Bodrum Peninsula Overview
- Riviera-redolent coves and groves
- Coast life
- Sailing to Byzantium
Bodrum Peninsula has had travel writers waxing poetic since ancient times, when King Mausolus' tomb was named one of the world's seven wonders: these days, yachts, their diamond-laden owners, and equally sparkly waters are what's worth writing home about.
Bodrum started life as Halicarnassus, an ancient Greek city famed for its nautical carpentry (the distinctive gulet boats were first nailed into shape here) and Mausolus’ tomb – yes, we have Bodrum to thank for the word ‘mausoleum’. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and an earthquake or two put paid to the majestic memorial, built for the king by his wife (and sister – it’s complicated). Luckily, there’s still plenty to lure you to this 174km stretch of Turkey’s south-western shore. The northern coast is quiet, peaceful, and popular with visiting oligarchs, who drop anchor at Torba, Göltürkbükü and Gundogan; the southern side has the best beaches: Bardakci, Gumbet and Içmeler are three popular sun spots. Despite earning the moniker ‘Turkey’s Cote d’Azur’, the Bodrum Peninsula has managed to remain peaceful and unassuming; as well suited to simple pleasures – seafood, sea views, a chilled glass of wine and a book or two – as it is to A-list adventures.
Beautifully Bodrum Peninsula
Gulets: traditional two-masted vessels used in ancient times to shuttle precious cargo up and down the south-west shores (these days, they shuttle tourists from coast to coast). Building these boats is a tradition peculiar to Bodrum, and they’re still hewn into shape by master craftsmen today, with the majority of boatyards in Içmeler.
- Look out for the sunshine-yellow licensed local taxis, which can be flagged down or hopped into at taxi ranks. Try Turkbuku Taxi (+90 (0)252 377 5639) if you can’t spy any on the horizon. Alternatively, make like the locals and hop on a Dolmus, the traditional Turkish bus, affectionately nicknamed the ‘shared taxi’.
- Tipping culture
- Add on the standard 10 per cent in restaurants and bars.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Locals dine late, waiting for the sun’s heat to subside. In high season, the beach bars and restaurants are packed with tanned tourists from 9pm until the early hours.
- Packing tips
- Naughty nauticalia: itsy bitsy bikinis and beach shorts with blue Breton stripes, a perky captain’s hat and a hip flask. (A map of the peninsula will come in handy, too.) You’ll want some glamour for dry-land adventures: designer threads, on-the-verge-of-ridiculous oversized sunglasses, and perhaps some freshwater pearls.
- Recommended reads
- Scorn landlubberly literature, and dip into Ultimate Sailing Adventures: 100 Extraordinary Experiences on The Water by Miles Kendall, or Aegean Escape by Kristi Garrett.
- Fresh fish is the focus – especially sea-bass and bream. Aubergines get around: you’ll find them grilled, smoked, breaded or stuffed, and served up in salad, sandwich and snack form. A scattering of wild herbs and green leaves – mustard, nettles, and theligonium – adds flavour to local dishes. Mushrooms flourish here: cintar is the most memorable, delicious fried or grilled with lashings of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper.
- Regional specialities
- Turkish wines are fast on the ascendant; the little village of Şirince produces some of the best (its olive oil is pretty special, too). Sample some well-rounded nectars at Artemis, a well-respected restaurant and wine-grower (www.artemisrestaurant.com).
- Turkish Lira (TL).
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- +90 for Turkey, (0)52 for the Bodrum Peninsula.
- Do go/don't go
- July and August are hot, pricey, busy and buzz-y. If you’re looking for sizzling-hot sunbathing by day and posers’ parties by night, this is the time to come. For a quieter stay, visit in early June, September or October.
Don't go home without...
warding off the evil eye. Take a nazar boncuğu back with you, in beady blue necklace, bracelet, anklet or ornament form.