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Travel - On Holiday In Antalya and Bodrum

by Rien Ultee in Travel and weekendtrips , 11 september 2006

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

After a visit to the non-profit foundation Magic, which had organized an afternoon debate, which was supposed to take place at café Sappho but had to move to a Turkish community center, I had become curious about gay Turkey. By coincidence I had the opportunity to visit Turkey myself, together with a group of gay journalists from Denmark, Great Britain and indeed also Russia. To explore Turkey accompanied of course by representatives of tourist agencies and gay guides.

My trip was organized by Mantrav (, a travel agency which is specialized in trips to gay and gay friendly destinations.
Gay and Turkey: now that the Turks would like to join the EU they’re busy profiling themselves as a gay friendly holiday destination. Turkey lies in Asia actually, so I will not go into why they want to join the EU.
As a gay tourist looking for some fun you are best off visiting Istanbul and maybe Antalya and Bodrum, cause these are the gay friendliest places in the country.


My visits to Antalya and Bodrum were very impressive, not so much because of the rich history, but all the more because of their gay friendliness. Antalya really has something to offer: there are several gay bars and discos frequented by gay Turks. They even have a special Gay Night every Monday night with various activities. The location can be seen from the main boulevard and it offers a nice view for “slightly surprised” gentlemen.

The Alexander Bar in Antalya is worth a visit when it comes to ambiance and young clientele. The boys are friendly and curious to know just where you’re from.
There are other gay bars of course, but they are not that easy to find, since they are generally tucked away in small alleys.

Antalya has the feel of a larger city and there are large areas with gorgeous hotels and resorts. The hotel I stayed in belonged to the Marmara chain. These are of course the places with two or more stars above your average hotel in terms of service and quality. The average places being swamped with tourists from Russia and other Eastern European countries who just seem to be eating all the time.


The newly opened Marmara Therma Hotel in Bodrum really puts it on in ambiance and interior for the spoiled gay traveler. The architect has used natural products wherever possible: the doorknobs are made of flat rocks, for example. All the rooms have a balcony or a terrace. I can’t even begin to tell you what impression it all made on me. Try it out, just for one night, and you will never want to leave. The outside tables give you a splendid view on the bay of Bodrum. What could be more romantic and delightful than having sunset dinner.

The reception by Nino Manzella, the PR manager, was so theatrical I thought I had stepped into a comedy. You can best describe him as a character from a Fellini movie come alive. A very classy reception indeed. He could all of a sudden surprise us with an operatic aria or entertain us with an improvised show. Pure theater! Wonderful. His Italian temperament combined with his French gay-ness make him unique. Fahri Eren, the General Manager, will do anything to make your stay comfortable. Together they make a wonderful team.
All the hotels are quite gay friendly by the way, although one should always adapt slightly. Check out
Bodrum has a real gay bar, the Adibar, but on the whole it has a slightly smaller and more provincial feel than Antalya.

There’s many a gay parading around along the boulevard, checking out... the boats in the harbor of course. You do have a chance of meeting a nice Turkish man. I heard that on Monday night there’s a special Gay Catamaran: the whole night dancing under the stars on a Catamaran sounds fantastic.
There’s going to be a special Gay Week from the 24th of September till the first of October, when the entire Club Med Resort is hired off for partying in total freedom. Check out

Turkey is generally gay friendly and the Turkish population is extremely friendly and correct, but don’t expect everything just out in the open. You really have to go somewhere else for that. If you want to have an adventure away from the explicitly gay destinations but want to be in a gay friendly environment, Turkey would be a good choice, especially as it’s still quite cheap.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the famous Turkish baths.

Culture, sun, beach, good food, etc., etc. are for me the best ingredients for a successful holiday. A lot of gays around the world could take an example of the common Turkish tradition of showing respect for each other. Although there are exceptions of course and there is still a lot to do. They’re on the right track but in a country so dominated by the Islam gays will never experience total freedom. Gay friendliness is a sort of common ground, which could prove more effective than outspoken gay attitudes which often backfire.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 323, July 2018

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