If a city is home to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, I am intrigued. If it has golf, beautiful beaches, and sunny weather…I’m for sure going to visit. Bodrum and Selçuk Turkey are both wonderful places that contain all of this. I booked three nights at an Airbnb in Bodrum and two in a pension in Selçuk for $160 total. What I really wanted, after two weeks of long bus rides, was to cook, listen to podcasts, relax on a beach and walk around some historical places.
Visting Bodrum Turkey + Where to Play Golf in Bodrum
The main thing that attracted me to Bodrum was the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the 7 Wonders. Although destroyed in 1494 the remains paint an incredible picture. Alas, the $1.50 entry price doesn’t hurt. Temper your expectations before entering as you’ll find a few people sitting around drinking tea (as you will everywhere in Turkey), but there is a movie in English that explains a lot of the history. I spent an hour walking around the ruins, which are located in the heart of town. The actual downtown of Bodrum is like any other that you’ll run across in Turkey: a bunch of bright touristy bars, kebab restaurants, and knock-off clothing shops.
I met a girl who did a month-long yoga retreat in Bodrum and she loved it there. You can see multiple Greek islands from the beaches and if you’re in possession of a European passport, come and go as you please. Probably the most fun thing I did there was play golf at Regnum Golf and Country Club. In total it cost about $183 including the taxis to and from the course, the round, and rental set. Absolutely worth it, the course was beautiful…even if I played like shit.
Visiting Selçuk Turkey
The ancient city of Ephesus attracts thousands of tourists every day, all year long. It’s easy to see why the prehistoric Turks settled here with the coastal climate, proximity to water, and beautiful mountain scenery. In Greek and Turkish the town is spelled Efes and pronounced Eh-fis. I walked from the small town to the primitive city complex. Most people book a tour for $50-60 where they take you around in a bus all day, including up a mountain to the house of the Virgin Mary (pictured below)…to which I also walked.
I bought the 350 lira (~$19) pass in order to enter four of the main sites in town: Basilica of St. John, Ephesus ruins, terrace houses (inside the Ephesus ruins), and the museum (definitely worth a visit but it takes a half hour). It’s another $8 to see the house where the Virgin Mary lived out her remaining days. The Virgin Mary’s house is extremely small and you will spend a maximum of ten minutes there, it’s the only thing that you can safely skip in Ephesus, unless you want to check it off your list.
I spent two nights in Homeros Pension, one of the five or so accommodation options. They included breakfast, traditional Turkish. If you are really ambitious you could see everything with only one night or take a day trip from the larger, coastal city of Kusadasi nearby. I found the extra night worthwhile because I walked everywhere…had to get some exercise in.
A final thing to see in Selçuk is the Temple of Artemis, another of the 7 Wonders. Free to enter, but the ruins are even worse than the Mausoleum’s. See the photo of that column below…which isn’t even from the original Temple. People try to sell you trinkets and photos outside the site, it’s kind of a disappointing.
Restaurants in Selçuk, Turkey
- Agora restaurant is right on the corner when you get to town. It’s touristy and expensive
- Ayasoluk restaurant is located inside a hotel and is better quality than the one above, avoid the 500 lira menu and order off their main menu, it’s just as tasty
- Kebab house was best kebab and cheap, under $5
- I spent my second night drinking beers and discussing travel takes with some guys I met at Celsus Bar in town, the only bar that has any vibe
Why You Shouldn’t visit Ismir, Turkey
I’m including the city of Izmir in this post for a few reasons:
- I don’t have enough nice things to say about it to warrant its own post
- Apparently it’s more of a city to live than a city to visit
- You can make a day trip from there to Selçuk and combine them
Let’s begin with the positives…and they barely exist. Lotus Garden was a nice hostel with a covered patio. Sifali Tevfik Pasa Hamami is located very close to the hostel. It is all male but for 200 lira (~$9) you get a sauna and scrub. To say the least, this was worth it. Lastly, I found a free walking tour on getyourguide.com. Journeying for three hours through the streets of Izmir, I gave a $10 tip (I’m a big tipper), I finally had some context and history for this dump of a city. In summation, did I give Izmir a fair shake…probably not. However, arriving by bus I saw nothing but factories and dust as we drove into Turkey’s 3rd largest city. The city had a real Genova, Italy feel…and that is not a compliment.
"Harvey Falcon" is the the senior adventure corespondant for Ski Bum Van Life. From Europe to Asia to South America and beyond Harvey offers an exciting take on adventure travel. Read all his stories here.
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