With its tranquil small-town atmosphere, Datça offers a more restful experience than the flashing disco balls and wild throngs of Bodrum and Marmaris. The dirt road to Datça twists along the mountainous Datça peninsula, providing occasional glimpses of an emerald string of deserted bays. The road to Datça along the slim, rugged Datça peninsula may be a bit terrifying, with ship turns and sheer drops, but determined visitors who brave the hair-raising ride will find hospitality, intimate nightlife, and beaches that are both less crowded and more beautiful than those at Bodrum and Marmaris. Small bars line the harbor, where boats lie waiting to depart to the ancient Dorian city of Knidos at the tip of the peninsula.
- Buses: Buses leave from the Pamukkale office, on the right-hand side of Atatürk Cad., away from the marina. Open daily 5:30am-noon and 2pm-midnight. All buses traveling inland stop in Marmaris (2hr., 10 per day 6am-7pm, ). The Kamil Koç office is across the street, also with buses to Marmaris (2hr., 11 per day 6am-midnight). See Marmaris: Orientation and Practical Information for destinations beyond Marmaris.
- Ferries and Seabuses: Ferryboat Association , at the foot of the hill leading to the marina. To Bodrum: ferries (2hr.; May-June M, W, F 9am; July-Sept. daily 9am; $10,; children under 7 free, 7-12 half-price). Knidos Tour at the marina, for boats to the Greek Island Symi (9am, return 5pm; including port tax; up to 12 people).
- Moped rentals: Çağlayan , on the left side of Atatürk Cad., past the police station and PTT. per day including helmets. Open daily 8am-5pm.
- Car rentals: Ülken Rent A Car ,to the left of the marina on the road by Atatürk Cad. Reductions for multi-day rentals. 18+.Datça’s main commercial center is Atatürk Cad., beginning from a rotary with a large tree at its center and leading toward Marmaris. An unnamed extension of Atatürk Cad. heads over a hill toward the marina, which runs along the bottom.
- Tourist office: From the rotary, follow Atatürk Cad. away from the marina, toward Marmaris, and turn left before the police station; the office is on the right, in the same building. English spoken. Open June-Aug. daily 8:30am-noon and l-7pm; Sept.-May 8am-noon and 1-5pm.
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
- Bank: Türkiye İş Bankası and others offer currency exchange. Open M- F 9am-12:30pm and 1:30-5:30pm. Datça’s main road has 3 Cirrus/Plus/MC/V ATMs.
- Hamam: Take Ambarci Cad. from the rotary and turn left after 3 blocks at the “hamam” sign; the hamam is 1 block on the left, Luminous and clean. Open daily 7am-10pm.
- Police: On the left side of Atatürk Cad., before the PTT. Open daily 8:30am-3:30pm for official business; 24hr. for emergencies.
- Pharmacy: Many line Atatürk Cad. Open daily 8am-9pm.
- Hospital: Devlet Hastanesi . Follow Atatürk Cad. away from the marina and turn right on Hasan Efendi Cad.
- Internet Access: Internet Cafe . From the rotary, turn left onto Brüksel Cad.; the cafe is at the end of the street, across from Tunç Pansiyon. Remarkably fast service and kind owner. Open daily 8;30am-midnight.
- PTT: on Atatürk Cad., past the police station. Poste restante, fax, and currency exchange. Postal window open daily 8:30am-5:30pm. International phone service daily 8am-midnight; in winter 8:30am-5:30pm. Phones open 24hr.
Reservations are recommended for the high season (July and August) when room prices usually rise. There are no set reception hours, but you can usually find the owners in nearby stores. While not the norm, Visa and MasterCard can be used.
- Tunç Pansiyon. From Atatürk Cad., turn left on Brüskel Cad., directly after the rotary; Tunç is on the left. A fancy pension with tiled floor and a stylishly decorated eating area with satellite TV. 22 tidy, modem rooms with windows and bath. Friendly management. Communal kitchen and laundry (prices vary). Car service to Knidos and Palamutbüken and Mesudiye Beaches. $6 per person; July-Aug.
- Aşkın Pansiyon , on the right hand side of Brüskel Cad., across from Tunç Pansiyon. Look for the bright yellow sign. 22 charming rooms with bath and hot water. During July and Aug., pick fresh grapes from the vines surrounding the terrace and communal kitchen. Boat charting and fishing are available. Little English spoken.
- Antalya Pansiyon , on the left side of Atatürk Cad., past Brüskel Cad. Large marble hallways with grand mirrors and colorful rugs. 14 polished rooms with bath, hot water, and balcony. Communal kitchen, TV, and splendid views of the sea from the terrace. Owners can be found In the nearby furniture store. No English spoken.
- Mandalina Pansiyon . On the right side of Atatürk Cad.’s extension toward the marina. Owners can be found in the neighboring restaurant, named after the pension. 8 large, airy rooms with balcony, great bathrooms, and hot water. Modem communal kitchen. Eat breakfast in their tranquil garden restaurant . Little English spoken.
- Ilıca Camping , on Taşlık Beach. From the harbor, turn right and walk 150m along the shore. Water sports and grills on the beach. A great alternative to the parade of pensions in town, and a bit like summer camp.Travelers can buy fresh food from the small markets on the main road (pine and thyme honey are local specialties) and cook in the communal kitchens of the pensions. Most of the smaller and more traditional restaurants are toward the harbor, before the curve of the main road. The larger and more touristy restaurants, offering views and a wider selection of food options, are at the harbor.
- Taraça Restaurant, toward the harbor on Atatürk Cad.’s extension. Savor the red snapper (fish prices vary daily) and lamb casserole while gazing at the bay. Levent, the owner, plays backgammon with customers. Open daily 8am-late.
- Kemal Restaurant, toward the harbor on the right side of Atatürk Cad. Once you’ve chosen your food from the kitchen, enjoy It in a comfortable setting. Vegetarians can enjoy the çorba (soup; $1.20). Others can savor the köfte or şiş kebap . Open M-Sa 8am-10pm.
- Karaoğlu Garden House . Head toward the harbor and turn left onto a narrow road with a sharp incline just past the foot of the hill; the restaurant is on the right after the road descends. Its spacious terrace offers a superlative 180-degree view of the beach and harbor. Sip wine and savor their specialty: chicken in a clay pot.
- Nokta Patisserie ,on the left side of Atatürk Cad. as you walk away from the center square rotary. This cheerful restaurant with a Crayola interior offers home baked cookies and breads . A colorful array of fruit, crème, and chocolate cakes also available for purchase
Travelers come to Datça for its serene beaches and the impressive remains of the ancient city of Knidos, about 30km west of Datça proper (see below). In Datça, boat tours and independent drivers alike should stop at the pebbly, blissful Pala mutbükü and sandy, raucous Mesudiye beaches. Renting a car will allow for stops along the coast where small, isolated beaches lie below the rocky dirt roads. Kumluk Plajı, hidden behind the stores along Atatürk Cad., tends to be crowded with tourists staying at the vacation complexes nearby, while the prettier and less-frequented Taşluk Plajı, sits to the right, of the ships docked at the harbor. Take a dolmuş to Mesudiye (20min., 4 per day) and Palamutbükü (sporadic service; check at the otogar) from the otogar across from the PTT.
As befits a coastal town, Datça hosts a July 1st Sea Festival. Young men fearlessly ascend a greasy mast in order to capture the Turkish flag. During the Culture and Music Festival, held in the second week of August, pop singers and Turkish folk dancers entertain crowds at the harbor side amphitheater. The festivities include an annual almond festival in mid-July, when nut growers from all over the peninsula come to Datça to have their produce judged.
Lacking the lights and special effects of Bodrum and Marmaris, Datça’s animated nightlife consists of small family-run bars perfect for talking and people-watching. For a more mellow evening, join the locals in a leisurely stroll along the harbor or play lavla (backgammon) in one of the many gay houses.
- Edipse Bar , at the foot of the hill by the harbor. Hip, young Turks, back-packers, and surfers socialize with each other and the cool owner. Casual atmosphere featuring the bartender’s favorite music: California surf punk/pop. Open daily noon-4am. Closed in winter.
- Marin Bar , on the right along the harbor. This glittering open-air disco/ bar is surrounded by faux-Classical statuary, blue lights, and American movie posters. Customers bust a move to reggae and Turkish pop. Open daily 9am-3am; closed in winter.
- Sunrise Bar . A harbor favorite, catering to a mostly older crowd. Under the twinkling white lights and green foliage, small tables and chairs sprawl all the way to the moored boats. Tourists, sailors, and fishermen discuss sea travels. Open daily 8am-3am.
DAYTRIP FROM DATÇA : KNIDOS
Visiting Knidos can easily turn into an all-day affair. Taxis happily make the journey (1hr. each way) for a hefty. Renting a moped to visit the site is a terrible idea, considering the unpaved, narrow, winding road. A safer (and cheaper) option is to take a boat tour from Datça (daily 9am-6:30pm). In addition to Knidos, boats often stop for swimming along the southern bays of the peninsula. Call Burak Tour for more information.
During the 4th century BC, the port town of Knidos, located at the tip of the Datça Peninsula where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, was a member of the Dorian League. An intellectual center of the ancient world, Knidos was home to Sostratos, designer of the Pharos lighthouse at Alexandria (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), and the astronomer Eudoxus.
Undoubtedly the most impressive feature in Knidos was the now-lost naked statue of Aphrodite by Praxiteles. The statue drew tourists such as Cicero and Julius Caesar from afar even in ancient times, and its beauty caused men to weep and attempt to mate with it. Aphrodite’s nakedness so offended the inhabitants of Kos, however, that they refused to allow the statue to remain there, banishing it to Knidos before it was lost to history. Despite this crowning monument’s absence, Knidos still has enough to make the trek there worthwhile.
Knidos’s laissez-faire policy toward visitors makes exploration of the site an open-ended experience. The best way to visit the site is to simply wander around, through, and over the mostly unmarked ruins, pausing every’ once in a while for a dip in the sea. To the left past the entrance booth is the grass-filled site of the ancient agora, and a small Byzantine church complete with mosaic floor remains can be found a little farther downhill, as you walk toward the lighthouse on the opposite hilltop. Ascending about 350m higher into the terrace to view’ the spot of the former ancient Aphrodite statue, take a swim from the calmer-than-Knidos shore that separates the two sites. Continuing inland, past the small ode on theater, make your way to the Doric temple. Nearby are the remains of the world’s first sundial, used by Eudoxus in the 4th century BC.
Not far down the hill from the sundial are the remains of a large Byzantine church at the center of the site, whose Arabic inscriptions and early Christian iconography render it one of the most remarkable sights in Knidos. Back toward the entrance is the Temple of Dionysus. The looming remains of the theater, which seated 4500 to 8000 spectators, lie by the entrance road. One of Datça’s seven castles rests atop the Knidos site’s ridge. Built in Knidos’s heyday to enable encompassing views of the sea, the castle was used to warn the city’ in case of an attack. The way to the castle is poorly marked and difficult; ask at the entrance gate.