Bodrum, the shining jewel of Turkey’s Aegean coast, attracts culture-seekers and sun-lovers as well as celebrities, the calibre of Beyoncé and Cristiano Ronaldo. It has fabulous beaches, 5* hotels, boutique shopping and rich history. Inspired? Want to know more? We have 7 highlights not to be missed.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Perhaps the best representation of the contrast between old and new - the Mausoleum at Helicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is tucked down a side street behind pulsating nightclubs.
The site was built between 353 and 351 BC for the second ruler of Caria, Mausolus, from whose name the word mausoleum is derived. The structure was completed by famous architects and sculptors of the time and was made primarily of marble.
Today, the mausoleum is a mix of ancient ruins and renders of what the city once looked like. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday 08:30 – 17:00 and is less than a £1 to visit. If you find yourself enthralled by its story, you may like to view some artefacts in the British Museum in London such as fragments of the huge marble, four-horse chariot that crowned its roof.
Erected in 1402 by the Knights Hospitaller in dedication to St Peter, Bodrum Castle is in a great position, lording over the harbour and town. The imposing fortification is rich in history. It has been used as a chateau for knights, a prison before World War 1 and unsurprisingly, a military base. Even the marble and stones from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which had been damaged during an earthquake, were used in its construction.
The castle is open to the public, at 20 Turkish lira (around £2). The views of the city and harbour from the battlements are simply stunning and well worth the climb. There’s also a garden café, and the castle hosts multiple Turkish cultural festivals throughout the year.
Zeki Muren Arts Museum
Zeki Muren was certainly a busy man. A singer, composer, songwriter, actor and poet, Muren was an icon in his homeland often referred to as the Turkish Elvis Presley. The house in which he lived during the latter part of his life was restored and converted into a museum full of memorabilia, artwork and original furnishings.
The museum is open every day of the year and is only 3 Turkish lira to enter (less than £1). You are invited to take pictures – we particularly like the interesting costumes and examples of his music.
Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology
One of the finest seafaring museums in the world located inside the equally intriguing Bodrum Castle. The museum houses findings from more than ten shipwrecks along the Turkish coast, including the remains of a ship 3,500 years old!
Items found from the wreckages include jars, coins, weapons, jewellery and more. There are even boat reconstructions and exhibits that bring the scenery to life – this is one of our favourite museums due to its clever presentation.
Meaning ‘black island’ in Turkish, Karaada is at the entrance of the harbour of Bodrum, 3 miles off the coast. Particularly popular with yachties, it’s also well known for its healing mineral deposits. There are numerous stopping points and we recommend wearing water shoes or sandals as it can be rocky in places.
Don’t miss the mud caves facing Bodrum - Queen Cleopatra was known to visit regularly to preserve her legendary smooth skin and beautiful features!
The perfect peaceful antidote to Bodrum’s bustling centre, Gümüslük is a popular stop-and-drop spot with spectacular sea views – the bay also features an open-air market selling food and souvenirs. Whilst here you must try lokma with orange, a small crispy fried dough ball dipped in syrup. Tasty!
For a full meal try ‘Limon’ with its magical garden and perfect sunset views. Then maybe continue your day with a boat trip to nearby islands? Gümüslük is out best tip for a day chillin’!
The Bodrum Amphitheatre is yet another slice of history credited to the reign of King Mausolus, although it wasn’t completed until the Roman era. This well-preserved structure has 13,000 seats and is one of Bodrum’s most important historical sites. The theatre is only a short bus ride from Bodrum and is free to enter with a self-guided tour element. On select nights there are also ballet and music shows.
Explore Bodrum and learn more about the culture of the city by speaking to one of our travel experts now.