Siddarth Seshan recommends Bodrum, Turkey
One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Turkey boasts a unique fusion of eastern and western cultures.
With its rich history and mesmerising landscapes, the country should definitely be on your bucket list thanks to its many must-see places, one being the pretty port city of Bodrum, in the south-west Aegean region.
It may be small, with a population of little over 35,000 in the town, but it is full of life and grandeur.
There is a European flavour and style and the city is surrounded by stunning blue waters and green landscapes - a perfect place to relax.
Until relatively recently – the mid-20th century – Bodrum was still an undeveloped town of fishermen and sponge divers. Tourism changed all that, although thankfully the heart and essence of the town remains intact. Unlike the mega resort Marmaris in the south of the country, which has become a byword for over-indulging tourists, Bodrum has retained its original charm with palm-lined streets and sugar-cube houses. That’s not to say that the town is Sleepyville, far from it. As dusk descends, the town comes alive with bustling cafes and nightspots, along with restaurants serving the best of Mediterranean cuisine.
My favourite place
I love holidays that involve lazing in open-air restaurants or cafés by the sea, sipping a cold drink, enjoying the cool breeze, and taking in the spectacular scenery.
The marina at Bodrum offers just that. You’ll find numerous eateries and cafés along the street parallel to the water where you can stop for an excellent meal, or simply cure your parched throat. Opposite is an endless line of boats and yachts docked in the sparkling Aegean Sea, while the path out of the marina is lined with small green hills — like a little slice of heaven here on Earth.
Everyone from the other customers to the servers seemed to be in a perpetual good mood, but why wouldn’t you be given the striking surroundings, pleasant ambience and great weather?
Plenty of bargains can be found and there are plenty of sights to see. The 15th century Bodrum Castle overlooks the harbour at the marina and houses the Museum of Underwater Archaeology along with various cultural shows. The ruins of the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, can also be found in the city.
Bodrum is also an ideal base for visiting other interesting towns. Catch a ferry from the marina to Datca or even the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes. The journey takes an hour or two depending on your destination but it is a breathtaking and highly recommended cruise.
Bodrum is also only a two-hour trip from the famous ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus, where you can visit the first church built for the Virgin Mary or the mighty and magnificent Grand Theatre.
Stay in Bodrum when the sun sets – this is when the city comes to life thanks to a number of partying venues. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to step out and have a good time!
Even though it is surrounded by water, there are no clear beaches. You have to travel for around half an hour to enjoy a day by the shore.
Various trinket shops can be found at the marina, offering everything from bracelets and chains to fridge magnets and natural sponges from the sea.
Where to stay
Being a tourist town, there are a number of hotels to suit a variety of costs and comfort levels. A little outside the city are many five-star hotels with private beaches and luxurious comforts. I recommend the small Bodrum Maya Hotel in the heart of the city – you might not get a five-star experience, but it’s clean, comfortable, reasonably priced and the service is very hospitable.