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The Turkish Riviera Travel Guide: Everything You Need To Know To Sail in Style

Turkish gulet boatsAlthough the Turkish Riviera has been around for many years, it is only in the last decade that it has gained mainstream popularity. Often frequented by affluent Turks, it also attracts foreign visitors seeking Mediterranean sun, relaxation, and stress-free lifestyle. 

The Turkish real estate and property market in Riviera towns does a steady and strong business, while Turks working in the sailing industry have adapted the concept to accommodate everyone from the cheap, budget traveller to the luxurious, and five star guests. 

Unlike its French counterpart, the Turkish Riviera also boasts many historical attractions, dating from the Lycian, Lydia, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras. Natural landmarks of beauty also exist along the whole course of the Turkish Riviera, from the Aegean coast near Izmir, to the cosmopolitan region of Antalya

Its nickname is the “Turquoise coast,” and it consists of tried, and tested, sailing routes called Blue Voyages. They last from 3 to 4 days, or guests have the option to extend their trip by hiring a private gulet boat and simply going wherever the wind takes them.
Sovalye Island
 
History
One man, an intense writer who was extremely passionate about his work, can take credit for the Blue Voyage routes of the Turkish Riviera. Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli, also known as the Fisherman of Halicarnassus and “the man who made Bodrum famous” was exiled to Bodrum from Crete in 1925. His published work had upset affluent people of the time and his exile was the perfect opportunity to indulge in another hobby of his, which was travel. 

Turkish sunsetUpon arriving in Bodrum, he set about exploring and instantly discovered the more pleasant way to travel was by hiring a private boat from local fishermen. He coastal hopped his way around the surrounding villages, instead of relying on roads that in that era, were of poor quality and construction. 

Over time, his travels extended from days into weeks and into months. Friends often joined him and boats adapted to accommodate them overnight. Words soon spread of Cevats travels and with his friend Azra Erhat, he penned the term “Blue Voyage,” wrote a book and the Turkish Riviera concept was born. 

These days, gulet boats have adapted to supply all modern facilities and comfortable decor but for construction, old-fashioned methods are still strictly adhered to. Male boat workers, meticulously constructing the boats by hand, do not stray from the skills handed down through generations of their families.

In particular, the small sleepy village of Bozburun is highly respected for their gulet boat construction skills while tour operators in the centres of Bodrum and Fethiye boast of intricate knowledge and excellent service provided while sailing the Turkish Riviera. 
 
Weather Conditions and the Best Time to Sail the Turkish Riviera 
Turkish Riviera operators run cruises from April to November, because these are ideal daytime temperatures and outside of the rainy season. The months of April, May, October and November, are sunny during the day, but temperatures drop at nighttime so guests sometimes opt to book into hotels rather than sleep on the boat. From June to September, nighttime temperatures heat up.
Best time to sail in Turkey
 
What to Pack for a Gulet Cruise
Sailing in TurkeyObviously, swimwear is necessary, because most of the day is spent relaxing, swimming, or snorkelling. At certain points of the Turkish Riviera, you can go inland and explore historical attractions and local landmarks so pack, a good pair of walking shoes, shorts and T-shirts.

An important point to remember is while you are at sea; the cool wind and warm waters make the daytime weather deceptive. Although it may not appear to be hot, pack lots of sun cream.

Nighttime is about relaxing in seaside restaurants so casual but conservative clothing is standard protocol. Remember to pack a light jacket or cardigan for the months mentioned above. 
 
Private or Cabin Charter
Although more expensive, private charter offers privacy and the captain usually accommodates most requests of where to go and what to see. A large group of friends or family will find this option cost-effective. 

Cabin charter is about making friends and sharing a boat with strangers. This is most suitable for sociable people who want to mingle and interact with others. This option is considerably cheaper than private hire. 
 
Life on Board
Fethiye marinaWaking at your leisure, enjoy a traditional Turkish breakfast on-board. Basic ingredients include olives, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread eggs, and honey. After breakfast, the captain gears up the engines and starts course to the next location. 

All captains have detailed knowledge of the Turkish Riviera including the best swimming spots, exploration routes and scenic landscapes so they will drop anchor at various points. Some gulet boats are equipped with Jet skis, fishing gear and snorkelling equipment, therefore accommodating sporty types and kids. 

At sunset, the captain docks into harbour and guests wander the town or dine in local restaurants. Hotel accommodation is available if passengers do not want to sleep on board; however sleeping on deck under the nighttime stars while sailing the Mediterranean, is not to be scoffed at. 
 
Best Beaches on the Aegean coast
•    Pamucak does not have a docking place for yachts but it is a short distance from Kusadasi, which boasts of a fully equipped marina. Combine a visit to this beach, with a tour of Ephesus, the second largest city of the Roman Empire and also explore the traditional town of Selcuk. 

•    On the Izmir peninsula, is Alacati, a popular windsurfing spot and favourite holiday destination for Turks.  Displaying typical Greek architecture, the cobbled back streets are home to art workshops and small boutiques. Pirlanta beach, a short bus ride away is the best in the region but there are also plenty of small beaches within walking distance.  

•    Dilek National Park, near Kusadasi is a protected area with forests, long beaches, and small coves. The natural beauty has lured Turks to buy large villas as holiday homes in the nearby resort of Guzelcamli. 

•    Gokova, at the cusp of the Mediterranean and Aegean, remains unspoilt and traditional, despite its close location to the large and bustling cosmopolitan city of Marmaris. The coastline between these two destinations has a few secluded bays, but it is the main beach of Akyaka, that lures visitors. 
Best Beaches on the Mediterranean coast
Dilek National ParkPatara Beach

•    Patara is a long sandy beach, fronted by clear waters but 500 metres inland are ancient ruins of the former city that once belonged to the Lycian league. The ruins include a market place, entrance archway and a small ampitheatre. The small village was once popular with mainstream tourism, although this has died off, in favour of resorts like Kas and Kalkan. 

•    Iztu Beach was made famous by Captain June who campaigned tirelessly for preservation status against construction plans to build a new hotel. Her reason for doing this was the Caretta Caretta turtle, a species that uses the beach to lay eggs but now unfortunately faces extinction. 

•    Butterfly Valley and the Blue Lagoon are within close distance to each other. Butterfly Valley has a hippy-inspired atmosphere while the Blue Lagoon is the most photographed beach in Turkey. 
Butterfly ValleyCirali and Olympus


•    The rustic village of Cirali and popular backpacking haunt of Olympus share a long beach. Passengers use a smaller, life raft to reach it because there is no harbour. Although pebbly in some areas, it is a scenic place for swimming and close to the ancient ruins of Olympos and the mythological burning flames of Chimaera, burning 24 hours a day, seven days a week because of natural gas oozing from the rocks. 
 
Nightlife on the Turkish Riviera
Centred around restaurants directly on the coastline, nightlife is about relaxing, good conversation, and decent company. Nothing is rushed and as to be expected, Aegean and Mediterranean cuisine is popular. Restaurants serve varieties of fish and seafood, and an extensive choice of international dishes. 

The starter course is traditional Turkish mezes and dessert is often a large plate of seasonal fruit to be nibbled slowly, while sipping on a glass of wine or the traditional Turkish alcoholic drink of Raki. Large nightclubs playing the latest Turkish and Western dance music are situated in the centres of Bodrum, Marmaris, or Antalya. 
 
Luxury Resorts
Med coastLuxury hotels and restaurants operate in most large holiday resorts along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, but certain areas are well known for upmarket standards. They include…

•    Belek: This town in the Antalya region has a long established reputation for 4 and 5 star hotels and in recent years, has successfully marketed itself as the top golfing destination in Turkey

•    Kalkan: Mainly due to luxury villas that were built in recent years, Kalkan maintains an upmarket vibe. This resort is a delight to explore as the cobbled paths lead way to boutique shops and art studies. 

•    Golturkbuku: Sitting on the Bodrum peninsula, this area is two villages that have expanded over time to become one. Favoured by rich Turks from big cities like Istanbul, it is also known as the playground of the rich and famous. 
 
Real Estate and Properties on the Turkish Riviera
Coastal village and propertiesTurkey allows foreigners to purchase property in most locations of the Aegean and Mediterranean, so in the last decade, most coastal resorts have expanded to accommodate expat communities. Many people also purchase property as a holiday home and an investment for the future.

The peninsulas of Bodrum, Fethiye, and Antalya accommodate most buyers because they have a variety of apartments and villas for sale. Learn more about buying property in Turkey by downloading our buyers guide

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