We visit some of the greatest gems on Turkey’s southwest coast aboard a glorious traditional Turkish gulet.
This tour offers a marvellous combination of superb archaeological sites and a remarkably beautiful maritime landscape – a gorgeous and undeveloped stretch of Turkey’s turquoise coast.
Starting from the lively harbour of Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, the birthplace of Herodotus, this cruise follows the convoluted shoreline of Caria, made up of deep inlets and long peninsulas forming a complex and diverse geography where land and sea constantly embrace one another. It ends at Göcek, a quiet small town in a lovely setting on the Gulf of Fethiye.
Along the way, you’ll visit a series of fascinating ancient cities including Knidos, in a stunningly beautiful peninsular location with twin harbours and spectacular Kaunos, overlooked by uniquely elaborate rock-cut tombs. You’ll also explore more remote spots, such as the mighty Rhodian fortification at Loryma, one of the best examples of defensive architecture to survive from antiquity, the virtually unknown town of Phoenix, surrounded by evocative grave monuments, and long-forgotten Lydae, hidden away on a wild promontory far away from roads, towns and modern life.
As well as the archaeological adventures and walks through landscapes of unforgettable beauty, you’ll have many opportunities to just sit back and enjoy the magnificent scenery or dip into the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean – a perfect combination of cultural experience and quality time.
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Day 1: Your gulet awaits you in the Grand Harbour of Bodrum, about 40 minutes from Bodrum airport. Welcome drinks and dinner on board.
Day 2: Our first voyage takes us to the spectacular Greek and Roman city of Knidos, on the tip of a long and sinewy peninsula to the south of Bodrum. With a double harbour offering shelter to ships plying north and south, Knidos made its mark on Greek history and grew rich from its stunning natural position, and we’ll see the results in the grand and ordered city rising in tier upon opulent tier. Like many a classical predecessor, we’ll anchor in the eastern harbour, the heart of the ancient city rising above us. Decades of excavation have freed a beautifully planned city from the soil, allowing us to wander through its streets and along terraces festooned with temples to be met with a magnificent view across the Aegean.
Day 3: We head eastwards along the Datça peninsula, skirting the Greek island of Symi, passing some beautiful bays and coves and the bustling town of Datça itself until we come to the magnificent gleaming walls of the fortress at Loryma. Rhodes, the great island sometimes visible off to the south-east, made sustained efforts to control this whole coast, and the catapults once positioned in Loryma’s squat towers provided a powerful means to dominate the fine bay below, then noted for its strategic value, now peaceful enough to provide a glorious spot for a swim. An easy walk across rugged ground allows us to explore the walls and shrines that fortified the soldiers before returning to this natural night-time anchorage.
Day 4: Loryma sits at the middle of the beautiful Bozburun peninsula, covered in forests, studded with coves of amazingly clear water, and with some amazing ancient towns and cities nestling undisturbed in its hills and valleys. This morning we head a short way inland to Phoenix, driving from a bay whose waters once covered the shipwreck of a Byzantine vessel filled with glass, revealed in a ground-breaking American excavation. More vessels remain in the sea’s grip beneath. Phoenix itself is a wild and remote citadel city, with beautiful landscapes and grand vistas all around, untouched by archaeologists. You may take on the role of careful explorer; we’ve often found new parts of the city when we visit.
Day 5: We treat you to a fantastic site that will nevertheless contend with the uniqueness of the journey to reveal it as the greatest memory of a superb day. We drop anchor in a bay and taking to a flat-bottomed river boat, we enter a lagoon filled with turtles and make our way up the reed-walled Dalyan River. Our route twists and turns through narrow waterways, other channels appearing and disappearing, until we glimpse the great slab-sided horn of rock that tells us we’re close to our destination, the ancient city of Kaunos. We disembark at this striking site, spread between two great rocky outcrops, with others marching into the screens of distant hills, some set with tombs cut into the rock. A theatre and opulent public buildings, a late antique church and a castle high above them all strain to gaze ever more steeply over an ancient harbour doomed by silting to pass from busy activity to sit green and silent in testimony to the city’s passing.
Day 6: We cruise towards the gulf of Fethiye today, where a choice of marvels lies open to us. We drop anchor in the beautiful inlet of Ağlımanı and make our ascent by an ancient track, steep in places, but a slow and steady pace is all that is needed to crest the ridge and see monumental tombs standing nearly complete overlooking the Mediterranean Sea below. We’ve arrived at the isolated ancient settlement of Lydae, its ruins a diffusion of sculpture and inscriptions in the bowl of a valley silent but for the occasional tinkle of goat bells. Two thousand years ago, a settlement flourished here, now it lies beautifully desolate at the hand of earthquakes, leaving mounds of sculpted rubble, a scatter of ancient buildings and, strewn between, a profusion of ancient sculptures and inscriptions, columns and capitals, lying as if they’d never before been found.
Day 7: We continue into the of the Gulf of Fethiye, a picturesque stretch often blessed with strong winds in the afternoon, so this could be a day given over to pure relaxation as we make our way to Göcek, at the head of a beautiful bay with impossibly ultramarine waters thronged with islands. A sublime view to accompany swimming and sunbathing in the morning, cruising or sailing in the afternoon.
Day 8: Transfer from your gulet to Dalaman airport, about 30 minutes away.
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Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Bodrum (Milas)
Departure Airport – Dalaman
Departure from Bodrum Harbour (approx. 40 mins from Bodrum Airport) is planned for approx.17:00 in order that the gulet can clear customs. Embarkation is from 15:30 onwards. You are more than welcome to arrive earlier to drop off your bags, but please be aware that the crew will be busy cleaning and tidying making everything ready for your group so you will not be able to settle into your cabin.
If your travel plans or flights do not allow you to arrive before 17:00 we recommend arriving in Bodrum the day before the tour starts. This would also allow time to relax, recover from any jet lag and arrive at the boat on time for embarkation and departure.
If you arrive to the gulet after 17:00, we will do our best to enable you to join the tour at a later time and place.
Please Note: Departure time is subject to change depending on weather, harbour or other conditions.
Disembarkation in Göcek (approx. 30 minutes from Dalaman airport) is around 09:00. We will arrange local transfers from Bodrum Airport and to Dalaman Airport on the first and last day of the tour.
Booking Flights If you are staying in or connecting via Istanbul then the easiest way to get to and from the gulet is to fly. There are a number of airlines that offer domestic flights in Turkey. The cheapest way to book flights is directly with the airline online.
Please note: Flights are subject to change. Please contact the airline for exact details.
If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.
Travel Insurance: We consider adequate travel insurance to be essential. You should ensure that you take out a suitable policy, to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits.
Visas Visas are easily obtained online at eVisa and must be purchased before you travel.
From 2 March 2020, British nationals travelling to Turkey for tourist or business purposes will no longer need a visa for visits of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Istanbul If you are planning to stay in Istanbul before or after your gulet tour we would be happy to help with suggestions and information and things to see and do. Please get in touch.
Custom Tours If you are thinking of extending your trip to Turkey to include visits to Cappadocia, Istanbul or further afield, please contact our office for further information.