Updated: May 31, 2019
Mugla is one of the most visited Turkish provinces, a tourism powerhouse that becomes the destination of choice for millions of people, every summer. Many of them end up staying in this heavenly corner of the world, just like many civilizations have been doing over millenia. Its 1100km-long coast line is the longest one of all provinces in the country and its mild Mediterranean climate, unique geographical features, and rich history make Mugla one of the must-visit places, not only in Turkey but on the entire planet.
Mugla province is located on the southwestern tip of Turkey, where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas meet. Inland, the predominant geographical structures are small plains and highlands, surrounded by mountains that run perpendicular to the sea. This structure that is predominantly covered by small bush and pot-shaped plants, forms the indented coast line that includes major peninsulas like Bodrum and Datca, as well as countless coves and islands. Yacht tourism thrives thanks to the perfect conditions for sailing and Mugla is synonymous with the term “Blue Voyage”. The region boasts two lakes; Lake Bafa and Lake Koycegiz, the latter one opening into the Mediterranean through a picturesque waterway called Dalyan. The area is also rich in fresh water resources, thanks to the high Sandras mountains, whose snow-topped peaks hold many springs that merge into streams, forming arable valleys before meeting the sea. Pine forests are common along the coast, offering majestic combinations of blue and green. The administrative center is the city of Mugla, while important towns include the tourism-driven Bodrum, Marmaris, and Fethiye. As the entire region holds crucial importance due to tourism, agriculture and history, we recommend exploring in its entirety. From the modest backpacker to the big spender, from those seeking peace and quiet to those looking for investment opportunities, Mugla has something magical for everyone. And if you’re thinking about property investment in Turkey, then Mugla should definitely be on your radar, because for years now, foreigners have been buying land and real estate in and around many of its breathtaking locations.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
While visiting Mugla, it's impossible not to marvel at the way its rich history harmoniously blends with its natural beauty. The cultures that have flourished under such ideal conditions as those in Mugla, have repeatedly left their marks in history. In ancient times, the area between Indus (Dalaman) and Meanders (Menderes) rivers was inhabited by Anatolian natives that were known as Carians and Leleges. Carians are referenced in Homer's Iliad, as siding with the Trojans against Greek attacks. After the Carians, the region was occupied by Egyptians, Assyrians, Scythians, Greeks, Persians, Alexander the Great, and eventually by the Turks. As each civilization left its mark, Mugla inherited a mixed cultural and historical heritage. In fact, here you can hop from one ancient city to the next, admiring the ruins and breathing in millenia-old culture that still hangs in the air. From Knidos and Halicarnassos to Telmessos, Xanthos, and Patara, over 100 excavated sites in Mugla are waiting to be discovered. Since the 14th century, the region has been predominanty settled by Turks, first during the reign of Mentese Bey and his beylik, then, that of the Ottoman Empire and finally, the modern Turkish Republic. The people of Mugla are quite open and welcoming to foreigners. Their friendly, positive and laid back attitude is partly infuenced by the idyllic lifestyle. Bountiful nature and mild climate make Mugla a relatively easy place to live. The main economical sectors in Mugla are tourism, agriculture, mining, and forestry. In general, industry is not well-developed apart from the paper mill in Dalaman and the power stations at Yatagan, Yenikoy, and Kemerkoy. There are two airports in Mugla; one in Milas and another one in Dalaman.
DISTRICTS AND TOWNS
Mugla has several important and well-known towns and districts that are absolutely unmissable. For the sake of brevity, we will focus on the most famous ones, but note that the lesser-known, undiscovered parts of Mugla are the real bounty. When you find the time and means, make sure to take an expansive road trip across the entire province following the coastline, hopping from one ancient site to the next. Or alternatively, you can choose the sea route and do it all on a blue voyage, as you discover its bays and coves, too. The big towns of Mugla tend to be more crowded than Mugla city, the administrative center. The tourism industry has brought with it increasing development and property investment. From luxury hotels and luxury villas to shopping centers, restaurants and cafés, the towns of Muğla have been getting more than a fair share of investment, as well as domestic and foreign migration.
Bodrum is the most famous and touristic of Mugla's districts and towns. Located on the Bodrum peninsula, it has ideal conditions for summer tourism, with many villages that transform into crowded resorts between June and September, each year. Bodrum's center combines a vibrant nightlife (The famous bar street), fine restaurants, a marina and the majestic Bodrum Castle, built by the Knights of Rhodes in the 15th century. The castle also includes an underwater museum in its premises. Around Bodrum, spread out across the larger peninsula, are many villages that have transformed into summer resorts with hotels and building complexes holding summerhouses that are owned by locals and foreign expats. These include: Gumbet, Bitez, Yalikavak, Torba, Turgutreis, Turkbuku, Golturkbuku, Gundogan, Ortakent, Gumuşluk and Akyarlar. All of these are perfect for those looking to buy Turkish property, as they offer various options for different tastes. Bodrum is also very close to the Greek island of Kos. There are ferries operating between Bodrum-Kos, as well as Bodrum-Datca. The peninsula also offers plenty to explore via daily or weekly private boat charters. Its famous coves, such as the Aquarium get visited by millions of people every year. Bodrum is very easy to reach, thanks to an airport that lays 30 minutes away from the centre. There are also many bus companies operating between Bodrum and Turkey's largest cities. Apart from tourism, another driving force behind its economy is the aquaculture industry spread across the peninsula, concentrated around Gulluk Bay.
Fethiye is a district of Mugla and its second most populated province after Bodrum. It is located on the eastern part of the Gulf of Fethiye, neighboring to Antalya in the east, the Mediterranean Sea in the west and Denizli and Burdur in the north. Its population, which is nearly 150.000, mainly deals with tourism and agriculture. Fethiye has numerous touristic attractions and its warm Mediterranean climate enables long summer seasons. Moreover, its deep valleys, underwater attractions, high hills and suitable climate offer several outdoor sports opportunities like paragliding and scuba diving. Many foreign visitors, some of whom also make real estate investment in Fethiye, visit its beautiful beaches throughout the year. Oludeniz Beach, which was chosen the best beach of the world in 2006 with its unique lagoon, is one of the most populous areas during the summer. Belcekiz Beach and Kidrak Beaches offer more nature and less population. Calis Beach, Katranci Beach, Gunluklu Beach and Ciftlik Beach are more preferred by the local public. The adventure and nature lovers prefer to stay in the camping areas and bungalov hotels of the Butterfly Valley, Kabak and the Gemile Bay. The Saklikent Gorge walk trail is another big touristic attraction of the region.
Marmaris is a touristic seaside town, located at the intersection point of the Aegean and the Mediterranean Regions in southwestern Turkey. Its green pine forests stretching towards its long, blue-flag beaches make it a world famous town, where the turquoise and the green blend perfectly. Although the population is around 30.000, it increases by ten times during the high season. Many international visitors come to its luxury resorts while the sailors, trekkers and divers discover its natural and historical attractions. Marmaris Public Beach and Uzunyali Beach are the most popular beaches in the town center. Paradise Island, the peninsula at the entrance of Marmaris Bay, is a frequent stop on daily boat trips. It is possible to reach the island through a nice walk trail at Liar Strait. The Cleopatra (Sedir) Island, which has unique golden colored sand, has a special importance with its place in the mythological stories. According to the legend, those special sands were brought by Julius Caesar as a gift to Cleopatra, who had accepted to marry him. There are also historical Roman And Byzantine ruins on the island, which can be visited via the daily tours. This naturally beautiful town does not lose anything from its pace in the nights with its lively bar and restaurant scene. There are several shopping options from Marmaris' own Grand Bazaar to the many shops. Moreover, its aqua parks are favorite entertainment centers for families. Marmaris has seen its fair share of property investment and many foreigners have bought apartments and luxury houses in Marmaris. It is only 1 hour away from Dalaman International Airport.
Datca is the least populated one among the major touristic towns of Mugla. Once, it was not as accessible as it is now, due to the interesting geographical formation of the Datça peninsula. Its narrow and winding roads were deemed dangerous by many, but now they have improved significantly.The tip of the peninsula is known as Knidos, once home to the ancient town by that name. Lying between Marmaris Bay and Bodrum, Datca is an idyllic, gorgeous town and district with plenty of opportunities for a relaxing time in the midst of nature. Its steady wind helps cool down during hot summer days. Hisaronu Bay, south of Knidos, is an excellent place for sailing, with many coves and islands, including the near-by Greek island of Symi.
WHAT TO DO IN MUGLA?
Sail along its shores on a blue voyage.
Visit Bodrum Castle and watch the sunrise in downtown Bodrum.
Go to Oludeniz Beach, take a boat trip to Butterfly or Kabak valley.
Take a boat trip to Cleopatra's Island.
Eat fish at one of the many restaurants by the fresh water stream in Akyaka.
Watch the sunset at Knidos.
Visit the ancient cities and towns.