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Bodrum
Bodrum
Bodrum

Bodrum is the major resort and most attractive town on Turkey's Aegean Coast. The centre has been heavily developed for European tourists since it was 'discovered' in the 1970s, but despite this, and heavy summer crowds, it retains (at least for first-time visitors) an exotic Turkish atmosphere with plenty of visual interest. The splendid Crusader Castle of St Peter is the dominant landmark in this low-rise whitewashed Mediterranean scene while traditional wooden Turkish sailing boats grace the busy harbor.

Despite its seaside position, Bodrum is not a beach resort. A dolmuş (minibus) service goes to the nearby sand-and-shingle beaches at Gumbet, 3km, and Bitez, 7km away, which are renowned for their windsurfing conditions.

Family fun: If you have young children in tow you'll probably be better off based at the beach resort of Gumbet, though this lacks the atmosphere and bustle of Bodrum. Exploring the Castle of St Peter is a must but beware that the horror exhibition in the dungeons is unsuitable for small children.

Exploring further: Tucked away in the bays of the Bodrum peninsula are a number of attractive villages a few minutes away by dolmuş. A favorite is sleepy Gümüşlük, which partly occupies the site of the ancient harbour city of Myndos. It has a very picturesque row of waterside restaurants which are reputed to serve the best fish in the region.

The 2,000-year old picture-postcard ruins of Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia, make up one of the world's best preserved cities from antiquity. The adjacent Selçuk Archaeological Museum is an excellent complement to the site. Ephesus is around two and a half hours driving time from Bodrum. The fairy-tale dazzling white petrified (calcified) waterfalls of Pamukkale are one of Turkey's most beautiful and spectacular natural sites. It's a three-hour drive from Bodrum. Make sure your excursion includes a swim in Cleopatra's Pool (35°C) among tumbled Classical columns and other monumental debris. You can leave Turkey altogether by taking a ferry (50 minutes) for the day trip to Kos, or hydrofoil (2 hours) to Rhodes..