When it comes to Turkey, most Irish holidaymakers look no further than Kusadasi or Bodrum.
However, there is a hidden gem just outside of these lively resorts and, believe me, you certainly won’t Bitez this place for value!
The small town of Bitez, which is just four kilometres outside Bodrum, caters for sun seekers who enjoy more peaceful surroundings away from the neon lights and bustling discos.
What was once just a quaint little fishing village on the western Turkish peninsula, now boasts some of the best blue-flag beaches laden with golden sand and turquoise waters.
Travelling with Sunway Holidays on a charter flight from Dublin to Bodrum, we set up camp in the stunning Summer Garden Apartments for our week-long stay.
This family-friendly apartment complex couldn’t be more centrally located, with the beautiful beach just a two-minute walk away.
The apartments themselves are absolutely stunning and come equipped with all the latest mod cons. The staff fall over themselves to ensure your stay is a memorable one.
By day, you can enjoy a relaxing few hours by the pool in the melting Mediterranean sunshine, and cool off in the evening with a cold beer while being entertained by belly dancers and even African acrobats.
If you feel like getting rid of the hubby for a few hours you can always book him in for a Turkish bath and hot-towel shave, while you soak up the rays in peace.
Outside the complex, and dotted along this 1km stretch of beach, you will find some of the best bars and restaurants you will ever come across on your travels – not to mention the markets for those, like me, who enjoy a bit of retail therapy.
The stalls in the markets are filled with every brand from around the globe. From shoes to bags and clothing, there is something for everyone here. Be sure to haggle with the dealers to make sure you come away with the best bargains.
The quality of materials are of the highest standard and I picked up enough bargains to fill another suitcase while I was there.
Being coeliac, I had my reservations travelling to a destination famed for its spicy food and local breads. But I had nothing to worry about. The food was absolutely amazing − the array of dishes on offer will suit everyone’s taste − and the restaurants cater for gluten-free travellers like myself.
If you fancy something a little bit different during your stay, then a trip to the islands could be just the thing for you.
We travelled on one of the local excursions to five different islands in one day. The trip, which costs approx €12, includes boat journey, camel riding, swimming and they even throw in lunch – now that’s value for money!
Although Bitez is the preferred choice of more mature couples and young families, there is definitely something for everyone. And, if you fancy letting your hair down, you could always get down with the gang in Gumbet.
Geared towards the younger generation, this extremely lively town, which is just a stone’s throw from Bitez (approx €5 in a taxi), is definitely the place to hang out.
The bars and restaurants in Gumbet stay open until the last person leaves, and you could easily find yourself listening to the early-morning birds as you walk home!
If, on the other hand, you want to really sample the local fare, then a journey on a Dolmus, the public bus, to Bodrum will give you a belly-ache of laughter.
I have to say, this was one of the highlights of my week. Here you will mix with many of the locals travelling to and from work on their daily commute and it’s an experience in itself.
The town of Bodrum is a picturesque harbour which boasts a stunning castle which dates back to the 1400s. And you can always sit back and relax in some of the port’s bars and restaurants as you watch the world go by.
Overall, Bitez is one of the nicest places I have ever visited on my travels. It’s got sun, sea, beautiful bars, stunning restaurants and caters for travellers of all ages.
I will definitely be returning to this hidden Turkish gem.