Flights from the UK have a nasty habit of arriving into Bodrum-Milas airport at about 4am, but once you’ve picked up your luggage, collected your hire car and are approaching Bodrum on your early morning drive, you’re soon reminded why you’ve put yourself that joyless night-time ordeal. The sun’s been rising behind you as you’ve driven along the coastline dotted with tiny islands, but now the road bends almost 270 degrees and as it descends you are afforded your first glimpse of Bodrum: the 14th century castle of St Peter with a vast marina as a backdrop and beyond just that deep, deep blue of the Mediterranean. On the hillside opposite there’s a mass of white dwellings. In the dawn of a summer day there’s no heat haze – it’s perfectly clear. It almost seems worth the sleepless night.
Bodrum is the largest town on the peninsula and is about 25 minute drive or 35 minute dolmus ride* from our villa in Gumusluk. Bustling and colourful, Bodrum is renowned for its shops, bars, restaurants and nightlife as well as its impressive marina and the town’s undoubted focal point, the beautiful St Peter’s Castle.
*(half hourly service until at least midnight)
For shopping the main bazaar lies in the pedestrian precinct, at the foot of the castle. Little shops of every sort abound in all the narrow streets; many sell leather goods, pottery and carpets. You have to bargain in Turkey (all in good humour) – take off about a third of the price they say or plead poverty: it’s all a game! On Tuesdays there is a massive fabrics and clothing market beside the bus station and on Thursdays and Fridays there is a food market here.
St Peter’s Castle
Built in the fourteenth century it has served as a military garrison, a compound enclosing a tiny village, and even as a fortress prison. Today it houses a world class museum of nautical archaeology.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 9am–12noon and 2pm–5pm
(Caria Princess Exhibit + Glass Shipwreck Exhibit open Tues to Fri 10am–12 noon and 2pm-4pm)
The Mausoleum Museum
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum is the tomb of King Mausolus, dating back to around 350 BC. However, after surviving many centuries the Mausoleum was demolished by an earthquake in 1304 and the Knights of Saint John later used the site as a quarry to rebuild the castle. The area where the structure of the Mausoleum once stood has now become an open-air museum but little remains apart from the foundations.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 9am–12noon and 1pm–5pm
Day trip to Kos
Ferries run daily from Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos, crossings taking an hour (or only half an hour on the hydrofoil). Trips to places further afield include Marmaris, Didim and Rhodes.
The Ancient Theatre
Located on the main Bodrum road (on the left as you approach from Gumusluk) is the well preserved Roman Amphitheatre with great views of the castle and the town. Concerts are performed here in the summer.
Open daily 8.30am – 5pm
Myndos Gate and Ottoman Tower
A relic from King Mausolus’s time, the most significant remaining part of the original city wall. Located on the west side of Bodrum, this was one of two entrances to ancient Halicarnassus. The gate is named after the town it faces – Myndos, the present day Gumusluk.
Open 24 hours. Visit in the evening when the ruins are illuminated.
The Zeki Muren Museum
19, Zeki Muren Caddessi
Zeki Muren was a legendary Turkish vocalist and came to Bodrum when he retired. You can visit the late singer’s home and listen to his recordings of traditional Turkish music.
Open daily 8.30am–12 noon and 1pm–5pm
The classy ‘Yacht Club’ along the marina has some excellent live bands performing during the summer months and is definitely worth a visit. Entry is usually free but drinks will be expensive.