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Turkey Travel Blog

Gulet Cruise Holidays in Turkey
Turkey has many time-honoured traditions, stretching back hundreds of years. Passed down from generation to generation, with tender loving care, they are the key to preserving heritage.

One such tradition is gulet cruising and although the sailing vessels have altered slightly over the years, the concept of cruising the blue Aegean and Mediterranean seas still stays the same.

The Beginning of Gulet Cruising in Turkey

Throughout history and all around the coastline of Turkey, locals have taken to fishing or sponge diving as their main trade. In the beginning, they built small boats but over time, these grew bigger to accommodate sleeping and cooking quarters. Life was good and then one day, a stranger landed in the small coastal village of Bodrum. His name was Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı and he had been exiled to the region as punishment for his writing work that went against government protocol. First signs showed he was depressed at this move but gradually, he started venturing out, meeting the locals and exploring the coastline. One day he decided to hire a local fishingman and his boat to sail around the coastline. Cevat was so excited at this newfound hobby so he invited friends to join him. They left for weeks at a time, visiting ancient ruins and small coastal villages that were at that time, relatively unknown. He also started selling excursions and the beginning of the gulet cruise industry had begun. Cevat is widely credited with boosting tourism to the region and through his writing work, bringing Turkey to the attention of scholars and historians. Even after his exile was over, he remained in Bodrum, having only spent a brief time in Istanbul. His legacy is of the Fisherman of Halicarnassus.

Sailing the Turkish Riviera

Today, the coastline regions that are included in all major gulet cruises are named the Turkish Riviera. It receives thousands of visitors every year from the rich and elite who sail in their private yachts to the budget traveller, boarding multipurpose cabin boats. Stretching from Antalya on the Mediterranean coast, to Izmir on the Aegean, the routes visit a variety of natural landmarks, ancient ruins such as Phaseslis and Patara as well as small fishing villages, where tourists can still gain an insight into traditional Turkish life away from tourist and manmade destinations. The season traditionally runs from May to October although July to September are considered the best months to sail because this is the height of summer. Most major gullet cruise companies have also extended their routes to cover the Greek islands as well.

Further Reading

All major gullet cruise routes start from Bodrum, Marmaris, or Fethiye. Look at our custom packages designed to let you sail the Turkish Riviera in comfort at an affordable price.
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Hidden Places to Visit in Istanbul
Despite being one of the most visited places in the world, Istanbul still holds a number of small gems that rarely feature in international guidebooks. Visited mainly by locals and tourists who are eager to get off the beaten track, they include museums, green parks, and areas known for cuisine excellence. If you have time while on a city break, explore these hidden places and experience the different side of this cosmopolitan city.

Hidden Attractions in Istanbul

A small iron gate leads from a side street in Galata to the whirling dervish lodge. Although it is a small complex, it has now been converted into a museum to highlight the life of a Sunni follower. As well as the museum, this is also the place to see a whirling dervish ceremony.

Rustem Pasa mosque is near the spice market and unlike its larger counterpart the Blue Mosque; it is rarely crowded with tourists. It is most well-known for its ancient Iznik tiles adorning the walls and offset by the red prayer carpet.

The Turkish and Islamic art museum is in the Sultan Ahmet area and an impressive collection of modern and ancient art and textiles.

The Chora church is considered one of the most impressive examples of religious Byzantine architecture. Built as a church, converted into a mosque, and now standing as a museum, it displays ancient mosaics and frescoes.

Construction started on the Yildiz Palace and Park in the early 19th century and continued until the end of the Ottoman Empire. Formerly used by the royal sultans, it is especially popular with locals at the weekend.

The Military museum holds an extensive collection of war and army artefacts from the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish war of independence. Visit in the afternoon to see the musical show depicting soldiers from the Ottoman army.

The multi culture back streets of Ortakoy are a favourite jaunt for locals who love a vibrant nightlife. Whether it is hard-core nightclubs and bars or a delicious fresh fish meal sitting by the water’s edge.

It is worth allocating a whole day to explore the Kadikoy district. Although mostly known for its narrow streets, market, and live music bars, Turkish street food sold here is highly recommended by local guides. Other attractions include the cinema, toy museum, and large helium balloon.

The Contemporary Art Museum sits on the shore of the Bosphorus in the Tophane neighbourhood and it has received rave reviews regarding its collection from modern day Turkish artists.

Camlica hill is the best place to head for an amazing sunset view among the minarets of the city. It is the highest natural structure and often used by locals at the weekend for family picnics.

Setustu Tea Garden also provides a magnificent panoramic view of the city. Sit by the water’s edge and enjoy a cup of Turkish tea served in a traditional way

Haci Bekir has been open to the public since 1777 and has a worldwide reputation for delicious lokum, known by foreigners as sweet Turkish delight. This is the place to buy your holiday souvenirs!
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Christianity in Turkey and the Journey of Saint Paul
Turkey is a predominately-Muslim country yet many people are surprised to learn its history is steeped in Christianity, from the house of the Virgin Mary in Selcuk, near ancient Ephesus to the earliest known church in Antakya. Biblical tours of Turkey are very popular with visitors from Christian countries, keen to learn more about how Christianity grew in this area to spread worldwide. Indeed, three saints of the Christian religion are called the Cappadocia fathers, due to their involvement in spreading the word even when faced with certain death. Another Saint was Paul who was born in Tarsus, present day Mersin in the Southeast of the country. He was a Jew, and originally persecuted followers of Christ until in his own words; he experienced a miracle on the road to Damascus. From there, he vowed to spread the word. It is said that without people like the Cappadocia fathers, Saint Paul and John, Christianity would never have become as popular as it did.

Retracing The Journey of Saint Paul

In his day, Saint Paul travelled many miles, across more countries than present day Turkey. It took him years, compared to travel methods now when we can cross the world in just fifty hours in a commercial plane. He used methods of transport such as a horse or donkey to go from East to West spreading Christianity to the largely Jewish population. The starting place for any tour should be the birthplace of Saint Paul. In history, the importance and size of Tarsus even outshone places like Alexandra and Athens. Attracting famous rulers and officials, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra had a romantic rendezvous in this city. Saint Pauls house and church has been renovated and opened for visitors. Antakya is where Saint Paul helped establish the first church. Saint Pierre is a pilgrimage journey for many Catholics but there are also other churches in the region still in use. The mosaic museum in the city centre holds many artefacts from that era and it is eye opening to visit an old traditional house. Near the cotton castle of Pamukkale is the ancient city of Hierapolis, another destination Saint Paul visited, so he could spread the word of Christianity. This city was also an ancient spa centre for healing Roman soldiers after battle, and a significant amount of it has been excavated. Lately, historians have uncovered “the gateway to hell”. In ancient times, anyone who went near it died so locals believed it was hell and sacrificed animals. Scientific explanations reveal that it was simply methane gas. Although Saint Paul travelled to many other major cities including Pergamon, the prize jewel is Ephesus. Opposition to Christianity in this large seaside city was strong and many Christians prayed in secret. With Saint John though, Paul helped followers in their cause, despite Ephesus being the second largest city of the Roman Empire and the emperors being against Christianity in every form. You can see all these places and more on our tour called “The Footsteps of Paul in Turkey

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Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Turkey
Turkey is one of the top tourism countries in the world. The country attracts beach lovers, history vultures, culturally, religious influenced people, and of course, those who simply want to party the summer away. While the main tourism season lasts from May to October, many places are open throughout the year. If you are an independent traveller or simply looking for somewhere else to holiday, our suggestions showcase the best of what Turkey has to offer.

Recommended Places to Visit in Turkey


This lunar landscape oozes mystery and intrigue. Steeped in the history of Christianity, the abundance of cave churches are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Cave hotels also provide a Flintstone theme and top sites to see include the Goreme Open air museum, Ihlara valley and Derinkuyu underground city.


This city in the Northeast is the closest base to visit the nearby historic Sumela Monastery, which clings to the side of a cliff face. If time allows, continue your visit to picturesque Uzungol Lake surrounded by pine tree forests. The green Ayder plateau and wooden hotels of the Kackar Mountains serve as an ideal base for keen hitchhikers and campers.

The Southeast of Turkey

Particularly suited to those searching for a cultural holiday and traditional Kurdish influences, Mardin attracts culture lovers because of its Arabic influenced architecture while Urfa will amaze anyone with a passion for religious travel because of its connection to Abraham. The neighbouring region of Gaziantep attracts food lovers who want to sample the speciality Baklava (pastry dessert) and pistachio nuts.


As the top visited destination, Istanbul is ideal as four-day city break while on route to other destinations in Turkey. Main sites to see include the Blue mosque, former church and mosque of Hagia Sophia, the ottoman Topkapi Palace and the historical Basilica Cistern.


Nicknamed cotton castle, this natural wonder is a UNESCO world heritage site along with the neighbouring ruins of Hierapolis. White calcium pools solidified on the side of a mountain make the perfect picture postcard scene and in history, the region was a favoured spa destination for the Romans.


These ancient ruins were the second largest city of Rome, succeeded only by the capital itself. Notable ruins within its boundaries are the 20,000-seater ampitheatre, ancient Celsius library, Agora Street and the Roman terraced houses.


Popular with expats and holidaying Turks from the big cities, Fethiye lures many because of sandy beaches and the natural landscapes of Blue Lagoon and Butterfly Valley. It is also an ideal base from which to start a gullet cruise of the Turkish Riviera.


This cosmopolitan playground attracts the rich and famous yet it manages to please budget travellers as well. The region has many small coastal resorts and the large town centre manages to mix traditional vibes with a cosmopolitan and western ambience.


The beaches and graveyards are a favoured destination for Australian and New Zealanders, particularly on Anzac day. As the site of a horrific battle during 1918, the area is now a respected memorial to the dead soldiers of generations before us. While in this area, you should also visit the neighbouring site of Troy, location of the famous Troy wars.

Mount Nemrut

The large iconic figurehead statues looking out over a natural and beautiful landscape from the mountaintop appear on most picture postcards of Turkey. Recommend time to visit is at sunset when the horizon fills with a vibrant orange and red sunset.

Tours That Go To These Sites

Our Discover Turkey Tours last from 2 days to 11 nights. They visit all the major attractions within the country and accommodation, guide and transport fees. Alternatively, look at our easy to use Trip Planner to organise your own itinerary around Turkey.
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