8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bodrum
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.
See also: Where to Stay in Bodrum
1 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 Hospitallers of St. John built the structure between 1402 and 1437, and knights of the various nationalities of the order were entrusted with the defense 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.
Location: Kale Sokak
2 Museum of Underwater Archaeology
This absolutely brilliant museum inside the Castle of St. Peter is a must-see, 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.
Address: Castle of St. Peter, Kale Sokak
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.
Location: Turgutreis Caddesi
4 Myndos Gate (Myndos Kapısı)
One for the supreme history fiends on a hunt for the remnants of Halicarnassus, this gate is the last remaining chunk of King Mausolus' once sturdy fortress walls, which wrapped around the ancient city for seven kilometers. For tourists who enjoy a bit of poking about, plenty of small ruins are nearby, including a scattering of tombs and mosaic fragments left in situ as well as the sparse remnants of a 4th century BC moat. None of these remains in themselves have a wow-factor, but combined they make an interesting hour or so of exploring.
Location: Turgutreis Caddesi
5 Bodrum Theatre
Bodrum's ancient theater may be small by Roman standards but it has been beautifully restored, and the views from the upper tiers, out towards the mountains, are superb. In its heyday during the 4th century, it would have held 13,000 spectators. If you're here in summer, Bodrum uses the theater for a program of events and concerts. Check out if there's anything on while you're in town as seeing a performance within the theater is the best way of imagining how it would have been used in the grand era of Halicarnassus.
Location: Kıbrıs Şehitler Caddesi
6 Marina and Shipyard
It's the crystal blue Mediterranean that calls most visitors to Bodrum, and yachting is big business here. The marina is a sailor and sea-lover's paradise, crammed with bobbing yachts of all shapes and sizes. There are dozens of options to get out onto the water, with excursion vessels offering day trips (or longer) around the coast, visiting islands and hidden coves for sunbathing and swimming. If you follow the marina road further west, you'll come to the Ottoman shipyard, which has some interesting tombstones and great marina views.
Location: Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi
7 Old town
Just behind the Castle of St. Peter is Bodrum's most interesting area. The narrow pedestrian alleyways here are lined with vine-draped, whitewashed and stone-cut cottages that look like they fell off a postcard. Much of Bodrum has been modernized, so this is one of the few parts of town where you can still get a feel for the fishing village it once was before tourism moved in. It's an incredibly charming place for a late afternoon wander and heaven for photographers. There are plenty of cute boutiques and cafés in this area if you need to sit down and relax after strolling.
Location: Off Kale Sokak
If you're looking for some retail therapy, Bodrum has it all. The modern bazaar area is an upmarket take on an original Turkish market, with proper shops rather than stalls. It offers less room for bargaining but what it loses in authenticity, it makes up for in choice. There's everything here from gorgeous Turkish and Central Asian textiles and colorful local pottery to a bling-fest of gold shops and snazzy beachwear. A lazy afternoon meandering between the shops after a morning of sunbathing is what Bodrum is all about.
Location: Cevat Şakır Caddesi
Where to Stay in Bodrum for Sightseeing
We recommend these great hotels and resorts in Bodrum near the sea:
- El Vino Hotel & Suites: 4-star boutique hotel, peaceful location, walk to city, panoramic rooftop terrace, breakfast included, terrace pool, private beach.
- Voyage Bodrum: mid-range pricing, beachfront, lovely pool, excellent food, spa treatments, games room, sauna.
- Forever Club: affordable beach resort, welcoming staff, outdoor pool, basketball court, Turkish bath.
- Costa Sariyaz Hotel: budget hotel, convenient location, friendly owner, pool with plenty of sun loungers.