The Wider Region
For those seeking adventures beyond relaxing in your stunning property The Dionysos Estate is ideally located for exploration of the wider region. Take a car or a private guide and visit the remarkable region that is:
The Datça Peninsula
The 62-mile-long Datça peninsula is an assault on the naked eye from its hairpin bends to plunging green ravines and Cambridge blue sea on both sides, making it is one of the most beautiful stretches of the entire Turkish Coast. Held in awe even by the ancient Greeks who believed Datça was created by the mighty Zeus himself, the area is off-the-beaten tourist trail to all except the most in-the-know.
A narrow isthmus called Balikasiran (or ‘Fish Leap’) separates Datça from the bling of Bodrum and the urban sprawl of Marmaris leading to an undeveloped sliver of land distinguished by its dramatic, fjord-like coves and Grecian bays. Its perceived inaccessibility in relation to the more commercial areas has left the peninsula beautifully untouched, evidenced by the abundant olive groves, verdant forests, windmills and craggy cliffs which pay testament to the area’s living and ancient history. The Hellenistic ruins at Knidos, marking the confluence of Aegean and Mediterranean, are a highlight for their miracle of geology alone.
The Datça peninsula has a distinctly Greek feel which sets it apart from the rest of coastal Turkey. This is partly because of its proximity – the Greek Southern Dodecanese ring the peninsula to the west and south – and the island of Symi is just five miles across the strait. Although the Greeks were exiled in the 20s, emergency doctors continued to be called from across the water on Symi until the 1990s. And today the Greek islanders make the crossing every Saturday to stock up at Datça’s market. The cut-off peninsula feels like a Greek island which may in part explain why many Turkish visitors have fallen in love with it. This creates an eclectic mix of visitors that make the streets, shores and shops ideal people-watching territory.
Datça is approached from the Gulf of Gokova by the peninsula road passing the traditional area of Resadiye, with views up to the mountains where almonds, figs and some exceptionally fine wines are produced. Heading towards the harbour you pass Eski Datça – the original old town – a magical warren of cobblestones and sleepy shops with several private houses owned by Istanbullus seeking a quieter pace of life. Art and ecological influences are much in evidence, and among the old stone houses, chequered by bougainvillea and mulberry trees, is the home of late Turkish poet Can Yücel.
Along the roadside is the waft of drying thyme, rosemary and sage as men twiddle worry beads sipping endless cups of Turkish tea. The area is known for its thyme-scented honey which is sold by the roadside. It empties out into the harbour-front Datça, the main part of the town, home to the majority of family pensions and inns and small hotels, restaurants and the hub of daily life for the traditional sea-faring community.
The turquoise waters of the peninsula are known for their gentle shelving shores which make them shallow, even hundreds of metres offshore, and particularly child-friendly.
Combine a fish lunch and a swim returning from a visit to Knidos. The 2km pebbled beach is dappled with shades of gold and a sparse sprinkling of almond and pine trees separate the beach from the path behind, leading up to the waterside village. There is a wide selection of fish lokanta (the calamari is particularly good) and the atmosphere has overtures of the Peloponnese. The neighbouring villages of Hayıtbük, Kızılbük and Ovabükü, triple bays in a row are also well worth venturing into.
Reached only by boat from Datça, Domuzbükü (which means pig inlet) takes one-and-a-half hours to reach but is well worth the journey. Aside from the sun and sea, at one end of the beach is a fascinating cave and some interesting stone formations.
Just three kilometres from Datça but rarely crowded, Kargi beach has a laid back vibe with a smattering of Lokanata and the chichi Nirva beach club.
A sandy beach, in the centre of town particularly suitable for children with a good number of amenities.
Slightly further along form Kumluk beach, this pebble beach has a natural hot spring pool about 100 metres across heated to around 40C with an array of minerals reputed to cure several ailments.
The local cuisine is exceptionally good with a fine selection of restaurants particularly around the old harbour. In the back streets you will discover small eateries with inventive seafood cuisine from octopus meatballs to cuttlefish stew. Field-fresh figs, delicate flavoured rosewater, nettle tea and handmade almond sweets are also local delicacies. A dish called incir badem (figs stuffed with almonds) is well worth seeking out. Also try the snails (karavilla) between March and November which are said to have cure-all properties.
Knidos, on the tip of the peninsula, dates back to the Fourth Century BC and was an ancient Greek city once home to 70,000 including a bevy of famed astronomers, architects and historians. It is famed for its statue of Aphrodite, the first naked female statue in history, which had a cult following although has long since been removed.
The winding drive up to the tip of the peninsula is spectacular passing through remote hamlets and perpendicular coves, round hairpin bends until reaching the ancient shipping stronghold. Here you will most likely have the ruins to yourself picking a route through the strewn debris of basilica arches, floor mosaics and pausing a while on the steps of the sea-facing amiptheatre. After taking your fill of Hellenistic ruins, refreshment can be found at the traditional lokanata still operating on the small harbour opposite, serving the clutch of private yachts and gulets moored on the single jetty reaching out from the shore.
Go in the autumn and you may be lucky enough to witness the annual swim between Symi and Datça when Orthodox Greeks and Muslim Turks swim out to meet halfway across the dividing strait in a gesture of friendship.
An undeveloped and often-overlooked stretch of almost-Cretan coastline replete with cooing owls and swaying cypress trees that should be enjoyed now, as it is.
Accessibility: Datça is approximately 2 hours from Kumlubük and Knidos a further 50 minutes.
Getting Out & About
Whether travelling by dolmuş, taxi, by car or on foot we encourage our guests to explore the natural beauty of this glorious region.
Food and produce markets are bursting with life and take place daily throughout the region, from around 8am through till dusk, a perfect opportunity to rub shoulders with the locals.
Monday, Sögüt and Turunç Bay
Wednesday, Içmeler and Selimye
You’ll find a mélange of locally grown fruit, vegetables, cheese, olives, honey as well as traditional fabrics and more contemporary items such as T-shirts, jewellery and bags. And there’s always a chance to stop off for a snack and a drink and people-watch.
Walks, Treks & Drives in the Region
Detailed information on the plentiful variety of walks, treks and drives is available prior to your departure in our informative Guide.
A daily feature of Turkish life, dolmuş are the hop-on, hop-off local minibus that whiz around towns and regions delivering locals throughout towns and villages. There is a good service to Marmaris from Sögüt, Selimiye and Turunç Bay – be warned, however, it doesn’t usually stick to the timetable. A Dolmuş is the cheapest way to get around and its literal translation means ‘stuffed’ which is easy to understand when you see it in action. They fill up quickly, especially on market day, when the whole town hops onboard, animals includes.
Operating throughout the day they follow specified routes and the destination is displayed on the front windscreen, or as announced by the bus boy who collects your fare. There are no bus stops – do as the locals and simply hail the service down from the side of the road.
Bright yellow taxis are readily available throughout the region and run on a metered system (with a supplement after midnight) or for a fixed price which should be agreed in advance. The Dionysos Estate works with a reputable, private taxi outfit and it’s easy to find a yellow cab in Turunç. There is no taxi rank in Sögüt or Selimiye but many of the restaurants include a lift home as part of the service.
If you want the freedom of having your own vehicle, you can hire a car