The City Tour
Datça is where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. One side of the 70 kilometre long Datça Peninsula, which stretches to the west from Marmaris, is lapped by the waters of the Aegean and on the other by those of the Mediterranean. Those who go to the very end point of this peninsula, where the ancient city of Knidos is sited, can see that the inner port of the city is in the Mediterranean and the outer port in the Aegean. The Datça Peninsula is a large one, beginning at the narrowest point of the peninsula where the port of Bencik is and stretching all the way to Knidos.
At its narrowest point, the side facing the Gulf of Hisarönü where Bencik is and the side facing the Bördübet, it appears from looking at a map as if it could split from the mainland at anytime. The distance between the two sides is as little as 800 metres. There were even plans in the past to cut a channel across the peninsula, thus turning Datça into an island. According to the historian Herodotus, the locals of ancient Knidos thought of digging up the narrow strip of land in the Balıkaşıran region and turning the area into an island after the Persians invaded Ionia. They tried very hard according to history but the peninsula resisted being separated from the mainland. Those who worked to break the stones and dig through the soil began to suffer from injuries to their eyes, forcing them to give up their efforts.
The geographer Strabon said, “God would send his beloved servants to Datça to live longer”. These words were not uttered in vain as a story told in the region confirms what Strabon wrote. Some 450 years ago, Spanish pirates sailing near the peninsula decided to throw members of their ship’s crew suffering from the plague off the vessel. The pulled in to Sarıgerme Cove and left their dying crewmates. However, those who were left to die recovered thanks to the oxygen rich air of Datça. Legend has it that they founded a village on the foothills of Emecik Mountain, becoming one of the many peoples of these lands. However, in Emecik no one remembers the story and moreover they do not like it. It is not known whether the story is true or not but the fact is that the air of Datça makes one feel healthy.
This may be why the Dorian peoples established more 50 settlements in the region. Some 2,700 years ago, the population of the peninsula surpassed 70,000.
If you consider that today the population is under 15,000 you can see that there must have been an extraordinary civilisation.
In recent years Datça has been discovered again. Those who try to escape crowds, noise and pollution are choosing Datça as a place to settle and see out their lives.
You should not think of Datça as a place for a one day visit. Around the peninsula you will find as many as 52 coves, some of which can only be reached by sea and which for one full day will be yours alone. You will not be able to forget the beautiful sea with the stillness of an aquarium in Datça’s coves and beaches.
You can find small and beautiful hotels, sail by boat into its coves, make discoveries in the impressive ruins of the ancient city of Knidos and treasure memories of the pleasant Datça evenings.
The City Tour
The liveliest part of Datça is the area around the port, with many boats arriving daily. All types of places providing services to these boats are scattered around the port. Both near the port area and on the major streets running to the centre will find good quality restaurants and colourful bars. In the İskele (Wharf) district you see a miniature lake whose waters comes from the sea.
Three kilometres away there is the former centre of the town, known as Reşadiye, and those who are interested can visit to look at traditional Turkish stone houses. You shall not soon forget the Seljuk era mosque and the village of Hızırşah seven kilometres away. On the way between Old Datça and Hızırşah you can see old ceramic workshops, which date from the 4th century BC and which are being excavated. The privately owned house called Eski Konak in Reşadiye is interesting for its internal decorations and ceiling ornamentation.
Datça in history
The finds on the Datça Peninsula show that settlement there goes as far back as 2,000 BC. The first known local inhabitants were the Carians, while the peninsula enjoyed its most prosperous times during the Doric era. The Dorians came from Thrace to Greece and from Greece to the peninsula in 1,000 BC. They founded Knidos in the Burgaz region, 1.5 kilometres to the north east of the present centre. Knidos was the centre of the Doric civilisation. In 546 BC, with the Lydian state falling under Persian rule, Knidos also came under Persian control. In the 4th century BC, for commercial reasons, the site of Knidos was moved to the current location on the end of the peninsula where you see the impressive ruins of the city. The Dorians and the Romans built many temples in Knidos, with the city becoming famed for its statutes of Aphrodite. In the late Roman and Early Byzantine eras, the temples were replaced by churches. In the Late Byzantine era the population reached 70,000 but after a series of earthquakes and pirate attacks, the city was abandoned. The population of the peninsula shrank to one thousand.
In the 13th century, the settlements on the peninsula were linked to the Turkish Kingdom of Menteşeoğulları. Datça became a part of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. In the late Ottoman era Datça was known as Reşadiye, after Sultan Reşad, but was renamed Datça after the Turkish Republic was founded. In 1928, Datça became a township, with the first central district called Reşadiye and in 1947 it was moved to its current centre near the quay.
The Datça Region
If you are holidaying in Datça do not forgo visiting sites around the town. There are of course the wonderful sand beaches and sun but there is also more than that. Minibuses run from Datça to nearby coves and the ancient city of Knidos, or you can reach these destinations by driving yourself or taking a shared boat. If you do not have your own vehicle we advise you to take one of the daily boat trips. There is plenty of fish in the waters of Datça. You will find very suitable rocks from which to cast a fishing line. The Datça coves are also ideal for those interested in wind surfing or for diving and the effort is repaid when you see the riches beneath the sea.
If you have a Datça guide with you can get to the Datça Hurması (Date Tree) after a difficult trip over the valleys and hills. These trees are of a species 65 million years old. You can go to one of the least occupied parts of the peninsula. But do not try to find it on your own as you will have little chance and there are wild animals such as bear and boar that can be dangerous.
If you want to see the typical windmills of the region, you should go to the village of Kızlan, eight kilometres from Datça. The region is the windiest part of the peninsula, hence the many windmills
To get to Gebekum Beach, turn off the road from Datça to Yeldeğirmeni once you see the signpost for Perili Köşk and follow the dirt road for one kilometre. The road leads you to the beach. The seven kilometres long beach of Gebekum is suitable for swimming. With the help of the wind the sandy beach increases and expends. The moving sand has resulted in the area having shallow waters a long way out in to the sea, allowing you to be able to walk to the island opposite.
The Perili Köşk Hotel at Gebekum provides good accommodation facilities, with services provided to yachting tourists. There is equipment for diving and wind surfing available as the hotel caters to those interested in aqua sports. There are fishing boats in the area in the season. There is good fish in the area but no other fish restaurant other than that at the hotel.
The daily boat tours
There are many boats that sail from the port of Datça for half day or full day tours to the coves and surrounding areas. The half day tours go to the coves near the village of Mesudiye and then return. The target point of the full day tour is Knidos. On the way there and back you have numerous breaks for meals and swimming. Among the most interesting stopping points are the coves of Kargı, Hayıt, Kızılbük and Palamut.
The Coves and Inlets
On the peninsula there are some 52 coves and bays. To the north, on the Aegean side, these include the coves and inlets of Gökçeler Bükü, Küçük Çatı, Çatı, Kızıldağ, Alavara, Çakal, Damlacık, Mersincik and Iskandil. Almost all them are stopping points for the Blue Cruise boats leaving from Gökova.
On the Mediterranean side of the peninsula, apart from the inner port of Knidos, there are the coves and inlets of Palamut Bükü, Akvaryum, Hayıt Bükü, Kızıl Bükü, Kargı, Datça, Port, Karaincir, Sari Port, Karabük, Günlüncek and Lindos all in a row.
The larger port of Bencik on the Gulf of Hisarönü faces Datça on one side and on the other Marmaris.
Here is some information on the bays, inlets and coves that are popular stopping points of the daily boat tours on the peninsula’s Mediterranean side.
The Cove of Kargı:
It is in three kilometres from the centre of the town. You can also get there by municipal bus. Despite its being close to the town it is not crowded or heavily built over. On the cove you will see some restaurants and a few small pensions. Let us also mention that the calm sea and beach is very suitable for swimming.
Domuzbükü (Pig Inlet) is a place you choose for a holiday when you want to get away from it all and forget all about cities, including such things as television. There is no road link to the cove; instead you get there from Datça by boat on a one and a half hour trip. If you want to stay here the only accommodation are some bungalows in keeping with the natural character of the place. Apart from relaxing and swimming at Domuzbükü you can also make some short trips around the area. Nearby there is a cave and interesting stone formations that you can walk to see. At nights you can fill your time by looking at the sky, which here seems to have more stars than anywhere else, and at the light on the island of Sömbeki opposite. Of course, stars and lights on islands apart, there are also fires on the beach and signing to fill an evening.
Kızıl and Hayıt Bükleri (inlets):
These are the coves of the village of Mesudiye. You get to the village by turning left from the Datça-Knidos road and travelling for three kilometres along the dirt forest road. Another two kilometres further on you get to Kızılbük Cove, 20 kilometres from Datça. Do not come there in winter as the roads are bad and the restaurants are shut. In summertime what you find are fish restaurants, a beautiful beach and a clean sea. If you want to stay overnight or longer there are motels and pensions. It is green and in the upper areas there are pine trees.
This cove, 25 kilometres from Datça, is so beautiful that you cannot leave without dropping by a fish restaurant if you are on a boat or yacht tour. It is a beautiful inlet with barren hills softly sloping down and meeting the sea, forming a very long beach. Along the seaside there are village houses amongst the trees, a line of small pensions and summerhouses and fishing boats and yachts moored together in the port.
You can swim from the beach of sand and gravel stone. The sea is very clean and has a visibility of 25 metres and is suitable for spear fishing.
On the small island in the opening of the cove is there is a boat shelter.
Behind the shelter there is also plenty fish in the restaurants. They are reasonably priced too. We recommend the Merhaba Restaurant run by Hülya and Boran. (Tel: 0252 725 51 47)
Those who want to stay longer have a choice of pensions. Some of the pensions in the Palamutbükü are listed below:
Bük Pension Tel: 0252 725 51 36
Badem PensionTel: 0252 725 51 83
Olgun Pension Tel: 0252 725 51 65
As we said before, along the shores of Datça you will find 13 kilometres of beaches and sand. The closest beaches to the centre are those of Hatanealtı, Kumluk, Taşlık and Azganlı. In the13 kilometres up to the Perili Köşk Hotel towards Marmaris you can swim anywhere. Those who wish can make use of the aqua sport activities catered to by the hotel.
Some parts of the beach have been given the Blue Flag certificate for cleanliness.
The Aktur Holiday Complex, Aktur Camping and the Karaincir and Hastanealtı beaches have been awarded Blue Flags for their quality and the standard of their facilities.
Useful Telephone Numbers
Governor: 0252 712 29 49
Municipality: 0252 712 42 77 – 712 39 20
Police Station: 0252 721 33 57
Gendarmerie: 0252 712 30 19
Border Police Station: 0252 712 30 11
Tourism Information: 0252 712 35 46
State Hospital: 0252 712 88 55
You can get to Datça by road via Marmaris. The distance from Marmaris to Datça is 78 kilometres. The road is asphalted but narrow and winding. From Marmaris there are regular minibuses and buses that run to Datça. The distance between Datça and the Dalaman Airport is 178 kilometres. In summer there are private ferryboats running between Datça and Bodrum. (For further information contact the Bodrum Ferryboat Association Tel: 0252 313 02–05 and Knidos Tour, Datça Tel: 0252 712 24 63.)
Handcraft and marketplace
The most precious handcraft of Datça is the special lace edgings made for headscarves and scarves. The special edging is made of silk and is created by women working from home. From the special thread hand made motives are worked by needle. You can buy these wonderful pieces in the market set up on Saturdays, in boutiques and souvenir shops as well as obtaining them directly from houses there or five kilometres from the centre.
Rug making in the village of Sındı is popular and supported by courses conducted by the office of the governor.
The school building in the old Datça district, built in 1940, was restored by the office of the governor and turned into a handcraft centre. The rugs, material and trims made in the centre by Datça women are sold in the region’s marketplaces.
Aqua sports and diving centre
You can wind surf if you go to Gebekum or Perili Köşk. At Perili Köşk you will also have the opportunity to sail-board. One the diving centres of Datça is in the town centre and the other at Datça Aktur. Those who want to dive can try one either one. Apart from these you can also enjoy the aqua sport activities in the Özbel region.
Canlı müzik dinlemek isteyenler yat limanına bakan Gitanes, Nabis, Bistro ve Yeşim Bar’larda canlı müzik keyfine varabilirler.
Among the traditional dishes of Datça are keşkek (a type of wheat and mince meat dish), yaprak dolma (stuffed vine leaves) and kısır (tabuoli) which are always to be found at weddings. Also in Datça herbal teas are made from many different local herbs such as nettles. And a must try dessert is the famous dessert of figs stuffed with almonds.
The Datça Almond (Badem)
The best and most delicious almonds in Turkey are grown in Datça. There are many types, with names such as “holy”, “white” and “row”. But the best quality almond is the nurlu (holy light) and the easiest one to break and eat is called dişli (with teeth). Almonds are also eaten when still fresh and green, this type is called çağla. The season for this is in February and April. In addition, there are sellers who offer almonds either on the streets or in bars, displaying their wares on a tray covered in ice. The almonds collected in May-August and left to dry are called kuru badem (dry almonds).
As a dessert Datça locals stuff one or two almonds into figs and bake them in an oven. They call it bademli incir (fig with almond) and they also sell jars of the stuff, preserved in honey.
Events and Festivals
The Nature and Friendship Walk: Between April 15 to 22 the Environment and Tourism Association organise a walk from the Mediterranean to Aegean. Hundreds of Datça locals and foreigners take part in this walk.
Datça-Knidos Badem (Almond) Festival: As its almonds are famous how could there not be an almond festival in Datça? This event is organised by the municipality in the second week of August.
Every year the famous Turkish poet Can Yücel, who was buried in Datça, is commemorated, while in June there is the Reşadiye Keşkek Festival, the Painting Festival in the last week of April and the Rice with Almonds Day is celebrated during Tourism Week in April.
Tours Around and About
There are daily tours either by boat or road to the ancient city of Knidos or the coves in the area. You can obtain information from travel agencies on these trips.
See the Muğla Practical Guide for hotels, pensions and holiday villages in Datça.
Shores with blue flag
Aktur Holiday Village Beach
Aktur Camping Beach
Hastane Altı Beach
Billurkent Holiday Village Beach
We have told you that you would see many interesting things in Datça. One of these is the local dish called karavilla (snails), which is only cooked a few times a year for healing purposes. The snail season starts in March with the snails coming out of the soil and moving up to eat the leaves of plants until the fall of “the rains”. The dish is believed to be good for preventing piles and also healing the ailment.