Göcek –Sophistication that is Not Part of My World

I would love to write that Göcek is my top recommended place to go. I would love to express excited admiration for its untold beauty. Truth be told though, I found this Turkish resort to be unwelcoming.

I said it was pretentious.

Hubby said it was upmarket.

Either way, we knew it was just not for us.

About Göcek on the south west coast of Turkey

I heard about its reputation before I went. A small resort with six marinas, it is a popular stopping point on yacht sailing routes of the Turkish Riviera. Villas for sale in the area, often cost more than a million pounds. A friend also described it to me…

“Oh, you will love it” she said

My response :  “ok, what does the resort have?”

“Rich people, loads of them was the reply.

Another website describes it as…

“The preferred vacation destination for the sophisticated traveler”

Gocek Marina

Gocek Marina

Well, I am not sophisticated, and with hindsight, Göcek should have been on my list of places not to go. Instead, I decided to give it a chance and first impressions were not good.

After walking around, we settled in a café on the marina and ordered ice coffees. I looked at the rest of the clientèle seated around me. Everything about them, from their brand name clothing to their body language, told me they were not my type of people.

We were totally on different wavelengths.

We came from different worlds.

When I travel around places in Turkey, I often ask the staff of local restaurants and cafes for information about the destination I am in. These locals can provide more details than any guidebook. However, the staff in this café seemed scared of the customers; they were not relaxed and hesitant to engage in any prompted conversation.


Village Square

Instead, we found an old restaurant on the back streets serving basic Turkish food. There was nothing fancy about it but the owner was more down to earth and we found a common bond, a connection.

He had lots to say about Göcek and there was no barrier of social status.

That was my type of restaurant and they were my type of people.

Göcek  Turkey

Statues in the village square

I learnt a lesson that day. When a place is described as the ideal destination for jet setters and celebrities, I should stay away.

When restaurants boast of gourmet menus and beaches are marked as private, I need to remember that is not what I am about.

I am more at home in down-market establishments, meeting locals who are not scared to talk to the customers.

No matter how much I believe that every man is made equal, it takes others to believe in the same concept, if a friendship or common bond is to be formed.

Social status is very much a factor of life in Turkey.  I even see it in the smaller down market resorts like Altinkum. The more money, you have the more respect you are given.

Some call it sophistication while I say it is pretentious.


Road leading out of Gocek

 I will not be returning to Göcek and  I suspect, Göcek does not want me back anyway. 

Readers Question : Have you been to a place and made a promise never to return?

Turkey Travel Gocek

Mural dedicated to sailors

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    I actually met my husband in Gocek so in one respect it holds a special place in my heart. But that was nearly 15 years ago and it has changed in that time. We went back for a nostalgic visit a few years ago and wished we hadn’t because I find it to be exactly as you describe it…and it’s just not us either.
    The place I would never return to is Side, where we lived for 3 years…or seedy Side as I prefer to call it..which speaks for itself!
    Ayak wrote about..Save Lennox

    • says

      Glad to know i am not the only one who felt unwelcome Ayak – Side, I actually want to return to as have not seen it in about ten years. I went in the winter time so missed out on all the seedy aspect that you talk about, but I will know what to watch out for now!
      Natalie wrote about..St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul

    • Diane says

      We have been going to Gocek for about 12 years -often twice a year if we are lucky. We love it! We always start our sailing holiday here and try to arrange at least a couple of nights in Gocek. The people have always been friendly, the choice of restaurants excellent and I must admit that we dont care how people dress – casual or not- its how they interact with us that is important. We have met lovely folk from posh yachts as well as delightful people who were on package holidays. Going back in three weeks -can’t wait!

  2. Andrea says

    Las Vegas. I wasn’t really sure I was going to like it before I went, and now can say that it is true. Vegas is not for me. I’m glad I can say I went to see it for myself, but would I go back? Nope!
    Andrea wrote about..SWAP Blog Guest Post

  3. phil + Di marina gateway says

    nice photos Natalie but i think i’ll give this place a miss

  4. Von says

    Thank You I really enjoyed reading that, as I do all your other blogs :) and it saves me a trip, cos it doesn’t sound my kind of place either. I’m with you, I like to mix, not sit there with my nose in the air ol xx

  5. says

    You’re so right about Gocek. On a road trip south once, stopped for coffee and got the once-over since we were not dressed properly…meaning casual, not flashy. Would have stayed in So Cal if I wanted that!

    Kalkan was also odd in a different way because the waiters were surprised to have my Turkish husband picking up the bill for a group of Americans (who were friends, not clients). Not the real Turkey I love…
    Catherine wrote about..This hybrid life

  6. says

    . . there are perfect little cruises to be taken; wonderful walks outside the town and some nice, deserted little coves not far away. Other than that, the best bit of Göcek is the by-pass!
    Alan wrote about..Akdamar – A Name Carved Into History

  7. Robert says

    I look forward to reading your postings whenever time permits, which is not frequent. Love the pictures and especially the mural for the sailers. The cobalt blue applied as it is renders a nice visual appeal. I have visited generally three corners of Turkey (avoiding the Aegean immersion for the most part) and have the Black Sea region to visit next time. Aside from that there are more areas of Turkey and the world that I have yet to visit than are areas to avoid. Gocek doesn’t seem that it has much to offer though in terms of interesting.

    • says

      In terms of interesting Gocek is at the bottom of the list Robert. Be sure to put the black sea at the top of your list. Just returned from there about three weeks ago and it was amazing.
      Natalie wrote about..The Friendly Locals of Ani Village

  8. Dina says

    This is very interesting as I’ve been going to Gocek for 20 years and adore the town. I stay in a small, basic family hotel and find the local people very warm and friendly. I find that Gocek serves as a ‘start’ or ‘finish’for cruising holidays, and that anyone who wanted to be seen wearing designer clothes, captured by paparazzi or who was particular about what there was to do (not much), would be bored very quickly. Gocek is also a center for sailors, who are notorious for being basic and hands-on, judging others on their ability to moor and not the alligator on the polo.

    Anyway, good thread – I still love my Gocek – thanks Natalie.

    • says

      I wish I had found more locals to chat to Di as often that makes all the difference.

      Must admit, that I did not spot any celebrities though, maybe people who just thought they were!

      Generally, I could tell by the people that it was just not my type of place but you have obviously had different experiences. Glad you found somewhere you love
      Natalie wrote about..Brilliant Beekeeping : How The Turks Make Sweet, Golden Honey

  9. says

    So sad isn’t it, wonderful bays and landscape, but unfortunately not welcoming, not genuine, lack of character.. so sad. Have been to the nearby villages of Gocek but not there, and I don’t think I am going. I had a similar feeling driving thru rather tacky looking strip malls in Texas, the folks have been friendly, but place not inviting.
    Ozlem’s Turkish Table wrote about..Casserole of Turkish Meatballs with Aubergine, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Peppers – Sebzeli Firin Kofte

  10. David Race says

    Side was our worst experience and had it been our first visit to Turkey we would never have returned.

    Ripped off with virtually every purchase, not a lot of money but a few Lira here and there got to be an irritation. We were also accosted by aggressive restaurateur’s who wouldn’t take a ” No thank you ” as an answer.

    Luckily we already knew of Turgutreis and the Bodrum peninsula where we eventually bought a place.

    • says

      I agree about Turgutreis David. I only stayed there two days but found it to be one of the best places I have been to. The locals were genuine as well which appealed to me very much. Good location to buy property
      Natalie wrote about..23 Landscape Photos of Turkey

  11. EM says

    Hi Natalie,
    first off I just want t say how much I love your blog! I came across it doing internet searches looking for ideas for a road trip around Turkey and you have given me some fantastic ideas!I’ve been to Turkey three times now to some of the more touristy places and have fallen in love with the country. Its not the resorts I have enjoyed but our little adventures out of the resorts and into the unknown which have sparked an interest in wanting to find out what the ‘real’ Turkey is like!

    In response to your reader question in this post – I have recently returned from a trip to Cesme marina, which was ‘ok’ but I wouldn’t visit again as there just wasn’t enough to do/visit in the surrounding area and I found the town to be very run down with little charm.

    Thanks again for the brilliant blog and Ill be coming back over the next few weeks for more inspiration. xx

  12. says

    Hi EM, glad you like the blog. Keep reading if you are looking for ideas of road trips as currently in the south east and this is a fantastic area, very different from the tourist resorts of the west. Will be posting articles about it soon. Thanks for the tip about Cesme, will bear that in mind
    Natalie wrote about..The Church of the Redeemer and the True Cross

  13. Leeza Silverman says

    Bodrum made me feel exactly like this. Instantly hated the place for the same reasons!

    • says

      It is amazing how we can be instantly drawn to some places and turn away from others.

  14. Michael Shelton says

    I really am surprised at your impresions of Gocek. I dont have a yacht or even designer clothes but I have rarely been to a more friendly place than Gocek whether it was the small family run hotel,the local barber or any of the shops. All were more than willing to chat although I only had about 10 words of the language. No one tries to rip me off and I have never met a local who wasnt willing to help if asked politely.
    My overall impresion was in Turkish. hosh bull duc. That may not be spelt correctly but a rough translation is I feel welcome.

    • says

      It is spelt Hos Bulduk but I understood what you meant Michael. Would be more than willing to give it another go if I was on the Med coast again. I never rule out visiting a place just once. Sometimes on the 2nd or third visit, I can have different experiences.

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