While Bodrum is a hive of busy, bustling, vibrant activity that never seems to stop, if you do want to escape the crowds, you simply need to know where to go.
Dubbed the St Tropez of Turkey, Bodrum attracts an A-list crowd, with Roman Abramovich’s mega yacht often moored in the harbour and Jade Jagger having just opened her first restaurant here.
And, you can find your own celebrity hideaway just a few minutes away from the city centre, or even within it in the case of the Bodrum Hamani, the traditional Turkish baths, which sit opposite the bus station. Some of Bodrum’s hotels also have Turkish baths and spas, including the Ersan Resort on the seafront. After undressing and leaving your valuables in a locker, you don a traditional peştemal robe before you are led to a large heated marble platform where you can sit or lie while an attendant washes and massages you. It’s customary to tip the attendant afterwards, so make sure you have a little bit of change with you.
We really ought to have done this the other way round, and enjoyed a massage after our walk, but we head to Uyku Vadisi, or the Sleep Valley after our scrub down. On the Milas to Bodrum road, you can book a guided walk or simply head off on your own. We start at the Old Mill Restaurant, following the river through the valley, splashing through streams and visiting Gokceler Cave to see the stalactites. From here, we loop back on ourselves to our starting point for a well-deserved ice cold beer. By the time we return, we’re ready for another scrub down.
While Bodrum undoubtedly offers up an authentic Turkish experience, if it’s quiet Turkey you’re looking for, you don’t have to travel too far to find sleepy, pretty little villages where the way, and the pace, of life has changed little in centuries. While most travellers just pass through Derekoy on the way to Gumusluk, it’s well worth stopping. You’ll find little stalls selling gourd lanterns made from the dried out skins of fruit and vegetables like squash. If you’re travelling through at dusk, they’re all lit up, creating an atmospheric village vista.
Nearby Dagbelen has beautiful walking trails through pine forests, where the ruins of ancient churches and monasteries sit among the trees, almost reclaimed by Mother Nature. We encounter shepherds herding sheep and goats and enjoy breathtaking views down to the Yalikavak coastline.
Just like the celebrities
On our final day, we opt for paddling rather than walking, booking a guided tour which takes us two hours out of Bodrum to Akyaka. Celebrities including Jennifer Anniston and Cindy Crawford have recently been spotted paddleboarding. But there’s not a movie star or a model in sight when we set off early to explore the beautiful creeks of Gokova. The water is mill pond calm, but it’s still more difficult than it looks. After several false starts when I wobble off into the water and turn round in circles, I finally get the hang of it and we spend the morning floating down the river, with its crystal clear waters, passing geese and ducks who look bemused at their clumsy human visitors.
Back in Bodrum
We may be back in Bodrum, but we spend our final evening looking down upon the peninsula rather than being in the heart of it. The terrace at the Kafedaki restaurant lays the whole city before you, with its plethora of lights twinkling from villas, homes and hotels as night falls. We enjoy sea bass which has been baked in rock salt, making it deliciously moist, while drinking in the views – along with the local dry, white wine. It’s the perfect, picturesque end to our trip.
About the author: Katie is a travel fanatic blogger who lives in the UK. Wherever she travels she likes to get off the beaten track to experience the local culture and history and she finds that her adventures are all the more delightful this way. You can follower her on twitter @delightsomeblog.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.