Turkish Riviera

Coastline of contrasts

The Turkish Riviera is set against the backdrop of the Taurus Mountains, on the boundary between the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Turkey’s “Turquoise Coast” is a vibrant clash of contradictions: on the one hand, it offers secluded coves, plunging landscapes and long, golden beaches. On the other, it blends ancient cities and oriental bazaars with the effortless opulence of first-rate eateries, stylish cafes and glittering superyacht harbours. Here, on the overlap between east and west, Turkey’s kaleidoscopic Riviera also enjoys one of the world’s most charter-friendly climates, with more than 300 days of sun each year and some of the warmest waters in the Mediterranean. It’s a long and varied coastline is steeped in historical and cultural flavour, but our suggested yachting itinerary condenses some of its greatest attractions into an easy one-week charter.

The Bodrum Peninsula is a place rammed with ancient ruins, entertaining bars and memorable beach resorts, but the city of Bodrum at the apex of a pair of sheltered bays on the south side is the place to be. Set around a complex, meandering waterfront with a magical harbour at its heart, this classical Aegean hub is guarded by St. Peter’s Castle, a medieval fortress perched above the water. More than a million visitors flock here each year and you can see why.

Perched on the tip of the narrow Datca Peninsula, projecting out into the Aegean Sea, Knidos is a 2,500-year old Dorian port city set against a steep, lighthouse-topped outcrop. The modern remains of this once prosperous settlement are by no means pristine but the broad scatterings of pathways, buildings and temples are impressively atmospheric. Anchoring in the bay and taking the tender ashore on an exploratory voyage is a memorable pleasure.

Datca is the primary harbour town on the peninsula of the same name and can make a useful base for land access to Knidos. It also has three beaches, one to the east, one by the main street and one (Taşlık Plajı) at the end of the harbour with a pool fed by hot springs. The elaborate tomb of Famous Turkish poet, Can Yücel, is a charming attraction and Datca Vineyard is well worth a stop.

As ‘Package Holiday Central’, culture tourists won’t have Marmaris at the top of their to-do lists but it’s certainly worth a visit. The busy, effervescent harbour is set against a filmset backdrop, with turquoise seas in the foreground and mountainous hillsides to the rear. There’s an attractive (if compact) old quarter, plus a 16th century hilltop castle gazing down over the scene. Even so, come here for the pleasant bay, the nightlife, the accessible diving and the easy harbour entertainments and leave when elegant antiquity beckons.

The deeply inset, beach-lined bay at Ekincik makes a fine anchorage, with great shelter between long verdant slopes. The scenic walks from Ekincik east toward the pretty riverside town of Dalyan are also renowned as some of the very best in Turkey. In addition to healing mud baths, this superb yacht charter detour enables you to see the ancient ‘Kings’ Tombs of Kaunos’, elaborate Lycian tombs carved into the town’s cliff face above the Dalyan River.

Gocek, at the northern end of gorgeous Fethiye Bay, is a key charter hub on the Turkish Riviera, with a fine natural position and a first-class marina. The town offers excellent access to the coves and islands of this protected yachting region and there are also useful stopping points at Skopea Marina and at the Club Marina in beautiful Bungus Cove. The town’s nightlife is modest but colourful and Lime Beach Club and the Gocek Hammam are entertaining diversions.

TOP TEN TURKISH RIVIERA ATTRACTIONS

  1. Visit the dramatic port city of Knidos with its famous Aphrodite temple.
  2. Swim with dolphins and turtles in and around the coves off Iztuzu Beach.
  3. Take a Turkish bath at the gorgeous Lycian city of Fethiye near Gocek.
  4. Soak in the ancient charm and modern energy of Bodrum’s old quarter.
  5. Explore Antalya’s ancient Ottoman city district of Kaleici.
  6. Take it easy in buzzing and beautiful Netsel Marina of Marmaris.
  7. Cruise the famously gorgeous bays and beaches of Oludeniz.
  8. Explore Cirali Cove, a tranquil spot to anchor up for a swim.
  9. Walk the lovely 12-mile Patara Beach, easily accessed from the old town.
  10. Head east to the Lycian coast for ancient hillside tombs and sunken cities.

AVERAGE CONDITIONS