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Istanbul Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Turkey’s gateway to Europe and western lifestyle, Istanbul features a captivating fusion of oriental charm and western standards. Half the city spreading on European grounds and half on the Asian shore of Bosporus, it balances between traditional bazaars and top-rated international hotels.

This 14-million-resident metropolis has it all, from ancient sites, to typical hammams (Turkish baths), to delightful local delicacies.

Turkey Covid-19 Situation Report
2,412,505
Confirmed
6,289
Confirmed (24h)
24,640
Deaths
153
Deaths (24h)
1.0%
Deaths (%)
2,290,032
Recovered
6,113
Recovered (24h)

Ruled by the Greeks, the Persians, the Venetians and the Ottomans respectively, it carries a huge historical and cultural heritage, which is imprinted on the city’s architecture, the regional cuisine and the residents’ cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is a city of fantastic history, culture and beauty. Called Byzantium in ancient times, the city’s name was changed to Constantinople in 324 CE when it was rebuilt by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. The name “Istanbul”, which – perhaps surprisingly – comes from Greek and could be translated as a corruption of “to the city”. While the term had been in widespread use for centuries, it only became the official name of the city upon the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in the 1920s.

The most populous city in Europe, Istanbul forms the financial center of Turkey and confidently straddles the borders between Asia and Europe as it has for millennia: this is the result when you mix ancient Christendom, a medieval metropolis and the modern Middle East. Situated on either side of the Bosphorus, Istanbul retains its metropolitan status: the city’s population is more than 14 million people, making it one of the largest cities in the world.

Lauded in antiquity as “the second Rome”, this is a city where you most certainly should roam — culture and excitement lie around every corner and more than 2000 years of history await you.

History of Istanbul

While relics of prehistoric human settlement were found in the Yarımburgaz Cave near the Küçükçekmece Lake and during the construction of a subway station in Yenikapı, Greek colonists from Megara, directed by their legendary leader Byzas, have been traditionally accepted as the founders of Istanbul. Expanding the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium by the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, the imperial city of Constantinople was for nearly a thousand years the heavily-fortified capital of the Eastern Roman (later termed Byzantine) Empire. To this day, the Ecumenical Patriarch, head of the Eastern Orthodox Church continues to be the Archbishop of Constantinople, who is still based in Istanbul. It was finally conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II on 29 May 1453, an event sometimes used to mark the end of the Middle Ages. It was the nerve centre for military campaigns that were to enlarge the Ottoman Empire dramatically. By the mid-1500s, Istanbul, with a population of almost half a million, was a major cultural, political, and commercial centre. Ottoman rule continued until it was defeated in the first World War and Istanbul was occupied by the allies. When the Republic of Turkey was born in 1923 after the War of Independence, Kemal Atatürk moved its capital to the city of Ankara, strategically located in the centre of the new republic. However, Istanbul has continued to expand dramatically; today its population is approximately 14 million and increases at an estimated 400,000 immigrants per year. Industry has expanded even as tourism has grown. It continues to be a city that creates its own history at the intersection where both continents meet.

Orientation

Istanbul is divided in three by the north-south Bosphorus Strait (İstanbul Boğazı, “the strait of Istanbul”), the dividing line between Europe and Asia, the estuary of the Golden Horn (Haliç) bisecting the western part and the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) forming a boundary to the south. Most sights are concentrated in the old city on the peninsula of Sultanahmet, to the west of the Bosphorus between the Horn and the Sea. Across the Horn to the north are GalataBeyoğlu and Taksim, the heart of modern Istanbul, while Kadıköy is the major district on the comparatively less-visited Anatolian side of the city. The Black Sea forms the relatively less developed northern boundary of Istanbul.

Climate

Istanbul has a temperate oceanic climate which is influenced by a continental climate, with hot and humid summers and cold, wet and occasionally snowy winters.

Istanbul has a high annual average rainfall of 844 mm (which is more than that of London, Dublin or Brussels, whose negative reputation Istanbul does not suffer), with late autumn and winter being the wettest, and late spring and summer being the driest. Although late spring and summer are relatively dry when compared to the other seasons, rainfall is significant during these seasons, and there is no dry season as a result.

If there is a negative reputation that Istanbul does suffer from, it is the high annual relative humidity, especially during winter and summer with the accompanying wind chill and concrete-island effect during each respective season.

Summer is generally hot with averages around 27°C during the day and 18°C at night. High relative humidity levels and the ‘concrete-island effect’ only make things worse. Expect temperatures of up to 35°C for the hottest days of the year. Summer is also the driest season, but it does infrequently rain. Showers tend to last for 15–30 minutes with the sun usually reappearing again on the same day. Flash floods are a common occurrence after heavy rainfalls (especially during summer), due to the city’s hilly topography and inadequate sewage systems.

Winter is cold and wet, averaging 2°C at night and 7°C during the day. Although rarely below freezing during the day, high relative humidity levels and the wind chill makes it feel bitterly cold and very unpleasant.

Snowfall, which occurs almost annually, is common between the months of December and March, with an annual total snow cover of almost three weeks, but average winter snowfall varies considerably from year to year, and snow cover usually remains only for a few days after each snowfall, even under intense snow conditions.

Late spring (late May to early June) and early autumn (late September to early October) are very pleasant and therefore the best times to visit the city. During these periods it is neither cold nor hot, and still sunny, though the nights can be chilly and rain is common.

For visitors an umbrella is recommended during spring, autumn and winter, and during the summer to avoid the sun and occasionally the rain. However, it’s not such a big problem, since streets of Istanbul are suddenly filled by umbrella sellers as soon as it starts raining. Although the umbrellas they provide are a little shoddy, going rate is 5 TL per umbrella (though you can find much better umbrellas for that price at shops if you look around a bit).

Light clothing is recommended during summer and a light jacket and/or light sweater if the summer evenings do become chilly, warm clothing is essential during winter and a mixture of the two during spring and autumn.

Because of its huge size, topography and maritime influences, Istanbul exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates. Thus, different sections of Istanbul can experience different weather conditions at the same time. For example, at the same moment, it can be heavily raining in Sarıyer in the north, mildly raining in Levent in the business district, while Taksim further south is having a perfectly sunny day.

Istanbul Museum Card

A very handy museum pass allowing access to many of the key spots on Sultanahmet. A pass valid for 5 days (120 hours) after the first use, and costs 185 TL (Feb 2019). (Separate tickets to Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, and Harem would cost 155 TL alone.) It can be bought at the entrance of every museum listed below or online.

The non-transferable pass allows one free entry to each of these museums:

  • Topkapı Palace and Harem
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Hagia Irene
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museums
  • Istanbul Mosaic Museum
  • Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam
  • Museum of Turkey and Islamic Arts
  • Chora Museum
  • Galata Mevlevi House Museum
  • Yildiz Palace
  • Rumeli Hisar Museum
  • Fethiye Museum

In addition to saving money when visiting these sites, the card allows you to skip the queue for tickets and go straight to the gates at all sites.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

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Ankara Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Much less glorious and cosmopolitan than Istanbul, Turkey’s capital Ankara is still outgrowing its Anatolian profile and evolving into a sophisticated political, financial and educational centre.

Featuring a population of almost 4,000,000 residents, Ankara has a dynamic student community, which lives up the city’s social and night life.

Turkey Covid-19 Situation Report
2,412,505
Confirmed
6,289
Confirmed (24h)
24,640
Deaths
153
Deaths (24h)
1.0%
Deaths (%)
2,290,032
Recovered
6,113
Recovered (24h)

Gateway to deeper Anatolia, Ankara bears a 4000-year history, touches of which you will trace among scattered ancient, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins. Recent history monuments adorn the capital’s streets and squares as well.

Ankara is Turkey’s capital, and its second city in size after Istanbul. Literally and figuratively, it is located at the heart of both Turkey and Central Anatolia, the surrounding region. The population is around 4.5 million.

Ankara is the administrative hub of Turkey and a huge university town, so it has a large population of government workers and university students. As the national capital Ankara is home to a large population of foreign diplomats and embassy staff, it offers goods and services that might be more difficult to find in other Turkish cities — for example you will have no problem ordering a cappuccino or a hamburger.

Ankara is a sprawling, modern city which can appear as little more than a dull, concrete jungle at first glance — most non-local Turks view Ankara as a depressive and grey city with nothing in offer other than the boring world of politics. Consequently, many visitors tend to use it merely as a transit point for getting to places like Konya or Cappadocia, however Ankara does have a lot to offer for those prepared to look a bit deeper — as the proud capital of the Turkish Republic, it is easy to trace the steps of the early republican years here, whether it be in the shape of the fine buildings of the first national architecture movement or the 1940s monuments following the totalitarian aesthetics of the era. Local museums abound with some of the best pieces of art in the country, ancient and modern. And since it originally lies on the mostly barren Central Anatolian steppelands, Ankara vigorously pursued a policy of tree planting, which resulted in many parks and forestlands around the town, which add to its charms.

About Ankara

Like most Turks, the locals are generally friendly and helpful to tourists. Ankara has a large university student population and many young people can communicate in English. Having said that, it’s still a good idea to have a Turkish phrasebook or dictionary on hand.

Apart from the old town in and around the citadel near Ulus, and unplanned shanty town neighbourhoods here and there built hastily by new immigrants from countryside in the last five decades, most of Ankara, which was a provincial town of 20,000 people in the early days of the Republic, is a purpose-built capital due to its strategic location at the heart of the country, although the history of settlement in the vicinity is millennia old.

While the biggest claim to fame of the town used to be the long-haired local breed of goats named after the former name of the city (Angora), out of which high quality mohair textiles were produced, today the few places where you can spot them in the city is the lawns in some parks or at the sides of clover-leaf interchanges on the highways—in the form of cute sculptures.

Orientation

The “downtown” area of this large city is around Kızılay Square (Kızılay Meydanı, named after the headquarters of the Red Crescent, the Turkish equivalent of the Red Cross, now replaced by a modern shopping mall) which has a fair number of transportation links to almost anywhere in the city. To the north, Kızılay Square is connected by a wide avenue, Atatürk Boulevard, to the squares of Sıhhiye (Ottoman Turkish for “sanitary works” as this has been the site of the building of the Ministry of Health since the foundation of the republic), marked by an unmissable Hittite monument in the middle of its roundabout, and Ulus (“nation”, the site of the major institutions of the early years of the republic, such as the old parliament), which has a large equestrian monument of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, at its side. Ulus, the adjoining Hisar district around the hilltop citadel, and Hamamönü just south of it down the hill form the old town of Ankara.

To the immediate south of Kızılay lies the upmarket districts of KavaklıdereGaziosmanpaşa and Çankaya. The city’s most expensive hotels and restaurants are found in this region, as are most of the embassies and consular services.

Southwest of Kızılay, past the aptly named Bakanlıklar (“ministries”) district, İsmet İnönü Boulevard (named after the second Turkish president) leads into the area collectively known as Eskişehir Yolu (literally “the road to Eskişehir”), which is lined by most of Ankara’s large and afforested university campuses and the buildings of the administrative institutions, including the National Parliament. The area morphes into exurbs several tens of kilometres out of the city, which eventually give way to the wide open steppe.

Weather in Ankara

As any other part of the Anatolian highland, the winters are cold and usually snowy. Temperature is regularly below the freezing point during this season, but it rarely drops below -15°C. Thanks to the low levels of relative humidity, the hot and dry summers are more comfortable than coastal regions of Turkey. Average daily temperatures in midsummer are around 30°C. Daily temperatures can reach 35°C and above, but is not common and usually last no more than a few days. Summer nights are cool, though, so be sure to bring at least a cardigan with you to wear outdoors. Spring and autumn are the wettest seasons, but with an annual precipitation of 415 mm (i.e. a semi-arid climate), you are unlikely to get much wet during your trip to Ankara, anyway.

Ankara Esenboğa Airport

Is the only civilian airport in Ankara. International flights are rather low in frequency and scope – apart from Turkish Airlines (THY), only Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and British Airways offer direct flights to their respective European hubs. Iran Air also has two weekly flights to Tehran. For other carriers flying into Turkey, a flight into Istanbul is necessary, followed by an air transfer to Ankara by Turkish Airlines or Anadolu Jet (a low cost brand of Turkish Airlines). – EasyJet also offers discount flights to and from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in the summer months (until October 25) and to and from Istanbul and London Luton airport all year round for fares as low as £22. | Is the only civilian airport in Ankara. International flights are rather low in frequency and scope – apart from Turkish Airlines (THY), only Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and British Airways offer direct flights to their respective European hubs such as Frankfurt and London.

The only means of public transport are public busses numbered 442 (4 TL with one pass cards). It starts from the airport and follows a main artery to Ankara, passing through almost all central points, including train station, Kızılay, AŞTİ (intercity bus terminal). You can expect it to be rather crowded and as they don’t have separate sections for luggage, you might get exhausted at the end of the journey. One common way to travel to and from airports in Turkey is HAVAS but recently their services were temporarily suspended due to some legal issues with Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. Until the issues are solved, there won’t be any HAVAS service. Until then Ankara Metropolitan Municipality started their own shuttle service called Belko Air. They follow a similar route to the public transport, from airport it takes you to train station, Kizilay, and AŞTİ. You can put your luggage in luggage compartment. It costs you 11 TL. You can take a taxi as well but that would cost you around 100-140 TL one way, metered.

Travel by train to Ankara

Ankara is the eastern terminus of the Turkish high-speed rail system (YHT), with frequent fast trains to Konya, and via Eskişehir to Istanbul. Trains to Eskişehir and Konya take 90 minutes and those stations are within 3-5 km of their town centres, so they are easy day trips. Trains to Istanbul take 4½ hours; they also stop at Pendik, 25 km east of city centre and convenient for Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport (10 km, taxi or bus).

Destinations east of Ankara are served by slow overnight trains. The main services are to Diyarbakir and Kurtalan (the Guney Kurtalan Express), to Erzurum and Kars (the Dogu Express), and to Tatvan (the Vangölü Express), thence by dolmus to Van. From Van a train runs once a week to Tabriz in Iran, with onward trains to Tehran.

For times and reservations (strongly recommended) see TCDD Turkish Republic State Railways website.

A high-speed line is under construction from Ankara eastwards, and the first section to Kayseri and Sivas might open by 2020. The railway from Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan currently only carries freight, but passenger trains are expected to start in autumn 2019. International trains to Syria and Iraq are all suspended indefinitely.

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Antalya Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Located by the namesake gulf, Antalya has been standing at Turkey’s Mediterranean shore since 150 BC. Since the 70s tourist crowds flock the city as a gateway to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Turkish Riviera. However, Antalya’s rich historic inheritance features several interesting ancient, Roman and Ottoman sites, which make the city itself a popular travel destination throughout the year.

Tourist facilities include all kinds of accommodation, from large all-inclusive resorts to stylish boutique hotels to basic room rentals. Intense nightlife is supported by dozens of hip bars and trendy clubs.

Turkey Covid-19 Situation Report
2,412,505
Confirmed
6,289
Confirmed (24h)
24,640
Deaths
153
Deaths (24h)
1.0%
Deaths (%)
2,290,032
Recovered
6,113
Recovered (24h)

Having entered the scene in 150 BC as Attalia, named after its founder, Attalos II, king of Pergamon, Antalya has ever attracted a wide array of travellers, including Paul the Apostle, and Ibn Battuta among others. Antalya had replaced Phaselis—beautiful ruins of which now lie to south of the city, between Kemer and Olympos—as the main harbour of the surrounding region during the reign of Seljuks, in early 1200s, but the lack of a large hinterland (or, rather, lack of good connections with its mountainous hinterland) meant for much of its history eversince that it was a provincial coastal town, albeit with a multicultural community of Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

As the centre of a region with beautiful beaches, verdant mountains, and a mindblowing number of ancient ruins, the tourism investments started in 1970s, which changed the fate of the city considerably, however as most of the visitors (make no mistake—they are in the range of millions annually) to the region are actually on “all-inclusive” vacation packages nowadays, they are instantly taken from the airport to the huge resorts lining the coastline of hundreds of kilometres, where they stay until the end of their holidays except perhaps a raid or two to the nearest and the most popular attractions, so Antalya itself, mainly the old town (Kaleiçi), is more of an independent traveller destination, where you will meet the other travellers of a similar mind, and the locals.

Weather in Antalya

Around April, when you can perfectly get a suntan and the weather is much more bearable than summer months, is one of the best times to visit the city.

Travel to Antalya

Antalya is the closest airport, served by inexpensive flights from Istanbul (as low as US$50, early booking is also available for lower prices.)

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Getting around

Quite a few of the city’s points of interest are served by the local 10-stop tram. City-buses cover every corner of Antalya, while “dolmus”, Turkish shared taxis on fixed routes, are an efficient and fun way move around. Privet taxis are also widely available.

Being 10 kilometers from the city from Antalya, Antalya Airport (Havalimanlı) caters to the charter flights full of holiday makers. Airlines that serve Antalya include: Pegasus, Transavia.com (lowcost and charters from Netherlands, France and Denmark), AtlasJet (domestic flights), SunExpress (dozens of flights from all over Europe), Turkish Airlines (plenty of flights from Ankara and Istanbul-Atatürk), Aeroflot (daily flights from Moscow-Sheremetyevo), Ukraine International Airlines (several charter flights a week from Kiev). Britain is also represented by numerous charter firms such as Airtours.

A taxi ride between the airport and the city centre will set you back €15 (45 TL) during the day (March 2011). You may also prefer transfer companies in order to avoid any scam. Other, more wallet-friendly options for airport transportation include Havaş buses, which are less expensive and more frequent; they depart on the hour from “Güllük PTT” (10 TL).

There are public buses from the airport (line 600, “Terminal-Otogar”) which leave on the hour and cost 4 TL. Buses from the otogar run along Adnan Menderes Blv and Mevlana Cd (exact location of bus stops can be found on Google Maps).

To catch a public bus from the International Terminal you have to go to the domestic terminal (300 m, just turn right when you leave the International Terminal); there is a small blue “D” sign next to a larger ficus tree. There is another blue “D” sign next to the taxi stand in front of the International Terminal which won’t get you anywhere; waiting there usually attracts taxi drivers (telling you, truthfully, “There is no bus leaving here!”) offering a ride.Besides,you can make pre-booking antalya airport transfers by private taxi companies.

The AntRay tram connects the inner city with the airport. To the old town you have to leave at Ismetpasa. You can also continue direct to the bus station (Otogar). The price is 4 TL (2016).

Travel by bus to Antalya

Antalya’s huge bus terminal is located around 6 km north-west of the town center, but easily reached using the tram getting off at Otogar station, and walking about 10 minutes to the otogar. A taxi from the Kaleiçi to the otogar is about 40 TL (Nov 2017). The distance between the bus station and the tram stop is a bit far if you have lots of luggage and the signs seem to send you the long way round but due to the security perimeter there is no shorter way. Just before the faregates is a ticket office and staff usually speak English.

The Turkish bus system is comprehensive and you can get about anywhere from anywhere. Better spend a few more liras and you will have an unforgettable journey. Ulusoy has buses with seats that resemble business class in airplanes. There are also other bus companies, including Kamil Koç, Truva and Varan. Some companies have an onboard WLAN. Check otobusbileti displaying prices of bus tickets from Antalya to 81 cities in Turkey.

Fares are low. Simply show up at the bus station (otogar) and announce your destination.

There are regular buses destined for Antalya that run along the coastal roads and stop at tourist towns such as Kas and Fethiye, although the latter one is reached quicker (3½ hr instead of 5-6 hr) using a direct bus not along the coastal road.

From the bus station you can take a local bus or the Tram (Antray) to the city or the airport. There are signposts for the tram (saying either “Antray” or “Tramvay”), but it is quite some walk and the last part is through an underground walkway. Thankfully the ticket agent is accustomed to dealing with foreigners and getting a ticket for the Tram shouldn’t be too big a hurdle.

Travel by boat to Antalya

Most travellers arrive in Marmaris from Rhodes, Greece, then bus it overland. You can also take a ferry from Kastellorizo, a tiny Greek island just off the Turkish fishing village of Kas.

Travel by train to Antalya

Buses run from Antalya to Konya (300 km, 5 hours) to connect with YHT fast trains to Ankara (90 min), Eskisehir (90 min) and Istanbul Pendik (3 hr 30 min). Pendik is relatively convenient for Sabiha Gokcen airport (), but reaching central Istanbul takes another 90 minutes by metro and bus. So compared to bus all the way, bus and train is quicker to Ankara and about the same time to Istanbul. There are also connections to trains for other Turkish cities, such as Izmir, Kars and Adana. These are slow at the best of times and are disrupted by engineering work, at least until 2018: see Ankara page for details.

Transportation in Antalya

Antalya offers a variety of public transportation, such as public buses, trams, mini-buses, taxicabs and dolmuş.

By public transit

Single bus and tram fares are 2.75 TL (Nov 2017) but cannot be paid using cash. Fares are paid using the Antalyakart. There is a refillable plastic card, and a disposable paper card, available at kiosks along the AntRay tramway, at stores around the stations, or at specific AntRay counters (e.g., at the Otogar). If you’re unsure, just ask the helpful station guards. The refillable card gives you discounted fares of 2 TL. (April 2018)

Drivers on the Heritage Tramway sell the disposable Antalyakart for 12 TL (Nov 2017), which gives you four single rides, and which can be used by one or more people at a time.

The refillable plastic card provides discounted fares.

By tram

Antalya has two, disconnected light rail lines, one modern and one deliberately made to look old-fashioned although the stations of the heritage line near the old town are within a quick walk distance to those of the other.

The Heritage Tramway has been donated by the German city of Nuremberg and connects the western Konyaalti Beach and Antalya Museum to the eastern part of the town center. It runs every 30 min in either direction. This tramway can be used for sightseeing as it passes some beautiful places of the town center.

The AntRay tramway consists of one line, serving the route Fatih-Otogar-Muratpaşa-Ismetpaşa-Meydan every 15 min during the day (June 2015), and some trams continue to the airport (Havalimanlı) or to the Expo 2016 site. To get to the Kaleiçi or to the interconnection with the historic tram line, get off at Ismetpaşa station. To get to the bus terminal from the Kaleiçi, take the tram in the direction of Fatih, get off at Otogar, and follow the signs for 10 min. Check OpenStreeMap the location of tram lines and stops.

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Bodrum Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Standing on the remains of ancient Halicarnassus, Bodrum is one of Turkey’s most popular seaside resorts. Offering golden-sand beaches and clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea, it was once a small fishing village. Today trendy restaurants, boutique hotels and dazzling nightlife draw tourist crowds, who come to Bodrum to enjoy the sun and the sea during summer months.

Once a place of exile for the “internal enemies” of modern Turkey, Bodrum started gaining attention by Turkish intellectuals and artists after the writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, who was exiled here, begun to talk the place up. Resembling the Greek Cycladic Islands, with low whitewashes buildings dominating Bodrum’s architecture, it is now one of Turkey’s most popular travel destinations.

Understand

Bodrum is the site of the ancient city of Halikarnassus, the location of the famous Mausoleum of Halikarnassus (built after 353 BCE) – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The ancient monument was destroyed by earthquakes in the Middle Ages – some of the remnants can be seen in London’s British Museum.

Bodrum is a fascinating place as it has a pleasing contrast between the Ancient city – where there are discernable fragments everywhere in the town -and a playground for rich Turks and an array of foreign visitors. It is one of the centres of the Turkish Tourist industry and is the market town for the Bodrum Peninsula which consists of a number of towns and villages nestling on the edge of the Coast. Until the 1960s the town was a fishing village which changed when a number of Turkish intellectuals gathered and wrote about Bodrum.

Most notable of the these was Cevat Sekir ‘The Fisherman of Hallikarnassus’, an Oxford Educated Turk who devoted his time to writing and planting numerous plants and trees which continue to dot the landscape of the Town. His book the ‘Blue Voyage’ describing gullet trips around the Turkish coast, and his descriptions of the astoundingly clear Blue Seas of the Aegean and the delights of a trip around the coasts adjacent to Bodrum inspired a whole generation who have come to emulate his trips.

Bodrum has therefore grown as a sailing destination and thanks to its warm but not humid climate has become a top destination for visitors who enjoy the combination of the ancient past together with all the usual tourist paraphernalia. There are large numbers of shops and restaurants – from humble cafes to exquisite Turkish cuisine served by an array of waiting staff.

Modern Bodrum strangely seems to have two contrasting sides to it.

The east half of the town has a long thin but reasonable beach, which has been added in the last few years, with the authorities trying and largely succeeding in creating a good beach. Behind the beach lay all the bars, restaurants, and night clubs that are typical of Mediterranean resort citys. This means open fronted bars that do not come alive until 10PM when everybody goes out. As well as some nice beach fronted bars (e.g. Cafe del Mar being a reasonably chilled out and attractive bar, with attractive staff so that helps) it also has some terrible ones, if you do not like the hard drinking culture of some tourists. It does have some reasonable clubs. Halikarnas being the obvious one as it is huge (4000 people). It also is mostly outdoors and hosts foam parties on regular occasions.

The other half of the town is the west side. This mainly revolves around the Marina and Yacht Club. Here life is a little more sedate with shops catering mainly to those who have stepped off their boats. Expensive supermarkets with proper wine and olive oil as well as the obligatory Helley Hanson to be able to purchase your new jacket. There are a number of nice restaurants if you look hard enough and some good clothes shops. Like all resorts being directly on the sea front increases the prices. During the evenings there is a wonderful atmosphere as the locals and tourists all seem to promenade along the sea front.

There are many cultural events – notably the Ballet Festival in August, a wide range of pop concerts at the Castle or in the Amphitheatre which has been restored in the last few years, having been built some 2,000 years ago.

History of Bodrum

According to Herodotus, born B.C. 484 in Halikarnassus (ancient name for Bodrum), the city was founded by the Dorians. Megarans enlarged the city B.C. 650 and changed its name to Halikarnassus, and then Persians started to rule the city from B.C. 386

Halikarnassus had its glorious days, when it was the former capital of the Karia B.C. 353. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum, was built there by Artemisia for the memory of King Mausolos.

After the Roman and Byzantium rule for ages, Ottomans have conquered the city in 1522, during the time of Suleyman, The Magnificent. The city was named “Bodrum” after the Turkish Republic was declared.

Mausoleum

Known as one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World, The Mauseloum was built by Artemisia, the sister and the wife of King Mausolos, B.C. 355.

This work of art, stood on a 21 stepped pyramid which was 46 metres high and carried a horse car symbolising victory on it, had 36 marble columns in Ionian style.

The mauseloum was destroyed in an earthquake; and the ruins were used in building of the Halikarnassus Castle. Many statues and reliefs from the mauseloum were carried to The British Museum by archeologist C. Newton, in 1856 and now lies there for public viewing.

Weather in Bodrum

During winters and springs, November through April, the weather in Bodrum is generally very good with a few heavy shower periods, usually taking place in November, and then some time after new year and the last one in March or April. February is especially pleasant with not too cold nights and the almond blossoming and the abundance of wild ruccola all over the place.

Summers, arriving after April, are as hot as it can get (expect temperatures higher than 40°C) and sunny with no rain.

Get in

Fly to Bodrum

Bodrum-Milas airport is 35 km away from Bodrum and many flight companies operate charter flights to Bodrum in Summer season. There are also Dalaman and İzmir airports which are 3 hours far away from Bodrum.

From the Airport: There are Havas Shuttle services in accordance with each planes’ arriving to the domestic lines of Bodrum Milas Airport. Ticket fee from airport to Bodrum Center is 17 TL, journey takes 40–45 minutes.

Food and drink costs at the airport are astronomical. For example, a can of soda costs about €5 whereas it would be a fraction of that in the city. Take this into account before arriving at the airport.

By boat

Bodrum is reached by sea from Kos and Rhodes (Greek Islands). Daily ferryboat services from/to Cos and Rhodes to Bodrum are available during the summer season.

By bus

There are many intercity bus companies which operate bus services to Bodrum from major cities of Turkey such as Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Antalya, Adana, Bursa, and Konya. After arriving at any of these cities, Bodrum is reached by bus.

By bus: from Istanbul to Bodrum 13 hours; İzmir to Bodrum 4 hours; Ankara to Bodrum 10 hours, Antalya to Bodrum 7 hours.

Sometimes, if you are arriving from a very distant destination (such as Cappadocia), the bus will not arrive directly to Bodrum (inquire about this when you purchase your ticket as they don’t always bother to let you know and some buses are direct while other are not) but rather arrive at a nearby town (usually Mugla) where you will change to a smaller bus which will take you directly to the central bus station in Bodrum. The original bus ticket you purchased to Bodrum will usually include this leg of the trip in the price so make sure you do not pay again when the ticket seller comes by to collect the ticket fee on the smaller bus.

Getting around

Walking around Bodrum is highly suggested since distances are small and the surroundings are quite scenic. For longer distances you can hop on a “dolmus”, a local shared taxi with fixed route, which will cost you around half a euro. Privet taxis are also available for a higher, yet still affordable, price.

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