Quite popular as a day trip among travellers to this part of the world, this itinerary offers a slower and more pleasant alternative to speeding down the inland highway D550/E87. History lovers will especially enjoy the route.
Stores offering drinks and basic snacks can be found in most villages along the route. Restaurants and guesthouses (pansiyon) are located in and near the 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 total, the route is about 150 km (93 mi) 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 lead to a maze of local roads between the villages. However, carefully following the signposts is often enough, and for most of the route, the itinerary follows the only road in the region—you cannot get lost even if you want to.
Çanakkale, which has extensive bus and highway connections, as well as ferry links crossing the Dardanelles, is the obvious entry point to the itinerary.
While most of the itinerary can be covered by using public transport (with a few modifications to the main route described below), some of the backcountry roads along the route 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 an infrequent bus service, hitchhiking also helps, and it is not very hard to attract a lift in the area. Ardent hitchhikers are also known to do the whole route by nothing else but their thumbs. The route can also be reasonably taken by a bicycle, especially by those experienced at cycling on hilly terrain. There are roadside fountains with drinkable water between the villages. The Troy Culture Route is a hiking trail loosely following this itinerary, touching most sites of interest.
Start early if you are to do the route in a day.
After leaving 1 Çanakkale behind on the highway (D550/E87) towards Izmir, and passing through some scenic pine-covered hills south of the city, you'll arrive in an open plateau where the road leading to the ruins of the legendary city of 2 Troy branches off. Troy is 5 km (3.1 mi) off the main highway and is one of the highlights of the itinerary. Touring around the ruins (at places so scant that you will need a lot of imagination to figure out what the city was like in its heyday) 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. Down the highway 5 km (3.1 mi) south, turn off into the westbound road, signposted to Geyikli-Bozcaada. After driving across an agricultural flatland for 11 km (6.8 mi), near Mahmudiye you can turn off north for the 3 Cezayirli Hasan Paşa Mansion (6 km/3.7 mi sideways), which should be a majestic hunting lodge when it was built by its eponymous pasha in the 18th century, but all that remains now is a derelict, albeit picturesque shell. Past Üvecik, the road will bring you back to the coast in the village of 4 Geyikli. Those without a car at their disposal should take the buses to Ezine on the highway and switch there to the westbound minibuses, run by Ezine Birlik, which can get you as far as to Babakale further on the itinerary. From Geyikli, you may opt for taking the ferries across to 5 Bozcaada, an attractive and lively island with some beautiful architecture and streetscapes. A daytrip may suffice for some, but for taking in the whole atmosphere consider staying 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 6 Dalyan. Around and about the village, visit the ruins of 7 Alexandria Troas, named after Alexander the Great. Since the excavations at the site started only in the 21st century, the visible ruins — which include a street, a bathhouse, a monumental fountain, and some collapsed marble columns scattered in the harbour — are somewhat scarce, disjoined from each other, and mostly overgrown.
For a few kilometres beyond Dalyan, the road retreats inland through a pine forest, and is narrow and full of potholes. Past 8 Kestanbol Hot Springs, you will arrive in a junction, connecting to a road in a much better condition. Follow south, signposted to Apollon and Assos, although heading further inland towards Yahyaçavuş would take you to an 9 ancient quarry where marble colums destined for all over the Mediterranean were produced and left half-finished, scattered around the site after it was abandoned. Also nearby is the scant hilltop ruins of 10 Neandreia, the inhabitants of which had the idea of creating an artificial harbour at the site of Alexandria Troas first and settling there.
The southwards road soon meets the coast and you will arrive in 11 Tavaklıiskelesi, an attractive resort town with some cafes and restaurants beside its long, forested beach. A good place for a lunch stop, unless you've had your fill in Geyikli or Dalyan.
After Tavaklıiskelesi, road strays inland 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 scrub covering the hillsides. Keeping south, you will pass through a number of other villages, which preserved their stone Mediterranean-style architecture as the relative remoteness of the area have kept the developers at bay. A place of note in this section is the pretty 14th-century 12 Murat Hüdavendigar Mosque in Tuzla, the hillsides of which produce much geothermal energy. A well-preserved humpback stone bridge of four arches, built by the Romans and restored by Ottoman sultan Murat I (who should have taken a special interest in the village), is nearby as is an ancient saltpan, the namesake of the village and sitting abandoned at the foot of a hill.
About 20 km (12 mi) south of Tavaklıiskelesi, this backcountry road will bring you to 13 Gülpınar, a village on the top of a mountain with a distant view of the Aegean Sea. This is where the impressive, but partially intact (or restored) Temple of Apollon (Apollon Smintheon) is located.
From Gülpınar, take the narrow and winding 10 km (6.2 mi)-sideroad to 14 Babakale, a coastal village on the westernmost tip of the 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 the deep blue Aegean. After visiting the castle, you may have your afternoon tea in the coffeehouse just across the village square from the gate.
When you are done in Babakale, head back to Gülpınar and take the eastwards road to 15 Assos, where you will get to after passing through a number of traditional 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 the towns and resorts further south 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.