Bodrum Travel Guide
Of the resorts in the Turkish Riviera, Bodrum is among the most popular with foreign tourists. While it has the outward appearance as a centre of hedonism, travellers can also find cultural attractions here.
From castles to the remains of an Ancient World Wonder, you’ll find plenty to do between beach sessions.
Come check out our Bodrum travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Bodrum, Turkey.
Begin your cultural tour of the Bodrum area by visiting the Castle of St. Peter. Situated in the centre of Bodrum, the Knights of St. John built this fortification starting in 1402. It took them the better part of the century to complete.
Sadly, they didn’t get to hold onto it for long. In the early 16th century, the Ottomans invaded Bodrum and took the castle off their hands. They made minor modifications that converted the chapel into a mosque. Apart from that, though, they maintained and held it for the remaining 400 years of its service life.
After being decommissioned in the late 19th century, local authorities converted it into a prison. Today, it serves as one of the most significant historical attractions in Bodrum. Inside, you’ll find beautiful stained glass windows that bear the Cross of St. John. Additionally, you’ll find banners from the multi-century rule of the Ottomans here. And upon the ramparts, you’ll find old cannons and excellent town and sea views.
However, the castle holds an attraction that stands apart from its history. In modern times, the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology opened within castle walls. Its displays contain the various artifacts recovered from shipwrecks found in Turkish waters.
Some of the wrecks on display are seriously ancient – the oldest dates from the 16th century BC. As you make your way through this beautiful collection, you’ll find ancient bronze, iron, glass, and clay implements. Make sure you set aside enough time for this attraction – rushing would be doing it an injustice!
While in Bodrum, set aside time for the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. An earthquake destroyed this site between the 12th and 14th centuries. As such, it was the last of the ancient wonders of the world (except for the Pyramids) to crumble.
It traces its origin to the 4th century BC, when Halicarnassus, initially a Greek city, belonged to the Achaemenid Empire. When Mausolus, Halicarnassus’ viceroy, died, he had a grand mausoleum built on his behalf.
Four gifted Greek sculptors worked on the project. The 148-foot-tall building was so stunning, Antipater of Sidon named it one of his Ancient Wonders of the World. Today, little remains but the remnants of pillars and foundations. The Knights of St. John quarried much of the stone to build the Castle of St. Peter from here.
To get an idea of what it was like in its heyday, visit the small on-site museum. Here, displays and video will help you appreciate this wonder, even if nothing remains today.
Like most places on the Mediterranean, the Romans once held Bodrum. Ponder on entertainment in that era during a visit to the Bodrum Amphitheater. In actuality, the Achaemenids constructed the initial theatre complex, but the Romans greatly expanded it.
At capacity, this performance space could hold a maximum of 13,000 spectators. It still holds shows – during the high season, you can buy tickets to plays in this beautiful outdoor space.
Love the visual arts? Make time in your schedule for a trip to the Zeki Muren Arts Museum. Located in the heart of town, this was the home of Zeki Muren, one of Turkey’s most beloved musicians. You won’t just see art on the walls – his music plays as you tour his final abode.
While simple in some respects (the kitchen is nothing special), the living room and bedroom reflect his flamboyant nature. After your visit, you’ll have a better sense for the man who Turks compared to Elvis and David Bowie.
While Bodrum does boast its share of cultural attractions, most come here for its beaches. Before you leave, you’ll end up spending one day reclining on Bitez Beach. On this stretch of sand, you’ll find plenty of sunbeds that are free to lie o. Of course, the catch is that you’ll be hit up for food & drink orders by nearby restaurants.
The lack of currents means this beach is suitable for families. However, the music kicks up in the afternoon. Like many beaches in Bodrum, those seeking peace may be disappointed.
Want to embrace the party vibe, but on a less crowded beach? Head over to Xuma Beach Club. This sandy beach features clear water, great tunes, and excellent service.
Need to pick up some souvenirs before heading home? Spend some time in the Bodrum Bazaar. Brush up on your haggling beforehand, as the merchants here are seasoned negotiators. Also, be aware that some luxury goods at “unbeatable” prices are likely fakes.