6 Reasons I Loved Bodrum, Turkey

Filed Under: Travel

Before I review the hotels we stayed at in Bodrum, I wanted to talk a bit about my impressions of Bodrum in general. For the purposes of this post let’s forget about coronavirus for a second, because I talked all about how coronavirus is being handled in Bodrum in a separate post.

In this post I wanted to talk about why I enjoyed Bodrum so much, and am already looking forward to returning once things normalize.

I love the Aegean, and I love Bodrum

Usually I’m someone who likes to go to new places when traveling, rather than returning to the same place. If there’s one exception, traveling to the Aegean in summer would be it.

The Aegean has an incredible summer climate, unreal landscape, and some of my favorite food in the world.

In the past I’ve typically gone to Greece, which is why I was excited to see how Bodrum stacked up. Personally I loved Bodrum just as much as I loved Greek islands — it was different, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse.

What made Bodrum so great? In no particular order:

Incredible food

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as well as I did during our time in Bodrum. I love Turkish food to begin with, and when you combine that with more of an Aegean influence, the food is simply sublime.

Just about every “traditional” restaurant we went to had the same setup. There was no menu, but rather they just ask you what you want. First you choose your mezze…

Then you can choose from salads, calamari, shrimp, etc…

Then you pick out your fish…

And then there’s dessert…

If you’re not into fish, there are plenty of other great dining options as well.

Turkish breakfast wasn’t too bad either…

Friendly, genuine people

This is the point that I can’t stress enough, and it’s probably also what most sets Turkey apart from Greece in my opinion. To me Turkish hospitality is among the best in the world, and I was curious if that would also be the case in Bodrum, since it’s a resort town.

I simply can’t say enough good things about the people we interacted with, from taxi drivers, to people working at hotels, to people working at restaurants. Almost without exception, the people we interacted with were friendly, honest, hard-working, and no-nonsense.

For example, almost everywhere else I’ve gone, you’ll find at least one taxi driver who tries to rip you off, tries not to use the meter, etc. That wasn’t the case at all here.

Most places you have workers expecting foreigners to tip big just because they’re foreigners. In most settings there wasn’t even an opportunity to tip beyond a service charge. Across the board those working in hospitality weren’t just professional, but showed genuine interest in guests.

This matches everything I’ve experienced with Turkish hospitality up until this point (whether from visiting Istanbul or flying Turkish Airlines), and I’m happy this practice is maintained even in a resort town.

Exceptional value, given the currency conversion

The Turkish Lira (TL) has devalued significantly in the past decade:

  • Currently 1 USD is about 7.2 TL
  • Five years ago 1 USD was about 2.7 TL
  • 10 years ago 1 USD was about 1.5 TL

The currency has devalued by nearly 80% compared to the USD in the past decade. With that in mind, the USD goes pretty far here, especially if you’re used to traveling to places where the EUR is used.

For example, most of the incredible meals we had, including a whole fish and a bottle of Turkish wine, cost under 100 USD.

Now, there are a couple of things I want to mention here:

  • It goes without saying that this currency devaluation is unfortunate for locals, and reflects bigger issues in the country, which is sad; my intent isn’t to be gleeful about the extent to which the Lira has devalued, but rather to point out that for visitors paying in foreign currencies, Turkey offers great value
  • While the Turkish Lira has devalued by nearly 80%, don’t expect that prices have gone down proportionally, especially in tourist destinations, as there’s still a wealthy upper class in Turkey (which has largely gotten much richer over the past decade); for example, the EDITION Bodrum was charging $1,200+ per night for a standard room during our dates, and was filling the hotel primarily with Turkish guests

Incredible points hotels opportunities

Many of us seek out destinations where there are great points hotels, and that’s definitely an area where Bodrum stands out. The Bodrum hotel market is growing fast, and there are several great options:

  • Marriott has three properties, including an EDITION, a Le Meridien, and a Luxury Collection (Caresse)
  • Hilton has an LXR property, which is Hilton’s independent luxury hotel brand; this is the former Nikki Beach Bodrum
  • Hyatt has a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property (Marmara), and there’s supposed to be a Hyatt Centric opening soon

The Marriott choices in particular are great, and I can’t recommend the EDITION enough. It’s probably my favorite Marriott property in the world.

If you’re looking for non-points luxury hotels, there’s an Aman and a Mandarin Oriental, and a Four Seasons is supposed to open next summer.

Bodrum is liberal and cosmopolitan

Bodrum is known for being a liberal enclave within Turkey. Personally I’ve found Turkey in general to be pretty diverse, but Bodrum was next-level in that regard.

I’m sure anyone who has been to Turkey can appreciate that it’s not Saudi Arabia, or anything, but for those who may not have been and might have preconceived notions, I figure this is worth mentioning.

Some people in Bodrum party (obviously less now than in the past). Some people in Bodrum wear very skimpy clothing. Many people in Bodrum drink. And yes, there are even plenty of gays in Bodrum.

This is all true within the context of Turkey, though. In other words, you’re not going to find something like Jackie O’ Mykonos here, if that’s your thing…

As a gay couple we never felt the slightest bit uncomfortable or judged (which isn’t to say we weren’t judged — people everywhere judge — but as long as I don’t know about it, it’s not my problem).

The perfect climate

The Aegean in general has the perfect climate in summer. It almost never rains, and while it gets warm, it’s not humid.

I recognize Turkey’s problematic government

Let me acknowledge Turkey’s problematic government, because I don’t want to pretend that’s not the case. However, I think the issue of deciding where to travel is much more nuanced than saying “I’m not going anywhere with a bad government.” Because if that were the case…

Turkey is a country with 80+ million people, and on a personal level, punishing everyone for the actions of those at the top doesn’t solve much, in my opinion. There are some glimmers of hope when it comes to politics in Turkey, and of things moving in the right direction — just look at Istanbul’s mayor.

Bottom line

I had pretty high expectations of Bodrum, and even so, they were exceeded. Talk about a place with a perfect climate, amazing people, and some of the best food I’ve had anywhere. Add in the good coronavirus precautions that were being taken, and I felt comfortable there.

I’d highly recommend adding Bodrum to your travel bucket list, whenever you’re comfortable traveling again.

If you’ve been to Bodrum, what was your experience like?

  1. @Lucky: Thank you for all the info regarding this trip of yours!
    Because of your experience, I have just booked award tickets for me and my wife on UA/TK. Have the hotel, car rental booked, too! Because of my EU passport, I do not even need a visa.
    Cannot wait to go…..

  2. We just spent 12 days at a Hilton all-inclusive resort (all with points) in Turbuku, just 20 min drive from Bodrum. Great location, friendly and hard working staff though hardly anyone spoke/understand English…strange for a 5 star property. Good value! Will try Kemer area next summer.

  3. I thought you did a good job here Lucky and tried to proactively deal with the political backlash you’re going to get. I tend to agree that I don’t want to punish everyone in a given country based on their government. My partner and I have had some pretty amazing trips to places that aren’t on the radar or particularly “friendly.”

    Do you think Bodrum was even better and more hospitable now because of the COVID situation and they appreciated visitors even more than usual? Do you think you guys appreciated it more because it was one of the few places you could travel on a US passport?

  4. @ JJ — That’s a great question, and I wondered that myself. A few thoughts along those lines.

    First of all, it’s my understanding that Bodrum wasn’t expecting much of a summer tourist season, but it has become much busier than initially expected. The number of Turkish people who ended up vacationing in Bodrum exceeded all expectations.

    Everyone working at hotels (and elsewhere) seemed genuinely happy to be back at work. I’ve never seen so many hotel employees in good moods. This has been a tough time for many working in tourism, and that’s a sentiment I’ve seen in general in the travel industry. Understandably most people don’t have a choice but to work, and that’s unfortunate during this time, but the feeling I got from people went beyond that.

    I’d also note that because ~90% of the visitors in Bodrum were Turkish, we definitely stood out a bit more, and therefore people may have been even friendlier to us than usual. So many people asked where we were from, what we thought of Bodrum, etc. I imagine that wouldn’t have happened in a typical year, when over half of visitors are foreigners.

    What I found most interesting was that very few people really knew much about the coronavirus situation in the US. At first I was sheepish about mentioning we were from the US, but then it became apparent that most people didn’t understand how the situation is here…

  5. Can you please write a review of your stay at Amanruya? Also, are you planning to stay at the Amans in the US this year? Would be great if you did and wrote about them!

  6. Great review!
    First comment ..what is that delicious looking lavender colored drink in the pitcher?

    Second comment…you commented that most of the guests at the $1200 per night Edition were Turkish. Usually most countries offer a substantial discount (at times even 40% or more) for locals. This was always the case pre-Covid19.

    Do you thing this was the case in Turkey?

  7. I like that you are one of the few bloggers that consistently point out how good Edition hotels are, I have always enjoyed my stays at the brand

  8. @lucky – I‘m very surprised by your assertion that Greek people are unfriendly? I’ve been to Greece many times and have always found the Greeks to be exceptionally pleasant and helpful – far more so than in my country. Also I struggle to see how the recent conversion of the Hagia Sophia to a Mosque is a step in the right direction but I agree with your general point that it is unfair to punish a population for the actions of its government.

  9. Sad to see their currency devalued so much, really unfortunate for the locals. But glad that you were able to give them some business. Food spreads looked excellent.

  10. @ Daniel — Sorry, I probably didn’t express myself properly there. I haven’t at all found Greek people to be rude. However, I’ve found them to be more inconsistent, especially when it comes to how customer service oriented they are. Furthermore, I’ve experienced quite a few taxi drivers on Greek islands who try to take advantage of visitors.

  11. @ Richard — The EDITION has an incredible cocktail selection, and you can order everything by the glass, pitcher, or “fiesta.” That drink was their “Third Eye” cocktail, with “Absolut ELYX Vodka, Butterfly Blue Pea Tea, Bodrum Citrus Liqueur, and Sparkling Wine.”

  12. Just booked for Edition Bodrum for early September, but still on the fence between Bodrum vs Istanbul for my first non-airport visit to Turkey. While experiencing the beauty of the Aegean is really appealing, the dining options in Istanbul look world class.

  13. We loved Bodrum. And a lot of different little town options within a short driving area, so made exploring the sea towns fun and vast dining options. We loved the food and the Bodrum Edition as well (that where we cashed in our Marriott reward week). Loved our in-room steam room there. And the pool, and the beach, and the breakfast (including) and the juice bar shots they offered, ETc. etc, etc. Hope to return someday especially if TK starts up their MEX-IST service again with the 787-9. No box lunches though please, TK for such a long flight. I just don’t get that!

  14. What’s the name of the restaurant in the first pic with the tables by the water?

    Would love to know if it’s worth a visit when we are there as the setting looks perfect

  15. Interesting to hear your take on hospitality in Turkey. My only experience with Turkey was 3 nights in Istanbul and both my wife and I thought hospitality was REALLY poor in general there. We felt like EVERYONE was trying to run a scam of some sort and trying to make a few extra bucks from tourists. Had more than a few bad experiences with taxis, including ones called by our hotel. Pretty much every country in SE Asia does hospitality better.

    But Bodrum sounds amazing and a type of place that I would love. Looking forward to your reviews.

  16. I was going to say this isn’t a political question but I should say it isn’t COVID19 related.

    I’ve never been to that part of the world. How sensitive is the Greek/Turk issue? You’ve mentioned being in both places. Obviously there has been some bad blood there.

    Also with all your travel, do you ever get sick from eating different foods? Unfortunately I have some issues I have to be careful with.

  17. Great and informative review, Lucky; Bodrum is definitely on my list now to visit. You skated finely on the political questions and were very diplomatic. But I don’t have to be. The Erdogan govt. is a bit thuggish but no more so than many countries that have excellent relations with the US. In fact, it does not even compare with the murderers running Saudi Arabia, or the racists committing genocide in Palestine or the murderous thug running Egypt, all great American friends. What Uncle Sam does not like about Erdogan is that he does not lick America’s boots and seeks a more independent foreign policy. Hagia Sophia a mosque? Isn’t that for Turkey to decide? Anyway, visitors can still visit.

  18. I had friends working in the hospitality industry decades ago (1990s) and they always worked Bodrum in summer and l visited many times. I always loved it, especially for the historical ruins (one of the original 7 wonders of the world was there.) I bet I’d like it even more now without the tourists; it’s usually heaving with northern Europeans.

  19. @Matt, I don’t know the name of the restaurant but I would think it is in Gümüşlük region of Bodrum. I also recommend Bodrum Meyhanesi Müdavim. It is in Bodrum proper with a beautiful sunset view of the Bodrum Castle and very reasonable and delicious food.

  20. @rich as a Greek, I can tell you that most of us are friendly with the Turks. We have much more in common than we do differences. It is not fair to hold the actions of their corrupt and immoral leader against them. But most of us won’t step foot in Turkey, not even for a connection no matter how much cheaper it is to fly to IST then to ATH. Erdogan has continually denied our right to sovereign borders, denied the genocide of Armenians/Kurds/Greeks, and has disrespected the Orthodox religion. I pray that the Turkish people are one day able to get off the path Erdogan has been taking them down since he got into power.

  21. @Luis I agree. I have traveled the world extensively and Istanbul easily was one of the places I felt most at risk with people constantly trying to scam me or set me up for robberies. The customer service was absolutely terrible pretty much everywhere I went. Interesting place to see but absolutely no desire to ever return. Came across several other travelers that felt same way. Of course, I doubt someone going to the playground of the rich in Turkey and staying at high end properties where people are probably much more highly paid is going to experience that.

  22. It’s been a few years but I spent a few nights in a hostel there and loved it as well. The food was spectacular, found a gyro with vegetables layered in and cooked with the meat on the spit. It was incredible. They have a ferry to some of the Greek islands near by as well for an easy day trip. The drive from Antalya was one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever experienced, seaside cliffs, crazy colored mountains, and gorgeous little towns.

  23. What did you do in Bodrum during your 2 weeks there? Would love more details on the trip beyond the flight and hotel reviews.

  24. Ben nice interesting article on Bodrum which i enjoyed reading but i dont get why Saudi Arabia has to be plugged into anything you talk about. I mean cant you reference your trip without having to mention other countries which you havent even been to and quite frankly know nothing about.

  25. Wow including Saudi Arabia again in a very unrelated topic ! I don’t understand why you’re so Anti-Semitic against the Saudi Arabian ethnicity ! what are you trying to prove here? why do you hate the Saudi Arabians that much? please open your heart and tell us what happened to deserve this hate from you? ok if it’s about gay rights then why did not you mention Qatar ? you realise that you would be in jail if you publicly announce your homosexuality in Qatar or Poland?

    I am very interested if you open your heart and tell everyone why you are being so Anti-Semitic against the Saudi Arabian ethnicity

  26. Had a trip planned to Istanbul and Bodrum in April by had to cancel, obviously….hope to go same time next year. Actually, glad to read the reviews since I think we’ll stay at the Edition instead of my first choice.

  27. @Luis & Bill,nice comments if you were trying to Fight a propaganda war!seems like you two have ulterior motives there.Ben has done a Fine job of describing the scene at Bodrum,we have been to Turkey multiple times and would have been there this July if it wasn’t for Covid-19.a Few miles from Bodrum,another fine Marriott is at Chesme by the Aegean.

  28. @Ghadir.I think the “Slave Labor” or as they are described as “Expatriates” in KSA may have a different opinion than yours,If you asked them! or maybe ask the Poor,starving Yemenis that keep Bombing nonstop.

  29. Good review, Ben. Scenery looks lovely but not a fan in the slightest of Turkish or Greek food so sadly can’t see it being high on my list of places to travel to.

  30. @ Ghadir — I’m sorry if that’s how it came across to you, but I promise that wasn’t intended to be a negative reference or political in the slightest.

    It’s not at all about gay rights — my point was that Bodrum felt very “liberal” in terms of the “scene,” from the amount of alcohol people were drinking, to how skimpily people were dressed. I think we can agree that this is less common (at least publicly) in Saudi Arabia, while in Qatar you see a lot of that at any hotel pool.

    Again, that’s not a judgment call on which system is “right.” I’m just trying to help people manage expectations.

  31. @ Nate nate — I’ll try to cover that in a separate post. I was still working while traveling, so I spent most of my time working as usual. But ultimately we just spent most days having a nice leisurely breakfast, sitting at the beach, and then going out to a nice dinner. We also visited a couple of towns and went on some hikes. But frankly we didn’t actually do that much. Stay tuned, I’ll try to cover it all in more detail.

  32. @ rich — GRUSA above obviously has a better perspective on this than I do. I did ask several Turkish people in Bodrum about this, and the sentiment among younger people seemed to be that it’s a non-issue. There are even some Greek people working at some of the hotels, and many of the Turkish people I spoke to sometimes visit Greece.

  33. Great review! You commented that most of the guests at the $1200 per night Edition were Turkish. Usually most countries offer a substantial discount (at times even 40% or more) for locals. This was always the case pre-Covid19.

    Do you thing this was the case in Bodrum at the Edition?

  34. I’ve only visited Istanbul once, and did not like it. Touts everywhere, a taxi driver took us to a lady bar (we were both gay…), one guy tried the shoe shining scam. As soon as I slowed down or stopped to look at menus or shop windows there was a swarm of people shouting and trying to get me to choose them. I’d be hesitant to go back, but perhaps I’ll try Bodrum once everything calms down.

  35. @Jonathan not that we want to divert from this great Travel platform which i enjoy reading on a daily basis but isn’t it about time that you and ppl like yourselves stop that losing argument about rights and ‘slave labor’ because its getting old, boring and not even based on accuracy. Not sure which part of the world you are in or from but if you happen to be in the US then maybe you should give those two words of wisdom to your leadership instead of all the nonsense and distress they are causing your people. I can surely tell you that the Gulf and especially Saudi and UAE have done a fantastic job protecting their people from covid 19 with access to healthcare, accurate information and most importantly transparency. That in itself is valuing human rights when its needed the most for the citizens of the country and its expatriates. I suggest you choose a new argument cause this one is getting old.

  36. I had a family holiday near Bodrum a bout five years ago in a lovely villa. I visited Bodrum a number of times and can echo your views about it being a lovely relaxed place with great people (although Turkish people seem a friendly bunch all around the world) and would recommended it very strongly.

    Getting a car and seeing the wonderful scenery and sights such as Efes is also strongly recommended.

    Great review Ben

  37. $100 for a bottle of wine and dinner is NOT cheap. You could have a similarly good meal with a bottle of excellent wine for $50-70 in Portugal, Romania, and some of the Baltic countries. And probably elsewhere in Turkey if you’re willing to stay at a local hotel or rent an apartment. I imagine the prices are 100% more expensive in Bodrum.

  38. One post showed you’re pretty unpatriotic already. Saying you’re more comfortable vacationing overseas means you should’ve start shop somewhere outside America instead.

  39. @Andrew: I’m actually surprised he doesn’t setup shop in the US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. San Juan has good flights and even airport lounges. You can get some pretty significant tax breaks (up to 90% off federal taxes) if you are domiciled in the US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. While some other islands offer interesting tax advantages, you don’t have the benefit of the American flag and American law if things go wrong as they occasionally do in developing or third-world island republics. If I could figure out how to work remotely with a time difference of 12 to 14 hours I’d spend 3-4 months out of the year living in Malaysia, Indonesia, and some of those other Southeast Asia countries since you can get some Marriott properties for $25–$50 a night.

  40. @FNT Delta Diamond, 90% off federal taxes in Puerto Rico/USVI on what kind of income?

    With just passive personal 1099 income I’m currently unaware of any tax advantage Puerto Rico/USVI has over a non-tax state like Florida, but I’m ready for an education to the contrary.

  41. As someone not at all familiar with Turkey & their coastal towns, is Bodrum considered the go-to beach hotspot in Turkey? Is it like the Nice (Fr) or Positano (It) of Turkey? Id love to visit one day but I want to go to the best resort town in Turkey.

  42. @schar there are numerous resort towns in Turkey. Bodrum is probably where the rich and famous go over the summer. Others are Çeşme, Marmaris, and the Antalya region.

  43. Really? Turkey is not considered part of the Aegean, it’s the middle East, secondly, please don’t talk as if you visited Greece, NO COMPARISON

  44. @M The Hundreds of Thousands Expatriates crammed together in small Rooms in UAE may differ from your opinion.when these “Expatriates” caught the virus,they were asked to go back to their respective countries and The Airlines from India,Bangladesh,Philippine,Indonesia had to transport the sick workers Back to their respective countries to SPREAD it there.
    there were not offered any medical treatment in UAE or KSA.

  45. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to my home town. Bodrum has always had a reputation as a laid-back, welcoming town. It is also a wonderful place to base yourself if you are interested in history and archaeology.

  46. @M I agree with @Jonathan. Saudia Arabia is kind to its citizens only.

    @Ghadir why do you care what lucky thinks of Saudia. He is a homosexual jew. He has the right to his opinions.

    I like to visit to to Saudia Arabia and I don’t care what the opinions of other readers are. Yes they have their problems but it also a great place to visit if your muslim.

  47. I’m leaving Turkey today. I debated it for a while and your decision helped me feel more comfortable about doing it. I’m curious to hear how the flight experience was coming home for you. I skipped Bodrum, but we explored a lot of the Aegean. Too many ruins, but at least social distancing is easier there. I also hope the entry back into the US went okay too. I’m a bit nervous about it.

  48. My wife and I (we live in St Pete!) and a friend had a trip booked to Bodrum ( staying at the Caresse), Istanbul (staying at the Witt), and Montenegro (staying at the La Roche) that we were supposed to leave for this week. We cancelled about 2 months ago with so much uncertainty going on. We are going to rebook the trip, hopefully next year. How would you rate the Edition compared to the Caresse, if you have stayed there? Also, the difference between staying on the northern and southern sides of Bodrum?

  49. @ Pam — I’ll be reviewing Caresse next, so stay tuned for that. I had a strong preference for the EDITION over Caresse, as the hotel felt significantly more luxurious, and service was much better. I will say, I think I may have preferred the piece of land that Caresse is on, though. If I returned for a long time I’d go back to both, but all else being equal, I preferred the EDITION.

  50. @Lucky

    I’m at Bodrum now, based on your review of the city. So far, the city exceeds my expectations, BUT mask compliance is awful!! Clubs are 100% with unmasked people. Maybe it’s because you stayed in a posh area, but Bodrum city acts like COVID doesn’t exist. Granted, I feel fine wearing a mask and only out being in public, but I think you are totally overselling COVID precaution here. Even some waiters don’t have a mask on. I had to ask 2 people so far to put a mask on when they interact with me.

  51. I traveled to Bodrum during August of 2019 and found it to be the most appealing, comfortable and satisfying trip I’ve ever taken and I’ve traveled much of the world! I was so impressed with the culture, people, hospitality, food and how clean everything was.
    Despite all the negative about Turkey in US media, Turkey as a whole has some of the warmest, friendliest and hospitable people on the planet. They are really happy to host you in their country and you feel it.
    I loved every second of it!
    AND now,
    I’m in the process of relocating there for good!

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *