The Best Of Bodrum
A night at Bodrum’s main square where people are gathered for a local festival

Local Culture of Bodrum: A Fusion of Tradition and Coastal Charm

An interesting fact about Bodrum is that only about 30-40% of the people living in Bodrum are actually locals. The rest come from other cities, even other countries. Clearly, Bodrum’s appeal as a popular tourist spot plays a significant role in their decision to settle here. However, there is something else that is likely more important for people when they consider moving here: the local culture of Bodrum.

Culture refers to the way a group of people live, including their shared values, beliefs, customs, and knowledge that are passed from one generation to the next. It affects how they interact with their environment. When you move to a new place to start a new life, locals’ attitude towards you is extremely important.

The Aegean Region of Turkey is a popular destination, known for its beautiful nature, pleasant weather, and rich history. Various internationally renowned destinations along the Aegean coast, such as Fethiye and Marmaris, attract millions of visitors every year. As someone who appreciates Bodrum, I must admit that there are places with even more stunning natural landscapes in the region. However, what captivates me the most is the unique lifestyle and local culture.

Experiencing Bodrum Like a Local

While exploring the local culture in Bodrum, I noticed something special about how people live there – they keep things simple. It’s a defining characteristic of the town’s lifestyle. But here’s the cool part: Bodrum is also the perfect place for those seeking a luxurious vacation. So, it’s a city where you’ll find a mix of modern and ancient, luxury and laid-back vibes, and even peaceful tranquillity and wild partying all coexisting.

Three fishermen posing next to a fishing boat.
After a cheerful conversation, local fishermen agreed to pose for me.

As I strolled through the narrow streets of the old town, I couldn’t help but notice how effortlessly and happily the locals go about their daily routines. Whether they were enjoying a relaxed breakfast with freshly baked simit at a cozy café or chatting away at the lively farmers market, they truly embraced the happiness that comes from simple pleasures.

As a traveller, I discovered that by joining in on these seemingly ordinary experiences, I was able to connect with the heart and soul of Bodrum’s local culture. If you’re also interested in immersing yourself in the local culture while discovering Bodrum, here are some tips to enhance your experience.

Blend In with the Locals

Bodrum is a captivating mix of history, tradition, and modern life. It’s not just about the beautiful beaches and exciting nightlife – there’s so much more to discover!

Villagers are playing a game in a kahvehane, which is a typical place where locals get together. It is a typical place in local culture.
In local culture, all villages have a “kahvehane”, where villagers get together and play games.

If you want to really experience the local culture in Bodrum, the best way to start is by blending in with the locals and enjoying life just like they do.

You can explore the vibrant bazaars, where the smell of spices fills the air. Or you can spend some peaceful time in a mosque, learning about the local religion. These experiences will give you a true taste of everyday life in Bodrum.

Do It Like a Local

You know, our food is famous all around the world. From tasty kebabs to yummy stuffed vine leaves, Turkish food is simply amazing. However, you might be surprised to hear that the most popular food here in Turkey is actually bread and white cheese. It’s simple – just good old bread and cheese without any toppings or fillings!

Of course, doing what the locals do is not just about enjoying food combinations like sandwiches. For example, engaging in a pleasant conversation with a local is usually enough to establish a better relationship. You cease to be a stranger and become a friend.

And as a friend, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with kisses on both cheeks the next time you see each other. It’s a way of showing warmth and affection. In fact, during the early stages of my career, before my company’s CEO visited Turkey, my manager specifically instructed me not to kiss him on the cheek. It’s that serious! 🙂

An Austrian friend is tasting fried calamary with a funny look on his face.
Harald, an old friend from Austria, tasting calamary fried in Turkish style.

Anyway, there are lots of little things in local culture that can make you feel good or a bit weird. If you’re up for a cultural adventure, experiencing some of these things can be fun! Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people too.

Common Cultural Behaviours of Bodrum and Turkey

When you arrive in Bodrum, you will instantly notice certain cultural behaviours that are part of the local way of life. Some of these behaviours are unique to the local culture, while others can be seen all over Turkey.

Turkish people are renowned for their hospitality. It is a fundamental part of how we interact with others. We are usually eager to welcome outsiders into our world. Whether it’s a friendly smile, a handshake, or a cup of Turkish tea, Bodrum locals have a way of making you feel like a part of their family, just like the rest of the country.

Some people I just met showing the hospitality of the local culture by offering me food and drink at a Bodrum beach.
People I just met offering me food and drink. Local culture of Bodrum makes it easy to make friends!

Turkish culture has a strong emphasis on hospitality and politeness. However, there are times when people here may tolerate bad behaviour and dangerous actions just to avoid being perceived as rude. Imagine a friend allowing you to drive even when you’ve had a lot to drink at dinner. Or, he might refrain from saying anything when you ride a motorbike without a helmet. This politeness can easily turn into a trouble. Please keep in mind that what is considered dangerous and banned in your country is also considered dangerous and banned here in Turkey.

Another common cultural behaviour in Bodrum and Turkey is our close relationships with friends and family. We like to build intimate connections. So, expect receiving personal questions about your family, partner, or job from someone you just met!

Additionally, we have a strong respect for our elders, a deep love for Ataturk, who founded the Republic of Turkey, and we treat the Turkish flag with the utmost care. Making jokes about religion to someone you barely know is also something to avoid. These are all important aspects that connect Bodrum’s local culture to the rich background of Turkish customs.

Bodrum’s Local Culture: A Unique Combination of a Fishing Town and Cretan Heritage

Have you ever noticed that most of the Mediterranean towns, like Bodrum, are places where time seems to slow down? I believe it’s the Mediterranean climate that has shaped the daily routines of local cultures and communities. For me, it feels good to find myself in the lazy flow of daily tasks after the rush of a big city like Ankara. It’s a refreshing and rejuvenating experience every time.

Every coastal town in the Aegean or Mediterranean regions of Turkey has its own unique atmosphere, scenery, and lifestyle. Of course, they share many common values and lifestyles as part of Turkish culture. However, the local culture of the Aegean region, and Bodrum is a part of it, is more flexible and progressive compared to the rest of the country.

A musician playing oud at the table.
In local culture, any meal with raki is not complete without a musician at the table.

Believe it or not, there were even some sassy, conservative politicians in the dark pages of Turkish political history who called Aegeans pagans because they didn’t vote for them. Cities like Izmir and Bodrum still don’t! After being insulted by the government, what do you think happened? Instead of complaining and rioting, Bodrum and Izmir just laughed at them and started referring to themselves as pagans! By the way, with all due modesty, I am from Izmir as well 😉

The Bodrum Code

Thousands of years ago, Bodrum was the capital of Karian civilization as a strategic port city. The rise and falls of various civilizations in the area changed the importance of this city. Eventually, Bodrum lost its importance, turning into a small fishing village for centuries.

In the 19th century, the grandfathers of today’s locals started smuggling goods between the Anatolian mainland and Greek Islands to escape poverty. But don’t get it wrong, they were not petty criminals! On the contrary, smuggling was the most prestigious profession back then. It was so important that marrying a smuggler was a women’s dream.

Octopus cooked in Cretan style with olive oil and garlic is now a part of Bodrum’s local cuisine.
Thanks to locals with Cretan roots for enriching Bodrum’s local culture with their traditions and delicious food!

Another significant shift in the local culture was the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in the 1920s. Sadly, thousands of people were separated from the lands they grew up in, on both sides of the Aegean Sea. Cretan people arrived here and left a permanent mark on the town’s cultural fabric. Their customs, traditions, and even amazing cuisine blended seamlessly with the existing local culture, enriching Bodrum’s identity with a unique Cretan touch.

I just have to say how excited I am to be able to share these amazing stories of recent history with you, just as the grandchildren of those smugglers, fishermen, and refugees have told me. These stories are their family history, and it’s incredible how vividly they remember it all.

Once Bodrum was a simple fishing village, but it has changed over time! Now it’s a lively coastal town with so much going on. As more and more people come to visit, the local culture of Bodrum is constantly evolving through interactions between different cultures. As a result, Bodrum has maintained its position as the number one place where people would most like to live.

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The Best of Bodrum

Hi there!

My name is Akinsal, and I created The Best of Bodrum, a travel blog to help you to get most out of your time in Bodrum and the Aegean Region.

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