Things to Do in Bodrum
Perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the harbor, the striking Castle of St. Peter (also known as Bodrum Castle or Bodrumm Kalesi) is an instantly recognizable Bodrum landmark and one of the city’s top tourist attractions. Built by the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes in the 15th century, the castle was designed by German architect Heinrich Schlegelholt and partially crafted from the stones of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Despite losing its since-reconstructed minaret in WWI bombings, the castle remains a remarkably preserved example of medieval architecture, encircled by its imposing sea walls and including a moat, a mosque added by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1522 and five towers - the English, Italian, German, French and Snake towers. Today St. Peter's Castle is open to visitors and hosts the impressive Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. It also provides a dramatic backdrop for cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
The ancient Greek city of Miletus (Miletos) in modern-day Turkey was once an important port city. When the river’s location changed, the city was eventually abandoned.
The settlement at Miletus dates back to 1400 B.C.E., and the city grew to be one of Greece’s wealthiest cities - thanks in large part to its position at the mouth of the Maeander River. Over the centuries, the river changed course, leaving Miletus behind. The city was later destroyed by the Persians in 499 B.C.E. and then rebuilt on a new grid plan that was to become the model for Roman cities. Excavations at the site began in the late 1800s, and today you can see the remains of a theater, a stadium, a Temple to Apollo, a Byzantine-era castle and church, and Roman baths.
The ancient Greek city of Priene is in modern-day Turkey, but its Greek roots are clearly visible in the excavations you can visit. The remains of the city of Priene we can see today date back to the 4th century B.C.E., but it’s widely known among archaeologists that the original Priene settlement is much older. How much older, they can’t say - those remains are likely still buried - but it’s possible the original city was established before 1000 B.C.E.
One of the main attractions at Priene is the Temple to Athena, situated at the highest point of the old city. Other sights in the excavations include a theater, the agora, a city council building called a “bouleuterion,” a gymnasium with Roman baths, and a Temple of Demeter.
Yalıçiftlik is a small village located near the popular resort town of Bodrum, Turkey. It is just outside the Bodrum Peninsula along the Aegean Sea above a series of secluded coves, and it's at the entrance to the Gulf of Gokava. Accommodations here run from simple to luxury. The town's scenery includes pine forests, orchards of fig trees, and the sandy coastline. There is a market once a week where you'll find fruits, vegetables, and other local products. The beaches in Yalıçiftlik are perfect for sunbathing or swimming, and you'll also find several restaurants and cafes serving fresh, local seafood and traditional Turkish food near the beach. You can also go hiking in the nearby forest and explore ruins in the hills from the ancient Legegian and Carian civilizations.
In Yalıçiftlik and the surrounding areas, you can get a glimpse into traditional Turkish village life. There are stone farmhouses on the hillsides with orchards and beehives. These areas outside of the beach resorts are mostly untouched by tourism. Yaliciftlik is often included on tours on traditional Turkish sailing boats that visit several of the quiet villages along the coast of the Bodrum Peninsula.
Housed in the 15th-century Castle of St. Peter, the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology (Bodrum Sualtı Arkeoloji Müzesi) is one of Bodrum’s top attractions, amassing an impressive collection of shipwreck remains and artifacts sourced from under-the-sea excavations along the Aegean Coast.
Dive into the depths of the ocean without leaving dry land, as the exhibitions take you on a journey through the Bronze, Archaic, Classic and Hellenistic Ages, revealing the mysteries of Turkey’s rich nautical history. Among the most impressive finds are a restored Roman shipwreck dating back to the 7th century A.D., one of the world’s largest collections of ancient glassware and what is believed to be the tomb of Queen Ada of Halicarnassus.
Even with all of this, the undisputed star attraction is the Uluburun shipwreck. Discovered on Turkey’s southwestern coast in 1982, the sunken ship dates back to the 14th century B.C. and is largely regarded as one of the world’s greatest Bronze Era finds, filled with everything from elephant tusks to a gold scarab that once belonged to Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
Built in 351 B.C. to house the tomb of King Mausolus, the Persian King of Caria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Tomb of Mausolus) was not only the grandest tomb of its time but it also gave its name to all the mausoleums that followed. The masterpiece of Greek architects Satyros and Pytheos, the elaborate monument was once a temple of sculpted columns and white marble, standing over 50 meters tall and topped with a sculpture of a horse-drawn carriage.
Because the mausoleum is known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, its ruins are immensely popular in modern-day Bodrum, despite being almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1304. Today, the final remaining pieces of the walls can be found around the landmark Myndos Gate, while the best-preserved remains are now housed in London’s British Museum. Some of the rocks rescued from the wreckage of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus were also used to build the seafront Castle of St Peter.
The ruins of the ancient city of Ephasus are located in Selcuk, Turkey. The city was a major port city in its time, but the port has since silted over and the shoreline is quite a distance away. One of the important sections of the ruins are the Ephesus Terrace Houses, which are on a hill across from the Hadrian Temple. There are six units on three terraces, the oldest dating back to the 1st century BC. It was used as a residence until the 7th century AD.
Two of the houses are now open as a museum, and they give visitors a glimpse at what family life might have been like during the Roman Period. The houses contained mosaics on the floors and frescoes on the walls, which are now protected. They had central interior courtyards, and although most of the houses were two stories tall, the second levels have collapsed over time.
One of the most important and best-preserved remains of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, the Bodrum Amphitheater boasts a dramatic location, carved into the hillside above the city of Bodrum. Originally constructed in the fourth century B.C. during the reign of King Mausolus, the grand, open-air venue wasn’t fully completed until the Roman era, with structural changes that were made for hundreds of years up until the second century A.D.
The 13,000-seat amphitheater is one of the oldest in Anatolia, and thanks to careful restoration, it remains in use, hosting concerts and theatrical performances during the summer months. The atmospheric venue is famed for its remarkable acoustics and magnificent panoramic views of the modern-day city of Bodrum, neighboring Gumbet and the surrounding Bodrum peninsula.
One of the greatest ancient Roman cities was Ephesus, and its ruins are located in Selcuk, Turkey. It is one of the most popular sites to visit in Turkey. Near the ancient Agora, visitors can see the remains of the Temple of Domitian and Domitian Square. The Temple of Domitian, formally known as the Temple of the Sebastoi, was built in honor of Emperor Domitian's family, and it is the first structure here known to be dedicated to an emperor. Though not much remains of the temple today, archaeologists have learned much about its structure.
Visitors can see the remaining foundation of the temple and imagine what it might have once looked like. It was approximately 165 feet by 330 feet and sat on vaulted foundations. The northern end was two stories tall and was accessed by stairs, which can still be seen today. There were also several columns on each side of the temple. Reliefs from some of the columns can still be seen here as well.
Dotted along the coastal cliffs of the Bodrum Peninsula, the white-brick towers and wooden sails of the Bodrum windmills paint a pretty picture, set against expansive views of the windswept coastline. Dating back to the 18th century, the historic windmills were once used to grind flour for local communities and remained in use up until the 1970s, after which they fell into ruin.
Today, restoration work is underway on many of the mills, with the most notable including a trio at Yalikavak on the northern side of the peninsula and a row of seven that line the hilltops between Bodrum and Gumbet. Hiking the coastal path between the windmills makes a popular day trip from Bodrum and provides access to a romantic spot to watch the sunset over Bodrum Bay.
More Things to Do in Bodrum
Once guarding the western entrance to the ancient city of Halicarnassus, the grand Myndos Gate (Myndos Kapısı) marked the route to nearby Myndos (now Gümüslük) and remains a prominent landmark of modern-day Bodrum. Today, the peripheral walls that once ran for seven kilometers around the city lie in ruin, but the striking remains of the Myndos Gate are a lasting reminder of its former glory.
Built in the fourth century B.C., the gate was one of only two entrances to the city, which was protected by a trio of watchtowers and fronted by a 15-meter-wide moat. Unfortunately, despite its strong fortifications, the gate was breached in 333 B.C. when Alexander the Great besieged the city, and the preserved remains are now all that is left of the famous battle site.
With its crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful corals and sweeping coastal cliffs giving way to sandy beaches and secluded coves, the Bodrum Peninsula (Bodrum Yarımada) is one of Turkey’s most scenic destinations, stretching for 174 km along the northwestern Aegean coast. Bodrum, built on the site of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, is the main gateway to the region and the most developed of its towns. Legions of tourists are steadily drawn to Bodrum’s lively waterfront and numerous archaeological gems, including the ruins of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Touring the peninsula makes a popular day or multi-day trip from Bodrum. Heading west along the coast, the bustle of city life soon gives way to sleepy fishing villages, hilltops capped with whitewashed windmills and ancient olive groves. There’s plenty to see and do around the peninsula - explore the underwater ruins of ancient Myndos in Gümüslük; take a boat cruise around the islands; try your hand at windsurfing in Akyarlar or Bitez; or escape the crowds for the pristine beaches of Yalikavak, Torba and Türkbükü on the peninsula’s north coast.
Often nicknamed the St Tropez of Turkey, Bodrum has earned itself a stellar reputation among cruise travelers. The lively Bodrum Marina, a well-equipped and modern harbor with space for up to 500 boats, is at the heart of its sailing community. Even if you won’t be docking your private yacht in the marina, a stroll along the scenic waterfront provides an atmospheric introduction to the city with its line of designer shopping outlets, luxury hotels, top-class seafood restaurants and stylish selection of bars and cafes.
As well as being a place that offers yachts for hire and day cruises around the Bodrum Peninsula, the colorful marina also hosts a number of international boat races and festivals throughout the year, including the prestigious Bodrum Cup yacht regatta each October.
A small fishing village on the western coast of the Bodrum Peninsula, Gümüşlük is a popular choice for a day trip from Bodrum with its scenic promenades and rocky coves. Quieter and less developed than many of the region’s other coastal towns, Gümüşlük is best known for its fresh seafood, secluded sandy beaches and the offshore Rabbit Island (Asar Adasi), which can be reached on foot from the mainland by wading through knee-deep sea waters.
Once the site of the ancient city of Myndos, Gümüşlük is dotted with archaeological sites, but the most impressive ruins can be found underwater, where sections of the former sea walls, buildings and floor mosaics remain scattered around the headland. Take a scenic boat tour or fishing expedition around Gumusluk Bay or explore the sunken ruins on a snorkeling or diving excursion.
Mumcular is a small town located about 18 miles northeast of Bodrum, Turkey. The old name of the town was Karaova. It is in a forested region on the Bodrum Peninsula in southwestern Turkey not far from the Aegean Sea and it has a Mediterranean climate. The area is quite dry, so in 1989 the town built the Mumcular Dam in order to have a reservoir. The reservoir is important for irrigation and drinking water. The population of Mumcular, including the nearby communities, is approximately 15,000 people.
The region where Mumcular is located is well known for the production of olives, tobacco, and honey, as well as carpet making. There is a weekly market in Mumcular where local vendors sell fruits, vegetables, handmade goods, textiles, and a variety of other products. For visitors looking for someplace less touristy than the popular city of Bodrum, visiting Mumcular could be a good option. Visitors can take tours from Bodrum to Mumcular to see what traditional Turkish village life is like and to learn more about the art of carpet weaving.
Mazı is a small village located about 25 miles east of Bodrum, Turkey. It is the farthest village in the area from the popular resort city of Bodrum. It is located above a secluded cove along the Aegean Sea on the Bodrum Peninsula in southwestern Turkey, and it has a Mediterranean climate. Construction is not permitted in this part of the Bodrum region, so the village still feels very authentic and tranquil and there are only a few guesthouses. The residents of Mazı mostly make a living by weaving carpets, agriculture, producing honey and fishing.
Since the road leading to Mazi was only paved a few decades ago, the village hasn't seen as much tourism as the rest of the area. The town center is located up on a hill which, in the past, was a way to help prevent the village from being attacked by pirates. It overlooks the Gokova Bay. Nearby you can visit the bays of Yasli Yali and Ince Yali. Visitors can also visit Kargili, Feslikan, Kissebuku and Adayali beaches by fishing boat. Due to its location on the sea, Mazi is an ideal location to go swimming.
Limnionas Beach is on a cove along Limnionas Bay about 3 miles north of the village of Kefalos on the island of Kos. It's about 27 miles from the main town of Kos. The island of Kos, in the Dodecanese island group, is only 4 miles from Turkey's coast, so it makes an easy day trip from Turkey. The cove where the beach is located naturally protects the area from strong winds. As a result, it is a haven for fishing boats during bad weather.
It is a quiet beach with fine, white sand where you'll find clear water, rocky scenery, umbrellas, and chairs for sunbathing. You can also go swimming and snorkeling at Limnionas Beach. From the beach, you can enjoy the panoramic views of Kos, the Aegean Sea and the nearby island of Kalymnos. In the harbor, there are fishing boats that offer day trips and fishing excursions. A few cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy seafood and other local dishes are located near the beach. This is a great beach to relax and get away from the crowds since there isn't a lot of commercialization.
Lambi Beach is located at the northeast corner of the island of Kos in the Dodecanese island group of Greece. Since the island of Kos is located so close to Turkey, it makes an easy day trip, and Lambi Beach is not far from the port. The island is often included in island hopping boat tours from Turkey as well. It is one of the closest beaches to the town of Kos, the island's main town. Due to its proximity to the town, Lambi Beach is easy to access for visitors staying in Kos for the nightlife.
It is a long beach with both pebbles and fine sand, and plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas. Visitors come here to swim, sunbath, and enjoy a variety of other water activities. It's a popular beach with several tourist facilities and shops. There are several restaurants and cafes serving seafood and other local meals near and even on the beach. Along the shore is a flat path ideal for cyclists. The path leads to the nearby village of Tigaki.
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