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Maybe you’ve been on a cruise. Maybe you’ve been to Turkey. But, even if you’ve tried both, a gulet cruise holiday in Turkey is a truly unique type of trip – here’s why.

You’ve probably heard about the Aegean and Turkish coast in history class or seen pictures of your friends staying at one of the hundreds of holiday resorts that litter the coastline, but, they only tell half of the story.

The Aegean is home to at least 84 islands, surrounded by the Turkish and Greek mainlands and coastlines, while the southern and eastern parts of the Turkish coast are a collection of secluded islands, imposing cliff faces, undulating hills, and hidden towns and villages.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a holiday in a resort. But, for those that want to see more of what Turkey has to offer and witness the wonders they might otherwise miss, a gulet holiday is a perfect alternative. Here are 7 very good reasons to try a gulet holiday.

1 – Secluded bays and beaches

If you like having a beach to yourself or relaxing evenings watching the sun go down over the horizon, a gulet holiday gives you both of these things. The coastline and islands around Turkey stretches 8,000km and is home to hundreds of bays and 436 blue flag beaches, with many being inaccessible by land. 

Unlike large cruise liners or even some yachts, gulets have shallow bottoms allowing them to anchor close to the shore. With this freedom comes the opportunity to visit bays and beaches most travellers will never get the chance to see, never mind explore. 


Butterfly Valley on a gulet cruise holiday in Turkey
Butterfly Valley

2 – Turquoise waters

The waters around Turkey are home to some of the clearest waters in the Mediterranean, which in the summer heat, can not only be inviting but a perfect way to cool down, have some fun with your shipmates or try some snorkelling around the rocky shores and cliffs. 

Many of the gulets – including the more ‘budget’ options – that sail around Turkey carry numerous amounts of snorkelling equipment, floats and even paddle boards, giving you the chance to relax, explore or try something new in clear and warm waters.


3 – Glorious food

Each gulet comes with an onboard chef, who stocks the boat with locally grown, caught and reared fresh produce from local markets at the villages and towns during the stops of the ‘cruise’.

In terms of the food served, you can enjoy the very best of local dishes, cooked freshly during the day. The chefs will often produce numerous lamb stews, barbequed fish and various vegetarian dishes that would delight even the fussiest of easters. For anyone that has allergies or food intolerances, the chefs are great at adjusting the menu and making sure they can offer dishes to suit your needs.



4 – Exploring opportunities

As I’ve already touched on, gulet holidays venture around the coastline, stopping off at bays, beaches, towns, villages and islands. Giving you numerous opportunities to stretch your legs and really explore local life and environments.

With so much of the coastline destinations inaccessible or at the very least hard to reach by land, meaning gulets allow visitors to explore more and miss the day boats of people that are staying on the land. This is highlighted most when visiting Butterfly Valley, where the gulet holiday boats often aim to arrive early in the morning to give visitors a better chance to wander around and enjoy the beach before the ‘day trippers’ arrive. 


5 – Sleeping under the stars

There are numerous styles of gulet holiday, from the luxury to the more backpacker/budget-friendly. While the luxury options come with fully air-conditioned rooms and other amenities to make sleeping in the cabins even more comfortable in the beating heat of the Turkish summers, an aspect of gulet holiday that shouldn’t be unstated is the chance to sleep under the stars.

Anchored in secluded bays, with the waves gently rocking the boat you can look up into the clear night skies and watch both shooting stars and the stars twinkling on one of the (usually) many deck beds. Not only does this make for a magical way to spend a night but the morning is even better. Watching the sun come up over the horizon and capturing the morning glow is simply stunning and something not to be missed, especially when the view changes every day.

(Note: On my gulet holiday, I didn’t spend a single night in my cabin. Instead, I slept on the deck the entire 7 nights I was on board.)


Sunset at St Nicholas Island on a gulet cruise


6 – Go at your own pace

With the freedom of the sea and the ability to explore hard to reach locations, a gulet holiday can go at any pace you want it. For some, they might want to go from one place to the other quickly and wander around on the land for most of the day, while others might choose a more relaxed sea-based itinerary that leaves them less time ashore but more time in the water or in bays.

With the freedom to talk to the captain and chance to adjust where you go each morning, often based on information from other captains and the weather, you can have the freedom to build you trip as you go. (You usually book based on one itinerary but these can be adjusted if you’re booking a whole gulet for a group of you).


7 – Your own memories

On a similar point to the one above. Like with any sailing or sea-based holiday, the weather and various other elements can affect where you get to visit and what you get to do. While this might sound like a reason not to go on a gulet holiday, it’s actually another reason to consider it even more. What you get to see and experience is unlikely to be exactly the same as someone else.

Having the chance to create memories that will be personal to only you (and your shipmates) is what makes the gulet holiday that bit extra special. For the bay you get to fall asleep and wake up in, another group is unlikely to see that exact sight. 

Sure this can lead to some envy that they potentially had a “better” experience but with the freedom to explore comes the variation in what you see and do.


The view from Simena Castle


Go out there and try a gulet holiday

While I have also been on Croatia sailing holiday, the Turkish gulet holidays are something that bit extra special. If you’re looking to visit Turkey, see a number of sights and explore local culture, a gulet holiday is one I can fully recommend and suggest trying.