Datça Peninsula

If you make it all the way to the Datça Peninsula, you may never want to leave the rugged landscape of dark olive and pale green almond trees, scrubby hills, pine forests in sheltered hollows, and stunning blue waters. Until about 20 years ago, this was one of the most inaccessible parts of Turkey, and driving along the thin neck of land between the Aegean Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south still feels like entering the gateway to another, older world. This is not somewhere to drop by for just a day or two: ideally, you'll have at least three days to savor the uncluttered joys of this unique destination. Far from the world of tour buses, it's a place with few pressures but with wide horizons and more than 50 little beaches for inner contemplation. The best time to visit is in spring, when the hills are carpeted in poppies, daisies, and wildflowers, and restaurants offer dishes concocted with wild thyme, rosemary, and other herbs that flourish in the hills and by the sea; in autumn, you can watch the locals harvest olives.

Datça is a small, easily walkable port with some characteristics of a larger resort. It's one of the most relaxed towns along the whole coast. Nearby Eski Datça and Reşadiye with their timeless stone alleys are older with more personality, but no beaches. Even if you don’t stay in Datça, spend an evening wandering around the harbor and sipping a drink at one of the quayside cafés. The weekly Saturday market sprawls up a long street near the harbor with its colorful parade of local produce, herbs, snacks, clothes, and housewares, all of which attract Greek islanders from nearby Symi. It's also the best place to arrange a boat trip to Knidos, whose ancient ruins constitute one of the loveliest and most evocative sites along the whole coast. A lovely day out and a meal at an unspoiled beach can also be had at Kargı Koyu, 3 km (2 miles) south of central Datça.

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