Datça Peninsula

If you make it all the way to the Datça Peninsula, you may never want to leave. It's a landscape of olives tree, pine forests in sheltered hollows, and stunning blue water. 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 feels like entering the gateway to another, older world.

This is not somewhere to drop by for a day or two: you need 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 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.

The timeless stone alleys of Eski Datça give a similar sense of being in another, less stressful world. The ancient ruins of Knidos constitute one of the loveliest and most evocative sites along the whole coast.

Datça is a small port with some characteristics of a resort. It's one of the most relaxed towns along the whole coast, but Eski Datça and Reşadiye are older and have more charm. Even if you don’t stay here, spend an evening wandering around the harbor and sipping a drink at one of the quayside cafés. The weekly market is on Saturday, which is what attracts Greek islanders from nearby Symi. It's also the best place to arrange a boat trip to Knidos. 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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