The region of Turkey known as the Turkish Riviera or the Turquoise Coast is an area of outstanding natural beauty and one of my absolute favourite bits of coastline in the world. From the coastal city of Antalya on the Mediterranean Sea to the bustling resort town of Bodrum on the Aegean Sea, the land is made up of lush green hills and mountains, with deep valleys, hidden gorges and a few modern towns among many rural villages. The Turquoise Coast is a fantastic place to travel as not only is it beautiful but it’s relatively inexpensive and is packed with culture and history. The region has an international airport with regular buses and transfers from Dalaman to Bodrum, Fethiye and Marmaris, so getting here is easy. The last time I travelled the Turquoise Coast, I took a ferry over to Turkey from the Greece Islands and landed in Bodrum, then spent a few weeks travelling up and down the coast line before going inland, then eventually up to Istanbul.
Explore The Turquoise Coast From Mediterranean To The Aegean Sea, Turkey
Top Spots on the Turquoise Coast
The Bodrum Peninsula
The coastal city of Bodrum is the place to go on the Turquoise Coast for a good mix of relaxation and partying. Bodrum is known for its vibrant nightlife, home to an endless number of bars and clubs which fill an entire street in the centre of the Old Town, not really my scene but other people looked like they were having fun, so more power to them I guess. During the day this area is also the perfect spot to sit, chill and enjoy a Turkish coffee, or sip a glass of Turkey’s famous black or apple tea, which even in the summer it’s actually really refreshing. You can also wander through the quaint streets (keyword here is ‘little’ as i watched a camel block traffic for about 30 minutes which was hilarious), to the medieval fortress (Bodrum Castle), and pretend you’re fighting the Lanisters as you stroll along the castle walls. From the walls there are great views of the pretty sea side promenade where traditional wooden gulet boats line up along the harbour. If you feel so inclined, you could jump onto one of these boats for a day cruise around the bay and peninsula, or go diving over sunken battleships at the English Harbour. Alternatively stop by the market for some fresh spices or browse for handmade and colourfully painted pottery in the local stores.
Around Bodrum there’s also a lot to see, the peninsular is home to many clean white sand beaches. One of the best ones is in the bay of Turgutreis, highly recommend. Here the beach is backed by the town and lush hills, filled with olive orchards. Right by the marina is a street devoted to handicrafts and elegant seaside fish restaurants. The Turquoise Coast’s famous sunsets are particularly nice from this beach.
Marmaris is a natural harbour where two seas meet, ferries depart to the Greek Island of Rhodes and t’s where many sailing boats finish and begin their sea voyages. Like Bodrum, Marmaris is also a popular holiday spot with a pulsing nightlife and an Old Town centre filled with tiny twisting streets and locally owned cafes and restaurants. Sea food is especially good here and restaurants use only the freshest catch. For pristine beaches, Icmeler is only a few kilometers away, a perfect retreat, surrounded by lush hills of pine trees and cedars. Meanwhile the Dalyan Delta is also not so far away, abundant with flora and fauna. A boat trip on the reed lined emerald river is a refreshing change from the salty sea of the Turquoise Coast.
A charming port town more or less in the centre of the Turquoise Coast, Fethiye is a fantastic launching pad for outdoor adventure sports and a popular departure point for the four day Blue Cruises to Olympos. Around the bay there are several islands and quiet coves ideal from swimming and snorkelling. Meanwhile the town itself hosts a quirky old town where the covered streets are decorated with hanging umbrellas, restaurants have their own duck ponds, bars have car bonnets protruding from the walls and a Turkish Hammam is squeezed into a traditional Ottoman building on a street corner. – It’s great.
Explorers will love the Turquoise Coast region around Fethiye, I did. If you have a day spare, head to the deep hidden Saklikent Gorge, where you can wade through icy water between limestone walls. Alternatively, go trekking through the thick valley forests to the Ghost Town of Kayakoy or go snorkelling in the Blue Lagoon. If you’re not afraid of heights then you could even climb the Baba Mountain and paraglide over the azure blue bay of Oludeniz!
This is the best place on the Mediterranean and the Turquoise Coast for diving. The nearby Kekova region has the clearest water of the coastline as well as the richest variety of underwater sealife. Dive boats leave from the central harbour every morning to search for colourful fish, sting rays and loggerhead sea turtles, as well as diving to stunning coral reefs and the many sea walls decorated with bright sponges. You could also book a day cruise with a provider like Alaturka Turkey, to visit the famous sunken city and Castle Village in Gokkaya Bay. Around the town itself there are beach clubs with lively music and terrace seating, plus diving platforms so you can jump straight from your sunbed into the sea. Also make sure you don’t leave town without checking out the ancient amphitheatre and Lycian Sarcophagi on the edge of the cobbled stone town centre.
Why go to the Turquoise Coast?
Aside from it’s stunning natural beauty the Turquoise Coast has a lot to offer with so much to see. There are so many places to explore on both the Mediterranean and the Aegean coastline. In fact, the Turquoise Coast region of Turkey attracts holidaymakers and travellers who come back year after year. I found exactly this in Dalyan, a tiny little coastal town who’s population seemed to be about 50% English during the summer months. I really can’t recommend getting to the Turquoise Coast enough if you’re ever in Turkey or around the Mediterranean, it’s touristy in places but is large enough to still keep many of it’s best locations hidden and beautiful.