Gulet cruising holidays in Turkey

Gulets (pronounced goo-lets) are wooden schooners that have been used for fishing and sponging around the Mediterranean for many years. From the 1970s onwards they became a popular way to ferry tourists around the bays of the Aegean region from Bodrum and Marmaris. Today many gulets are equipped for liveaboard cruising, with private, en suite cabins and often very luxurious amenities. Most are now powered by diesel engines for reasons of cost, but some do still sail when the wind is right – you’ll find a few of these among our trips. Stylish, romantic and wonderfully relaxing, there’s no better way to see the Turkish coast than by gulet.

Where to take a gulet cruise in Turkey

The most popular places in Turkey to take a gulet cruise are around the Gulf of Gökova, usually departing from the historic city of Bodrum, and along the Lycian (Turquoise) Coast, from towns such as Marmaris and Fethiye. Once you’re comfortably settled aboard, days are spent travelling sedately along the coast, or between islands. In the evenings you’ll moor up either in a quiet bay which perhaps your captain is one of the few people that knows, or in a busier harbour where you can pop ashore to eat in a local restaurant.

Because gulets are small, often limited to around 17 passengers, they can reach places that larger cruise ships cannot. Even in the height of summer, then, it’s possible to find a remote and peaceful beach or snorkeling spot with no one else for miles around.

Family cruising

Gulet cruises are a wonderful idea for a family holiday; indeed there are some tours specifically designed with families in mind, with a minimum age of seven. Friendships with other children onboard develop easily, and although many gulets have electricity to charge devices they will often go neglected in favour of activities such as swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. Kids may even be able to help the crew with their day-to-day tasks. Itineraries are pre-planned but as with many small group trips, there is potential for flexibility and free time among yourselves.

Cruise & walking holidays

Because a gulet can anchor up so conveniently, there are practically endless opportunities to do a little hiking, with some of the best found on the Lycian Coast. Ancient trails lead you through scented pine forest, around winding pathways in little fishing villages, or to ruined hilltop settlements with their roots in mythology that offer breathtaking sea views. Don’t fancy walking one day? Just stay on the boat, catch up on your reading and take a nap after lunch under the canopy.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Turkey or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Turkey gulet cruising practicalities

If you really want to travel light for your gulet cruise, you could pretty much get away with a swimsuit and sun screen, as many boats provide everything from towels to snorkelling equipment. But suitable footwear for shore excursions is useful.
Gulets travel for around three to five hours every day. During the summer months, strong winds known as meltem can blow up from nowhere, which are useful for sailors of course but can sometimes result in rougher conditions. Gulets normally stay close to the coast, able to find shelter when necessary, but it’s rare that the sea gets so choppy that that becomes necessary. Boats with sails also have diesel engines fitted for when there is no wind.
Turkey gulet cruises usually last for around eight days, or fewer if they are added on to the end of a walking and cultural tour. As they are small group tours, they travel on fixed dates typically between April and October, with the summer months being busiest. Many boats have a professional chef onboard to prepare meals, and most dietary requirements can be catered for if the operator is advised beforehand.

You’ll have a private, en suite cabin but don’t expect to use it much. In all likelihood you’ll spend the majority of your time up on deck in the company of fellow passengers, and if the weather is warm enough, perhaps even sleep there too.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Christine McIntosh] [Cruising in turkey: Turkey vision] [Where to take a cruise: Andrey Filippov] [Cruising practicalities: Adam Baker]