable, literally towering over the centre of Bodrum Bay. Visitors are often to be found in disagreement as to whether the views of the castle as you approach it by land or sea are better than the views of Bodrum from the castle walls, and both are worth experiencing first-hand. Inside, you can explore the interior of the structure, as well as paying a visit to the museum of underwater archaeology for an up-close look at exhibits retrieved from along the nearby coastline.

If you have a keen interest in the footprints left behind by past civilisations, then Bodrum Amphitheatre is one of the city's top landmarks for you. It may not be as strikingly large or as impressive as amphitheatres in some other locations, but this humble amphitheatre is still an important part of the local history, and easy to reach due to its location close to one of the main roads out of Bodrum. It’s worth considering booking a tour in advance if you want to get up close to the steps of the amphitheatre itself, as it is not always open to the public. However, it is quite possible to get a good view from the nearby road without needing direct access, or at certain times of year you might find it still in use as a venue for live music as part of local festivals.

Entertainment

Bodrum's beach is mainly pebbles, although there are nearby sandy beaches at Bitez and Gumbet. Unusually, many of the amenities are free of charge, usually in the hope that you will buy food or drink from one of the nearby bars, hotels or restaurants. As such, you should usually be under no obligation to pay when using a sunbed on the beach, even if it belongs to one of the hotels. If you are travelling all inclusive, you might even find you can get 'sunbed service' and have snacks and drinks brought down to you on the beach. Each hotel along the sea front typically puts out a certain number of loungers, parasols and so on, free of charge, but they make their money back from selling food and beverages to you via a waiter service, often at a premium price. Make sure if beach service is included in your all-inclusive Bodrum holiday price, that you only accept a menu or place an order with a waiter from your own hotel.

Much of the local entertainment makes use of Bodrum Bay, and good-quality snorkelling masks and equipment are available locally at reasonable prices. You may choose to hire a boat and take your family or group of friends out on to the water yourself; this is generally safe, but there are a few sensible precautions to take. For instance, make sure there are enough lifejackets on board for everybody, and that all passengers wear theirs throughout the trip - don't wait until you are sinking to try and put yours on! Other useful equipment in case of emergency includes oars in case you are forced to paddle back to shore, and it is always sensible to have a mobile phone with you, preferably in a waterproof container or sealed plastic bag.

Dining Out

Turkish cuisine ranges from iconic dishes like the kebab, to more general influences like the Mediterranean diet of freshly prepared seafood. Dining out in Bodrum gives you the opportunity to try all of the different flavours the city has to offer. Skewered sardines and other fresh fish lightly fried, or brushed with olive oil and grilled, provide a lighter bite around lunchtime, while the traditional method of preparing kebab meats, again on a skewer but this time marinated and seasoned, packs extra flavour into a meal that can serve as a snack or as your main dinner of the day.

Evening meals are often based around a satisfying slab of meat in the form of a hearty chop or steak, and while these can be every bit as flavoursome as the marinated kebab meats, it's sometimes sensible to exercise a little portion control. That is purely to leave room for the other courses, as Turkish dinners typically begin with snacks and end with a dessert like Baklava. While you can enjoy a steak almost anywhere in the world, it is these appetisers and sweets that are truly unique to Bodrum and other Turkish towns and cities, and often prove to be the star of the show for visitors.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

There's no guarantee that people you encounter during your holiday to Bodrum will speak English, but it's safe to say you are unlikely to need to speak Turkish. English is the country's second most widely spoken language, and is particularly prevalent in the tourist areas, so your chances of hitting a language barrier are increased if you travel to a more remote part of the surrounding countryside. You generally shouldn't have a problem though, and local authorities including the police should be able to deal with you in English if necessary.

Currency

Local notes are in Turkish lira, with coins in kurus (apart from the 1 TL coin). Currency is easy to obtain, either by exchanging English banknotes (Scottish will not be accepted) or travellers' cheque, and you can also take money out at a cash machine if necessary. If you are planning to use a credit or debit card during your journey, let your bank know so that it doesn't trigger any fraud precautions and block your transaction. Alternatively, a prepaid travel currency card is a good option, giving you the convenience of paying by card, without the transaction fees or the risk of fraud checks.

Visas

Although you need a visa to get into Turkey, this is easily obtained at the airport. On arrival, before you go through passport control, there should be a separate visa booth where you can go through the necessary process. It will cost about £10 but should cover all but the very longest of holidays - anywhere up to three months as standard, and even this deadline can be extended by request during the first month of your stay.

Climate

 

Be prepared for hot and humid summers - clothing should be light and allow moisture to escape, if you want to avoid that sticky feeling. You might even want to pack some performance athletic garments designed for moisture control, if you want to be certain of maximum comfort. Winter, by contrast, can be much cooler and it may even snow, so if you're taking a trip at this time of year, be sure to take plenty of layers and warm insulating clothing, especially if you want to explore the countryside on foot.

Main Airports

While Bodrum is served by an airport that bears its name—Bodrum-Milas Airport—this is located more than 30km from the city itself. Remember that the whole peninsula is also called Bodrum, which can help to explain why some of the distances involved are a little further than simply being suburbs or part of the wider metropolitan area.

Flight Options

Your journey from outside of Turkey is likely to take you first to Izmir or Dalaman, from where you can transfer on to a domestic charter flight to Bodrum-Milas. Expect the transfer to take around three hours out of your schedule - still quicker than arriving into Bodrum over land.

Travel Advice

Bodrum can feel a little less tourism-focused than some other Turkish cities, but for many visitors this is part of its appeal, and a chance to explore without running into crowds at every turn. If you are confident on the roads, hiring a car is an excellent option not just to get around in general, but to make the excursions to specific sightseeing sites and local landmarks. It's also smart to plan your itinerary carefully in advance and to consider booking guided tours or excursions where possible, to avoid arriving to locked gates. This is particularly the case if your visit is outside of the normal peak holiday season, but a little careful planning should ensure it is no problem during your stay.

Other Transport Options

Unfortunately, scheduled flights direct to Bodrum are rare, from the UK, saved mostly for charter companies such as Thomson. This is the perfect opportunity to expand your stay in Turkey, however. One of the most convenient air travel options is to fly via Istanbul, a city that’s an adventure in itself. Stopping off here will further enrich your trip with culture and history.

Getting Around

Buses are a great way to travel around Bodrum, and are a cheap method of transport to keep costs down on package holidays. However, if you would like an alternative, then hop in a dolmus instead. These are a kind of shared taxi - like a bus, they follow a set route, and you can flag them down at stops located around 20 minutes' walk apart. There should be a dolmus on average around once every 10 minutes, and actually boarding one can be quite an informal affair. If your stop is not busy, with a queue of waiting vehicles already there, you'll need to wave an arm at the approaching dolmus in order for it to stop for you.

Bus

From the airport to the city itself, there should be regular bus services. These are generally scheduled to coincide with the arrival of flights, so you can walk straight out of the terminal and onto a bus that will depart soon after. This helps to reduce the overall journey time, and in the low season it can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the city. At peak times, and in heavy traffic or poor weather conditions, you can double that to 40-45 minutes instead. One final thing worth noting is that it is therefore sensible to leave the airport immediately and board the departing bus. Aim to eat on arrival in the city, as food and drink is much more expensive in the airport terminal, and may mean you miss the bus.

Train

There is no train service directly to Bodrum, but buses provide an ideal way to get around.

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FACTS

  1. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and its ruins are located just east of Bodrum.
  2. It was built for Mausolus and his wife Artemisia II of Caria, stood some 45m above ground, and gives its name to all later above-ground tombs or 'mausoleums'.
  3. The Mausoleum was destroyed between the 12th and 15th centuries by a series of earthquakes, before its ruins were rediscovered in the 1850s by the British archaeologist Charles Thomas Newton.

FACTS

  1. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and its ruins are located just east of Bodrum.
  2. It was built for Mausolus and his wife Artemisia II of Caria, stood some 45m above ground, and gives its name to all later above-ground tombs or 'mausoleums'.
  3. The Mausoleum was destroyed between the 12th and 15th centuries by a series of earthquakes, before its ruins were rediscovered in the 1850s by the British archaeologist Charles Thomas Newton.

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