Mugla’s untapped potential: 5 insider tips for a perfect trip

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Mugla (or Muğla, if you have a Turkish keyboard) only pops up on most itineraries as a place to change buses en route to the coastal resorts of Bodrum, Fethiye, or Marmaris. You rarely hear travelers talking about Mugla as a destination. Claiming that Muğla is no more than a transit stop isn’t doing it justice, though. This small city is so much more than the administrative center of the province with the same name. It is too often overlooked, so we decided to change that. Check out beautiful Mugla in this post and use the practical Muğla map at the bottom of this article to easily find your way around the landmarks in the old town.

Part Of The Old Town Seen From Above

Part Of The Old Town Seen From Above

Wander around the old town’s narrow streets

Perched on the hill overlooking Mugla, you will find a maze of narrow streets with whitewashed houses. This is the old town and a very different world from the modern administrative center below. Walking these streets is like walking back into time. This quarter is not deserted, nor is it in decay. This is a place full of life, where the houses are still occupied, children are still playing in the streets, and the chili peppers are hung to dry. The people living here are welcoming, and the pace of life feels a bit slower than in its modern counterpart of the city. These are quiet streets but in a comforting way.

What's Not To Love In Mugla?

What’s Not To Love In Mugla?

The Beautiful Historical Quarter Of Muğla

The Beautiful Historical Quarter Of Muğla

Going up and down in this white labyrinth, you’re met with an explosion of pretty details, colors, smells, and the sound of ‘Okey’, a popular pastime, and the Turkish version of Rummikub. In streets like these, it feels good to get lost, and you need to suppress the urge to take a thousand photos. In between the houses up the hill, you’ll also find the ruins of a church. Indeed, in some corners, it appears as if time stood still, funnily enough, the slogan used by the province of Muğla to promote the area: ‘Time stops here’.

Blue Bike Meets Blue Door

Blue Bike Meets Blue Door

The Local Bakery

The Local Bakery

Relish the many restored Ottoman-era & Greek buildings

The modest whitewashed houses of the old town sometimes make room for historical Ottoman or Greek-style buildings. Often those beautiful houses are expertly restored and used as public buildings or tea houses. One of these traditional houses is the Özbekler House. The building reopened after restoration in 2005 and now houses some municipal offices. This approximately 225-year-old house used to have an earth roof, which was replaced by a traditional wood and tile roof during the restoration works. Other than that, the responsible architects stuck to the original as much as possible, including in their choice of materials, using Horasan mortar, which is a mixture of lime, straw, goat hair, and mortar. Check out the doorbell in the photos below too!

Welcome To Özbekler Evi

Welcome To Özbekler Evi

The Expertly Restored Özbekler Evi

The Expertly Restored Özbekler Evi

Another fine example of brilliant restoration works is the Zahire Bazaar. The historical Zahire Pazarı dates back to the Ottoman Empire and served as a trade center for agricultural products in its era for many years. Now it houses 16 shop spaces and a tea house. It is a lovely spot to enjoy a steaming hot Turkish tea in the heart of historical Mugla.

Beautiful Zahire Pazarı

Beautiful Zahire Pazarı

Zahire Pazarı, So Pretty!

Zahire Pazarı, So Pretty!

If you like historic buildings that are still in use, you will love Yağcılar Hanı. This former trade center was built in 1493 and is buzzing with activity today. You will find an array of shops here, including some colorful carpet shops that put their merchandise on display all across the building. You get to pick your favorite carpet while enjoying refreshments in the shade of the plane trees.

Beautiful Felt Carpets At Yağcılar Hanı

Beautiful Felt Carpets At Yağcılar Hanı

What A Great Atmosphere At Mugla's Yağcılar Hanı

What A Great Atmosphere At Mugla’s Yağcılar Hanı

If you still haven’t had enough tea, or if you fancy a little something to eat, check out one of the two Menteşe Belediyesi Kültür Evi. Both are housed in a beautifully restored building and offer a stunning setting at local prices. This is where you get to enjoy a fancy environment at bargain prices, which was exactly what we meant in our post with 10 golden go local tips.

Another exceptional case of reclaimed old buildings is the Apostol Hanı. The building was built as a private house in 1850-1870 and later used as a primary school from 1927 till 1954. After it was almost destroyed in a fire at the end of the previous century, the restored building was put back into use in 2012. Nowadays, it houses a public library, among other things.

Apostol Hanı

Apostol Hanı

Finally, don’t forget to pop in at the İskender Alper Kültür Merkezi, opposite the Mugla Museum. This impressive building dates back to the 19th century and was built by Hacı Mehmet Konuk under the supervision of Greek supervisors. Once finished, it was known as Hacılar Khan, and part of it operated as a hotel, named Istanbul Hotel. By the end of the 19th century, the building was donated to the hospital. In 1919, the newly created Menteşe Newspaper was printed here, only to be censored after seven editions by the Italian occupation forces. The political representative of those forces happened to have his office in this building until July 1921, when the Italians left. By 1950, the Khan was sold, and the new owner renamed it to Muğla Palas Hotel. Gradually, more and more space was filled by other functions, such as a bakery, and a kıraathane (a coffee house usually offering a selection of newspapers to read to its customers). Mugla Palas was dispossessed by the Muğla Municipality in 1986, after which it was restored and used as a public building. From the courtyard, you have a lovely view of the whitewashed old town above.

İskender Alper Kültür Merkezi In Mugla

İskender Alper Kültür Merkezi In Mugla

See the museum

On the other side of the road, a few steps down from the İskender Alper Kültür Merkezi lies the Muğla Museum in an old prison building behind the courthouse. The entrance is free of charge, and it is open every day between 8 am and 5 pm, except on Monday. There’s an exposition of several artifacts found in nearby ancient sites in the open courtyard, as well as three indoor sections featuring fossils, an ethnographic exhibition, and a gladiator hall.

The Beautiful Courtyard At Muğla Museum

The Beautiful Courtyard At Muğla Museum

Take A Seat Inside The Old Prison, Now A Museum

Take A Seat Inside The Old Prison, Now A Museum

Visit on a market day

Okay, we have a soft spot for markets. But in all honesty, they are a top place to experience the local color. Markets have this special vibe, especially in less or even non-touristic places like Mugla. There’s a covered market space almost right next to the old town. You’ll find local farmers selling their produce on Wednesdays and a full-fledged market every Thursday.

Pekmez, A Molasses Like Syrup, In A Fanta Bottle

Pekmez, A Molasses Like Syrup, In A Fanta Bottle

Cantharel Or Çıntar Season At The Market In Mugla

Cantharel Or Çıntar Season At The Market In Mugla

Get lost in Arasta

It doesn’t matter if you like to shop or not; in Arasta, Mugla’s 600-year-old Ottoman Bazaar, you’ll be in your happy place. There are over 100 shops here, selling anything you can think of, and effortlessly combining trendy new lounge bars with smokey ironmonger shops. The streets of Arasta are oozing with charm and authenticity. This is where you will also see Muğla’s famous clock tower, which was built in 1885.

Arasta, Where Old Meets New

Arasta, Where Old Meets New

One Of The Many Arasta Streets

One Of The Many Arasta Streets

Admire the historical mosques

Dotted around the historical heart of Mugla, you walk past several mosques, each with their distinct features and charm. A particularly interesting mosque is the Şahidi Mosque, which was repaired and expanded to its current state in 1848, after having served as a Mevlevihane Masjid since 1390. Despite two more restorations in 1869 and 1911, the interior of the mosque is still preserved as it was when the dervishes used it. In the garden, you will see some beautiful tombstones, and a mausoleum for Şahidi İbrahim Dede, a 15th-century Sufi poet, and his father.

Quiet Şahidi Camii

Quiet Şahidi Camii

The Remarkable Interior Of Şahidi Camii

The Remarkable Interior Of Şahidi Camii

Ulu Camii, the mosque next to the Arasta Bazaar, was built in 1344 with bricks and rubble stones, and a wooden roof. In the course of history, it has been restored several times, allowing it to keep its function up until the present day.

Ulu Camii In Mugla

Ulu Camii In Mugla

Kurşunlu Mosque is a tiny bit younger, as it was built in 1493 in classical Ottoman architecture. Before it was used as a mosque, this was a madrasa with 30 classrooms. In 1853, the dome was covered with lead during a repair, giving the building a characteristic look.

Kurşunlu Mosque Mugla

Kurşunlu Mosque Mugla

The area also houses a few smaller mosques, such as the Pazar Camii, next to the Zahire Pazarı, the Saburhane Camii, and the Şeyh Camii. The Saburhane mosque is an Ottoman-era mosque built in 1829 by Hacı Osman Ağa. In 1863, the first original building was demolished by Hacı Zorbaz Mehmet Ağa, and today’s small mosque was built in its place. The Pazar mosque was also built in 1829 by Hacı Osman Ağa, and the Şeyh mosque is much older, dating back to 1565.

Saburhane Camii In Mugla

Saburhane Camii In Mugla

The Colorful Door Of Şeyh Camii

The Colorful Door Of Şeyh Camii

In short, Mugla deserves a visit! It combines all amenities of a modern city with an authentic historical center. It has so much to offer one wonders why it isn’t on more people’s list. We think the answer to that question is its location: Muğla lies inland, and it has to compete with overly popular resorts such as Fethiye, Marmaris, or Bodrum. Just don’t let this put you off, this place is a gem waiting to be discovered.

Practical Mugla map

Check out the tabs below for more practical information to prepare your Mugla visit.

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In this section, we usually refer people to reviews on TripAdvisor about the place we wrote about. We feel that this is the perfect way to get a broader perspective. Only, TripAdvisor doesn’t even mention Muğla as a city. It does show how underrated the town really is. If you’re wondering what other travelers are saying about the various sightseeing points in the province, this is where you’ll find those reviews.

Do you have a specific question about Mugla? Feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Mugla is the kind of town where you just walk from on place to the next. Make sure to stop for Turkish tea at one of the many beautiful spots mentioned in this post. If you’re after an authentic and budget-friendly meal, why not have a gözleme at one of the Belediyesi Kültür Evi? The setting is lovely, the price hard to beat!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

If you’re looking to spend the night in Mugla, check out this room in a renovated house in the old town. This place screams authenticity!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Mugla is easily accesible using any transportation mode. If you’re traveling by bus, you can check out the best route to or from Muğla here.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. The closest airport to Mugla is Bodrum-Milas. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

In this section, we usually refer people to reviews on TripAdvisor about the place we wrote about. We feel that this is the perfect way to get a broader perspective. Only, TripAdvisor doesn’t even mention Muğla as a city. It does show how underrated the town really is. If you’re wondering what other travelers are saying about the various sightseeing points in the province, this is where you’ll find those reviews.

Do you have a specific question about Mugla? Feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Mugla is the kind of town where you just walk from on place to the next. Make sure to stop for Turkish tea at one of the many beautiful spots mentioned in this post. If you’re after an authentic and budget-friendly meal, why not have a gözleme at one of the Belediyesi Kültür Evi? The setting is lovely, the price hard to beat!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

If you’re looking to spend the night in Mugla, check out this room in a renovated house in the old town. This place screams authenticity!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Mugla is easily accesible using any transportation mode. If you’re traveling by bus, you can check out the best route to or from Muğla here.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. The closest airport to Mugla is Bodrum-Milas. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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Discover Mugla\'s whitewashed houses in cobbled streets & #Ottoman grandeur within walking distance. #Authentic #Turkey at its best, including a useful #Muğla map!
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