Cruising the Carian Coast: from Mediterranean to Aegean offers a marvellous combination of superb archaeological sites and a remarkably beautiful maritime landscape – a stretch of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast that so far remains mostly untouched by mass tourism and other modern developments.
Starting in Göcek, a quiet small town in a lovely setting on the Gulf of Fethiye 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 the lively harbour of Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus and the birthplace of Herodotus.
Along the way, we visit a series of fascinating archaeological sites, each of them with its own story to tell about the past of Caria, a region that often found itself at the intersection of different cultural and political realms, adopting and adapting features from all of them. They include famous ancient cities like Knidos, in a stunningly beautiful peninsular location overlooking twin harbours, and spectacular Kaunos, overlooked by uniquely elaborate rock-cut tombs. But we also get to 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, surrounded by evocative grave monuments, and long-forgotten Lydae, hidden away on a wild promontory far away from roads, towns and modern life.
Along with this engrossing narrative about the fate and deeds of humankind throughout time, the cruise also offers many opportunities to just sit back and enjoy the magnificent scenery, dip into the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean, or stroll through landscapes of unforgettable beauty – a perfect combination of cultural experience and quality time.
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Day 1: Your gulet awaits you in the marina at Göcek, about 30 minutes from Dalaman airport. Welcome drinks and dinner on board.
Day 2: 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 3: We head west and 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 4: The waters of the bay of Serçe Limani on the Bozburun peninsula to the west of Kaunos 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. We drive a short way inland to Phoenix, 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 excitedly found new parts of the city when we visit.
Day 5: Heading west may bring us wonderful views of the Greek islands of Rhodes and Symi as we cruise along the forest covered slopes of the Bozburun peninsula, studded with coves and bays. One of these is watched over by the magnificent fortress of Loryma, built around 300 BC by the people of Rhodes, once the major naval power in the region, which made sustained efforts to control this entire coast. The catapults once positioned in the squat towers of Loryma’s gleaming walls 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 6: Our voyage brings us to the spectacular Greek and Roman city of Knidos, on the tip of long and sinewy Datça peninsula north of Bozburun. 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 7: A last chance to swim as we cruise north to Bodrum. In the late afternoon we visit the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and (if it has fully reopened) Bodrum’s magnificent Crusader castle, which houses one of the finest museums of underwater archaeology in the world. A final opportunity to shop.
Day 8: Transfer to Bodrum airport, about 40 minutes away.
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Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Dalaman
Departure Airport – Bodrum (Milas)
We recommend you arrive at the gulet in Göcek (approx. 30 minutes from Dalaman airport) in the late afternoon/evening. Embarkation is from 17:00. 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 may not be able to settle in to your cabin. Departure time can be subject to change depending on weather, harbour or other conditions.
Disembarkation in Bodrum (approx. 40 minutes from Bodrum airport) is around 09:00. We will arrange local transfers from Dalaman Airport and to Bodrum 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, Ephesus, Istanbul or further afield, please contact our office for further information.