The Western Mediterranean coastline stretches from overblown Marmaris and the lovely Datça and Reşadiye peninsulas in the west to big but suprisingly beautiful Antalya in the east.

This is tourism central when it comes to foreign visitors, but it’s also the quintessentially glorious Turkey of the Turquoise Coast and a myriad ancient ruins. Those at Xanthos feature on the UNESCO world heritage list, but you’ll also find romantic ruins melting into the sands at Patara and Phaselis, and lurking almost inaccessibly at Knidos. Dalyan, Fethiye, Kalkan and Kaş are very popular with British holiday-makers; Kalkan has suffered the most from recent development but all are great middle-sized resorts offering a wide range of shops and restaurants  in which to offload your lira at the end of a hard day’s sightseeing. The day trip to Kaleköy from Kaş is the single most enjoyable day trip on offer in Turkey.

Getting there

There are international airports at Dalaman and Antalya. The winding coast road between Marmaris and Antalya means that transfer times can be longer than expected and hard on those who suffer from motion sickness; Kaş and Datça retain much of their charm because of the time it takes to reach them. Wherever possible avoid using the uncomfortable midibuses that serve local routes along this coast.

Reşadiye peninsula

West of Marmaris, a long but beautiful road ends in Datça, a kind of Marmaris-in-miniature that springs to life in high summer when holidaying Turks pour in. It makes a great base for a day trip to the ruins of Knidos where a famous statue of Aphrodite once adorned an isolated temple. In high season you can also take excursions across to the Greek islands of Simi and Rhodes. The pinprick inland village of Reşadiye hosts Turkey’s finest Ottoman hotel, the exclusive Mehmet Ali Ağa Konağı.

Hisarönü peninsula

The Hisarönü Peninsula forks south from the Datça road and offers an array of small and secluded resorts such as Selimiye and Hisarönü as well as the overdeveloped eyesore that is Turunç. At Bozburun a boat carries you to the rooms in Sabrinas Haus, while at remote Söğüt there’s even a restaurant accessible only by boat.

Dalyan & Kaunos

On the banks of a river, Dalyan is a delightful resort, especially if you visit in the shoulder season when it’s less crowded and the lack of shade on sandy İstuzu beach is less of a problem. Boats ferry sun-seekers to the beach, bypassing a wall of rock into which are cut Carian tombs that resemble miniature temples. On the far side of the river are the ruins of Kaunos, while a boat ride inland brings you to the mud baths at Sultaniye.


Fethiye may be a big town but it boasts a superb setting overlooking a bay filled with islands. The town centre bazaar is certainly touristy but harbours a decent old hamam (Turkish bath) and an area where you can buy your own fish and have it grilled in front of you. Regular dolmuşes run out to the beach and the protected lagoon at Ölüdeniz and to Kayaköy, a ruinous village abandoned at the time of the Graeco-Turkish population exchange in 1924. Escape the crowds up in the hills at Faralya where George House is a popular backpacker hideaway, or take a boat trip to lovely Butterfly Valley, where a beach nestles between soaring cliff faces. Fethiye is also the kicking-off point for reasonably-priced three-day blue cruises along the coast to Olympos.

Xanthos & the Letoon

The Lycian ruins inland from Kınık at Xanthos are a world heritage site even though some of the finest statuery was hauled away to the British Museum long ago. Closer to the sea, the Letoon was the site of a shrine to Apollo, Artemis and their mother Leto, and is rendered all the more picturesque by the fact that it’s often ankle deep in water.


Twenty km of soft sand reward visitors to Patara which sits on the shore just a short walk away from the village of Gelemiş. The road to the beach passes the remains of a vast Lycian necropolis, and just inland a Roman theatre has re-emerged as if by magic from the dunes. If you don’t want to stay in Gelemiş, there are regular dolmuşes from Kalkan and Kaş.


Time was when Kalkan was little more than a cluster of small white houses with wooden balconies prettily draped with bougainvillea. Unfortunately since then it has spread its  tentacles far and wide, and not all the new development is beautiful.


Every expat’s favorite medium-sized Turkish resort, Kaş is known not for its sands but for a pretty harbour backed with a great choice of restaurants and for the Uzunçarşı (Long Market), a cobbled street of bijou shops running uphill to end beside a huge Lycian sarcophagus. The restored theatre here is sometimes used for performances in summer. Excursion boats float over submerged Lycian ruins to moor at exquisite Kaleköy (Simena) with a clutch of boutique pensions. With a little more advance planning you can also make the day trip to the pretty Greek island of Kastellorizo (Meis) to compare and contrast the care taken of their historic buildings by the two countries.


The small town of Demre/Kale has little to recommend it bar the over-visited remains of a Byzantine church that once housed the remains of St Nicholas (AKA Santa Claus). However, just inland at Myra the ruins of a large theatre are overlooked by a wall of picturesque Lycian tombs, a very worthwhile diversion.

Olympos & Çıralı

Between them, the twin resorts of Olympos and Çıralı have the holiday market stitched up: Olympos has the tree houses (mainly wooden bungalows actually) for the younger party crowd, while Çıralı has the stylish pensions, often with an ecological bent, for the grown-ups. In between stretches a sand and shingle beach with, just inland, the ruins of ancient Olympos almost lost amid the vegetation. A stiff climb up Mt Olympos brings you to the Chimaera, a curiosity made up of flames that, if smothered, immediately reignite like joke birthday-cake candles.


Antalya has it all: a lovely harbour backed by mountains, an inviting old walled city (Kaleiçi) filled with boutique hotels and pensions in old Ottoman properties, plenty of shops and restaurants, a bustling nightlife, beaches on the outskirts, and a great museum full of finds from the Graeco-Roman sites at nearby Perge and Aspendos. The single best destination for an excursion is Termessos where a ruined theatre perches, seemingly impossibly, high on the mountainside with a view back out to sea.


Only come here if your tastes run to the big, brash and noisy, at least in high season. The bazaar is good for shopping, and there are decent bars and restaurants in the older part of town backing the harbour. Otherwise this is solid package-holiday territory.


The up-and-coming resort of Sarıgerme near Dalaman has a surprisingly delightful beach and proximity to Dalaman airport in its favour, but not much else.


Ditto Kemer’s proximity to Antalya airport. Don’t come here expecting anything old or authentically Turkish though.


If you like your ruins remote and hard to get to, the Lycian remains at Pınara will fit the bill perfectly. The truly determined hack over the mountains from Faralya. The less energetic hop a dolmuş to Eşen and then hail a taxi.


Just south of Olympos, Adrasan receives far fewer visitors, not least because of the poor public transport links. The shingly beach is ringed with low-key hotels, but the real winners here are the small fish restaurants perched in the river at the northern end. First and finest is the Paradise Cafe and River Garden which even offers a few pension rooms.

Read more about the Lycian ruins of the Western Mediterranean coast: http://www.todayaman.com/news-223948-117-coasting-the-mediterranean-in-the-footsteps-of-the-lycians.html




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