Bodrum is a city on the Bodrum Peninsula, stretching from Turkey's southwest coast into the Aegean Sea. The city features twin bays with views of Bodrum Castle. This medieval fortress was built partly with stones from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, completed in the 4th century B.C. The city is also a gateway for nearby beach towns and resorts. Although more than a million tourists flock to its beaches, boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and clubs each summer, the town of Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) never seems to lose its cool. More than any other Turkish seaside getaway, it has an enigmatic elegance that pervades it, from the town's crowning castle and glittering marina to its flower-filled cafes and white-plastered backstreets. Even in the most hectic days of high summer, you can still find little corners of serenity in the town. Bodrum is Turkey's Turquoise Coast at its most vibrant. This is a holiday destination du jour, with a marina full of bobbing yachts ready to whisk you out onto the Mediterranean; a handful of ancient attractions for sightseeing; and a town filled with photogenic, old, whitewashed houses. Once the ancient city of Halicarnassus, by the late Ottoman era, Bodrum had turned into a simple fishing village, but all that changed in the 1940s when tourism entered the fold.
Now during summer, this town buzzes with energy as tourists come from all over the world to soak up Bodrum's charm. If you happen to visit out of season, though, you can still catch a hint of the old village atmosphere. Find the best places to visit with our list of top tourist attractions in Bodrum.
Things to do
Castle of St. Peter:
Lording over the seafront, the Castle of St. Peter is at the top of every visitor's things to do in Bodrum list. The Knights Hospitalise of St. John built the structure between 1402 and 1437, and knights of the various nationalities of the order were entrusted with the defence of particular sections of the walls. Among the various towers are the French Tower; English Tower, with a sculpted lion on its west wall; and the Gatineau Tower, which leads to the dungeons. During the reign of the Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the castle passed into Turkish hands and a mosque was built inside. Today, many of the vast halls inside the castle display the exhibits of Bodrum's Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Museum of Underwater Archaeology
This absolutely brilliant museum inside the Castle of St. Peter is a must-see attraction, even if you don't have an interest in underwater archaeology. The layout of the exhibits is clearly organized, and the dazzling artifacts are complemented by slick multimedia displays. After the entrance, with its huge amphorae collection and a glass-blowing workshop that kids will find fascinating, you enter the Glass Wreck Hall, which displays a 16-meter ship that sunk in AD 1025.
The French Tower is home to another dazzling underwater find — the cargo of a classical Greek ship that sunk in the 4th century BC. In the Uluburun Wreck Hall and adjacent Treasure room is the museum's crowning glory — the excavated finds recovered from several Bronze Age shipwrecks.
Boat Trips & Things to Do on the Water
Outside of Bodrum town, the Bodrum Peninsula is home to several beaches, which get crammed full of sunbathers soaking up the heat during the summer months. The towns of Ornament (with two strips of sand: Fink beach and Stone beach), Bitez, and Turneries all have good beaches on offer, but there are plenty more to search out if you have the time. The entire peninsula is popular with both domestic and European tourists, so don't expect to find an isolated patch of sand. During the height of summer, this is one of Turkey's most popular places to be and going to the beach is the top thing to do
It doesn't look like much these days — you may need to put your imagination hat on — but this pile of ancient marble and rubble was once one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Mausoleum of Mausolus was built in Halicarnassus (Bodrum's ancient name) by the architect Pytheos as the final resting place of King Mausolus (376-353 BC). When finished, the impressive towering structure measured 46 meters high and was decorated with magnificent friezes by the most celebrated Greek sculptors of the day.
Despite damage by earthquakes over the centuries, it was only finally destroyed by the Knights Hospitallers, who used its stones to build the Castle of St. Peter. The modern day site, in a peaceful garden setting, is worthy of a look if only just to say you've seen one of the seven ancient wonders. There's also a helpful scale model of the original mausoleum on site.