Datça, the unsullied gem of the Turkish coast
Datça is one of Turkey's coastal gems. It's an idyllic Aegean fishing village that has avoided large-scale tourism and offers guests the rare blend of olde-worlde charm, modern facilities, tranquil beaches and breathtaking bays all set in the most beautiful and natural of surroundings.
Datça lies on the rugged 50 mile-long peninsular jutting out between the glitz and glamour of Bodrum and the traditional tourist haunt of Marmaris. It is said that the ancient Greeks were so taken with the beauty of Datça that Zeus, the King of Gods and Father to Hercules, created Datça himself. Even Strabo the famed geographer once said, "God sent his creatures to Datça so they would live longer".
A visit to Datça and it's easy to see why it became loved. A walk around and you almost get the feeling that the locals don't like change - they like things just the way they are and want their village to remain the same. It's refreshing! You still see the old men in their beanie caps playing backgammon, still get offered little glasses of tea from a stranger that speaks no English. If you're lucky you may get given fresh fruit from a local’s backyard just because you smiled, or olives from the garden trees of a local restaurant with your Turkish breakfast. These are the things Turkey old-timers will remember of many resorts in Turkey before the burger and chip brigade hit home. These are the little gestures that charm you and keep you returning.
History of Datca and Knidos
Datça boasts a wonderful history. Remnants of the area’s Karian, Lycian, Byzantine and Ottoman past are scattered across the landscape and easy to stumble across. There's rock tombs, ruins of ancient churches and cisterns all in various states of disrepair and within easy reach. The historic highlight of the area, and one stretching 3km across the peninsula's tip, is the Hellenistic ruins of Knidos dating back to 400 BC. Knidos was ideally located to offer ships safe harbour and anchorage from the frequent high winds on the headland. It is even thought that St. Paul waited out a storm here en-route to trial in Rome. Today the ancient city of Knidos lies in ruins due to earthquakes, looting and conquests. But, do visit if you get a chance as some of the original features are recognisable. Wander past floor mosaics, see basilica arches and visit the round Temple of Aphrodite Euploia where the world's first statue of a nude woman was found. View a 4th century sundial and see the impressive 8,000 seat Hellenistic Lower Theatre. A trip to Knidos is one of the main day trips from the area and easily arranged locally, either via a daily boat or overland.
Other things to do in Datça
Visit local bays and beaches. One of the main lures of the area are the many little bays and inlets scattered around the peninsula offering the chance to take a dip in waters so clear you believe you can touch the bottom many meters below. The scenery, the rolling olive groves and forest backed little bays and villages just call out to be explored. Take a daily boat trip or, better still, hire a boat and discover the bays yourself. Failing that, visit the likes of Palamut Bükü, a beautiful fishing village famed for its seafood dinners and 2 km long beach, or Orhaniye where there's a sandbank you can walk out on that is great for the kids. Another find, but one only accessed by boat, is 'Pig Inlet' or Domuzbükü. Despite its rather unfortunate name, this is one of the most beautiful bays and a popular stop with blue cruises.
Visit Old or 'Eski' Datça. The cobbled little alleys of old village of Datça were once the main heart of the area. But, during the late 20th Century it almost faded into obscurity as the new village with all the restaurants and bars sprung up around the harbour side. Today rich Turkish city folk and others that have chosen to buy their second homes or summer property in Turkey have given the area new life. There are some lovely garden cafes, vine and flower draped shops and boutiques to explore. It's the ideal place to while away a lazy afternoon nibbling at mezes and downing a cool drink as you watch the world go by.
Take a trip to the Greek Island of Symi. Enjoy a day trip to the little island of Symi just 50 minutes across the water from Datça. Explore the island that is famed for its boat building and sponge diving and enjoy the Greek hospitality in one of the array of restaurants and cafes. It's easy to book at trip with boats leaving daily from the harbour side.
Why visit Datça?
Visit Datça because it will charm you! If you are after a noisy resort packed with full of late night bars, brand name stores, fast food joints and entertainment, look elsewhere. Datça is far more refined, far less commercial. The village’s popularity has grown due to its popularity with yachts and those enjoying blue cruises around the coast. Most that visit do so by boat, although there are now some wonderful boutique hotels tucked away within easy reach of the centre. There are properties for rent and villas for sale in Datça, but development hasn't taken hold yet in the same way as we see in so many other coastal resorts (probably only a matter of time before it does). Head to Datça to escape, to feel a world away from your traditional commercial resorts. Visit Datça because it's simply a beautiful place to be and you are unlikely to return disappointed!
Pictures credit from Pinterest