Bodrum is a beautiful small city on the west coast of Turkey with blue seas, green mountainsides and white stone pavements around the town. Our Bodrum itinerary will show you why it’s such a famous location for international tourists and Turkish visitors alike, showing you its pretty centre, great food and shopping street, as well as the local history.
2 or 3 days in Bodrum is ideal for a chance to experience a bit of everything and come away from the area feeling relaxed after a few days in the sun.
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When booking a trip, you’ll want to consider what you want to do there to work out how many days to spend in Bodrum in total. It’s a small city but the lifestyle is perfectly relaxed and has a great reputation as a summer town having grown from a small fishing village due to its beautiful coastline.
So although a week may seem too long to sit on a beach, there are some great activities in between wandering the town and soaking up the sun.
Aside from the beachfront restaurants and clubs, a cute city centre to wander through and browse the shops at all times of day and night, Bodrum also has a marina, castle, mausoleum and amphitheatre, all of which are well worth visiting. Aside from the castle, however, each attraction is small and won’t take long to see, so you can easily fit them into 2 days in Bodrum.
Since the atmosphere of the place is so relaxed, however, you’ll ideally want to spend at least 3 days in Bodrum to see the sights and enjoy lounging on the beaches, eating the fantastic food and experiencing a bit of the local nightlife.
Arriving in Bodrum is very easy thanks to the Milas-Bodrum Airport just a 35-minute drive from the city. You can reach the airport from London Gatwick directly, or from most European capitals such as Paris and Amsterdam via Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
Unfortunately, the airport shuttle bus to the city centre has been removed due to a legal dispute over the proposed route, however, you can easily get a taxi from the airport to the city centre, organise a transfer or rent a car yourself from the airport.
If you have more than 3 days, it can be a great idea to rent a car as the coastal roads are beautiful and you can enjoy them at your leisure, visiting various ancient sites and beaches in the area.
However, if you’re spending a weekend in Bodrum or fewer than 3 days, a car isn’t necessary as you’ll predominantly be based in the city centre.
For visitors having a longer trip around Turkey, you can also reach Bodrum coach station from most Turkish cities. The coach station has regular buses arriving in the city centre in just 15 to 20 minutes, which you can pay for with a contactless bank card. You can view schedules here.
It’s also possible to arrive in Bodrum by ferry from the Greek island of Kos. Kos also has its own airport, easily accessible from Europe. The ferry takes around 1 hour and will show you the beautiful Turkish coastline and great views of the Aegean Sea as you arrive. You can book ferries here.
You will need to show your passport and have your bags checked as you pass through border control. Likewise, if you’re staying in Bodrum and want to take a day trip out to a Greek island, you can take a ferry from Bodrum ferry port as long as you have a Schengen visa or permission to stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.
Within Bodrum itself, you’ll easily be able to walk around the city. With the castle in the middle, most of Bodrum is located on the coast, with flat paths throughout the city, which is also very easy for wheelchairs and pushchairs to pass through.
There are some motor scooters available to rent with an app, but Bodrum is best enjoyed on foot. You can also rent boats for a day out at sea if you want to take the weight off your feet for a while.
2 to 3-Day Bodrum Itinerary
Each day of our itinerary will take you through a day in the life of Western Turkey; a touch of history, some delicious traditional Turkish cuisine and plenty of sunshine and sea air.
Day 1 – Bodrum Old Town
For your first day in Bodrum, you should visit the castle that sits proudly in the centre of the city to get views over the town and marina from both sides, as well as learn some of the history of the city before you explore on foot.
After a long and expensive renovation, Bodrum Castle has been opened again to the public, so visitors can marvel at the spectacular views over the city as well as the ancient history of the city of Bodrum, formerly Halicarnassus to the Ancient Greeks.
The castle itself was built in the 15th century by the Order of the Knights of Saint John, a group of European knights comprising British, French, Italian and Germans, with a strict hierarchy, and who each had a hand in the construction of the castle.
After having arrived in the area, the knights found the ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus and used much of the stone to help build the castle; some of the friezes and carved stone can be seen in the castle walls while others can be found displayed in the castle grounds alongside many beautiful and well-preserved sculptures.
Each tower of the castle displays the emblem of one of the nationalities of the Knights Hospitaller, and within each, you can find display cases with magnificent historic artefacts recovered at the site and in the nearby waters.
One of the highlights is the artefacts of the Carian princess which were found in a sarcophagus discovered in the 1980s; the number of items, which were largely gold jewellery, and their value showed the significance of the woman who was buried there, leading archaeologists to believe this was the burial place of Empress Ada I, although she has become known as the Carian Princess.
After the Muslim conquest by Süleyman the Magnificent, the castle was taken over and the chapel located in the centre of the castle was converted to a mosque by the addition of a minaret. The vaults below the mosque have been excavated so below a glass flooring you can see the ancient crypts and graves below.
After the Allied bombing in the First World War, the castle faced some damage, although it has now largely been reconstructed and makes for a fantastic, largely open-air museum.
Some of the stone floors have been worn away over time making them rather slippery, so make sure you watch your step while admiring the architecture and history. There are also peacocks wandering the grounds and the occasional tortoise passing by so look out for those on your visit.
The entrance fee is cheaper for Turkish nationals, but it is well worth the cost for foreign visitors regardless and is one of the best things to do in Bodrum.
Museum of Underwater Archaeology (Sualtı Arkeoloji Müzesi)
The Underwater Archaeology Museum is actually located within Bodrum Castle and comprises part of your castle visit, so you can expect to spend a few hours discovering the museum as well as learning about the shipwrecks, ancient passages and recovered items in the castle’s museum.
Many of the items are displayed in the towers, although there are elements located all over the castle.
The museum is the largest of its kind, with many recovered artefacts on display, many of which come from three shipwrecks that happened just off the castle’s shore. There is a huge collection of ancient ceramic jugs used to transport wine, oil and other liquids used for trade, as well as glass ingots, bronze and iron items.
Although many of the items were found in diving expeditions in the 1960s, some of the objects found date back to around 2500 BCE, showing the historic significance of the trade routes surrounding the area of the Turkish coastline.
As the museum is located within the castle, you’re granted entrance with your castle ticket. Any fans of ancient or mediaeval history have to stop by this wonderful museum to understand the significance of Bodrum over at least the last two millennia.
After your visit to the castle, having taken in the spectacular views, it’s time to explore the city streets. Bodrum’s pavement is white stone and most of the buildings are a sandy stone colour, lending itself to a picturesque environment as you pass through the winding streets filled with shops.
Bodrum is famous for its leather sandals, so amongst the fake Louis Vuitton bags and knock-off designer clothes being sold, you can also find some small authentic boutiques selling all kinds of beautiful real leather sandals which are often handmade.
As you pass through, you’ll come across the rock bars and some fish restaurants as well as a couple of Bodrum döner kebab spots. Bodrum döner differs from other cities as there are vegetables placed between the meat which makes for a more colourful, potentially mildly healthier, and definitely delicious kebab.
If you continue along the main street, the shops open out to reveal the coast to your right with restaurants on your left and seating areas on the beach. As you wander you’ll be offered all kinds of fantastic food, from fresh fish to kebabs and everything in between.
Some of these restaurants turn into pubs or nightclubs into the night so hang around for a night out or head back to one of the rock bars for a calmer evening.
Day 2 – Bodrum’s Ancient Sites
Your second day will show you a few more historic sites that showcase the ancient importance of the city of Bodrum and the Bodrum Peninsula before delving into the nightlife that the city has come to be known for.
Heading even further back in time than the castle of the Knights of Saint John, we start day 2 in the Ancient Theatre of Bodrum. If you’ve seen Ephesus, you may not be as stunned by the wonder of this ancient site, however, all Greek history fanatics should visit this beautiful theatre and the views over Bodrum are well worth the free visit to this large and historically significant site.
Formerly known as the Theatre of Halicarnassus, the walled city which stood on the same land as modern-day Bodrum, this theatre was initially built in the 4th century BCE housing 5-10,000 spectators. It was enlarged by the Romans in the 2nd century CE to accommodate an audience of up to 13,000 for mainly gladiator shows.
At the bottom of the stands you can see the ancient altar to Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans), while at the top, you can enjoy fantastic views over the city, from the ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus to Bodrum castle in the distance, with the whole city and marina in between.
Walking a little further down towards the city centre, you’ll reach the site of the ancient Mausoleum.
Since the Mausoleum was destroyed, possibly in an earthquake, and many of the stones were used in the construction of Bodrum Castle, very little remains of the hugely significant site, so you’ll have to use your imagination a little to understand what once stood in this location.
Constructed around 350 BCE by order of Mausolus in preparation for his death, and then overseen by his sister Artemisia, this area once held a large above-ground tomb, decorated with friezes, 400 sculptures and a huge four-horse-drawn chariot with Mausolus and Artemisia inside.
The Romans were allegedly so impressed with this construction, that they named all above-ground tombs mausoleums in honour of the Carian King’s architectural triumph, which had also been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Originally over 44 metres high, located on a hilltop overlooking the city of Halicarnassus, the mausoleum was enclosed in a courtyard, with statues of lions leading to the platform holding the tomb, itself surrounded by statues of gods and goddesses, with warriors guarding the marble tomb on each side.
Unfortunately due to the earthquakes, only a couple of stairways, walls and the entranceway to the tomb remain, although there is a model on display of how the site would have looked in its original glory. It’s still worth visiting the Ancient Wonder and imagining how the mausoleum would have stood, especially considering the amazing stones spotted in the castle.
The statues of Mausolus and Artemisia that sat on top of the mausoleum can also be found in the British Museum in London.
Bodrum nightlife is something which brings visitors from all over the country as well as from abroad, so while in Bodrum, you should spend an evening out.
Starting with dinner on the beachfront or in one of the kebab houses, you can drift on to one of the many bars located on the beachfront before heading to one of the very popular and famous nightclubs.
If nightclubs aren’t your scene, then there are plenty of other places to spend your evening and music for all tastes. Just follow the main street from the castle to the end of the bay where the Bodrum ferry is located and go where your ears take you, whether it’s to a live show in a bar, a rock bar or a cocktail bar.
Some nights, particularly in summer due to the warmer weather and sunshine later into the evening, there are also concerts and performances held in the ancient theatre, so if you prefer a more cultural evening, you can head to Bodrum tourist office or online to see what’s going on.
The original design makes for fantastic acoustics so concerts sound amazing while giving you a wonderful environment to enjoy.
Day 3 – Beach Day or Day Trip
For your third day in Bodrum, you can either choose to wander through the town, picking up some souvenirs before lounging on the beach and munching away on some delicious Turkish treats or take a day trip further out of the city.
The public beach in Bodrum is quite small, but if you plan on spending a whole afternoon on the beach, you’d be best advised to stop by one of the on-beach restaurants.
One option is the public cafe which has its own beach with chairs and parasols as well as reasonably priced drinks and snacks in the cafe area. It can be busy at times but it’s cheaper than the private restaurants further down and there’s no pressure to buy anything.
If you’re sure you’ll have a drink and some food, the restaurants further down the beach make for another great option as the beach area is bigger and you’ll have more options for food and drink. F
or a picnic or something sweet, you should stop by Yunuslar Karadeniz which has all kinds of colourful pastries, sandwiches, cakes and desserts which are sure to catch your eye anyway. Like most of the shops in this area, through summer, they’re open late into the night so you can guarantee to pick something up even on your way home from a night out.
One of the best ways to enjoy your trip to Bodrum is by taking a boat trip. Whether you rent a small private boat for the day or join a larger boat trip with other day-trippers, the seas around Bodrum are well worth seeing up close.
You can book a trip on the larger boats from Bodrum marina, where you’ll also be provided with lunch at sea, or speak to an attendant in one of the boat-shaped cabins located along the walkway by the marina to see what your options are.
Around 20 minutes from the coast is a small bay known as the aquarium (Akvaryum Koyu) where you can go snorkelling and swimming with an array of colourful and curious fish. With no sharks or rays in the area, you don’t need to worry about any dangerous animals, simply enjoy a day swimming and sunbathing at your leisure.
The summer heat can be very strong however, so make sure you don’t spend too long in the sun and keep well hydrated to avoid heat stroke.
You can also organise a dive trip while in Bodrum to get an even closer look at the marine life.
Just off the coast, there is a ship and plane that have been placed there to form habitats for fish and other marine life, as well as provide a wonderful place to go diving and discover the local habitat. There is also a small reef in the area if you wish to discover more of the sea floor.
Just 15 minutes away from Bodrum centre by car is the area known as Bitez. This area has some fantastic hidden coves and beaches if you want a private beach day, as well as some great trails to follow.
Pack a picnic and hike around the area before stopping for an afternoon dip to cool off in Halil koyı or Oasis Beach; but don’t forget the sunscreen. Even in Spring and Autumn, the sun can be deceptively strong.
While the sea is a great day out, you can also enjoy it from above, by taking the ferry out for around one hour for a day trip to the Greek island of Kos.
Greece and Turkey, particularly the west coast, share many similarities, from the landscape to the food, but arriving in Kos you’ll still notice a large difference between the architecture and culture of the two countries, making it a great day out.
Make sure you bring your passport for the border control and arrive at the ferry port with plenty of time for any security checks; then simply enjoy your day out in Greece!
Its 14th-century castle also built by the Knights Hospitaller sits by the harbour, welcoming you into the island, where you can do a historic walking tour on foot, or join a small tourist train which takes you around the significant sites of the island.
From the Plane Tree of Hippocrates, which shaded the Ancient Greek father of medicine almost 2,500 years ago, to the restored Roman villas, the Casa Romana, there is plenty to see on foot around Kos marina in a day.
If renting a bicycle, or by taxi, you can also head out to the Asklepieion, an ancient medical centre built in honour of Hippocrates first constructed in the 3rd century BCE and later reconstructed due to earthquakes. This site has plenty to see, from the temples and church to the Roman baths, but don’t lose track of time for your ferry back to Bodrum!
Where to Stay in Bodrum
Hotel Centro Bodrum – A great mid-range choice in the town of Bodrum, this hotel boasts a range of lovely rooms along with a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool. There is also an on-site restaurant and a superb breakfast.
Casa Nonna Bodrum – This adults-only hotel is perfect for those looking for a romantic and luxurious escape here. They have a beautiful beachfront location, plenty of great rooms, an on-site spa, several restaurants and a fab breakfast.
La Luna Hostel – An excellent budget option, this hostel is located in the centre of Bodrum within easy reach of the seaside. There are plenty of room types available and great common spaces to relax in.
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Whether you plan to relax and enjoy great examples of Turkish food, or delve into some ancient or medieval history, Bodrum has a bit of everything. It may have a reputation as a party town for young people, but the relaxed atmosphere and lifestyle of Bodrum welcomes everyone of all ages to come to enjoy.
Are you planning to visit Bodrum? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!