Move over, Greece! Turkey is definitely the place to be next summer. After years of declining tourism numbers, Turkey is back in business - and its stunning coastline is yours to explore, with a myriad stunning beaches and wonderful coves where the booming tourist numbers of the Greek Islands are nothing but a distant memory.

The most visited stretch of Turkey's Mediterranean coast runs from Izmir to Antalya, including the world-famous Turquoise Coast, one of the Mediterranean's best sailing destinations, ideal to be admired from the deck of a gulet, a traditional wooden sailing boat. 

Here's a brief guide of what to see and what to expect while sailing Turkey - from beaches to archaeology, from food to nightlife!

Izmir

Izmir is Turkey's second largest city after Istanbul, known in ancient times as Smyrna. The city's history stretches back millennia, so t comes as no surprise that Izmir is actually full of ancient monuments and places to see - perfect to while away a few hours or days before hopping on your private charter to explore the Turkish coast.

The star attraction in the city is the Agora, the ancient marketplace, with colonnades and remnants of once-mighty gates. The nearby museum houses archaeological remnants of the site, and it's worth checking out. Other places to see in Izmir include Koniak Square, with Izmir's famous clock tower as its most recognizable landmark, the central bazaar and Pırlanta beach, a great surf destination!


Kuşadası

Travelling south from Izmir you'll reach Kuşadası - the city has a marina, beachfront promenade and lots of alfresco restaurant, but what lies immediately inland is really the star attraction. Whatever you do, don't miss visiting Ephesus, an ancient Roman city that was once a popular stop on the Silk Road, where you can admire the remains of an ancient library that used to house 12,000 scrolls. 

Other amazing things to see a short distance away from Kuşadası, perfect to explore on shore excursions, are Pergamon, famous for its spectacular theatre, the petrified mineral pools of Pamukkale and Selçuk, a welcoming village a short distance away from the House of the Virgin Mary, a small chapel that is now a popular pilgrimage site. 


Bodrum

Continuing south, the nest stop is Bodrum, famous for being a popular package destination - but there's plenty to see and do nearby. For instance, there are spectacular archeological landmarks which include the relics of the Mausoleum of Maussollos located in Halicarnassus - alongside the famous Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, these were two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, even though sadly not much is left. 

Bodrum also has a great, unusual museum - the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, housing the findings from more than ten shipwrecks along the Turkish coast, including interesting exhibits like copper ingots, glass beads, jars of olives, elephant tusks, hippopotamus teeth, ostrich eggshells, maces, swords and even a gold scarab inscribed with the name ‘Nefertiti’. Bodrum is also a great place to enjoy a traditional 


Marmaris

Before reaching Fethiye and the Turquoise coast, you'll be sailing through Marmaris - this is a great destination if you're travelling with kids, as there are some excellent water parks - Aqua Dream and Atlantis Water Park. Otherwise, you can spend a night checking out the lively nightlife of Marmaris, before sailing off to Dalyan, one of the best-known destinations to learn about the Lycians, the ancient people who lived in this area. 

One of the most recognizable features of the Lycians are the rock-cut tombs - you can see them in the ancient harbour city of Kaunos, a short sail away from Marmaris. Other attractions in the area include the Dalyan Mud Baths and sulphure pools, and a labyrinthine network of canals surrouding the city. 


The Turquoise Coast

The Turquoise Coast is located between Fethiye and Antalya - no one can possibly deny that it's a staggeringly beautiful place, with clear, warm waters of that signature deep blue color, lots of history and hiking opportunities to discover ancient Lycian sites. The one thing that has never changed in the coastline is the ideal weather - it does get hot, but the vicinity of the mountains usually brings a welcome breeze comes nightfall. 

Cruising around the coastline with a private charter, preferably a gulet but really, or any boat of your preference will do, can be the best alternative if you want to grasp the true nature of the region. As a big plus, local operators have an extensive comprehension of these waters, and from the fact that the wind is unbearable and unreliable at times, it would be safely appropriate to hire one rather than sailing on your own, unless you're familiar with the area.

Moreover, local operators who will help you explore some parts of the coastline that are not common to most people, but still amazing. There's so much to see, and lots of beautiful harbors in the area - most Turquoise coast cruises last between three and five days, but you could easily spend a week enjoying all the Turquoise Coast has to offer. 

For instance, you can have a quick dip near the shores of Patara beach once you wake up at sunrise. Then later after breakfast, you could spend some time exploring the rugged coastline between Patara and Ölüdeniz, including the best stretch of the Lycian Way, a walking trail joining the best Lycian sites in the region.

You can also choose from a long list of amazing beaches along the Turquoise coast - and if you get there at the right time, you might even have them all to yourself. Some of the most popular beaches are Phaselis, a windswept beach just around the corner from the ruins of the same name, Iztuzu with fine white sand and turtle-nesting sites, Çıralı, a three-kilometer shingle beach surrounded by citrus groves, and the lagoon at Ölüdeniz.


Antalya

Most Turquoise Coast cruises end or start in Antalya, a large modern city offering some interesting things to see. One of its most popular landmarks is Hadrian’s Gate, a triple arch guarding the entrance to the old town, that was built in the 2nd century. The Old Town includes a mix of Ottoman and Roman architecture, with quaint backstreets surrounding leafy courtyards sometimes housing excellent alfresco restaurants. 

Other interesting places to see around Antalya are the remains of the ancient city of Aspendos, including a well-preserved theatre, and the Duden Waterfalls tumbling into the Mediterranean - a worthwhile sight while you're enjoying an excellent Turkish breakfast on your very own private deck!


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