Along the Troad Coast
This itinerary, which offers a more pleasant and slower alternative to speeding down the inland parallel of highway D550/Ê87, can be done as quick as in a day, and is quite popular among travellers and holidaymakers, Turkish and international alike, the latter of whom usually drive into Turkey from Europe, on their way to more southern resorts. History lovers will especially enjoy the route.
Stores offering drinks and basic snacks can be found in any village along the route. Restaurants and guesthouses (pansiyon) are located in well-travelled villages of Troy, Geyikli, Dalyan, Tavaklıiskelesi, Gülpınar, Babakale, and Assos in reasonable numbers. Gas stations, while present, are less frequent, though, especially in the section between Tavaklıiskelesi and Assos, but starting with a full tank in Çanakkale will go a long way.
In the total, the route is about 125 km of driving.
While not an absolute necessity, having a detailed map of the area would be good, and will help especially in a number of junctions that very well lead to a maze of local roads between villages around Geyikli and Dalyan. However, carefully following the signposts is more than enough, and other than Geyikli and Dalyan area, the itinerary generally follows the only road in the region—you cannot get lost even if you want to.
While the itinerary can be done by using public transport, some of the backcountry roads taken along the itinerary have 2-hour intervals of buses at best, so self driving should obviously be the preferred way to get around, although it is not strictly essential. Wherever there is a low bus service, hitchhiking also helps, it is not very hard to attract a lift in the region. Ardent hitchhikers are also known to do the whole route by nothing else but their thumbs. The route can also be reasonably done by a bicycle, especially by those experienced at cycling on hilly terrain. There are fountains with drinkable water between the villages along the route.
Start early if you are to do the route in a day.
After leaving Çanakkale behind on the southwards highway to Izmir numbered D550/E87, and passing through a pine-covered hilly section south of city, you'll arrive in the plains and the junction of the road leading to the legendary ancient city of Troy, which is one of the highlights of the itinerary. Touring around the ruins and climbing up the Trojan Horse can be done in as little as an hour, although history lovers will probably like to spend more time.
When you are done in Troy, head back to the highway you came in, this time heading south. After a few km on the highway, take the westbound road, signposted to Geyikli-Bozcaada. This will bring you back to the coast of Aegean Sea in the village of Geyikli. Those without a car at their disposal should take the buses to Ezine on the highway and switch to westbound buses to Geyikli there, run by Ezine Birlik (☎ +90 286 618 10 11 ([email protected]), . ), which can get you as far as to Babakale further on the itinerary. From Geyikli, for a livelier experience, you may opt for taking the ferries across to Bozcaada, an attractive and lively island with some beautiful architecture and streetscapes. However, if you choose to cross there, it would be an injustice both to Bozcaada and to yourself to overlook the island and not to stay there at least a night.
Upon returning to the mainland from Bozcaada (if you chose to get there), head south from Geyikli towards the village of Dalyan. On your way to Dalyan, visit the ruins of Alexandria Troas, founded by Alexander the Great on his way to India, which have some collapsed marble columns scattered around and an intact bathhouse.
Still following the southbound route along the coast, you will get to the resort town of Tavaklıiskelesi after Dalyan, which have some cafes and restaurants next to its long beach where you may have a lunch, unless you have already done that in Geyikli or Dalyan.
After Tavaklıiskelesi, road strays away from the coast and starts to turn and twist through the hilly interior of the peninsula, which has the typical Mediterranean landscape of olive- and vineyards and maquis shrublands covering the hillsides. A place of note on this road may be the natural saltpan on the side of a hill just next to a creek. You will pass through a number of villages on this section, which preserved their stone Mediterranean-style architecture, thanks to the relative remoteness of the area.
About 30 km further south on this backcountry road will take you to Gülpınar, a village on the top of a mountain with a distant view of Aegean Sea. This is where the impressive, but partially intact Temple of Apollon (Apollon Smintheon) is located.
From Gülpınar, take the narrow and winding 8-km road to Babakale, the coastal village on the westernmost tip of Asian mainland, marked by a castle. The road leading to Babakale traverses through a quite out-of-world landscape, with large dark boulders dressed with sparse shrubs, all perfectly contrasting to deep blue Aegean. After visiting the castle, you may have your afternoon tea in the coffeehouse just across the village square from the gate of castle.
When you are done in Babakale, head back to Gülpınar and take the eastwards road to Assos, where you will get to after passing through a number of villages and some more Mediterranean landscapes.
Safety is not really an issue on this route, crime is practically nil and there are no especially dangerous animals in the area to speak of. As long as you are careful when driving in the winding and narrow sections of the road and are drinking enough water especially in the height of summer, you will be more than OK.
Most of those travelling this route usually do so on their way to more southern towns and resorts along the Aegean, so you may do the same and take the eastbound road from Assos to Küçükkuyu which will bring you back to the highway D550/E87, which leads to Izmir.