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Seven Days on the Turkish Riviera

This dynamic destination belongs on vacation wish lists in 2021, and first-time visitors should want to experience it by boat.

November 11, 2020
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Turkish Coast
The Turkish Coast is rich on natural beauty and ancient history, and it is best enjoyed by private charter. Shutterstock

There’s little doubt that many a traveler has spent most of the year spinning a globe and stopping it on random spots, dreaming of the day they’ll be able to visit… Kyrgyzstan. But for as much as we’ve asked when, the question for the positive and optimistic souls should be where. As in, where will we go to cross another dream destination off our lists?

One idea is the Turkish Coast, AKA the Turkish Riviera, which blesses visitors with more than 1,000 km of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. It’s a destination that offers something significant for travelers of all ages and backgrounds, as hopeless romantics will find unspeakable natural beauty in the views both of and from the shores, while history and culture buffs can wear their Indiana Jones fedoras, figuratively or literally.

As international travel resumes and rebounds, and people focus on Turkey as a region of not only historical significance but also convenience—it is currently open to tourists from both Europe and the U.S., with restrictions—this is a destination that could (and should) rise in popularity. Arguably the best way to see the Turkish Coast is by private yacht charter, or “gulet,” as it enhances the luxury and intimacy of the experience, while also promoting the health and safety guidelines that will be a permanent component of the travel experience.

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The Turkish charter company Zephyria Yachting operates a fleet that is idyllic for everyone from honeymooning couples to small groups and families making up for lost time. This is a sampling of what a 7-day journey on one of the company’s gulets would include for first time visitors.

Bodrum

Bodrum Castle
In the marina town of Bodrum, start at the beautiful beach and then head to the 15th century Bodrum Castle overlooking the bay. Shutterstock

Boasting beautiful views, stunning beaches, ancient landmarks and downright charming neighborhoods and people, Bodrum is no hidden gem or well-kept secret, as millions of tourists annually visit this city once known as Halicarnassus. It is a particularly popular destination for cruise liners, but a gulet has the advantage of docking in one of the nearby natural bays.

From there, visitors can shop, dine at the excellent restaurants and explore Bodrum Castle, which was built in the 15th century using stone and marble from the Tomb of Mausolus (or Mausoleum at Halicarnassus), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

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Knidos

Knidos
The harbor at Knidos is great for a dip, but thousands of years of history await guests on land. Shutterstock

With history dating back to 3,000 B.C., Knidos is more than just a beautiful spot to stop for a picnic. Visitors could spend hours exploring the ancient ruins before even considering a snorkeling excursion in the harbor. Cap the day off in this former Dorian capital by enjoying the sunset—a must for any stop on the Turkish Coast, to be fair—before dining aboard the gulet in Mersincik Bay, a favorite area for yachts.

Seven Islands and Kufre

Seven Islands
Physical distancing is at a premium in the uninhabited Seven Islands. Shutterstock

Next, the gulet heads to Yediadalar, more commonly known as Seven Islands, where there are no crowds, only nature. Drop anchor and enjoy breakfast in one of the picturesque bays before spending hours swimming and snorkeling or simply relaxing on the shores.

Kufre is a can’t-miss island in this group, as the forest path begs travelers to explore, making their way past the cottages that are tucked away and almost hidden beneath the trees.

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Tuzla and Longoz

Tuzla
The gulet docks in Tuzla, where guests will witness more wildlife than anywhere else in the region. Zephyria Yachting

Total calm awaits in Tuzla, a fisherman’s village renowned for its fresh and unique seafood dishes, so don’t fill up on breakfast. What makes this area even more special is the shallow waters that invite a wide variety of birds and wildlife, which won’t be found anywhere else.

The evening will be spent in Longoz (Kargili) Bay, an extremely popular destination in the summer, as the shores are lined with massive pine trees, making it a truly calm and peaceful experience.

Cleopatra’s Island

Cleopatra beach
A beach truly fit for a queen. Shutterstock

It’s a tale as old as time. Man meets woman, man falls in love with woman, woman loves beach, man imports boatloads of Egyptian sand to make beach absolutely perfect for woman. That’s the short, admittedly less romantic version of how Sedir Island came to be known as Cleopatra’s Island.

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As legend has it, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony snuck off to Cedreae for romance, but when she pointed out that there was no sand, her lover sent his fleet to Egypt to bring back enough that it remains to this day, making this truly one of the most romantic beaches in the world. But there’s far more history on the land here, so try not to spend too much time following in Cleopatra’s footsteps.

Cokertme to Kissebuku

Cokertme
Anchor the gulet and grab a towel, because the beautiful beach at Cokertme calls. Shutterstock

The action picks back up in Cokertme, where visitors can paddle board before grabbing some fresh fish at one of the restaurants lining the beach. Head into the village and admire the efforts and talents of the families weaving carpets and rugs by hand.

Still feeling the urge to explore? The yacht next travels to Kissebuku, home of the ruins of a Greek church. The bay is also excellent for swimming and snorkeling, so everyone will be pleased.

Orak Island

Orak Island
Another popular stop for yachts, Orak Island is especially beloved by divers. Shutterstock

Not far from Bodrum, Orak Island is the last stop on the trip, and while the beach is undoubtedly beautiful, this is a premium spot for snorkeling and diving. In fact, it’s widely regarded as one of the best diving locations in Turkey, as the vertical reef wall serves as a perfect home for a vast array of marine life.

Finally, the trip concludes with an evening spent in Bodrum harbor, which is great for last-minute shopping or simply reflecting on this once in a lifetime voyage and thinking about when it will be time to return.

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