This cultural tour and gulet cruise in Turkey explores a magnificent stretch of coastline behind which developed an extraordinary culture and a fiercely independent people – the Lycians.
Travelling aboard a beautiful Turkish gulet there are plenty of opportunities to swim in the crystal waters of the turquoise coast. Mooring in secluded bays, we set out on foot to walk on paths lined with wild herbs, or stroll through olive groves strewn with rock cut tombs.
Once a day we visit one of the ancient cities that adorn this timeless coast. Highlights include Xanthos, the great capital of ancient Lycia, whose great treasures caused an extraordinary stir when they were brought to the British Museum; and Gemiler, where a small town clings to the slopes of a rocky island. It blossomed for just a couple of centuries in Byzantine times, decked out with houses and resplendent with a processional way and five churches.
We also have the opportunity to see Patara where archaeologists are uncovering a massive and monumental site, birthplace of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus), besieged by Brutus (the murderer of Julius Caesar) and visited by St. Paul.
Day 1: Our gulet is about 30 minutes from Dalaman airport at Göcek, a pretty harbour beneath mountains at the head of the Bay of Fethiye, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Welcome dinner on board.
Day 2: We head east to the island of Gemiler, with its superb Byzantine churches, a pilgrimage centre for St Nicholas. The area is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Day 3: We cruise on to Kaş, a beautiful town of white-washed houses covered with purple bougainvillea. The ancient city, Antiphellos, scattered through the modern town, has stunning sarcophagi and a theatre with a magnificent sea view.
Day 4: East to the picturesque village of Üçağız, old Teimiussa, one of the most evocative Lycian burial sites. On to fascinating Kale, ancient Simena, perched among a jumble of Lycian sarcophagi and an Ottoman castle. One of the most romantic settings of the holiday.
Day 5: We set off west for pretty Kalkan. Inland to Xanthos, the great capital of ancient Lycia, where excavations are uncovering a vast monumental city.
Day 6: We head to Patara, birth place of St. Nicholas (Father Christmas) and a major naval and trading port of ancient Lycia. Much of Patara still remains undiscovered, but excavations have revealed many structures previously hidden by sand dunes. Among them, the parliament building of the Lycian League (a formative influence in the creation of the US Constitution) and its stunning Roman lighthouse, the oldest extant lighthouse in the world.
Day 7: A last dip before cruising into Fethiye. A visit to Telmessus’ massive cliff face tombs and a final chance to shop. A fitting end to this inspirational holiday in Turkey.
Day 8: Transfer from our gulet back to Dalaman airport.