The Bodrum Peninsula, named after the seaside resort town near its centre, offers a mix of exclusive resorts and laid-back coastal villages where you can enjoy good swimming and upmarket restaurants.
Despite the glaringly visible inroads of modern tourism, tradition and tranquility are partially preserved by local open-air vegetable markets and the rugged coastline, overlooked by scarcely populated hills in the peninsula's centre.
The area has an efficient and inexpensive dolmuş network, making it easy to hop between Bodrum and the outlying coves, where, with some advanced planning, you can find quality beach accommodation at still reasonable rates.
Itinerary – Bodrum & Cerian West Coast
Day 1 – Bodrum
Although more than a million tourists flock to its beaches, boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and clubs each summer, the town of Bodrum never seems to lose its cool. More than any other Turkish seaside getaway, it has an enigmatic elegance that pervades it, from the town's crowning castle and glittering marina to its flower-filled cafes and white-plastered backstreets. Even on the most hectic days of high summer, you can still find little corners of serenity in the town.
Day 2 – Knidos
The ruins of Knidos, a once-prosperous Dorian port city dating to 400 BC, lie scattered across the western tip of the Datça Peninsula. Steep terraced hillsides, planted with olive, almond and fruit trees, rise above two idyllic bays where yachts drop anchor and a lighthouse is perched dramatically on a headland. You may even see Mediterranean monk seals swimming offshore here.
Day 3 – Yedi Adalari
Yedi Adalari are a chain of small islands close to the coast. They are peaceful places to either do nothing or swim, snorkel and dive for sponges – and perhaps even try harpooning to catch dinner. Enjoy walking in the lush pine forests that blanket the shoreline. To the west is the island of Martil with lovely beaches to swim, relax or sunbathe. The other islands are Long Island, Olive Island, and Small Island and virtually barren.
Day 4 – Degirmen Buku
Degirmen Buku, or English Harbour (named from the time when the Special Boat Squadron used it as a base during the second world war), is a lush green sloped bay which offers great shelter. This popular anchorage is uninhabited, but on the opposite side of the bay there are a couple of restaurants in the Okluk Koyu inlet. It is very tranquil but for the more energetic, as well as being a great place for a swim, there are some lovely walks through the woods. The inlet has a statue of a mermaid at the entrance. The two restaurants have their own jetties and mini markets offering basic provisions.
Day 5 – Arbuk Limani
Arbuk Limani lies on the north coast of the Gulf of Gökova, between Oren and Gökova, where the mountains drop almost vertically into the sea from a considerable height. The Gulf of Gökova is a fascinating corner of Turkey offering lovely views with charming combinations of colors. Pretty shorelines are covered with forests offering every tone of green, the Aegean Sea with a wide range of blues and the mountains shelter the setting sun under hues of red and yellow.
Day 6 – Çökertme
Çökertme bay, famous for being the topic of a traditional Turkish folk song from Ottoman times is backed by pine forests and olive groves and is a favorite mooring for yachtsmen. Its beating heart is centered around the beach area, lined with pensions, restaurants, a souvenir shop and a funky art gallery. The souvenir shop, Gelin Dostlar (translates to “Come in Friends) is run by a mother and daughter team who left the bright lights and big city of Istanbul and moved to Çökertme for a quieter life.