The province of Mugla includes the famous holiday cities of Bodrum, Marmaris, Datca, Koycegiz and Fethiye. Beautiful resorts, comfortable hotels and motels, cozy guest houses, impressive ruins of past civilizations and magnificent landscapes offer holidaymakers plenty of choice. Mugla, the province's capital, lies inland and is known for its traditional vernacular architecture.
An impressive medieval castle built by the Knights of Rhodes guards the entrance to Bodrum's dazzling blue bay, in which the Aegean and the Mediterranean Seas meet. The town's charm is well-known, attracting a diverse population of vacationers who stroll along its long palmlined waterfront, while elegant yachts crowd the marina.
Not far from town, you can swim in absolutely clear, tideless, warm seas. Underwater divers, especially, will want to explore the numerous reefs, caves and majestic rock formations. The warm waters of the Aegean offer multicolored sponges and octopus of all sizes, and an immense variety of other aquatic life.
The reputation of Bodrum's boatyards dates back to ancient times, and today, craftsmen still build the traditional yachts: the tirhandil with a pointed bow and stern, and the gulette with a broad beam and rounded stern. The latter, especially, are used on excursions and pleasure trips, and in the annual October Cup Race.
The yearly throng of visitors has encouraged small entrepreneurs to make shopping in Bodrum a delight. Leather goods of all kinds, natural sponges and the local blue glass beads are among the bargains to be found in the friendly little shops along the narrow, white-walled streets. Charming boutiques offer kilims, carpets, sandals and embroidery as well as original fashions in soft cotton.
Bodrum has gained the reputation as the center of the Turkish art community with its lively, friendly and Bohemian atmosphere and many small galleries. This community has encouraged an informal day-time life style and a night-time of excitement. The evenings in Bodrum are for sitting idly in one of the many restaurants, dining on fresh seafood and other Aegean specialties. Afterwards night clubs (some with cabaret) and superb discos keep you going until dawn.
Bodrum, known in ancient times as Halicarnassus, was the birthplace of Heradotus and the site of King Mausolus's Tomb ( 4th century B.C.), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the harbour, the Bodrum Castle, or the medieval castle of St. Peter, is a fine example of 15th century crusader architecture, and has been converted into the Museum of Underwater Archeology, with remains dating as far back as the Bronze Age. The stunning panoramic view from Goktepe, nearby, is much photographed by visitors to the Museums' second-century theater.
The beautiful Bodrum Peninsula suits holidaymakers interested in a subdued and relaxing atmosphere. Enchanting villages, with guest-houses and small hotels on quiet bays, dot the peninsula. On the southern coast, Bardakci, Gumbet, Bitez, Ortakent Yalisi, Karaincir, Bagla and Akyarlar have fine, sandy beaches. Campers and wind-surfers enjoy Gumbet, and at Bitez colorful sail boards weave skillfully among the masts of yachts in the bay. On shore you can enjoy quiet walks through the orange and tangerine groves bordering the beach. Ortakent has one of the longest stretches of sandy beach in the area and offers an ideal place for relaxing in solitude. One of the most beautiful beaches on the Bodrum peninsula, Karaincir, is ideal for lively active days by the sea and relaxed, leisurely evenings with local villagers. Finally, Akyarlar enjoys a welleserved reputation for the fine, powdery sand of its beach.
Turgutreis, Gumusluk and Yalikavak, all with excellent beaches, lie on the western side of the peninsula and are ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. In Turgutreis, the birthplace of a great Turkish admiral of the same name, you will find a monument honoring him. In the ancient port of Myndos, Gumusluk, you can easily make many friends with the hospitable and out-going local population. In Yalikavak white-washed houses with cascading bougainvillaea line narrow streets. Small cafes and the occasional windmill create a picturesque setting.
See the north coast of the peninsula - Torba, Turkbuku, Golkoy and Gundogan - by road or, even better, hire a boat and crew to explore the quiet coves, citrus groves and wooded islands. Little windmills which still provide the energy to grind grain crown hills covered with olive trees. Torba, a modern village with holiday villas and a nice marina is located 8 km north of Bodrum. Golkoy and Turkbuku are small and simple fishing villages with a handful of taverns overlooking a lovely bay.
After a boat trip to Karaada, half an hour from Bodrum, you can bathe in the grotto where the warm mineral waters flowing out of the rocks are believed to beautify the complexion.
The translucent and deep waters of the Gulf of Gokova, on the southern shore of the Bodrum peninsula vary from the darkest blue to the palest turquoise, and the coastline is thickly wooded with every hue of green. In the evening, the sea reflects the mountains silhouetted against the setting sun, and at night it shimmers with phosphorescence. You can take a yacht tour or hire a boat from Bodrum for a two, three or seven day tour of the gulf.
The Gulf of Gulluk, and harbour of the same name, lie north of the Bodrum peninsula on the Aegean. The mythological Dolphin Boy is said to have been born a little farther to the north at Kiyikislacik (lassos). South of Gulluk, Varvil, ancient Bargilya, sits at the end of a deep narrow inlet surrounded by olive covered hillsides.
Inland from Gulluk is Milas, ancient Mylasa, known for its beautiful carpets - a century old tradition which continues to the present day. The weavers rarely mind a visitor watching them at work. Plenty of old Turkish houses with carved timbers and latticed windows provide examples of the vernacular architectural style. Gumuskesen, a monumental tomb, thought to be a small copy of the famous Halicarnassus Mausoleum, stands in the west of the city.
The ancients built Labranda, a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus, high in the mountains. Today tourists have rediscovered this mountain retreat and escape to its exhilarating air and breathtaking scenery.
Situated on a bay, backed by rugged pine-clad mountains, Marmaris is one of the most attractive maritime parklands, ideal for water sports and sailing. It makes an excellent starting point for the "Blue Voyage" tour of the Aegean coastline. In May the Marmaris Yacht Charter Show provides an opportunity to meet the yachts' captains and crews. With plenty of provisions aboard you set sail in the craft of your choice and languidly explore the spectacular beauty of southern Turkey.
In Marmaris, sample the typical Turkish cuisine in one of the marina restaurants and drink raki, anisette, the traditional Turkish way, over ice and diluted with water. Later stroll along the brightly lit and palm-lined promenade and indulge yourself at one of the ice cream vendors. Energetic entertainment at a lively bar or dancing until dawn at a sophisticated disco can end a perfect day.
There are many good buys in Marmaris's boutiques, colorful bazaars and markets. You can find excellent leather and suede goods, copper and brass ware, jewellery and objects carved of onyx. Turkish carpets, textiles and embroidery make good handcrafted souvenirs, and the locally produced pine-scented honey called Cam ball is superb.
Ancient Marmaris, Physkos, was an important stage on the Anatolia - Rhodes - Egypt trade route. In the 16th century Suleyman the Magnificent had a citadel built on a hill, the remains of which can still be seen today.
Swimmers should not miss Ataturk Park, to the east · of Marmaris, where a shallow beach, extending to the bay leads to safe waters. The clear sea is warm enough for swimming from early May until late September. Marmaris also has horseback riding and tennis centers for the sports enthusiast. This is one of the few places in the world where you can delight in the heady aroma of the frankincense tree. Weekly ferry lines run between Marmaris and Venice during the summer season.
Near Marmaris, at Icmeler, the hazy mountains of the interior slope down to sandy beaches. Under blue skies, the clear sea is ideal for all types of water sports. Many find this area so irresistible that they stay longer than originally planned. And there are some excellent accomodations here, in which you can prolong your contact with nature. As you drive down from the high mountains into the village of Turunc the scene opens out onto the spectacular blue waters beyond the natural harbor. The village itself is small and scattered around the bay. Most of the restaurants border the beach. A few bars and restaurants farther back from the water's edge offer fresh fish and superb views.
Kumlubuk, a turquoise paradise, lies on the southern side of the bay. On the northern side, above the water, stands the ancient Rhodian city of Amos. Loryma, at the tip of the Bozburun Peninsula, where the ruins of the ancient harbor and castle remain, can only be reached by boat. Natural quiet bays and scattered islands punctuate the northern shore of the peninsula, ideal for those who want to get away from it all.
Sedir Island, in the Gulf of Gokova, is the ancient Cedrai. Its old city walls, theater and temples can be visited by driving from Marmaris north to Gelibolu Bay and then crossing by boat. This voyage also offers an unforgettable panoramic view of the mountain scenery across the bay. At the head of the gulf is the village of Gokova whose houses seem to cascade down the mountainside. Restaurants built over bubbling, fresh water streams that fall from the highlands create an unforgettable setting. The towering pines and cooling breezes of Gokova Park are often a welcome respite from the hot sun.
The Datca Peninsula provides a natural boundary between the Aegean Sea, the Gulf of Gokova to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Hisaronu to the south. Along all the 75 km from Marmaris to Datca, the road winds among trees and hills, permitting lovely views over the expanse of blue. Campers have many perfect settings to choose from; the less adventurous can stay in one of the many comfortable holiday villages. In Datca white-washed buildings hung with bougainvillaea decorate the town. The marina is on the southern bay; swimmers prefer the northern bay. Around the marina bars, cafes and a wide selection of shops keep the tourist interested. Some shops remain open well into the evening. Relaxing over a pre-dinner drink and then a delicious meal in a welcoming restaurant is a popular way to spend the evening hours. Of course, the local eateries offer both fresh fish and classical Turkish cuisine. With any remaining energy, take a stroll and find a disco to your liking so that one day continues on into the next. 10 km north of Paca, the Kornum harbour is connected to Bodrum by a daily ferry line.
As you travel out of Datca, either by road or by boat, you will find unspoilt bays and golden sandy beaches. Kargi is one of the most popular.
At the end of the peninsula (38 km from Datca) stands the ancient Carian city of Knidos, described by Strabo as "a city that was built for the most beautiful of goddesses, Aphrodite, on the most beautiful of peninsulas." Famous as a center of art and culture in the 4th century B.C. the city had two harbors: one on the Aegean and the other on the Mediterranean. The remains of a circular temple dedicated to the goddess of love overlook the two harbors; the arcaded way was built of white marble, heart-shaped columns. The legendary Aphrodite of Praxiteles' statue, one of the most beautiful sculptures of antiquity, once graced this temple.
The town of Koycegiz lies at the northern end of a lake of the same name and is joined to the Mediterranean by a natural channel. This unique environment is being preserved as a nature and wildlife sanctuary. A road shaded with aromatic frankincense trees leads to the tiny village of Dalyan on the inland waterway. The maze of channels is easily explored by boat as you immerse yourself in this tranquil dream world. The restaurants which line the waterways specialize in delicious meals of fresh fish. High on the cliff face, at a bend in the river, above the fascinating ancient harbor city of Caunos, magnificent tombs were carved into the rock. The Dalyan Delta, with a long, golden sandy beach at its mouth, is a nature conservation area and a refuge for sea turtles (Caretta Caretta) and blue crabs.
At Ekincik, a delightful yacht mooring, you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this area. Only a half hour's drive from Dalaman Airport, Sangerme has wonderful sandy beaches, and a pleasant holiday village discreetly situated in a pine forest.
The road to Fethiye winds up and down hills through a heavily forested region that offers occasional glimpses of the sea and an islet or two basking in total seclusion. The Gulf of Gocek and its friendly marina is one of the Mediterranean's best sailing spots. Dotted with islands and indented with many coves, its land and seascapes are irresistible. The ruins of Arymaxa, an ancient city at the southern tip of the gulf, lie at the edge of the azure waters. Opposite, on Tersane Island, stand Byzantine ruins, including those of the ancient shipyards.
The popular resort Fethiye, 135 km southeast of Marmaris, boasts an important marina at the head of a beautiful bay strewn with islands. A hill crowned by the ruins of the crusader fortress built by the Knights of Rhodes overlooks the little port. Above the town, (called Telmessos in antiquity), numerous Lycian rock tombs, reproducing the facades of ancient buildings, were cut into the cliff face. The Tomb of Amyntas, which probably dates from the fourth century B.C. is the most remarkable.
Swimmers head for the popular Galls Beach, four kilometers west of town, or to Sovalye Island, which blazes with flowers in the spring, opposite the harbor.
The road to Belcegiz Bay takes you through the mountains where cozy guest houses cater to those seeking mountain scenery. Ocakkoy is the mountain village to see and to stay in the lovely guest-houses, and for its trekking possibilities. Hisaronu, also in the moountains, has very nice hotels. 4 km from Hisaronu, Kayakoy is a picturesque ghost town of old houses and churches - all empty. Explore the bay and the beautiful Blue Lagoon, Olu Deniz, where the calm, crystal clear water is ideal for swimming and other water sports. The Blue Lagoon is one of the best places in the world to do absolutely nothing except soak up the sun amid stunning natural surroundings. For those who prefer accomodation facilities, Belcegiz beach is recommended. Intoxicating scenery surrounds Kidirak's beach and shady park. On Gemiler Island, Byzantine ruins lie tucked among the pines. South of Kidirak beach, Koturumsu Bay is reachable only by boat. Beyond the idyllic beach, a forest, waterfalls and a valley filled with hundreds of varieties of butterflies await the explorer. High in the mountains above Fethiye a rushing torrents cuts a narrow gorge through the mountains, creating Saklikent (Hidden City). A cool refuge on hot summer days, Saklikent is a favorite picnic spot, with rustic restaurants serving delectable fresh trout.
About 65 km from Fethiye, to the southeast, near Kinik, are the ruins of Xanthos, an important Lycian capital in a splendid natural setting. Letoon, nearby, was formerly an important religious cult center where three temples dedicated to Leto, Artemis and Apollo stood in ancient times.