Turkey is a mesmerising country of colour, contrasts and culture and the coastline has long captured travellers’ hearts, dotted with ancient cities, stunning beaches and charming resorts. No wonder it’s one of the most popular destinations in the world!
The most westerly of the Turkish coastal resorts is along the Aegean coast, which looks out over a myriad of Greek and Turkish islands. The Northern Aegean region is dotted with olive groves, central Aegean unveils a wealth of heritage and the southern Aegean beckons with fragrant citrus plantations. Don’t miss:
- Ephesus – The iconic Roman site, which used to be the capital of Asia Minor and is today considered one of the best preserved Roman sites in the world. Don’t miss the Temple of Artemis and the nearby House of the Virgin Mary.
- Hierapolis-Pamukkale – The white city of hot springs and travertines, which means ‘cotton castle’ is a must visit and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Dilek Peninsula National Park — Just south of Kusadasi in Guzelcamli is Milli Park, aka Dilek National Park which offers a little bit of paradise. Get away from it all here and hike, swim, sunbathe, picnic and breathe in the fresh air!
Izmir – Undoubtedly the capital of the Aegean coast, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and at the very heart of all the action. Stroll the wide boulevards, haggle at the 18th century market and soak up the atmosphere around the Ottoman mosques. Walk along the waterfront promenade aka the Kordon, sample the ubiquitous meze dishes and climb the mountains surrounding the bay.
Bodrum — The well-developed pretty resort of Bodrum is dynamic and lively. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs, as well as a good clutch of beaches set alongside the turquoise Aegean Sea. Head into the old town for a spot of culture at spectacular Bodrum Castle aka the Castle of St Peter. Wander the marina lined with luxury yachts and traditional gulets browse the archaeological Musuem and visit the world famous Mausoleum of Halicarnassus which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Gumbet – If you like your days laidback and nights lively, then the established resort of Gumbet is for you! There’s something for singles, couples and families, from the 15th century castle in the old town, to the hot haggle-heaven of the local bazaars, to the myriad of watersports on offer.
Kusadasi — Regarded as one of the most attractive Turkish resorts, Kusadasi is more laidback and appeals to sightseeing travellers (it’s the closest resort to Ephesus) and beachlovers. Kusadasi means ‘bird island’ and its harbour is a popular stop-off for Med cruises. Walk the old City Walls and explore the castle and hidden beaches on the Guvercin Adası, aka Pigeon Island peninsula.
Assos — Located on the north coast of the Gulf of Edremit, Assos is a lovely little village with well-preserved architecture, including the impressive Temple of Athena which looks out over the Aegean Sea.
Lycian Coast aka Turquoise Coast
The central Turkish coast goes under several names yet remains a popular region on the Turkish Riviera. With crystal clear waters, stunning natural vistas inland and a superb Mediterranean coastline, this area is perfect for diving, yachting, watersports, swimming and hiking. Visitors can also take a gulet day trip or join the world renowned Blue Voyage cruise adventure.
Dalaman – Set inland, Dalaman is well-connected and an ideal base to take day trips both inland and at sea. Set sail and head to the untouched island of Sarsala Cove which is brimming with pine trees. Head down to the ancient city of Kaunos and try walking the local hills. Don’t skip either a thermal bath or a mudbath for a unique Turkish experience. And if you want to experience one of the top beaches in Europe for yourself, head to Iztuzu Beach at nearby Dalyan.
Icmeler – This well established resort is nestled between soaring pine forested mountains and pretty sand and shingle beaches. While away your days swimming, snorkelling or walking. And spend your evenings strolling along the promenade, sampling delicious Turkish cuisine and sampling the numerous bars on offer.
Kemer — The pretty coastal resort city of Kemer is surrounded by the steep Taurus maintains and is suited to couples and families looking for a peaceful laidback atmosphere. Just 40 miles south of Antalya, Kemer is an ideal base to explore the coastline. Wander along the promenade and explore the reconstructed tent city of the Turkish nomads. Nearby Göynük and Beldibi have more in the way of nightlife. Don’t miss a trip up the Tahtali Mountain cable car for an awesome view over the sea.
Fethiye — This is a major city along the Lycian coast with a superb marina and buzzing nightlife. There is also plenty in the way of history and activities: climb the surrounding verdant mountains, discover the rich Lycian ruins and splash around in the pristine turquoise sea. Don’t miss the cave tombs, the Lycian sarcophagus and the Hellenic Fethiye Amphitheatre.
This long and lush stretch of the Turkish Mediterranean remains a popular hotspot. With ancient minarets, lively bazaars and ancient cities, this is where the mysterious East meets the modern West. Don’t miss:
- Turkish Lake District – Cool off at Göller Yöresi with its myriad of vast and tiny lakes.
- Cilician Plains – Walk the biggest lowland spread in Turkey, hike the rocky hills and gaze in wonder at the Crusader citadels and ancient sites steeped in Biblical importance.
- Cilician Mountains — Climb the rural lush mountains and take in the stunning scenery, which is punctuated with ancient citadels.
Antalya – This is the largest city in the country and with its superb transport connections, is considered the capital of the Turkish Riviera. Founded in 150 BC it goes without saying that Antalya is the number one destination for history and culture buffs. Kaleiçi, aka the old quarter is laden with minarets and mosques, all within ancient city walls. Konyaaltı Beach in the west is great for families with its Aqualand water park, aquarium and fairground. Beach lovers will appreciate Lara Beach in the east with its golden sands, array of watersports and modern facilities.
In terms of heritage, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sites of ancient ruins! Don’t miss the ruins of the city of Termessos which managed to resist Alexander the Great, wander the site of Perge and wonder at the construction of the mighty Hadrian’s Gate. Cool off at the impressive Duden Waterfalls, wander the artefacts and exhibits on display at the Antalya Archaeological Museum and admire the Yivli Minaret Mosque.
Marmaris – Fusing old and new, Marmaris is the perfect destination to everyone in your party happy. With a 16th century Ottoman castle and Old Town district, there’s plenty here for history lovers. And culture lovers will appreciate the modern pedestrianised marina with its array of millionaires’ yachts. Marmaris has sublime beaches, a wide variety of watersports and lively nightlife too.
Ölüdeniz – the pretty resort of Olu Deniz is set around the dazzling Blue Lagoon with its crystal clear waters and attractive shingle beach. In fact Olu Deniz is so pretty it often graces the covers of travel brochures! Activities are set around the promenade and beach and include paragliding, surfing and diving. Evening entertainment is low key and is more focussed around the good quality restaurants.
Map credit; wikipedia
By Julie Bowman