Welcome to what is probably the most elegant and lovely of all the seaside resorts that pepper the shores of the Turkish Aegean Sea. Yep, this town has everything from azure coves to evocative ancient ruins, bustling marina bars to moody streets shaded by bougainvillea blooms. We’ll explore the whole lot throughout our Bodrum Itinerary 2 days – 48 hours of sun, sea, and culture in this corner of the Med.
Bodrum has something for just about every traveler. The beach lovers can escape to the surrounding peninsula to find sweeps of beige-tinged sand spiked with thatch umbrellas. There’s snorkeling in rock reefs that teem with fish. There’s hiking through time-stood-still villages where churches loom above tavernas.
Back in the resort center itself, Bodrum oscillates between lively bar streets that pump with party tunes from morning until night and stoic castles that have stood for 500 years or more. Over the course of our Bodrum itinerary 2 days, we’ll offer an intro to the whole lot, with stints on the sun-splashed coastline and sessions in the hedonistic drinkeries alike. Let’s get stuck right in…
Bodrum itinerary 2 days – Day 1
Day 1 is all about exploring Bodrum town itself. That’s a good place to begin because it means you’ll get the culture and the nightlife out of the way before you beeline for the beaches.
The folk at Cafe Cafen do one of the best Turkish breakfasts around. Get there nice and early because there’s lots to do on day one, plus it’s an unsurprisingly popular pitstop between 8am and 10am. Expect mezze-style morning platters of fresh-cut peppers and salty olives, all with soft Turkish flatbreads and potent filter coffee.
Cafe Cafen also happens to be smack dab on the main marina. After eating, stroll eastwards along that. First, you’ll hit Neyzen Tevfik Cd, a boulevard that’s woven together by some of the chicest shopping outlets in the city – a great place to stock up on designer beach wear, which you will certainly need later on! Then, you’ll encounter the handsome Tepecik Mosque, which fronts up to lines and lines of traditional fishing ships and yachts.
The main reason you’re heading eastwards around the Bodrum Marina is to get to the ever-present complex of the Bodrum Kalesi (Bodrum Castle). A muscular fort that looms high over the bobbing boats, it was built some 800 years ago by Christian knights looking to protect Europe from the growing powers of the Ottoman Empire.
A tour of the site will likely take at least two hours in all. There are two main components:
- The castle itself – Explore this complex, also known as the Castle of St Peter, to walk through a series of medieval court rooms, bulwarks, and keeps, including exhibitions that detail the long history of the town and its many wars and sieges.
- The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology – A fascinating add-on exhibition that’s now the largest museum dedicated solely to underwater archaeology. It’s got amphoras, glasswork, artefacts, and gold ingots that were pulled from shipwrecks that date back a whopping 3,200 years!
Our evening session is all about balancing out the historical side of Bodrum with a little taste of the lived-in nature of the town. We don’t think there’s anything better for that than a stroll through the winding, weaving lanes of the downtown.
So, take an hour or so walk aimlessly around the neighborhoods that run north and east from the castle. They’re a patchwork of narrow alleys filled with flower-covered cottages and surprising squares where old men sit playing dominoes over coffee glasses. Once you’re done, it shouldn’t be too hard to navigate back to the nightlife area, which sits in the shadow of the main castle.
Cue Bodrum Bar Street. Running the whole length of Cumhuriyet Street, it’s a mile-long strip of mezze-sizzling tavernas, shot bars, rock bars, music joints, cafés with open terraces, and sand-side beach lounges. Start on the shoreline with a cocktail as the sun sets, then head back to discover underground venues like the rambunctious Kule Rock City Bar – one for the headbangers!
Bodrum itinerary 2 days – Day 2
Day 2 is the day you’ve probably been pining for. AKA – it’s beach day. Yep, the next 24 hours is all about soaking up the rays and enjoying the famous sands and coves that Bodrum and its surrounding peninsula have to offer. Pack the sunscreen, let’s begin…
Start in the resort area of Gümbet. A stylish corner of Bodrum that’s got its own wonderful horseshoe of sand but also acts as a steppingstone into the rest of the Bodrum Peninsula, the whole place is haloed by sprawling villas and white-painted coast hotels.
You’ll notice the historical side of Bodrum proper peel away here, as the old tavernas are replaced by edgy beach lounges. Pick one near the shore for breakfast and then step over the road to enjoy a wake-up swim on Gümbet Beach itself.
If you’re the sort that likes your morning meal with a side of adrenaline, then you’re in luck: Gümbet Beach also happens to be the watersports hub of the resort. It’s home to umpteen jet ski rental places and scuba outfitters. The first can offer high-octane rides out at the mouth of the bay. The latter will take you to the Big Reef dive spot, which is all submerged limestone teeming with urchins and turtles.
As the day wears on, move further west down the Bodrum Peninsula. Next up: Yahsi Beach. Regularly rated as the very best in the whole region, it’s an undisputed stunner. Expect a bluff rock lurching over pockets of coast palm trees, with a bending stretch of yellow-white sand that slopes into a very shallow and well-protected sea.
The whole place has some of the stillest water and best visibility Bodrum can muster, largely because it’s very sheltered from the open Aegean. It’s also a lot less crowded than the urban beaches of Bodrum, which is just about perfect if all you want to do is to lose yourself in a book under the shade of a royal palm.
For the golden hour, we’d recommend making a detour away from the salt-washed beaches and up into the central hills of the peninsula. That’s where the enchanting Bodrum windmills make their home.
We’re talking a series of creaking stone buildings, now half-ruined, perched at one of the highest passes on the hills. They’re a fantastic sunset point, since you can gaze west and watch the light fade across the islands of Greece in the distance.
When you’re done snapping your shots and gawping at the amazing evening light show, get back on the road and make for the resort village of Yalikavak. It sits on the north shore of the peninsula and is the perfect place to cap off 48 hours in style. This is the jet-setter escape of the region, you see; a land of millionaire yachts and uber-sleek beach lounges.
To really get into the spirit, book yourself into the Arts Hotel Yalikavak for a night. It flaunts an infinity pool overlooking the Aegean Sea, a private swimming deck, and its own cool cocktail bar.
When’s the best time to visit Bodrum?
The most popular time to visit Bodrum is the summer. That lasts from June to the end of August and sees hundreds of thousands of yachters, beach bums, and history lovers descend on the town. That said, we don’t think the summer is the best time to arrive. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are generally superior. They’re still warm – like 20-25 C most days – but are way less busy than the peak season.
Winter trips to Bodrum aren’t a great idea. Yes, you’ll find the beaches are almost totally deserted and there’s never a queue for the castle. Sadly, it can be cold and the sea can be too choppy to swim, so it almost defeats the point of vacationing on the Turkish Riviera in the first place, don’t you think?
How to travel around on our Bodrum itinerary 2 days?
It’s probably possible to do most of our Bodrum itinerary 2 days without your own car. That’s thanks to the pretty comprehensive local bus network that operates out of Bodrum town. It’s run on Dolmus minibuses that seat something like 25 people at once. They link up most of the major tourist areas in the center, plus many of the most famous beaches to the west and east.
Of course, it would be better to have your own car hire for the second day of our trip, since that offers the freedom to drive straight up to the windmills or further west to more hidden coves where it might just be you and the sloshing Aegean waters. The good news is that rentals don’t tend to be too pricy in Turkey – $25-30/day is the norm, though rates do increase during the peak summer months.