A Summer Classic

The Aegean’s ageless fisherman has kicked off this summer as fast as before. With its blindingly white and boxy houses, shimmering beaches, luxurious venues and colorful nights, Bodrum is – as usual – an essential of Turkish summers

Then it comes to summer vacation in Turkey, it has been one of the first places to come to mind. It has been discussed to death. It has been discovered countless times. Each summer, it has added new beauties to its bulging portfolio. It has satisfied backpacking wanderers as well as those who tiptoe at the heights of opulence. Even if it feels drained at times, it has always managed to stand upright. The idiom “Bodrum every night” wasn’t spoken in vain. With its fast nights, deserted trails, tiny natural beaches, and interesting delicacies, it has managed to stay on as a center of attraction for every segment. Now, in your presence: Bodrum.

Bodrum – which was described by the Fisherman of Halicarnassus with the words “Don’t think that you will go as you came; the ones before you were the same; they all went off after leaving their minds in Bodrum” – has a deeply-rooted history dating back thousands of years. According to Herodotus, a native of Bodrum, the city was established in the 1000s AD by the Dorians. Byzantine and Turkish principalities later dominated the area known as Halicarnassus in ancient times. In the era of Suleiman the Magnificent, it was incorporated into Ottoman lands. We begin our quest to discover the region’s historic heritage at Bodrum Castle. The real surprise of the castle, which was built by the Knights of Rhodes, is what the Bodrum Underwater Archeology Museum, housed in its murky corridors.

The most interesting piece in the collection on display at the museum is the Uluburun Shipwreck, one of the world’s oldest known shipwrecks with a history dating back 3,400 years. A golden seal which proves Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s time as a pharaoh was among the cargo that was recovered from it. After wandering through the castle and along the seaside lined by blue cruise yachts, we move on to the bazaar. It’s hard to leave the counters full of Bodrum t-shirts, leather sandals, handmade glassware, authentic jewelry, sponges, giant seashells, and corals empty-handed. Our destination, which we will reach with the accompaniment of the gentle Aegean breezes that blow off the weariness of the year from our bodies, is the coves of Bodrum.

The partying that took place in central Bodrum up until a few years ago has been moved over to the coves. Bodrum’s coves, nearly all of which are Blue Flag certified, are also quite famous for their beach and dockside parties. There are many options for shopping and dining in Torba, which possesses an impressive variety of holiday villages. Gümbet, east of Ağaçlı Cove, is full of hotels, boardinghouses, and holiday villages. Tiny natural beaches are hidden in the cove, which is a popular stopover for tour yachts coming from Bodrum. The next-door-neighbor of Gümbet, Akvaryum (Aquarium) Cove, is an indispensable stop for daily tour yachts. The shores of Turgutreis, which are dotted with tangerine trees, are perfect for watersports. Yalıkavak, famed for its old-fashioned windmills, greets visitors from land and sea with its chic restaurants.

The Yalıkavak Marina nearby, which was built with an eye for detail, offers the highest level of comfort for yachts. The beach clubs in the area turn seaside sun & fun into a sort of open air party with carefully selected music and various offerings of food and drink. Life on the coves is just about the same every day. A day in Bodrum starts with a long breakfast, continues with naps and relaxation at noon, and simmers down with sunshine and bathing in the evenings. With the arrival of dusk, after all the weariness of the day is washed off, it is time to flow in to the restaurants and entertainment venues. If spending time on the beaches of Bodrum is not enough, there are three alternatives which will plunge you into the the cold waters of the Aegean: diving schools, sailing schools, and the blue cruise, which has become permanently associated with Bodrum. Bitez, renowned for its night clubs and the fine sands of its beaches, is the surf and sailing center of Bodrum with its breezy, shallow seas.

There are many places to go diving in Bodrum, which promises an unforgettable experience to divers with its underwater flora and mysterious shipwrecks. Yacht tours are among the most entertaining activities to brighten your vacation. It is up to you to choose one of the blue cruises to the Gökova Coast, the Datça and Bozburun peninsulas, and Marmaris, which are offered on daily, three-day-long, or weekly bases, starting and ending at Bodrum. If you don’t have time for long tours, you can join day trips from Bodrum Harbor. Various grilled foods, fish, and salads are offered at lunchtime on the tours, that stop for swimming at deserted coves.

Karakaya, standing high between Sandima and Gümüşlük in the vicinity of Yalıkavak, seems to present a view of Bodrum as it appeared a hundred years ago. Baryglia, the ancient town near Güllük, is full of ruins from the Byzantine period. The best place to stop for a delicious snack is Kuyucak Harbor, which has been used as a natural harbor since antiquity. If you’d like to meet the fulfilled, cheerful inhabitants of a modest Bodrum town, you’ll have to mosey on over to Gümüşlük.

There are many options for those who would prefer to have dinner at one of the restaurants on the beach instead of on the yacht. You will have the chance, if you wish, to see the shipwrecks at the bottom of the sea in the lustrous waters of this sterling village, more than two thousands years since the ancient town of Myndos was drowned. Though Gümüşlük doesn’t offer many flashy touristic activities, one can go for a swim, walk to Tavşan (Rabbit) Island, and watch a breathtaking sunset. Mazıköy is also among Bodrum’s little-known, hidden treasures.

This virginal Aegean village, which can be reached by following the road to Mumcular after taking a left at Güvercinlik once you have passed Güllük, is an earthly paradise with its crystal clear sea, green natural environment, stately trees, and rocks. The Mazı beach doesn’t lose its pleasant breeze even on the hottest days of the year. The pleasure of swimming in the shade of oleander trees by these shining, spotless beaches is unbelievable. The long stretches of beach and rocks are quite suitable for sunbathing and fishing. It’s up to you to explore the nearby coves by renting a yacht from the pier on the beach. Stopping by the historical ruins of Kisebükü considered part of tradition nowadays. The cove, which is home to a bath, cistern, and church ruins, is also an essential of blue cruises. The hand-woven rugs and carpets sold at the village square are one of Mazı’s surprises...

Isn’t it time to head out to the outskirts of Bodrum? Now, we move on over to Yalıçiftlik, an area of Bodrum whose popularity has risen in recent years. We reach Yalıçiftlik, located approximately 20 minutes from Bodrum by car, after a pleasant trip which winds through the pine forests. Yalıçiftlik, whose hotel and holiday village population has rapidly increased over the past few years, possesses what are perhaps Bodrum’s most beautiful coves. In the first cove after Karaada – the Black Island – there are a few restaurants scattered around a rocky beach preceding the entrance of Gökova Bay. The east side of the shore is a sandy beach.

It’s quite pleasant to swim alone and sunbathe among the deserted rocks just a little bit ahead. Taking long walks on the forested hills overlooking the world-famous panorama of Gökova Bay, participating in yacht tours, and finding serene beaches where you can be alone with your loved ones are among the privileges the region offers to its guests. It’s also not hard at all to stumble upon ruins left over from the Carians. In addition, you can purchase hand-woven rugs and carpets from the houses at the village.
Just four kilometers beyond Yalıçiftlik, Çiftlikköy – literally, “farm village” – is famed for its honey, figs, and masonry houses. In summary, there is something for everybody in Bodrum. Which Bodrum is yours?

Mustafa Demiröz (Bodrum Mariners Association President)
Blue cruises first began in the 1950s in Bodrum. We owe the birth of these tours, which are identified with Bodrum today, to the journeys of the Fisherman of Halicarnassus. Bodrum, with its heavenly coves and authentic yachts, is now a brand in blue cruises. The schooners produced by local craftsmen are exported to the whole world. Together with its auxilliary industries, the blue cruise has become a gigantic sector which contributes to the country’s economy. One of the most important touristic contributions by Turkey to the world, blue cruises have a demand from all over the world. We must sustainably protect our coasts in order to ensure the development of the blue cruise. For those who will be going on a blue cruise, I would recommend the Gökova route, which is launched from and ends at Bodrum.

Bodrum’s coves, nearly all of which are Blue Flag certified, are also quite famous for their beach and dockside parties.

The most interesting piece in the collection on display at the Bodrum Underwater Archeology Museum is the Uluburun Shipwreck.

A day in Bodrum starts with a long breakfast, continues with naps and relaxation at noon, and simmers down with sunshine and bathing in the evenings.

THY arranges daily, round-trip flights every day of the week from Istanbul to Bodrum, operating out of Dalaman airport on the outskirts of Bodrum.

Options for accommodation in Bodrum range from boarding houses to five-star holiday villages. Boutique hotels are ideal for those who want to stay in the region’s famed masonry houses.

Along with delicious Aegean herbs and olive oil based dishes, “çökertme kebab” – literally, collapse kebab, which consists mainly of beef strips, potatoes, and yogurt – is one of the dishes specific to the region. Seafood should, of course, not be forgotten.