Datça is a fascinating peninsula where blue and green embrace, where the cool waters of the Aegean meet the warm waves of the Mediterranean. With its ancient cities full of hidden treasures for history lovers, beautiful bays and hiking routes for nature lovers, Datça is a paradise for all kinds of travelers. As a Turk, I am lucky that I have had the opportunity to visit this paradise many times. I have prepared a detailed Datça travel guide for you to enjoy your visit.

Datca Travel Guide

First, I will cover how to get to Datça as well as the accommodation options available, followed by the must-visit places and activities in Datça.

How to get to Datca? Datca Transportation

On our last visit we traveled to Datça from Kaş and made our return to Istanbul from Bodrum airport. Originally, our plan was to take the ferry from Bodrum and return home without having to navigate through Datça’s winding roads again. However, we were unable to get a ferry ticket because we left it too late. By ‘too late’, I mean we tried to book on the first day of the vacation, which was 5 days ago—so if you’re planning to use the ferry for your return, make sure to book your tickets in advance. Ferries between Bodrum and Datça operate daily at 9 AM, 12 PM, and 6 PM in both directions, and the journey takes about 105 minutes, which is quite convenient. If you prefer not to take the ferry, consider flying out from Dalaman airport, which is closer to Datça. On our way back, we stopped at Yuvarlakçay and Akyaka, and I recommend doing so if you’re driving from Dalaman.

Public Transportation in Datca

Although we traveled by car, I gathered some information to share. From the center of Datça, there are buses and minibuses going to major destinations such as Old Datça, Palamutbükü, Karaincir, Aktur, Reşadiye, Mesudiye, and even to Knidos. However, service to Knidos is only available twice a day and does not operate during sunset hours for example. Traveling by car is a significant advantage in Datça, but getting around is also possible without a car.

Where to Stay in Datca? Datca Accommodation

During our last visit, we preferred Datça center for accommodation. We wanted to stay in a budget-friendly place and stayed at Lara Apart. There is a tiny kitchen in the room, we prepared our breakfast ourselves. The place is right in the middle of the city center, you can easily walk everywhere. The apartment was clean and adequate. But the furniture is a bit dated, I think there are things that need to be renewed. Even the cutlery was quite old. I am happy that we chose to stay in the center, so it is in the middle of most of the places and bays. It may be the best option for those who will use public transportation.

“I have always stayed in Palamütbükü before; this place has developed significantly over the years. Besides the center, Eski Datça and Palamutbükü can be considered as alternative accommodation options. Datça offers a rich variety of tent and caravan camps, with Aktur being particularly noteworthy. It is an extraordinary camping area, known for its beautiful beach and scenic surroundings. Çubucak Forest Camp and Akçabük Kamping are also well-known spots. There are accommodation options for every budget in Datça. For those who have more budget, I would recommend Olive Farm Hotel, this place is very nice overall. For other available Datca hotels, you can check this link.

Where to swim in Datca? Datca Büks and Bays

You might know that most beaches in Datça end with “Bük,” a term sailors used for narrow bays. Datça is a paradise for these secluded spots, boasting numerous büks. We explored 7 bays and bends from the center to Palamütbükü on our first day. Still not satisfied, we joined a boat tour the next day and visited 3 more bays, then saw 4 additional spots the following day before saying goodbye to the beaches. I’ll first discuss the bays easily accessible by land, followed by details of the boat tour.

We started with Kargı Bay, very close to the center of Datça. Here, you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas or lay down your own towel. There’s a hotel called Bizim Ev Datça in Kargı Bay, known for its photogenic qualities and popular on Instagram. They welcome non-guests with reservations, though we skipped it to see more bays. Our next stop was Hayıtbükü, which I didn’t particularly enjoy. The sunbeds were cramped into a narrow space, and it was quite crowded. The sandy sea here might be suitable for families with children. We didn’t swim here and moved on to Ovabükü. Although the sea was wavy during our visit, it boasts clear blue waters. There are sandy stretches in front of restaurants where you can rent sunbeds or spread your own towel. It felt quieter and more spacious than other places we visited that day. Next was Kurubük, great for snorkeling with various fish visible. This spot lacks facilities; you’ll need to bring everything yourself. Our subsequent swim was at Akçabük Kamping’s beach, beautiful but bustling, especially with families. You can enjoy the beach here for free, even if you’re not camping. Before reaching Palamutbükü, we stopped at Aquarium Beach, also known as Gerence Bay. It featured the most stunning sea on our route but was too crowded for its small size. Accessible via a short path from the roadside, it also lacks facilities. Palamutbükü, our final and largest stop, was a bit of a letdown that day. The sea was choppy, and the tightly packed sunbeds in front of the restaurants didn’t help. If you prefer more spacious beaches, try the beach at Mavi Beyaz Hotel, which offers a larger area.

The day after the boat tour, we continued exploring bays accessible by land. Let me tell you about them. Kumluk Beach is right in the center, close enough to visit first thing in the morning. It’s a sandy beach with very clean water. You can rent a sunbed or simply swim without using any facility. Next, we visited Karaincir, which is particularly recommended for families with children due to its fine, golden sand, unlike the darker sand found in other bays. Unfortunately, it was wavy again, which detracted from its beauty for us. It seemed that this area attracts many summer residents, as it was very crowded even early in the morning.

We then moved on to Aktur, which offers free entrance for the day. At Aktur, we first stopped at Küçük Koy. Here, there is an area with sunbeds, but you can also set up your own towel and chair elsewhere. The beach starts with small pebbles and transitions to sand. While the sea was clean, the sand was dark again. After enjoying the water, we ventured behind this bay to find the turquoise waters. We settled at İskele Beach Club, a place so tranquil we didn’t want to leave. We spent the day lounging in the shade under the trees. I highly recommend this spot if you’re seeking tranquility. The sea is accessible from the pier, and there’s sailing training nearby. The water was very calm when we first entered, but that area became crowded later on.

Datca Boat Tour

We opted for a private boat tour in Datça to explore bays that are inaccessible by land. We chose this option because group tours typically visit 4-5 bays, and two or three of these are reachable by land. The larger boats, carrying 50-60 people, operate at full capacity and often follow similar routes, which include the already crowded bays accessible by land. Having visited 7 bays the day before and planning to visit more the next day, we wanted our boat tour to focus exclusively on remote bays. Given these factors, a private boat was the ideal choice for us. If you are with a group of friends or have connected with someone at your accommodation, I highly recommend a private tour if it’s within your budget.

On our boat tour, we visited Armutlu Su Bay, Inceburun Bay, and Kunta Kinte Bay, depending on wind conditions which may allow visits to 4-5 bays. The bays were simply magnificent, and the best part was that we were either alone or accompanied by just a few other private boats. We spent 2-3 hours swimming and snorkeling in each one. For dinner, we had the choice of meatballs or fish, accompanied by pasta and salad. I also checked out the group tours; while in Inceburun Bay, we encountered the Badem 2 boat. I had previously gathered information from their stand in the city center, and they seemed quite reputable—I would consider them for a group tour. Some people who chose Badem 1 were also satisfied. Additionally, there are smaller private boats for 4-6 people.

Attractions and Things to Do in Datca

The first thing you should do in Datça is to visit the bays, which I have already described above. Now, let me share a few places that, in my opinion, you must visit before leaving. You haven’t truly seen Datça until you’ve visited Old Datça. It is one of the oldest centers on the Datça Peninsula, where life has continued since ancient times. It is an incredibly photogenic place, with its bougainvilleas, stone houses, and charming streets. The house of Can Yücel, who spent his last 10 years in Datça, has been transformed into a museum.

Another experience not to miss in Datça is watching the sunset at the ancient city of Knidos. I didn’t expect to be as impressed as we were, but it truly was a spectacular sunset. Dating back to the 6th century BC, Knidos was both an important trade center and a city of culture and art in ancient times. The roads leading there are somewhat curved and narrow, and it starts to get dark as the sun sets, so I suggest leaving shortly after the sunset without lingering too long. If you arrive 45 minutes to an hour before sunset, you’ll encounter no problems with parking and will be able to take photos easily.

Where to Eat in Datca? Dining and Nightlife in Datca

We dined at Payam on the day we visited Palamutbükü. The food was good, but the prices were higher compared to other local restaurants. However, dining at Payam comes with a perk—free use of the sunbeds on the beach in front of the restaurant. Next door to Payam, the Sarıhoş restaurant was also recommended; it’s worth a try. Don’t forget to buy cookies from Payam; their selection is delicious. We tried 4-5 varieties, and each was excellent. Speaking of desserts, I highly recommend trying the cakes and pastries at Tonka.

Since we prepared our own breakfasts, we bought bagels every morning from Nokta Unlu Mamulleri. They offer a great variety of bagels and pastries. One evening, we craved lahmacun, so we stopped at Meşhur Köfteci Sami Usta 1964 for pita and lahmacun. The garden setting was spacious, and the food was tasty. If you’re in the mood for something similar and you happen upon it, definitely stop in. Kardesler Pide came recommended for pide as well. Çınar’s ice cream was fantastic, and Tekin Usta came highly recommended, though we didn’t get a chance to try it. Let me also mention Datça soda, which has a distinctive almond flavor. It wasn’t to my taste, but you might like it, so I suggest trying it while in Datça. For affordable dining, Lokanta Barbun is the best spot in town. They serve home-cooked meals along with pizza, at very reasonable prices, and the food is delicious.

Another must-do in Datça is to have dinner at one of the restaurants lined up along Kumluk Beach. Kekik and Maradona are the most popular here. Cafe Inn, also on this strip, is renowned for its pizza. Iskandil restaurant came highly recommended, and I really wanted to go, but despite calling four days in advance, I couldn’t make a reservation. I even put myself on the waiting list, but still couldn’t get a seat. They offer a fixed menu that includes a salad, three appetizers, an entrée, and fish—the fish served is whatever was caught that day. You need to bring your own drinks, as they do not sell any alcohol. I suggest making a reservation well in advance. D-po pizza, next door to Iskandil, is also very famous. You might also want to visit Hestia for breakfast and try their ravioli.

If you’re interested in local wines, Datça Vineyard and Knidos Winery are two delightful spots to visit. We only briefly experienced the nightlife in Datça, which is concentrated around the marina. Among the bars there, Coop was our favorite. It featured live music and offered spacious seating, so it didn’t feel overcrowded. Additionally, there are several charming places to enjoy a drink in Old Datça.

What to Buy from Datca? Datca Shopping

Datça is famously known for its almonds, and there are numerous places in the center selling them. It’s not just almonds, but a variety of almond-based products are available, ranging from pastes to colognes, and from olives to skincare products. If you’re looking to buy almonds or almond products, Datça Village Products is a good place to start. A friend of mine purchased almonds from the Sındı Village Cooperative, which was not only more affordable but also beneficial for the local villagers, making it a meaningful choice. Olive Farm Datça offers organic food, skincare products, and decorative items. You might already know you can shop from their website, but since they have a factory outlet in Datça, you can take advantage of a 30% discount on their products.

When to go to Datca? How many days to stay in Datca?

You can visit Datça starting in May and plan your vacation up until the end of October. The peak season, which is also the most glamorous, crowded, and expensive, is during July and August. On our last visit for preparing this blog post, we stayed in Datça for 4 nights and 5 days, which was just right for us. We did travel at a brisk pace, visiting more than one bay each day. If you prefer to take your time, especially since you’re on vacation, and want to explore extensively, you might consider a longer trip.

I hope you find my Datça Travel Guide helpful as you plan your trip. If you have additional questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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