13.07.2017Beaches you should not miss!
We’ve put together a guide to ten of the best beach resorts in Turkey, from hidden coves to party havens.
1. Patara, nearest airport Dalaman
Patara is Turkey’s longest and possibly most unspoiled beach. As a nesting ground for the endangered loggerhead turtle, the 18-kilometre beach has protected status, and the only man-made structure to be found is a small beach café run by the local authority – profits from which are ploughed back into the community. To get to the beach, you have to pass through ancient Lycian ruins, which include temples, bathhouses and a theatre that are more than 2,000 years old.
2. Bodrum Peninsula, nearest airport Bodrum
Bodrum is almost the polar opposite of Patara: millions of tourists flock to this upmarket and trendy resort every year. Thankfully, the town still retains its charm despite heavy tourism development, as strict planning laws on building heights mean there are no looming apartment blocks. Among the whitewashed buildings and winding alleyways you can find Orfoz, one of the country’s best seafood restaurants, and the fifteenth-century castle provides excellent views of the bay. Some of the many beautiful beaches along the peninsula include the 500-metre-long Karaincir Beach, one of the best in the area, and Turkbuku Beach, a wonderfully quiet getaway.
Where to stay
The five-star Doria Hotel has an indoor pool with a poolside bar, in addition to a spa that offers body scrubs, aromatherapy and massages. It even has a pillow menu!
3. Dalyan, nearest airport Dalaman
The beautiful Iztuzu Beach is located around 10 kilometres from Dalyan and, like Patara, it enjoys protected status as a nesting ground for loggerhead turtles. Wooden posts mark parts of the beach that are off limits, and there’s a strict 8pm curfew, but the protection measures mean that there’s very little tourist development to interrupt the stunning views along this 4.5 kilometre swathe of sand. Dalyan itself is packed with excellent restaurants and bars, including the riverside Casa Nova restaurant serving Modern Turkish cuisine, and the well-preserved ruins of the ninth-century BC city of Kaunos are just a short boat ride across the river.
4. Alanya, nearest airport Gazipasa
If you like nightlife, then Alanya is the place to come. The harbour front is packed with restaurants and clubs, including the famous Robin Hood Club, which features four floors, each playing a different kind of music. Outside the razzmatazz of the waterfront, Alanya is surprisingly tranquil and beautiful: the castle ruins that loom above the town provide an excellent viewpoint to admire the surrounding mountains, and there are all sorts of interesting streets to follow among the pretty red-roofed houses. Kleopatra Beach is the place to head to for sun and fun, thanks to its excellent sand and a panoply of water sports to enjoy.
5. Ölüdeniz, nearest airport Dalaman
Ölüdeniz is synonymous with its famous ‘Blue Lagoon’, a calm bay of stunning turquoise waters. You may well have seen it before – it’s one of the most photographed on the Mediterranean, and regularly features on Turkish tourist literature. The beach that runs in front of Ölüdeniz village is a pebble one, but it’s wonderfully clean, being regularly awarded the coveted Blue Flag award. But Ölüdeniz’s beauty comes at a price – it can get packed at peak season, so plan your trip outside high summer if possible. In terms of great eats, İnci Restaurant (60 Oludeniz Street) offers Turkish cuisine at reasonable prices in an authentic setting.
6. Antalya, nearest airport Antalya
If you like to have a few more things to do on your holiday other than lounge by the beach, then Antalya is a good pick. This huge city (the fifth biggest in Turkey, with a population of 1.2 million) has plenty of diversions on offer, including an annual film festival and a bustling old town (Kaleiçi). There are tonnes of excellent restaurants to be found in Kaleiçi, including Seraser, home of international cuisine served under chandeliers to the sound of regular live jazz bands. If you’re looking for somewhere to lay down your towel and snooze after a good feed, Konyaalti beach stretches for miles, so you’re bound to find a quiet spot.
7. Marmaris, nearest airport Dalaman
The club scene in Marmaris easily rivals that of Alanya – it’s the place to come if you like your holidays loud, sweaty and beset by hazy memories of what you actually did. Head to Bar Street and you’ll be hit by a wall of sound, with a veritable smorgasbord of clubbing options laid out before you: Back Garden Club is one of the best. If you need somewhere to sleep off your hangover, head to Icmeler Beach, a short bus or taxi ride from the town. It’s small but well looked after, and it has idyllic views of the surrounding mountains and islands.
8. Fethiye, nearest airport Dalaman
Fethiye’s most recent brush with stardom was a cameo role in the James Bond movie Skyfall. After the film’s bombastic opening in Istanbul, James finds himself propping up a bar on Calis Beach, just outside Fetihye. Obviously no one has told him that the sun loungers are free if you buy a drink… But Fethiye also has a much older claim to fame: the astonishing Lycian rock tombs that pepper the hills around the city. The tombs date back to around the fourth century, and some of the more elaborate ones feature huge columns carved out of solid rock. As well as boasting some decent beaches of its own, Fethiye makes an excellent base for exploring nearby Ölüdeniz, and boat cruises regularly depart from the city, bound for nearby islands and hidden coves.
9. Cirali, nearest airport Antalya
There’s something decidedly mystical about Cirali. Hidden away at the foot of Mt Olympos, it’s a tiny town off the beaten track, with an absolutely gorgeous two-kilometre beach ringed by forests. But despite its sublime location, the beach has seen very little unwelcome development thanks to its status as a nesting ground for loggerhead turtles. It’s a small miracle that somewhere so idyllic remains so pristine. But the real mystery of the place lies on Mt Olympos itself, where clusters of flames called Chimaera spring right out of the ground. This bizarre phenomenon is caused by gases escaping from the mountain and igniting when they hit the air, and the best time to see it is at dusk – but remember to take a torch.
10. Side, nearest airport Antalya
Side is the perfect place if you want a serving of history with your sun and sand. The town is encrusted with well-preserved Greek and Roman ruins, including a Roman temple dedicated to Apollo, and a huge amphitheatre built onto a hillside – which is still occasionally used for performances such as concerts. Side Museum (itself housed in a fifth-century bathhouse) has more ancient relics to discover, including statues and coins (entry ₺10, open 8am to 5pm). If it’s the beach you’re after though, you have a choice: the West Beach has gloriously fine sand but gets regularly packed with holidaymakers, whereas the East Beach has pebbles but is generally much quieter, mostly attracting locals.
Photo: FVA Türkei