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Aegean Coast, Turkey: Insider’s Guide

Where to Stay and Eat

By land or sea?
Although there are some fabulous seaside resorts up and down the Aegean Coast, I highly recommend working some gulet time into any trip here. Sailing is the most amazing way to see this spectacular part of Turkey. If you’re making the standard circuit of Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus, you can drive from Ephesus to Bodrum and set sail from there. A week is the ideal sail length—with resort time before or after—but if you want to spend more of your trip on land, we can easily arrange a one-day boat charter so you can view the sea and get some water sports in.

Resort worth the splurge
The new Mandarin Oriental, 15 miles from Bodrum on its own gorgeous bay, is pricey but has gotten rave reviews from my guests.

Best bang-for-your-buck resort
Macakizi Hotel. People like this hillside hotel’s gardens and comfortable rooms—and they love its views of the Aegean’s protected Turkbuku Bay, 45 minutes east of Bodrum Town. Most think the best views can only come from pricey suites, but I can book you an Upper Deck Seaview room where you’ll see the same vistas while paying a less-expensive rate. It’s just a few extra steps up the hill. Breakfast, dinner, and use of the beach club are included.

Restaurants the locals love
In Bodrum: The town’s best seafood is at Korfez, a simple and beloved place where the only appropriate order is the fish of the day. But that’s not the only place in town for great fish: Gembasi’s regular crowd comes for its seafood pasta; fish stew is the must-try at the upscale Kocadon; and the marina’s Musto Bistro serves its octopus with grilled eggplant, homemade bread and affordable wines.

Bodrum Turkey

Bodrum Turkey. Photo courtesy Karen Fedorko Sefer

Meals worth the splurge
The Ottoman Feast at the Amanruya Resort in Bodrum is aptly named. The family-style banquet features almost-forgotten dishes—like almond, pomegranate and nutmeg soup and chicken stewed with a fragrant medley of cinnamon, cloves and apricots—served on a hillside pavilion overlooking the sea.

Must-have dish
Midye dolma, mussels stuffed with rice, raisins, tomatoes, pine nuts, and spices galore. Pair with a glass of champagne.

What to See and Do

Don’t miss
Bozburun, a small seaside down in Marmaris. You can sail from bay to bay in the beautiful clear waters, stopping into sweet little restaurants and the Dionysos Hotel, a set of stone buildings (including a Decleor spa) in the hills overlooking Bozburun Bay. While there, try the region’s famous mountain-pine honey.

Don’t bother
Marmaris Town. Stay away from the touristy harbor and town, with its noisy streets and rowdy nightclubs.

Hidden gem
Datca. A small, hard-to-reach village of beautiful stone houses, it’s well worth the detour. Have lunch or dinner at the beautifully restored Mehmet Ali Aga Mansion and explore the ancient remains of the city of Knidos at the end of the Datça peninsula. Especially if you’re on a gulet, this is a must-do.

Cheap thrill
Once you sit down for a sunset mojito beneath the tree canopies on the terrace at Limon Restaurant, you won’t want to leave. The place sits on a hill in Gumusluk, outside of Bodrum town.

Bragging rights
We can arrange for a local archeologist to lead you through Bodrum’s famous castle and the Underwater Archeological Museum and show you the remains of the shipwrecks that he helped excavate. Hearing firsthand about the underwater dig and the backstory behind some of the museum’s holdings—like a Syrian shipwreck comprised of pieced-together glass found under the sea—will turn what could have been a run-of-the-mill museum visit into one of the most thrilling experiences of your trip.

Spend the day at a local beach club. As you swim, relax, listen to music, eat and altogether chill out, you’ll understand why Turks do this every weekend. Some are open to the public, others are private—but I can get you into whichever is the trendy one for the season.


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Aegean Coast, Turkey: Insider’s Guide


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