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From boat trips to disco balls: How to live the high life on Türkiye’s coast of happiness

The bay of Bodrum on Türkiye’s “coast of happiness” has been attracting the world’s rich and famous for decades.
The bay of Bodrum on Türkiye’s “coast of happiness” has been attracting the world’s rich and famous for decades. Copyright GoTürkiye
Copyright GoTürkiye
By Euronews
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Known for its luxurious tourism offering, Türkiye’s Bodrum is a top destination for those who want to vacation like the stars.

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Kate Moss, Beyoncé, Yves Saint Laurent, Mick Jagger and Mark Zuckerberg, not to mention Harry and Meghan... with fans like these, it’s no surprise that Bodrum is known as the St Tropez of Türkiye.

A peninsula located in the southwest of the Aegean region in the province of Muğla, it first emerged as an essential stop on the international jet set circuit in the 1970s. Vessels have been docking at Bodrum harbour for 3,000 years, and these days cruise ships deposit millions of visitors a year on its shores, alongside those who arrive by yacht or private jet, all of them looking for a slice of the high life. So where will they find it?

Catch the views from the sea

The harbour isn't a bad place to start, with a spot of people-watching among the eucalyptus trees.

Bodrum Marina regularly hosts live music events, while the annual Bodrum Cup is your chance to see 80 of Türkiye's most elegant yachts compete in a five-day regatta. You can also spot traditional Turkish gulets, 80-foot sailboats built in Bodrum and traditionally used for fishing and sponge-diving – and you can hire them too, even if you don't have a celebrity bank balance.

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
Gulets, the traditional and popular cruise vessels in Türkiye, sail in the Aegean Sea near Bodrum during The Bodrum Cup race.AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

Known as Blue Voyages, these day-long cruises offer a tour of the Aegean's crystal waters and its best secluded bays and beaches, including Iassos, Bağla, Adaboğazı, Bitez, Kızıl and Karaada Island. Lunch is served onboard and some charters even include yoga on deck and holistic treatments.

Get your fill in style

You'll be back in Bodrum in time for dinner, and Brava, the flagship al fresco restaurant of the sleek, minimalist Edition hotel, is a celebrity favourite. Studio 54 founder Ian Schrager opened the Bodrum iteration of his hotel chain in 2018, and hired Peruvian star chef Diego Muñoz to helm its restaurant and bring Latin American flavours to the Turkish table.

Head to the bar after dinner to dance under the giant pink disco ball. Or for Turkish cuisine without sacrificing the luxury setting you could try Maçakizi, which has been a fixture on the Bodrum scene since 1975 and has retained its bohemian vibes.

Legend has it, Kate Moss once checked out of the local detox centre LifeCo early and headed straight here. Given that alcohol, caffeine, sugar, meat and dairy are banned at LifeCo, with a seven-day juice fast in their place, we don't entirely blame her.

But if you do fancy detoxing with the stars, LifeCo, on the north coast of the Bodrum peninsula, is the place to do it.The company also runs Bodrum's first vegan hotel.

GoTürkiye
Bodrum is bursting with spas and other places to relax and unwind.GoTürkiye

Nourish your body and soul

If you'd rather be pampered than purified, Bodrum is bursting with spas, and one of the most opulent is to be found at the Mandarin Oriental, which features open air massage cabanas where you can have treatments designed to help with everything from jet lag to too much screen time, all with views over the Aegean and its olive groves.

The hotel spa has its own traditional hamam too, but for a truly authentic (and more affordable) experience, head to Bodrum's oldest hamam: the Tarihi Bardakci Hamam, open since 1749.

As the sign at the door says, it offers “scrub, foam massage, oil massage, soap, shampoo, towel” and a slice of essential Turkish culture along with them: the therapeutic cleansing rituals and hydro-therapy methods of the hamam date back to Ancient Roman times and are said to relieve stress, improve circulation and eliminate toxins.

Dance or shop until you drop

Eliminating toxins could come in handy for the morning after the night before, because Bodrum is famed for its nightlife. The aptly named Bodrum Bar Street is a mile-long string of extravagant clubs and bars, which serve traditional raki (90 proof – be warned) until the sun comes up.

Bodrum Marina Yacht Club boasts four different bars and puts on live music every night, with a view over the 15th century Bodrum Castle – upon the walls of which Naomi Campbell once emblazoned a birthday message for Madonna, who was throwing a party in the town.

But what do you give a Material Girl for her birthday? In Bodrum, a pair of the world-famous handmade leather sandals, textiles or the local speciality, tangerine jam.

There are plenty of markets to choose from on the peninsula if you want to shop, but the marinas are where you'll find high-end retail heaven.

Yalikavak Marina is where the mega-yachts dock, so naturally it's where the mega-brands – including Prada, Dior and Balmain – have set up shop, but you'll also find local art dealers and premium traditional natural products and textiles, plus Turkish designers such as Aybüke Baran, Ipekyol and Misela.

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