7 Mediterranean destinations that prove Turkey is simply awesome
Ranging from the dusty desert plains of the Middle East to the wild, snow-topped mountains of the Caucasus and the salty rollers of the Black Sea, Turkey is one huge darn country! But while most of the nation remains undiscovered and untrodden, the far west is a place beloved of tourists and travellers. It's a land kissed by the same sun as the Greek Islands; a place doused in Aegean waves, and hungry for hummus and fresh olives.
Here, far, far away from the factional troubles of the east and the politics of Istanbul, thousands of visitors spend their days lazing atop the decks of yachts, partying in the cocktail bars, and exploring the ancient ruins. That's the part of Turkey that we think proves it's a simply awesome spot…
Make way for Bodrum - the number-one all-round summer holidaying blowout spot in Turkey. This unforgettable jewel has it all: sun; sand; sea; salt-washed schooners; salty seafood; year-round sun, and pleasant temperatures (even the winter sees peaks in the high 70s here!). In the town itself, Bodrum comes fringed with the lively beachfronts of Gumbet and Bitez. These are peppered with the tanned bodies of oiled-up sunbathers and dotted with loungers and wicker umbrellas. The swimming is great, and oodles of cocktail bars can be found spilling out onto the sands from the nearby streets. And talking of drinking, Bodrum has a mega party side too. You'll only need to stroll down to the neon-lit White House Club, or wild Club Catamaran (housed on its very own boat!) to see that.
And once you're done enjoying the Turkic beers, the EDM shindigs and belly dancers, you can balance it all out with a bit of culture – Bodrum is home to the awesome Castle of Saint Peter, and the ancient ruins of the old Greek city of Halicarnassus to boot. All of these are still standing after millennia, and offer some awesome insights into the history of the Mediterranean.
Mamaris is a lively one, no question. Hugging its own inlet on the uber-popular Turkish Riviera, the town's harbor and seaside walkways shimmer with the whitewashed bows of millionaire boats and the glitzy high-fashion of jet setters. Close by, appropriately-named Bar Street (you can guess just how much we love that one at LBW!) throbs with dancers and drinkers from midday until midnight (well, later than that, actually). You can flit between shops tasting Turkish Delight and buying gilded leather bags (a local craft special), or head out to the gorgeous pine-fringed coves of the Bozburun Peninsula. What's more, along the ports and jetties here it's easy to make out the old profile of Marmaris Castle – a huge set of bulwarks and palisades that said to have been first constructed more than 5,000 years ago!
Ephesus is hailed across the planet as one of the most awesome ancient sites outside of either Rome or Italy. It's got the feel of a living, breathing city of more than 4,000 years, and once played host to one of the breathtaking Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – now, unfortunately, entirely destroyed. But don't be put off, these ruins eke and ooze stories from each of their old chips and crevices. Take the grand Library of Celsus, with its reconstructed façade that gives just a glimpse of the sheer architectural majesty the Romans were capable of. Or, look to the mysterious Basilica of Saint John; a place of supposed miracles and the burial site of St John himself.
One of the undisputed jewels of eastern Turkey, the cascading travertine terraces of Pamukkale may not be your usual sun, sand, and sea expectation of the Turkish Riviera, but they certainly go a long way to proving just how awesome this corner of the Med can be. Yep, just when you thought this yachting trip was going to be all about lazing around on Aegean beaches, sunning yourself, partying on deck, and swimming in the turquoise coves, the bucket-list-busting vistas of Denizli Province come at you!
Whitewashed and glowing under the Anatolian sun, these amazing geological wonders have been a tourist hotspot for centuries. Roman nobles and Ottoman sultans came to bathe in the healing mineral waters that spring up from the grounds. And today's no different, with thousands of visitors each year heading here to kick-back and unwind between the dusty hills around the River Menderes, soothing themselves in the hot springs and natural baths. (Pamukkale is one of the top add-on trips for our LBW YachtLife Med itinerary!)
Fethiye enjoys an enviable location on the Turquoise Coast. Ringed by green mountains and brushed over by soothing Aegean breezes, it has its fair share of built-up resorts. These are packed in the summer with everyone from families to jet setters to youthful gap year folk looking to escape the backpacking circuit for a spell. Few ever leave disappointed. Beaches like the gorgeous Oludeniz lagoon are on the menu, after all, not to mention the stretched, sun-kissed sands that fringe the city of Patara to the south – the headlands there are simply amazing for exploring by yacht.
But the real draw with Fethiye doesn't lie on the coast, it lies inland, between the rugged, dusty hills that few travellers ever get to see (most can't pull themselves from the coves and lagoons!). Here, the chiselled walls of the Saklikent Gorge erupt from the mountains; the hillsides play host to Greek ghost towns (see Kayakoy), and hippy Butterfly Valley hides between the pine trees.
The Datcha peninsula is a long, thin finger of land that juts its way out into the midst of the Aegean Sea. Just a stone's throw from the island of Kos, the terrain here is virtually the same as that on the Greek archipelagos: rugged ranges of scrub-dressed hills rising to peaks of nearly 1000 meters; craggy limestone cliffs that drop vertically into a deep-blue ocean; pebbly coves that are totally empty. Yep, the landscapes of Datcha are simply beautiful. And what's more, the best way to get around them is always by boat – which is precisely what we do on our LBW YachtLife Med!
Off-the-beaten-track Kas makes its home beneath the rugged coastal peaks of Antalya Province – an S-bend of land that faces directly south towards Cyprus in the Med. Located almost the same distance from the two major airports of the Turquoise Coast, the town gets just a fraction of the crowds of the resort centers to the north-west and east. That makes it a perfect place to come and sample the chilled vibes of the Riviera's summertime. You can organize SCUBA expeditions, taste homemade honey in the hillside farms, discover the ancient Lycian tombs of the old town in Kas itself, or head across to the crystal-clear water channels of Kekova Island, where old ruins lurk beneath the lagoons.
Of course, we know there are oodles of other awesome places to see in Turkey, but there's just not enough room to include them all! If you'd like to add any to this list, feel free to comment below! Or, if you think it's time you took to the Aegean waves and saw this magnificent section of the Med yourself, why not check out our itineraries…
Learn more about our Mediterranean YachtLife tour HERE!