ANTALYA, ON TURKEY’S LUSH MEDITERRANEAN COAST, HAS THOSE DEEP BLUE WATERS. WHILE BODRUM, ON THE COUNTRY’S AEGEAN SHORES, HAS ITS PICTURESQUE PORT. WHEN WARMER TEMPERATURES SPARK YOU INTO VACATION MODE, WHICH CITY WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO VISIT?

 

The hardest part is to choose between the two. If you pick Antalya, Bodrum would be offended and it’s hard to win her back. Let’s say that you bought tickets for Bodrum; then, Antalya would be cross with you. Located on the southern part of the Aegean coast, known as the Halicarnassus, Bodrum earns itself a place in your memory with its snow-white houses. Situated between Gulf of Antalya and Western Taurus Mountains toward the west of the Mediterranean region, Antalya is famous for its beaches as well as its orange gardens, after which the local film festival is named. I’m not sure examining the attractive aspects of these two charming cities will make it easier or harder to decide but let’s give it a shot. What’s your guess –the Aegean or the Mediterranean?

It’s hard to reach an agreement if the question is “Whose beaches are more beautiful, Bodrum’s or Antalya’s?” The wonderful beach of Akyarlar, the Kadıkalesi Beach surrounded by citrus orchards, the public beach in Bitez, and the magical waters of Gümüşlük with its long-stretching and perfect-for-strolling sandy beaches in Bodrum are some of the best. And there’s even more… The public beach in Yalıçiftlik on the eastern part of the peninsula, the virgin shores of Yalıçiftlik a little ahead in the road, Mazı district and its perfect beach a bit further down are what makes Bodrum almost unrivaled in terms of sea vacation. But what does Antalya offer? The centrally-located Konyaaltı Beach, the Lara Beach with thin sand and surrounded by pine forests, and the dream-like Kaputaş beach situated between the mountain and the sea, famous not only in Antalya but in  all Anatolia… If you’ve watched the movie Turquoise, which was released last month and portrays the most impressive beaches and coves in Turkey, you’ll know that Antalya is second
to none.

For Antalya’s Lycian Way, Bodrum has Caria. Like two siblings who love but still continue to pick on one another, Antalya and Bodrum’s shores offer Lycian and Caria ways for trekking enthusiasts. Named after the mountains of the Antique Age, the tracks bear the traces of the Lycian and Carian civilizations, passing through mountains to reach the seashore. The 540-kilometer-long Lycian Way opened in 1999 and described as one of the best trekking routes in the world by Sunday Times on one hand, and the 820-kiloemeter-long Caria Track opened in 2013 and passing through Datça, Bozburun, Yatağan and Bodrum on the other; these two options would even hesitate the most decisive of juries.

The city centers of Antalya and Bodrum are rich in history as well. So let me warn you; this comparison won’t have a winner either. The old and wise nature of Antalya’s spirit is epitomized in Kaleiçi district, also known as Old Antalya, and the Kaleiçi City Walls, the oldest structure in the city. Though the walls date back to the Romans, the general architecture of Kaleiçi is Ottoman. Famous for its cut-off architecture, Korkut Mosque, and Hıdırlık Tower overlooking the sea in a small park are must-see places in the city. Bodrum’s wise man takes us to the remains of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the Archaic Age. Then comes the Bodrum Castle, built on the stones taken from this mausoleum; the amphitheater right behind the main road, and the Myndus Gate… It seems that both Bodrum and Antalya have tens of stories to tell about the past.

 

You’ve sunbathed on the beach, cooled off in the sea, and strolled up and down the downtown. Now, time to explore the rural areas. The well-preserved Aspendos Theater, which proved the fact that Antalya’s fertile plains were centers of attraction for many settlements in the ancient period; Perge with its paved streets and large stadium, and Termessos with its breath-taking necropolis and amphitheater are historic gems of Antalya. Bodrum’s periphery is more humble than Antalya’s but it isn’t less attractive. For instance, a few kilometers up downtown is Pedasa, which is intertwined with the forest and offers a perfect afternoon picnic. The remains of the ancient Myndus is in Gümüşlük, the calm district of Bodrum. What’s the verdict; Bodrum or Antalya? Or let me ask this way, is it really possible to choose one?

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