This gulet cruise is a combined itinerary, introducing our guests to the sights of the Turkish coast and the adjacent Greek Isles within the same tour.
Throughout the region’s long history, the sea has not only provided a geographic separation, but also a dense web of cultural links between the settlements along its shores, island or mainland. From the Doric Greeks who settled the area three millennia ago, founding a series of vibrant cities, via the Romans and Byzantines to the short-lived empire of the Crusader Knights of St John and beyond, fascinating remains of past glories await the visitor at every corner.
Not only does the cruise throw light on the different peoples that have dwelt in the region or passed through it throughout time, and on the various eras when they did so; it also highlights many different aspects of human life and human achievement. Peaceful and open coastal villages look across the water at sternly defensible walled cities or citadels; remote mountain villages perched high above the rugged coastline overlook the same seas that harbour extravagant trading centres, once hustling and bustling with commercial life; places of austere and dignified monastic spirituality alternate with wealthy homes featuring luxurious facilities and sensual decorations.
Likewise, the trip highlights many contrasts in the terrain, the nature itself of the area we travel. Layers of sedimentary limestone dominate some coasts and islands, while others are entirely volcanic, comprising jagged lava and ashy pumice. Bare rocky slopes, resulting from millennia of browsing sheep and goats, are a typical sight, but so are dense pine forests and well-watered plains; rugged wilderness prevails in the pastoral uplands, while carefully constructed and terraced agricultural landscapes sit far below them…
On this cruise, we will visit the great island of Kos (part of the Dodecanese), its island capital a veritable patchwork of ancient and modern, overlooked by the serene healing shrine of Asklepios. We continue to the tiny island of Nisyros with its labyrinthine harbour village and its stupendous volcanic caldera and then to verdant and peaceful Tilos. On Symi, we get to see one of the Mediterranean’s most picturesque ports. Returning to Turkey, we explore Knidos, one of the greatest cities of the ancient Aegean, set on a long peninsula and virtually surrounded by Greek islands, before finishing at Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, erstwhile capital of Caria, with the remains of the great Mausoleum and the enormous crusader castle.
Join us for this unique experience combining two countries, one fascinating history and a whole series of beautiful landscapes and seascapes!
Day 1: Our gulet awaits us in the picturesque harbour of Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, about 40 minutes from Bodrum/Milas airport. This is where the traditional Turkish gulet first developed, and the harbour is replete with the sights and sounds of countless two-masted sailing vessels. In the afternoon, we set out for the island of Kos and another ancient harbour, in use for nearly 2,400 years.
Day 2: Kos Town is a fascinating place. A major earthquake in 1933 led to extensive excavations of the Greek and Roman remains beneath the town on the one hand, and to its rebuilding by the Italian authorities then in control of the island on the other, resulting in a place where surprisingly attractive modernist architecture rubs shoulders with a series of archaeological parks that act as windows into the past. We visit the agora, formal core of the ancient city, and the Casa Romana, a luxurious Roman-era home that has been reconstructed on its original foundations: its architectural refinements and especially its decorative mosaics are a joy to Behold. At the island's most famous site, the Sanctuary of Asklepios, god of Healing, we admire the complex architectural design and the panoramic views it offers across the narrow straits between Kos and the Bodrum peninsula, while learning about the functioning of an Ancient Greek Healing Shrine. After a short visit to the excellent archaeological museum, we set out for the tiny and barely inhabited pumice islet of Giali.
Day 3: Seemingly remote Giali conceals a long industrial history: it is one of only two Aegean sources of obsidian, volcanic glass, sought after as the best material for cutting tools before the advent of metals. Giali obsidian can be found in prehistoric sites all over the Eastern Aegean, indicating that it was collected and traded since at least six thousand years ago! The clear turquoise waters around the islet beckon for a swim. In the afternoon, we continue to the nearby port of Mandraki on the beautiful island of Nisyros, all of which is a semi-extinct volcano rising above the waves. An inland excursion takes us first to the great Classical fortification of Paliokastro, one of the finest examples of Ancient Greek defensive architecture in the region, and then to the caldera, the collapsed crater at the core of the Nisyros volcano. There, we visit the phreatic (steam-volcanic) crater of Stefanos, as place that is both weird and fascinating, before dining on the caldera rim.
Day 4: We spend the morning at Mandraki, the Chora or island capital of Nisyros, a labyrinthine village of whitewashed houses stretched out along the coast and the twisting main street, or rather main lane. Its squares decorated with lovely pebble mosaics, a Dodecanesian tradition, Mandraki is a perfect example of a Greek Island settlement: peaceful, serene and atmospheric, picturesque and steeped in tradition, proudly and profoundly hospitable. After a short visit to the Archaeological Museum of Nisyros, with its fascinating collection of finds from the island's ancient cemeteries, we offer our guests some free time to explore and relax at their own pace, perhaps including a visit to the cave chapel of the Virgin Spiliani, set on a rock high above town, to the small but charming folklore museum, or the Nisyros aquarium, focusing on the sea-life of the surrounding areas. In the afternoon, we leave the island and cruise south-eastwards to verdant Tilos, where we anchor in a large bay, a great place for a relaxed swim.
Day 5: In the morning, we explore aspects of Tilos and its history. At Agios Panteleimonas, an 18th and 19th century monastery stands in a bucolic setting by a spring on a steep slope high above the island's rugged northern coast. It is distinguished by splendid views of Nisyros and the nearby Knidos Headland and by the unusual, even quaint, Neoclassical design of the church interior. We also stop at the Chora of Tilos, set in the heart of the island and overlooked by the steep-sided citadel that hosted the ancient acropolis or citadel as well as the medieval castle of the Knights of Saint John. The modern village occupies the same spot that an ancient city stood on, still visible in places. If possible, we pay a short visit to the temporary palaeontology museum, dedicated to the Tilos Pygmy Elephant, a species that was isolated on the island during or before the last ice age and only became extinct some four or five thousand years ago. Later, we cross to the remarkably pretty main town and harbour of Symi Island.
Day 6: At Symi, countless pastel-coloured houses with elaborately decorated Neoclassical facades cascade down the hillsides surrounding the harbour, combining into one of the most memorable settings in the entire Mediterranean. Constructed mostly in the 19th and early 20th century, they stand witness to an era when Symi thrived commercially, due to its privileged position in the sponge-trade, an Aegean monopoly at the time. We stroll up and down the town's stepped lanes to discover the typical features of the Symi House, but also to make our way uphill to the castle hill, were ancient Greek and medieval walls indicate an ancient Greek fortification, succeeded once more, by a castle of the Knights of Saint John. In the afternoon, we wave farewell to Symi, setting out for the small Turkish resort town of Datça on the peninsula of the same name (formerly known as the Knidos Peninsula) that juts westwards from the Anatolian mainland into the Aegean Sea. After customs formalities, we follow the coast westwards to a cove near ancient Knidos.
Day 7: The morning is dedicated to Knidos, one of the finest archaeological sites in the ancient region of Caria, the southwestern corner of Asia Minor. Knidos was a Greek city state, famed for its wealth and its worldly and innovative inhabitants. The ancient city, set on an isthmus between two harbours near the tip of the Datça Peninsula, has so far been excavated only in part, making it a wonderful location that mixes impressive remains of streets and squares, houses and temples, colonnades and city walls, tombs and terraces, with an unspoilt natural landscape. We explore the most prominent remains and learn about the famous statue of Aphrodite, by Praxiteles, the first female nude in Greek art (now lost, alas). Later in the day, we cross the Ceramic Gulf northwards to return to Bodrum, the lively harbour town that succeeds ancient Halicarnassus, home to the famous tomb of the 4th century BC ruler Mausolus, the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. While the monument only survives as a footprint, its stones now form the harbour-side Castle of the Knights of Saint John, home to the Turkish Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Day 8: Transfer to Bodrum airport.
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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 and enter Greek waters. 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 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.