Last updated on February 25, 2023 by Wandering our World
With so many beautiful resorts and fabulous cities, it’s no surprise that Turkey is one of the world’s favorite vacation destinations – and Bodrum and Antalya are two of the top spots to visit in this scenic country.
Both of these cities have access to some stunning beaches, along with their share of cultural landmarks, historic sites, and fabulous hotels. However, these cities are also quite different so making the right choice is important.
They sit at totally opposite ends of the Turkish Riviera, with Bodrum to the west and Antalya to the east. They’re also very different sizes, with Antalya being one of Turkey’s biggest cities, and Bodrum feeling more like a large town.
And, while both cities have some super museums and intriguing cultural landmarks, their vibes aren’t quite the same.
Bodrum is more of an up-market, jet-set sort of place with fine dining and a lively nightlife scene, while family-friendly Antalya offers a hustling, bustling taste of Turkish traditions, with colorful bazaars and winding, cobbled streets.
However that’s just the beginning when it comes to how different Bodrum and Antalya are. That’s why below, we’ll use our experience to take an in-depth, honest look at Antalya vs Bodrum in several key areas to help you decide which one suits you best.
We’ll show you which has the better beaches, activities, nightlife, which is better for families, couples and lots more. All to help you make the right decision!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Best For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Better For Hiking & Nature?
- Which Is Best For Families?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Best For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
A Quick Overview Of Bodrum vs Antalya
Bodrum: A Quick Overview
Bodrum is a port city on the western end of the Turkish Riviera. Part of the Mugla Province, this city stretches out across two beautiful bays and is close to the point where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, with several Greek islands only a short trip across the water.
There’s a lot of history in this city. It was known as Halicarnassus in the days of Ancient Greece and was once home to the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
That tomb no longer stands, but some of the stones used to make it were repurposed in the 15th century to make Bodrum Castle, which still stands proudly to this day.
As well as having a fascinating past, Bodrum has a lively and prosperous present, hailed as one of the top holiday spots for Turkish celebrities and influential people.
It’s a glitzy, glamorous place with an up-market feel, world-class resorts, and stunning beaches, bays, and caves all around.
Antalya: A Quick Overview
Located 180 miles east of Bodrum, Antalya sits at the eastern end of the Turkish Riviera. It’s the biggest city on the country’s Mediterranean coast, home to well over a million people, and it’s significantly larger in terms of both physical size and population than Bodrum.
Known as Turkey’s tourism capital, Antalya draws in a lot of visitors from far and wide and has a very busy airport. It’s home to many landmarks and attractions of its own, as well as attractive seafront hotels and resorts, while also being a great gateway to other popular resort towns along the Turquoise Coast.
Visitors can find fabulous beaches there, as well as traditional Turkish architecture, authentic cuisine, and vibrant markets. We think it’s definitely the better city if you’re looking for some cultural immersion.
This city has a lot of history, too, passing under Roman and Ottoman rule over the centuries, and many majestic landmarks from the past are still standing, like the Old Roman Harbor and Hadrian’s Gate.
Which Is Easier To Get To?
In terms of access, both Bodrum and Antalya have international airports for visitors to fly into.
Flights are available all-year long, although Bodrum has quite a lot of seasonal routes and far less traffic during the winter months. Antalya is more accessible, no matter when you fly.
In addition, the two airports have some differences in terms of their connections. You can fly direct to Bodrum from various places around Europe, like the UK and France, as well as parts of Asia and the Middle East.
Antalya has even more connections, with direct links to and from lots of European countries, Asia, the Middle East, and even North Africa. Because of its wider range of flights and greater flight availability, Antalya is generally the easier place to get to.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
In terms of getting around, Antalya and Bodrum are quite similar places. They both have dolmus buses that can pick you up and drop you off almost anywhere, along with the option to rent a car or take a taxi wherever you want to go.
The dolmus buses are generally considered to be the top option for voyaging around both Antalya and Bodrum as a tourist. They’re plentiful, flexible and cheap, with a lot of useful routes to take you to major landmarks and locations.
Both cities are also quite walkable, and Bodrum has the advantage of being significantly smaller. This makes it simpler for newbies to find their way around.
But Antalya is pretty easy to navigate, too, and it also has a terrific tram service, including a heritage line that takes you to many of the city’s most renowned landmarks, like the Old Port and Hadrian’s Gate.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
One of the main attractions of the Turkish Riviera is its fantastic stretches of soft sand and blissful blue waters, perfect for all of your favorite seaside activities, from sunset strolls and sunbathing days to swimming and watersports.
But which has the best beaches between Antalya and Bodrum? Well, both of these places have beaches within walking distance of the city center, but you’ll usually need to travel a little beyond the city limits to see the very best coastal hotspots.
Bodrum’s beaches are quite diverse, with a mixture of sandy and rocky spots. These beaches also tend to be quite touristy and resort-style, with plenty of sun loungers and amenities just minutes away.
Antalya also has a lot of well-developed beaches sitting beside towering hotels and beach bars, but , since this area is larger, with over 650km of coastline, there are even more options than in Bodrum.
On top of that, Antalya has some of the biggest beaches in Turkey, ideal for those who like to stroll along the sand or find their own private spot.
We take a look at the beaches in more detail below, so you can see which destination could suit you best!
Bodrum: The Beaches
Many of Bodrum’s best beaches are a short drive out of the city itself, but there are a couple of options close by.
Kumbahçe Beach is one of the first spots you might like to visit – popular with locals, this small beach has an amazing view of Bodrum Castle and is a really romantic spot to see the sunset.
Another easily accessible option is Bodrum Municipality Public Beach. It’s quite close to Bodrum city center and has nice sunbeds and plenty of amenities, including a cafeteria. It’s not too big, so you’ll need to arrive early to snag a sun lounger.
If you don’t mind a short drive, it’s worth heading out to Yahsi Beach. This is one of the longer beaches, with lovely views of the surrounding scenery and soft, golden sands.
Or, if watersports are more your thing, take a trip to Gumbet Beach – a prime spot for water-skiing and parasailing, this beach is also situated close to a coral reef for some scuba diving fun.
Bodrum Yali Beach is another nice spot with free sun loungers and helpful amenities, along with some of the clearest waters in the region, while Aspat Beach is a more pristine and natural slice of coastline, without the hotels and cafes that dominate most of Bodrum’s beach scene.
Antalya: The Beaches
Antalya also has a wonderful array of scenic sandy expanses for travelers to enjoy, with Konyaalti being one of the most popular spots.
This beach stretches on and on for around 8km, and even though it gets quite crowded in summer, there’s still more than enough room for everyone to feel at home.
The charmingly named Moonlight Beach is another pleasant place to spend some time. It’s part of the Moonlight Park area, which draws in a lot of family visitors and has some of the safest swimming conditions in the area, as well as a public pool and family-friendly walking trails. In fact, Antalya tends to have more family friendly beaches.
Mermeli Beach is one of Antalya’s smaller beaches, but it’s quite impressive, sitting beneath the historic side of the city.
Or, if you’re looking for something in the heart of nature, head out to Cirali Beach – this isolated stretch of sand and pebbles boasts postcard-style mountain views and calm, clear waters.
There are resort-style beaches here with loungers and umbrellas, like Lara Beach, as well as family-friendly locations like Tekirova and historic hotspots like Phaselis – this place is home to age-old ruins from the days of the Roman Empire.
Overall, both Bodrum and Antalya have access to some amazing beaches. Those in Antalya are generally larger, longer, and better-suited for families, but the mixture of options and romantic offerings of the Bodrum area might have more appeal for couples and backpackers.
Which Is Best For Activities?
We’ve covered the beaches, but what else can you do in Bodrum and Antalya to pass the time?
Well, both of these cities have historic land cultural landmarks to visit, as well as several day trip destinations just a short drive or boat ride away.
Below we’ll show you the activities you can do in each, so you can see which one may suit your preferences the most.
Although as you’ll see next, in general Antalya is more of an action-packed place where you’ll probably want to get out and about every day, roaming the streets and seeing new things. Bodrum has fun places to visit, too, but is more laid-back and suitable for chilled-out trips.
Bodrum: The Activities
One of the must-see sites in Bodrum has to be Bodrum Castle. Also known as the Castle of St. Peter, this place was built in the 15th century by the Knights Hospitalier.
It’s awesome to admire from afar, but even better up close, with various artifacts and an underwater archaeology museum.
History fans can also take a tour to see the remnants of the Ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus, and visitors might also like to take a tour of the Maritime Museum or ARThill art gallery.
Bodrum is a fine place to shop, too. It may not have the big malls of Antalya, but there are some nice markets, and the Dibeklihan Culture Village is a great place to grab some locally-made arts, crafts, and gifts for your loved ones back home.
It’s also possible to do some great island day trips from Bodrum – which is something you can’t really do when staying in Antalya.
This city is just a short ferry trip from some of Greece’s prettiest islands, like Kos and Rhodes. And visiting a Greek island during your Turkish getaway is a great way to diversify your trip, experience something different and tick another destination of your bucket list.
Aside from that, one of the best things to do in Bodrum is simply to relax, admire fancy yachts moor in the marinas or sit in one of the many bars and cafes and watching the world go by.
Antalya: The Activities
Since it’s a much bigger city, Antalya also has a longer and broader list of activities and attractions than Bodrum so may be better suited to more active travelers and families.
One of the first places to start your Antalya adventure is in the city’s Old Town – it’s here that you can find all kinds of ruins from the past, from an 18th century mosque to an Ancient Roman gate.
The Old Harbor is another top spot to visit, and you can really feel the past come alive around you in Antalya’s cobbled, winding streets and eclectic mixture of architectural styles. There are a myriad of museums to enjoy, as well, from the Antalya Archaeology Museum to the Toy Museum.
Antalya has an array of parks and green spaces when you want to leave the hustle and bustle behind, along with lively markets, where street sellers will tempt you with fragrant spices and traditional Turkish delights. It’s definitely a city that feels more ‘Turkish’ than Bodrum.
Aside from the markets, Antalya has plenty of fancy, up-market boutiques for those with luxurious taste, as well as a mega mall called TerraCity – you’ll find around 180 stores and a bunch of restaurants here, and it’s a great place for shopaholics to spend a day or two.
Just like Bodrum, Antalya is nicely situated for day trips. You can head to the awe-inspiring Lycian Rock Tombs from here, for example, or spend some time in nature at places like Altinbesik Cave National Park and Köprülü Canyon.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
If you love to party and stay out late, Bodrum might be the more appealing destination for you. A lot of young people come to this city for its nightlife scene, with some even nicknaming it “The Ibiza of Turkey”.
Clubs like Mood and Adamik are lively, exciting spots to while away the late night hours, and Cumhuriyet Street – nicknamed Bar Street – provides an entire mile’s worth of bars and nightlife hotspots with various themes and musical styles to suit all tastes.
Antalya isn’t bad for nightlife, either. It might not be quite as lively as Bodrum in general, but there are some spots around Kaleici and down by the harbor where young and older party goers can have a good time, with a nice mixture of student-friendly nightclubs and more mature bars.
Overall, Bodrum takes the win in this category for its great range of nightlife locations and experiences, but club-lovers should still be able to find decent evening entertainment in and around Antalya.
Which Is Better For Hiking & Nature?
If you like to get out into the wilderness with hikes, treks, and wildlife-watching expeditions, you’ll need to leave the cities of Bodrum and Antalya behind and explore the surrounding environments.
Bodrum is a little lacking in this area. There are some lovely, untouched landscapes to trek across, but you won’t find many established routes or trails, aside from the famed Lelag Way, which charts the history of an ancient, aboriginal people who lived in the Bodrum area before the Greeks.
Antalya also has a famous, historical hiking route known as the Likya Yolu, or Lycian Way. This trail is over 300 miles long and passes by several ruined cities and UNESCO World Heritage sites, like Xanthos and Myra. The St. Paul Trail is another route of similar length, passing by lakes, mountains, and more.
You can also head out to the Taurus Mountains from Antalya, with some strenuous trails to be found around the foothills near Ormana. The aforementioned Köprülü Canyon is another good hiking location,
On top of all of that, Antalya’s surroundings even have forests you can visit for mushroom foraging and bird watching, making it by far the better location for outdoor adventurers, hikers and nature lovers.
Which Is Best For Families?
If you’re heading to Turkey with children, Antalya might be the best destination for you. It’s got several family-friendly attractions, including water parks, theme parks like Aktur Park and The Land of Legends, a toy museum, and even an annual sand sculpture competition.
Antalya has quite a family-oriented vibe, too, with a lot of hotels catering particularly well for families with children.
Not only that, but the beaches in Antalya are also quite kid-friendly, with great swimming areas and lifeguards to keep everyone safe.
Bodrum also has some safe, family-friendly beaches and resorts, as well as one local water park. But, aside from that, it’s lacking in terms of things to do for families.
Older kids might not mind the laid-back vibes of Bodrum, but younger ones could get bored quite quickly.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Adalya Port Hotel overlooks Antalya’s Old Harbour, and is set on an old cobbled street, so you’ll get a real taste of Turkey when staying here, but still with modern amenities. The panoramic rooftop bar and restaurant with stunning views is, of course, the real highlight. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Lara Barut Collection-Ultra is one of the most luxurious resorts in Turkey, but it’s still not one of the most expensive. The resort sits right on the beach, has gorgeous outdoor pools, 6 restaurants and even a Turkish spa. It’s the ultimate Turkish Rivera experience. See photos and rates!
Budget: Artunc Hotel is bougie budgeting! Located centrally to all the best Bodrum has to offer, this hotel is a steal for anyone looking to relax in luxury without emptying their wallets.
Gorgeous private rooms, a cafe on the premises, a lovely garden, and a pool – you can’t get better than this for the price. Find pictures and details here.
Luxury: Luxury hotels get no better than METT Hotel & Beach Resort. Nestled on the coast of Bodrum, this gorgeous hotel offers a private beach, indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant, and an inclusive breakfast (that comes with a buffet)! You find pictures and details here.
Which Is Best For Couples & Honeymoons?
If you’re planning a getaway with someone special and looking for the more romantic destination between Bodrum and Antalya, we’d say that Bodrum just about has the edge for couples.
Bodrum has a lot of cozy, romantic beaches and wonderful spots to watch the sunset, complete with gourmet restaurants where you and your partner can indulge in your favorite tastes, as well as fabulous boutique hotels. It’s an idyllic destination for R&R with a loved one.
However, if you and your partner prefer adventure and activities over romantic vibes, Antalya might have more to offer for you.
With its many museums, shops, and day trip opportunities, Antalya may be a more complete and diverse destination for more active couples.
Overall, the right choice for your trip-for-two will depend on what you and your partner enjoy doing the most.
Which Is Cheaper?
When comparing the average costs between Bodrum and Antalya, the cheapest option will depend on what kinds of activities you choose and where you plan to stay.
If you book in advance, it’s usually possible to get a room for a lower price in Bodrum than Antalya, although Antalya does have several hostels and low-cost hotels dotted around for budget travelers.
Public transportation costs are also a little cheaper in Bodrum, although food prices tend to be higher. So, if you’re planning on staying at a fancy hotel and eating well at the local restaurants, you might end up with a quite expensive trip overall.
Meanwhile, you might spend a little more getting around in Antalya, but you can save money in the long run by making the most of the city’s cheaper eateries and visiting free, public landmarks rather than booking pricey tours and activities.
Overall, average costs for both of these cities are quite close to one another, and neither location is significantly more expensive than the other. Therefore, cost is not the biggest factor when trying to choose which place to visit.
Bodrum vs Antalya: Which Is Better?
There’s a lot to love about Bodrum and Antalya, and both of these Turkish cities are worth visiting.
Bodrum is a gorgeous place for relaxation and indulgence, with amazing hotels, great food, and super nightlife, while Antalya is a richer and deeper city from a cultural perspective.
The best option for you will depend entirely on your tastes and preferences. However, since we like to pick a winner, we have to say that Antalya is the better city for the majority of travelers, as it wins in key categories like beaches, things to do, and family-friendliness.
It’s a remarkable destination to head to if you want to experience Turkey’s storied past and vibrant present all in one trip, with lots of fun and interesting things to fill your days and plenty of attractions to please travelers of all ages and tastes.
With that said, Bodrum is still a top spot to consider if you’re planing a trip to Turkey, with some great beaches, excellent resorts, and one of the best nightlife scenes in the entire Turkish Riviera.