One of ’Greece’s top three cultural holidays’ – The Telegraph (2014)
One of the ’Top 10 Cultural Holidays in Greece for 2016‘ – The Telegraph (UK)
One of the ’50 Best Holidays in Greece for 2016‘ – The Times (UK)
This spectacular gulet cruise in Greece, starting and ending in Bodrum, takes you through the entire Dodecanese chain (plus the island of Samos), beginning with the famous island of Kos and including eleven of the most beautiful and evocative of the Greek islands and no less than three UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.
The islands’ strategic location, between the open Aegean and the mainland of Asia Minor, has made them a well-connected cultural interface throughout history. Carians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, the Crusader Knights of St. John, Ottomans and Italians visited or settled them, leaving behind a rich legacy of grandiose ancient sanctuaries, mighty castles, serene monasteries and traditional villages, all set within an ever-changing maritime scenery.
The sites you see on this itinerary include world-famous relics, like the Asklepieion of Kos, the extraordinary archaeological museum of Samos, or the medieval fortifications of Rhodes, each among the best of their kind. On the smaller, off-the-beaten-track islands you gain a more intimate view of traditional Greek island life, with their picturesque harbours, village squares adorned with pebble mosaics, and beautiful domestic architecture. These islands are also rich in diverse landscapes: craggy hilltops, strange volcanic formations, and of course coastlines featuring a succession of bays and islets. Another highlight of the cruise is the series of you will meals enjoy at selected venues throughout the islands, ranging from home cooked local cuisine in family-run tavernas to real gourmet food, the finest the region has to offer.
Sightseeing aside, your stylish gulet will moor in secluded coves, allowing you to bathe in azure seas, admire the pristine scenery, or simply relax. From fabulous food to epic history, this is a fascinating journey through Greek culture, past and present. Don’t miss it!
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Our gulet awaits you in Fethiye Marina. We cruise into the spectacular bay for swimming, welcome drinks and dinner on board.
We begin in the former Hospital of the Knights of Rhodes, one of the most significant pieces of Crusader architecture in the Aegean. It now houses the island’s main archaeological museum. Its rich trove of treasures is fit for the largest island of the Dodecanese: examples of Rhodian sculpture, sensual and sensitive at the same time, are one of the highlights, but the Hellenistic pebble mosaics, a Macedonian tradition transferred to wealthy Rhodian homes in the third and second centuries BC, are as spectacular. There is also a superb display about the island’s prehistory, when Rhodes was a key recipient of first Minoan and later of Mycenaean influences. We follow with a visit to the grandiose Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights, rebuilt as a royal residence by the Italian occupants in the 1930s and embellished with many fine Roman mosaics from the excavations in Kos. Wending our way back, we have dinner in Rhodes town.
Returning to the gulet, we set out for Tilos, the ‘greenest’ island in the Dodecanese. Tilos is the first Aegean island to rely entirely on renewable energy, and the only island to ban all bird-hunting, but to begin with it’s a fine place for lunch and an afternoon swimming session. We dine on board.
We then make our rather more nimble way to a bay on the north coast for another picturesque swim before we continue a short distance in the late afternoon to the beautiful island of Nisyros. We travel inland to see the stunning fortifications at Paliokastro, one of the best examples of military architecture of the Classical to Hellenistic eras in the Greek Islands, in a superb setting overlooking the sea. Then, we continue to a viewing point at the rim of the caldera, the volcanic centre of Nisyros, to gaze down into the Stefanos steam crater, estimated to be about four thousand years old. It is a fascinating place, offering deep insights into a geologically volatile region. We dine at Emporio.
We make an afternoon crossing to the great island of Kos and its ancient harbour. Founded in 366 BC as another ‘synoikism’ of the earlier Koan cities, Kos Town quickly became one of the main commercial centres in the Dodecanese, famed for its wine and set on one of the major Mediterranean trade routes. The destruction of its later successor by a devastating earthquake in 1933 led to a major rebuilding by the Italian authorities then in control of the island, and to a series of excavations, many of which are preserved as archaeological parks within the new town: a charming juxtaposition of old and new. We visit the ancient harbour quarter and the agora or market, the meeting space defining an ancient city, and the superb archaeological museum, displaying the city’s history from prehistory to the Roman era. Its collection of sculpture is superb, featuring many depictions of Greek mythological characters, as well as a wealth of other fine finds, throwing light on many aspects of the wealth and sophistication of ancient Greek and Roman Kos. It’s in this fine location that we dine this evening.
Back in town, we visit the well-sited and impressive castle: a very solid reminder of how precarious the late fifteenth century was in the Aegean, even if its name – Nerantzia, from the orange groves formerly nearby – sounds more peacefully bucolic. Taking our lunch aboard the gulet, we make our way to Pserimos and another appointment with inviting waters.
In the late afternoon we make the journey to the holy island of Patmos, and a dip in Grikos Bay. We dine on board.
After lunch, we leave Patmos behind and set course for Fournoi, dining aboard.
Our prime visit here is to one of the finest places of its kind in the Mediterranean, the ancient marble quarries of Petrokopio, which will have drawn some of those vessels. Here we can see part-completed works for magnificent ancient buildings – a column here, an architrave there – and great blocks for sarcophaguses waiting to be hollowed out to house recipients they never met, all in an extraordinary setting.
We’ll have lunch back at Fournoi town before getting under way for our next target: Samos.
We visit the Heraion, one of the most important shrines in the region, said to be the birthplace of the goddess Hera, and the site of her wedding with Zeus. The sanctuary, another World Heritage site, set in an atmospheric wetland area by the sea, was richly embellished, especially with the huge Temple of Hera, built and rebuilt in the sixth century BC. The massive foundations and the single standing column allow us to appreciate the lost grandeur of this vast structure. After lunch, we make our way to the island’s modern capital, Vathy, where the archaeological museum contains the rich finds from the Heraion, including fantastic examples of early Greek sculpture. Among these is a stunning colossal kouros, an Archaic statue of a nude young man and the largest known piece of its kind.
There is also a vast array of small finds, among them bronzes from all over the eastern Mediterranean and even further afield, rare carvings in ivory and wood, and much more. In the afternoon, we return to the boat and swim off the beach before dinner in Pythagoreio. This charming port village was built on the ruins of the ancient island capital. In antiquity, it was called Samos, like the island itself, but today it bears the name of the island’s most famous son, Pythagoras.
The story of how the tunnel was made, by teams working towards one another from both ends, has been painstakingly reconstructed by archaeologists and is truly marvellous. Next, we visit the superb and state-of-the-art archaeological museum of Pythagoreio, a carefully designed exhibit that strives to present the history of this age-old settlement and to bring the life of the ancient city of Samos back to life: its prehistory, its shrines, its graves, its art and its domestic life.
After lunch on board, our next destination – and our next swim – await: Leipsoi.
The museum’s collection of sculpture, from the island’s main sanctuary to the god Apollo, but also from the bottom of the sea nearby, is one of the best in any provincial Greek museum, not least because of the wonderful Lady of Kalymnos, a nearly fully preserved bronze statue of a woman dating to the 4th or 3rd century BC. As Kalymnos is the last island in the Aegean to maintain a sponge-diving fleet, a tradition going back millennia, we also visit a local sponge-washing workshop to learn more about this ancient trade.
With this stunning final reminder of the wonders of the islands, we cruise to Bodrum, where there may be time for a last encounter with the waters in another famed place, a Wonder of the ancient world. There’ll be a few formalities, but once that’s done we have a splendid final meal together with some magnificent memories to recall.
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Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Dalaman
Departure Airport – Bodrum (Milas)
Arrival Location – Fethiye Marina (approx. 1 hr 20 mins from airport)
Departure Location – Bodrum Harbour (approx. 40 mins from airport)
Embarkation and departure is planned for approx.17:00. in order that the gulet can clear customs and enter Greek waters. 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 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 at 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 is around 09:00. We will arrange local transfers 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.
Visas A Visa is required to pass through Turkish customs during the cruise. 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.
For UK Nationals, travel to the EU will change from 1 January 2021. Please check the current situation regarding visa requirements before you travel. You can find more information online here.
Citizens of European Union or Schengen Treaty member states need no visa for Greece, those from the United States, Canada and Australia do not need to apply for a visa to visit Greece for trips of less than 90 days duration.
Athens, Kos and the Greek islands If you are planning to stay in Athens before or after your tour or if you intend to add time on Kos or any other Greek island, we are happy to offer information and advice.
Nature of the Cruising the Dodecanese itinerary Cruising and Itinerary: This fabulous cruise through the Aegean, visits 11 of the Dodecanese Islands and has a character very different to that of most of our other gulet cruises. We will be crossing some stretches of wide open sea between the islands and covering considerable distances on some of the days. The Dodecanese Islands (running as a chain alongside the shore of southwest Turkey) are renowned for their wealth of nature and beauty and cruising between them offers a wonderful opportunity to experience and appreciate their fascinating diversity. There will be some early starts so we can make passage in the early morning before the wind picks up in the afternoon. While the average travelling time will be longer than our normal coastal gulet cruises, there will be opportunities to swim each day (schedule and weather permitting).
As with all of our gulet cruises, we have spent a great deal of time crafting the itinerary to be as good as it can be, but we are travelling aboard a boat and may need to make changes according to the weather and the captain’s advice.
Overnights: Compared with our coastal gulet cruises in Turkey and Italy, where we tend to spend a good number of nights moored out in isolated bays, on this trip we will be spending more nights in harbour on the islands. This means you’ll have the chance to explore not only as part of the expert led outings, you’ll also be able to go ashore and wander in the mornings and evenings when we are tied up in the picturesque Greek harbour towns.
Food: The boat is a Turkish gulet with a Turkish crew including a chef who will be cooking up wonderful meals throughout your cruise. As such the food served on board will be traditional ‘Turkish’ or Eastern Mediterranean. We will be going ashore to eat authentic Greek food in family run tavernas at intervals along the way and your tour leader will ensure you’ll have the chance to sample a good many of the local Greek delicacies of the islands. The gulet will be stocked with Greek wine and spirits and your guide, Heinrich, something of a Greek wine connoisseur, will introduce you to some of the best beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) the Greek islands have to offer.