Port of Bodrum
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The port city is awash in Greco-style buildings: sparkling white cubes covered with purple bougainvillea. You might actually think for an instant that you're on another Greek island -- Kos is, indeed, easily visible in the distance -- until you hear the sound of the muezzin and glance up at the handful of minarets poking through the sea of square structures. Make no mistake: This is very much a Turkish city, brimming with locally built boats, bustling bazaars and plenty of regional cuisine and character.
Known in antiquity as Halicarnassus, after the famed king who left an awe-inspiring mausoleum (though only the barest remains of the place are still visible), the Bodrum of today is a popular leisure holiday spot for wealthy European jet-setters, who come, often via motor-yacht, wearing sun tans and designer shades. Shoppers will surely come away with bags in hand, as the area is known for its fine leather goods (especially sandals) and carpets, and there is no shortage of impressive Prada and Gucci knock-offs on offer. However, the city is also a refuge for artists and intellectuals, drawn here by Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli, the famous political writer-dissident who fell in love with Bodrum during his forced exile. (His loving novel, "Blue Voyage," is credited with bringing international attention to what was previously a lazy fishing outpost.)
Bodrum most regularly hosts ships from luxury lines like Seabourn Cruise Line, Azamara Club Cruises and Windstar Cruises, usually as part of Eastern Mediterranean cruises to the Greek Isles. The occasional bigger ships -- from Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line or U.K.-based Thomson Cruises and Fred. Olsen -- may also be on the schedule.
One geographic note: Bodrum proper is actually situated on the Bodrum Peninsula, which, in addition to the city, encompasses numerous other resort towns like Gumbet, Turgutreis and Gumusluk, many set on semi-circular bays carved out of the rocky land. For beach bums in particular, one or more of these may be worth visiting.
Top Bodrum Itineraries
Where You're Docked
Cruise ships visiting Bodrum dock at the Bodrum Cruise Port. The port is located on the edge of town, about a mile from the castle.
Good to Know
In the crowded bazaars, take precautions with your valuables. Also, shop owners have been known to hound tourists, but you should be able to get the message across with a smile and a firm "no thanks."
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The currency is the Turkish Lira (TL). ATM's are available throughout the port, with an especially high concentration located near the castle. Visit www.xe.com for up-to-the-minute exchange rates. Because the economy is partly reliant on European, U.K. and American tourists, shops and restaurants may also accept euros, pounds sterling and dollars (as well as credit cards).
It's Turkish, but you'll have little trouble with English communication if you stay close to the harbor or are visiting the staple tourist sites. Many taxi drivers, however, have limited English language skills.
Bodrum is known for its handmade leather sandals, and Ali Guven is the star craftsman. (He's supposedly cobbled for celebrities like Mick Jagger.) His shop is located at Carsi Ici, Ziraat Bankasi karsi. Bring cash, or buy a knock-off pair from one of the bazaars.