A classic cruise that takes in a series of Turkey’s most important and interesting archaeological sites, including the stunning ruins of Ephesus.
Beginning in Bodrum and following the shores of the ancient regions of Caria and Ionia, this cruise makes for an ideal introduction to the glories of Turkey’s archaeological heritage. It takes in some of the most impressive and best-understood sites in the country, a veritable succession of “must-see” highlights, as well as a number of more intimate “off the beaten track” remains and includes a visit to the astoundingly monumental ruins of Ephesus.
Cruising to Ephesus opens up a panorama of the ancient world, presenting a great variety of extraordinary visits, ranging from prehistory via Classical Greek and Roman antiquity to the Middle Ages and beyond. Every day will bring new insights and new beauties to behold.
Ancient cities and sanctuaries are the central themes of this cruise. From ancient Iasos, where the remains of a once-vibrant port town are scattered among olive groves to the mysterious mountaintop sanctuary of Zeus at Labraunda and the beautiful Temple of Zeus at Euromos. A major highlight of this tour is Ephesus, capital of Roman Asia and one of the most magnificent ancient sites in the world, with its vast theatre, ornate library and wonderfully decorated Roman mansions. At Miletus, we explore the vast ruins of a “lost” city that was a major centre of culture in Greek and Roman days, as well as its main shrine, the huge oracular Temple of Apollo at Didyma. Priene, in its remarkably beautiful wooded setting, is the most clearly accessible and comprehensible of all Greek cities, its private homes and public buildings there to see.
Archaeology apart, Cruising to Ephesus also includes much time for swimming, sunbathing, admiring the scenery or simply relaxing on our beautiful gulet.
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From one Zeus, we visit another, Zeus Labraundus or Stratios in his great oracular shrine at Labraunda at a steep and vertiginous site in the mountains, site of a Carian last-stand against the Persians. The sublime location in which the temple sits, and the unusual structures built on the shoulders of its lofty terraces by the Carian kings makes this a truly unique site.
In the afternoon, a chance to swim, kayak, snorkel and relax as you cruise westwards.
What this has left us is one of the greatest, and most unusual, temples of the Greco-Roman world, huge in size and intricately carved from the iconic Medusa with its deeply-knotted brow right down to the ornate detailing even of the column bases, making them beautiful for the god. Inside the temple, past a spill of cogwheel-like column drums, its walls marked with curious signs whose meaning is debated, you’ll come to the breath-taking central space, a vast quadrangle laid out below and hear what we can tell of this leading oracle.
In the afternoon, we leave behind the Branchidae and have a glorious cruise north to an area famous from Greek history, with the island of Samos on our left and Mount Mycale, where the Greeks won the Ionians freedom from Persia, dead ahead. We anchor off the southern coast of what is now the Dilek peninsula, a National Park whose rugged hills are smoothed over with a ruffled green carpet of trees and where herds of wild horses roam free.
After Priene, we head for its larger neighbour with which it had a quarrelsome and troubled relationship even when they were safely separated by an arm of the sea, the great ancient city of Miletus. One of the most significant ancient Greek sites, Miletus was a powerhouse of early Ionia, a centre of colonisation and precocious producer of philosophers. Now that the sea has long withdrawn its favour, the city sprawls over an extensive inland site with a brooding atmosphere, a vast theatre, spacious agoras and impressive Roman baths remaining to witness the city’s ancient greatness and its turbulent history. Our gulet, meanwhile, has spent the day working along the coast to meet us, and we enjoy a late afternoon of swimming and leisure.
In the late afternoon we visit the site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and (if it is fully reopened) the magnificent Crusader castle impressively sited on a peninsula stretching out into the blue waters of Bodrum’s expansive harbour. Fascinating in its own right, bearing warnings to spies and the arms of Henry VII of England, the castle’s story is further enriched by housing one of the finest museums of underwater archaeology in the world. We’ll discover finds from two Bronze Age wrecks of unsurpassed significance, viewing across a gap of nearly three thousand years remains of the Mycenaean era in a site of the Crusader and Turkish periods which rests on a Classical city. A superb way to bring our encounters with the long story of this coast to a close, leaving us plenty to talk about at our farewell meal.
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Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Bodrum (Milas)
Departure Airport – Bodrum (Milas)
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 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 in Bodrum is around 09:00. We will arrange local transfers from Bodrum 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, Istanbul or further afield, please contact our office for further information.