The Carian Way hides many treasures…
Archaeological sites, unique images, endless vineyards, view, sea, nature and many gastronomic products, are only few of the things you will come across on the Carian Way. Its length, which is more than 800 kilometers, as well as the alternation of images that it offers, render it as one of the most beautiful trails in the world. It starts at Turkey’s southwest coast, it continues along the shoreline and ends up inland, through amazing trails. At the Muğla and Aydın provinces, which we visited, you will discover some of the most important points of the trail. You will come in contact with the Carian civilization, while you will be enjoying tasty local delicacies.
Are you ready to also follow the Carians’ Way?
A few words about the Carians:
The Carians were an ancient people, who resided on the southwest coast of Asia Minor. They built some of the most important cities of the area, such as Miletus, Halicarnassus, Evromos, Aphrodisias, Stratonicea, Iassos and more. Well-known Carians were Mausolus, Hecatomnos, Artemisia I and Herodotus.
Our trip took place thanks to Go Turkiye , Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency.
Attractions on the Carian Way
Bodrum, also known as Halicarnassus of Caria, is one of the most beautiful coastal cities in southwest Turkey. It is a cosmopolitan resort that combines history, culture, turquoise waters, gastronomic experiences, luxury hotels and vivid night life. Walk in the city center’s picturesque streets, visit its history-rich castle and take a walk along its endless marina. Don’t miss the chance to try local delicacies at some of its taverns, with a view of the Aegean Sea.
Mini info: a) It hosted the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. b) It is the birthplace of Herodotus, the father of History!
The Bodrum Castle has been the jewel of the city and its port for six centuries. It is also the number one landmark of the general area. It is well-maintained and impresses the visitor with its size and imposing towers. Inside the castle you will find halls with exhibits and interactive boards, locations with wonderful views of the city, the marina and the Aegean Sea. You can also wander around beautiful gardens and cobbled pathways. Over there you will be greeted by the castle’s “hosts”, who are none other the exquisite peacocks. Finally, the Bodrum Castle hosts one of the city’s most important museums, the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Mini info: a) The city was named after the Bodrum Castle, which was devoted to Saint Peter (St. Peter or Petronium which became Bodrum), and not after the Turkish word budrum (which means basement). b) For the construction of the castle they used stones from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (!), which had already been destroyed by an earthquake. c) The British tower is the largest of the castle.
Museum of Underwater Archaeology (Bodrum)
Bodrum used to be one of the most important ports in the area, a quiet town of fishermen and sponge divers. On one of their dives, they came across some unique shipwrecks and treasures, and thus contributing to one of the most important discoveries of the underwater world. These findings are housed today in the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which is located inside the Bodrum Castle. It is a special and unusual museum, which hosts collections of amphorae, coins, jewels and various other objects that ships carried before they sank. The most impressive hall is the Glass Hall, with the reconstruction of an ancient ship that transported glass. The museum manages, through interactive screens and the ideal lighting, to convey to the visitor the magic of the underwater world and the excavations.
Mini info: a) The museum hosts the three most ancient shipwrecks in the world, one of which dates back to the Bronze Age. b) You will find the largest collection of colorful glass in the world (that were recovered from a shipwreck).
The heart of Bodrum beats at its marina. From sunrise to sunset and from sunset to sunrise, the marina is never without people, as yachts and cruise ships from all around the world dock there, while all along it there are dozens of restaurants and bars. You can walk along it or get on one of the boats and have a day cruise. Also, do not miss out on sitting at one of its taverns and try some local delicacies. For more romantic moments, we suggest you visit it during sunset, so that you enjoy the colors of the sky in combination with the Aegean’s turquoise waters and the traditional boats. Finally, do not leave without having experienced the rhythm of the night life, drinking cocktails until morning.
2) Archaeological Sites
Archaeological sites could not be missing from the Carian Way. As we mentioned above, the Carians built many important cities, each one having its own history and beauty. So, in order to get to know the life and habits of this civilization, you simply have to visit them.
Aphrodisias is probably the most beautiful and well-maintained city you will come across on the Carian Way. Dedicated to Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, it will draw you in from the very first moment. The (almost) intact state of some of the buildings offers the visitor the chance to understand and get inside the daily life of its residents. Among Aphrodisias’ most important locations are the Sebasteion, the theater, the agora, the baths, the stadium and the temple of Aphrodite, while the most impressive one is the Tetrapylon. In the area you will also find the museum with findings and statues from the ancient city, with the most significant one being the statue of goddess Aphrodite.
Mini info: a) In Aphrodisias there used to be a large pool with fountains and palm trees. b) Here you can find the most well-preserved stadium in the world!
Stratonicea was one of the most significant cities of Caria. At the same time it is one of the most special ones you will see on the Carian Way. Inside the archaeological site, apart from the structures of the ancient city, you will also find ruins of the subsequently built (but abandoned) village Eskihisar, which was transferred to another location in the area, so that the excavations in Stratonicea could continue. The “entanglement” of these two periods makes Stratonicea even more special. Stratonicea’s most notable spots are the Turkish baths, the bouleuterion, the roman baths, the theater and its two impressive gates, which are dedicated to the goddess Hecate and Zeus.
Mini info: It was also known as the city of gladiators.
Lagina was the greatest place of worship in Caria, as it hosted the sanctuary of goddess Hecate. It was indissolubly linked to Stratonicea, as they were connected through a 11km holy trail. This was crossed, every year, by the procession that carried Hecate’s sacred key. In the archaeological site you will see the sanctuary’s ruins, the propylaea, the stoa, the city’s walls and more.
Mini info: a) Hecate was the goddess of magic and the underworld. b) The ceremony was known as “key-leading” or “key-bearing”.
At the Muğla province, inside one of its countless olive groves, hides yet another Carian city, Evromos. What stands out from the very first moment you approach it is the Temple of Zeus, one of the most well-preserved temples in Asia Minor. Inside the city there are also ruins of the theater, the agora, the necropolis and part of its walls.
Mini info: a) On the trail a bit before the theater, there is a “balcony” from which you can admire the temple, as well as the area from above. b) The Temple had 32 columns, 16 of which are still standing to this day.
In the city of Hecatomnos there is one of the most significant findings of the 21st century. It is none other than the Mausoleum of the king of Caria, Hecatomnus. It is a marble tomb that impresses with its size, carved representations, as well as the colorful murals that adorn the space. Unfortunately, because of the recent discovery and study, the tomb is not open to the public. Nonetheless, there is an exact replica, which you can see as you tour the archaeological site.
Mini info: The tomb was discovered in 2010 by antiquities thieves that were digging illegally in the area!
Close to the cities of Evromos and Hecatomnos, there is the small, ancient coastal town of Iassos. It is pinned on a small peninsula, while it was known for its port, fishing spots and red marble. Nowadays, apart from the amazing, unobstructed view, it also offers the visitor a unique view of the past, the history and civilization of the Carians.
3) Visit to a vineyard
Turkey is one of the largest grape producers in the world, as the climate and ground quality contribute to the cultivation of countless vineyards and dozens of varieties, from the ancient times until today. Either you love wine or not, you must visit one of the vineyards you will come across along the Carian Way, learn about the history, the production, and taste some of their select labels.
Recommendation: At the Mor Salkım vineyard, you will have the chance to enjoy a pleasant wine-tasting tour, thanks to the love and passion of the owners, Melih and Emel Erdemir. The tour includes a walk in the vineyards, a visit to the cellars, and the production and bottling areas. Finally, a bit before the sunset, a surprise awaits you, as you will have the chance to taste the delicious wines on the winery’s wonderful terrace, with a view of the vineyards, of course.
4) Ceramics in the town of Karacasu
In the town of Karacasu, which is located close to Aphrodisias, the art of ceramics stays alive to this day. Inside the pottery shops, the craftsmen, using exclusively the traditional method, create ceramic vessels out of red clay. After they sell through the market or to tourists.
Mini info: The deep red color of the clay is a result of its iron content (6-9%).
The Carian Way, apart from archaeological sites, cities and monuments, leads also to other trails…culinary ones, which you must explore. The Turkish cuisine differs from area to area, while it is rich in ingredients, tastes, spices and smells like…tradition! It is based on meat, seafood, as well as vegetables, while on the menus you will find them cooked in many different ways and combinations. Your table will not be without fresh salads, sauces, pitas, side dishes, cooked dishes, as well as desserts. The ingredients they love are eggplants, peppers, legumes, fresh herbs, fruit, dry nuts, olives and yoghurt, and this is why you will find them in almost every main or side dish.
From the Turkish cuisine, it is worth trying the traditional wedding dish Keşkek (meat with wheat and onions), Şevketibostan yemeği (lamb with thistle and fennel), Vekilharcı (minced meat in hand-made dough, yoghurt, garlic, onions and mint), Kofte (meatballs with a mix of herbs), Kokorec (lamb intestines filled with meat, vegetables and herbs), Tandir (slow-cooked lamb), as well as Kebab, Sarma and soups with meat or fish. To accompany your meal, pick a wine of your liking among the many options you will have, as well as the traditional Raki. Finally, to satisfy your sweet tooth, try Halva, Künefe (kadaifi with cheese and syrup), İncir Tatlısı (dried figs with butter), Katmer (crispy phyllo with peanuts and cream) and Lokma (small donuts), as well as the delicious spoon sweets.
Where to eat: Restaurants on the Carian Way
Korfez (Bodrum): Coastal fish tavern on the Bodrum marina, with the Aegean Sea at the background, accompanied by delicious seafood dishes.
Garson Sukru (Denizli): A modern restaurant with traditional dishes of the area of Denizli, which is famed for its meat products.
Pinarbasi Restaurant (Bozuyuk): Traditional restaurant with a beautiful outdoor space, full of creeks, little bridges and trees, ideal for a cool break.
Agora Gurme (Milas, Selimiye): At this restaurant you will taste traditional dishes of the area, made with fresh ingredients of their production.
Yali Restaurant (Güllük): Yali Boutique Hotel’s restaurant offers tasty dishes by the sea.
Accommodation in Carian Way
Where to stay: Hotels on the Carian Way
The Marmara (Bodrum): The five-star hotel offers luxury accommodation with clean rooms and decor that reminds of a medieval castle, while it has an amazing view of the Bodrum castle, the marina and the Aegean.
Yalı Boutique Otel (Güllük): It is a coastal hotel with spacious rooms, a pool and a wonderful restaurant/bar where you can dine or have a drink with a view of the sea.
ANIM Boutique Hotel (Denizli): High-ceilinged rooms, handmade furniture, unusual decor and upscale products offer a luxurious stay in the city center.
Tips Carian Way
- The ideal period to visit Bodrum is May to September.
- Visit the Bodrum Castle at the opening so that you don’t wait in line.
- In the Bodrum general area there are about 70 beaches with a blue flag!
- Do not miss out on visiting the hidden gem Gümüşlük (next to Bodrum), known for its bohemian character.
- Distances are pretty long so it would be best to rent a car.
- Purchase a local SIM card to have mobile data. Avoid the mobile telecommunications stores at the airport! Their prices compared to the ones in the cities are up to five times higher!
- In the summer months, always carry a hat, sunscreen and water.
- Visit the archaeological sites at the opening or a bit before closing, in order to avoid crowds and groups.
- In the summer months you will not find fresh fish, only frozen, as during this period fishing is prohibited.
- There are many hiking paths to discover on the Carian trail. Pick the one with the difficulty level that suits you.
- If you want to have a boat day cruise, choose small groups for a more pleasant trip.
- Debit/credit cards are accepted everywhere, but if you need cash prefer an exchange agency in the cities.
Photo Gallery (Carian Way)