Didim is a resort town on the Southern Aegean coast of Turkey. It's the most northerly of the resorts served by Milas-Bodrum Airport so in tourist brochures it's often described as "Bodrum region", and attracts a budget mass-market. In 2020 Didim had a population of 90,427.
The main sights of interest are the ancient Greek ruins of Priene, Miletus and Didyma, usually visited on a combined "PMD" day-trip.
The ancient Greeks were sea-faring people, in an era when land transport involved packhorses on rough trails, and by the 8th century BC a network of ports and shipping routes criss-crossed the Aegean and East Med. From the 6th century these settlements were conquered by Persia, then by a series of later empires, but what did for them all was the silting up of the river valleys and receding of the coastline. The River Maeander or Büyük Menderes was the culprit hereabouts: Priene and Miletus relocated several times before being abandoned. Didyma by contrast was simply a ritual space with no associated town, but without its audience and funding of its oracles it too fell derelict.
The monuments were shattered by earthquakes and some stonework was removed for other use, but from the 20th century the sites were stabilised and partly restored. The small modern town of Hisar ("castle") grew up near Didyma, was wrecked by a earthquake in 1955, and rebuilt as Yenihisar ("new castle"). The big change to the area's fortunes came from the 1980s when Aegean Turkey became a mass tourist destination. The town migrated south, so Yenihisar became a northern residential district of Didim, while the major development was along the beach strip of Altınkum. The area was further boosted by the upgrade of Milas-Bodrum airport in 2000, so what had been a three-hour transfer from Izmir airport was reduced to an hour.
Milas-Bodrum Airport (BJV IATA) 16 km south of Milas is the regional airport, with lots of seasonal package flights from north Europe. It has year-round daily flights from Istanbul, both IST and SAW.
Buses from Istanbul take 8 hours to Didim via Izmir, Selçuk (for Ephesus), Kuşadası and Söke. Between Didim and Bodrum take a dolmuş.
Bus companies are Metro Turizm, Pamukkale and Flixbus.
1 Didim Otobüs Terminali the bus station is 1.5 km east of the main boulevard.
By car from Istanbul follow O-5 to Izmir then E87 towards Aydın, cutting off onto D525 past Söke.
Most visitors tour Priene, Miletus and Didyma on organised tours, spending an hour or two at each site, and variously starting from Didim, Bodrum or Kuşadası.
With your own vehicle it's easy to tour all three in an afternoon, as they're well signposted and the access roads are in fair condition. Otherwise hire a taxi for a few hours: your accommodation will know reliable drivers with reasonable rates.
Trying to visit PMD by public transport will test your patience. Didyma is 3 km north of Didim town and 5 km from the beach strip so you could walk, but to start fresh you're better taking a dolmuş to the district of Yenihisar.
Dolmuşes also run to Güllübahçe (for Priene) and Akköy / Balat (for Miletus), the problem is that they radiate from Söke the regional transport hub, with no connections between. So you have to backtrack and come out again, and spend most of your day on Söke bus station, fretting about whether you'll catch the last run of the day.
- Museum Pass – The Aegean gives entry to the three main sites of Priene, Miletus and Didyma. This costs 650 TL in 2023 and is valid for 7 days from the date of first usage. You can buy online to show on your mobile, or at the ticket booths in Miletus and Didyma. But not in Priene, so if you approach from the north, buy it online or in Ephesus or Selçuk. You're only likely to break even on the Pass if you visit those more expensive sites. The smaller sites are free.
- 1 Didyma, Yenihisar, Didim. Daily 10:00-17:00. Grand temple to Apollo, also known locally as Delphinius (as in the Delphic oracle), Philesios, Carinus and Didymeus. It was founded perhaps in the 8th century BC, but torched and looted by the Persians in 494 BC. It was rebuilt under Alexander the Great from 331 BC, looted again from 277 BC but prospered from large donations by rulers wanting the oracles to endorse whatever policy or war they'd decided on. There was only a small scrappy village here and you approached on foot along the 20 km Sacred Way from Miletus to the north. The temple declined once Christianity became the Roman religion, and was abandoned after an earthquake in 1493 AD. Around 1800 Greek settlers re-used its masonry to build a village, but the site was excavated and partly restored in the 20th century. Its signature image is of the Medusa, the Gorgon statue with her fractured head. Adult 50 TL.
- 2 Euromus is a ruined town along the road to Milas, occupied from the 6th century BC to the 2nd AD. The main sight is the Temple of Zeus Lepsinos.
- 3 Miletus (Milet), Balat. Daily 10:00-17:00. From the 8th century BC this grew into a large city-state, with over 90 colonies across the East Med and Black Sea. The city had spells of Persian rule from the 6th century BC but its heyday was under Alexander the Great from 331 BC. The Romans repaired the city walls but couldn't prevent the silting of the bay, until Miletus lost its harbour and importance, and now lies 10 km inland. The principal sights are the well-preserved amphitheatre, an Ionic stoa along one of its main streets, a Roman bathhouse, and a mosque built in 1403. Adult 40 TL.
- 4 Myus is the scrappy ruins of another town that lost its harbour. Around the turn of BC / AD it became incorporated into Miletus.
- Lake Bafa 10 km south of Myus was an inlet of the sea until the River Maeander closed its outflow. The slopes north and east, signposted Kapıkırı-Herakleia, are dotted with ruined monasteries, but the lake is polluted by agricultural run-off.
- 5 Priene, Güllübahçe. Daily 10:00-17:00. Priene lost its port even earlier than Miletus, when the River Maeander demonstrated its meandering and dumped mud over the inlet and harbour. The port may have relocated several times, with early versions lost beneath the sludge. The city on the ridge that you see today is from 350 BC, laid out on a grid pattern that the Romans adopted elsewhere. By 200 AD the new harbour was lost and the population drifted away to Miletus, which suffered the same fate a century later. The main sights are the amphitheatre, the baths, and the temple to Athena. Adult 20 TL.
- 6 Old Güllübahçe or Gelebeç is a pleasant hillside village of cobbled streets and stone houses close to Priene. It was inhabited by Greeks before the Greco–Turkish War of 1919–22. There's a derelict church dedicated to St Nicholas, dating back to 1821, along with its ossuary.
- 7 Atburgazı Castle is a crumbling Byzantine turret along the valley road west of Priene, little more than a lookout.
- 8 Eski Doğanbey is an attractive little village of traditional Greek buildings, up the valley from the modern village.
- See Kuşadası for Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park on the ridge to the north
- Beach: Altınkum is the best, a great crescent of sand at the foot of Didim town.
- Boat trips sail from the quay at the west end of Altınkum beach.
- Lunapark is a funfair just beyond the west end of Altınkum beach.
- Carrefour midway along Atatürk Blv is the largest store, open daily 08:00-23:00.
- Lots of little neighbourhood stores, Migros and A101 are the main chains.
- Altınkum beach is the main eating strip. Places include Charlie's, Topkapı, Dayı Kitchen, Pinocchio's, Ikbal's, Sunshine, Vista, Istanbul, Meşkhane, Karçiçeği and Family Door.
- Along the beach strip are Pelikan, @thebar, Lineker's Inn, Cosy Pub, Apollo, Taxim and Rainbow.
- 1 Panormos Hotel, Atatürk Blv 126, ☏ +90 256 813 4639. Clean friendly budget hotel in town centre, a 1.5 km walk to the beach. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 2 Nazar Otel Didim, 5th Sk, ☏ +90 256 813 1565. Budget place 200 m from beach. B&B double 800 TL.
- Altinersan is a similar budget hotel along 5th Sk.
- 3 Esra Family Suite Hotel, Barbaros Cd 3, ☏ +90 256 970 0505. Budget apartments near the harbour. B&B double 1300 TL.
- 4 Anadolu Hotels Didim Club (formerly Palm Wings Beach Resort), Mehtap Cd 94, ☏ +90 256 645 0729. Mixed reviews for this large beach hotel east of town. B&B double 1500 TL.
- Tuntas Suites are budget apartments 100 m west of Anadolu Hotels Didim Club.
- 5 Duja Didim, 240th Sk 13/2, ☏ +90 256 252 2031. Decent mid-range hotel on the peninsula southeast of town. B&B double 2000 TL.
- Venosa Beach Resort, İnönü Blv 4 (just south of Duja Didim), ☏ +90 256 835 3500. Comfy mid-range hotel on peninsula.
- 6 Maxeria Blue Didyma, 1204th Sk, Akbük, ☏ +90 256 221 2255. Inexpensive resort hotel at the head of the bay. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 7 Long Beach Club Nature, 3003rd Sk 166, Akbük, ☏ +90 256 610 0735. Relaxing family-oriented beach hotel. B&B double 2500 TL.
Didim and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of March 2023, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Kuşadası to the northeast is a raucous beach resort, but it's a good base for visiting Ephesus, and don't overlook its own archaeological site of Magnesia on the Maeander.
- Ephesus needs most of a day to take in, a partly-restored Graeco-Roman city.
- Milas, historically known as Mylasa, is a large town to the southeast surrounded by ancient and medieval sites.
- Bodrum is Turkey's party capital, further south down the coast.
|Routes through Didim|
|Becomes (N) ← Söke ←||N S||→ Milas → Ends at (W E)|