2024 Guide To The Turkish Riviera – Turquoise Coast

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Post author Mehmet

Written by our local expert Mehmet

Mehmet is digital nomad who was born in Istanbul, Türkiye and now calls the Balkans region his home-office.

Here is your guide on exploring the Turkish Riviera by sea or land. Also known as the Turquoise Coast, I have been traveling here my whole life. Turkey has much to offer those who love the sea and ancient sites.

This guide covers 11 main cities for a road trip and gives you dozens of ideas on the best way to spend your days on the Turkish coast.

Turkey Travel Blog_Guide To The Turkish Riviera

Are you planning a trip to the Turkish Riviera? Great, it’s really worth a visit! In this blog, we’ve gathered all the best information to help you plan your trip.

Surrounded by four seas: Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean, and the inland Black Sea, Türkiye boasts an impressive 8,000km of coastline. However, the Turkish Riviera is home to the best sailing in Turkey.

Known as the Turquoise Coast, the Turkish Riviera is located in Southwest Türkiye, bordering the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.

The region spans six hundred kilometers and comprises many small towns, hundreds of beaches, incredible landscapes, and even two wonders of the Ancient World. The Turkish Riviera area is so beautiful that it’s even said to have been gifted to the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, by her partner, Mark Anthony.

You can visit the Turquoise Coast by both land and sea and with so much on offer, it’s easy to see why the Turkish Riviera is the perfect place for any traveler.

Here is everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful coast by sea and land.

NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

Turquoise Coast: It is particularly mountainous and beautiful along the coastline from Fethiye to Antalya. This area was under the radar for many years, but that has now all changed, and it’s very popular.

Aegean: It is not as touristy as the other coastal areas but offers sandy beaches and Byzantine architecture. The beaches are busy, but you can still find a quiet spot. It is summer’s most comfortable part of the coast, thanks to the local winds.

Marmaris: It has some of Turkey’s most popular beach resorts, nature parks, and small islands.

Bodrum: Bodrum is the prettiest and most pleasant city on the Turkish coast. The surrounding area is breathtakingly beautiful and easy to explore if you have a rental car.

Antalya: a large coastal city with a developed resort coastline with some upmarket hotels.

Sailing In The Turkish Riviera

Sailing Turkish Coast - Gumbet, Bodrum, Turkey

One of the best ways to see the Turquoise Coast is by sailing. With waters in both the Mediterranean and Aegean seas and beautiful crystal clear waters, the Turkish Riviera is the perfect place for a sailing holiday. From the boat to hire to the best route to take, here are the top things you need to know about sailing the Turkish Riviera.

Sailing The Turkish Riviera Route

Sailing trips along the Turkish Riviera usually begin in either Fethiye or Olympos, near the city of Antalya, and travel along the Turquoise Coast. The tours along this route are referred to as ‘blue cruises.’ These blue cruises can last anywhere from one day to a week or even longer.

On the blue cruise, you can dig into delicious Turkish delicacies, jump into the beautiful clear seas, explore impressive ancient ruins, and even stop to enjoy the lively towns lining the beautiful coastline. One of the best things about sailing the Turkish Riviera is the freedom to make your own plan; once you hire the boat, you can ask the captain to stop at any location.

How To Get To The Turkish Riviera

It is easy to travel to both Antalya and Fethiye.

The city of Antalya has a busy international airport, offering many flights during the high season. Although there is no airport in Fethiye, you can fly to Dalaman Airport, which is only 50km away. The city of Fethiye is then easily reachable by public bus or private transfer.

You may need to stay a night in the town before and after your sailing trip. Antalya and Fethiye offer plenty of accommodation for all budgets and all the tourist amenities you would expect.

Sailing The Turkish Riviera – Type Of Boat

Most tour companies offer sailing trips on ‘gulet schooner’ boats. Gulets are traditional wooden boats native to the Southwest Türkiye region. The large boats feature four to eight cabins for guests onboard.

While all boats offer the basic amenities, three types of gulet cruise are available depending on your budget: standard, deluxe, and luxury. A luxury gulet, for example, may include a jacuzzi, water sports equipment, and a 5-star crew service compared to the standard option.

Whether you want to hire an entire gulet or join a cruise, so many companies offer gulet cruises of the Turkish Riviera, so you can explore all your options and pick the perfect cruise for you.

Exploring The Turkish Riviera On Land

If you would instead visit the Turkish Riviera by land, then there are so many amazing places to explore along the Turquoise Coast.

Popular resort towns, including Antalya, Marmaris, Bodrum, and Dalaman, are very easy to get to and offer accommodation and tourist amenities for all budgets. International flights serve the region through Antalya, Bodrum, and Dalaman airports.

Many smaller beach towns are slightly off the beaten track, each boasting beautiful sandy beaches, archeological ruins, and incredible landscapes. Accommodation across the region varies from beach resorts to villas and camping to hostels. There really is something for everyone.

WHAT TO DO ON THE TURKISH COAST
  • Blue Cruises: Experience a few days of cruising around the Turkish Riviera on a traditional wooden motor yacht, with activities like snorkeling and island hopping
  • Paragliding: Enjoy breathtaking aerial views of nature and historic sites from popular paragliding sites like Ölüdeniz and Kas
  • Kayaking: Embark on kayaking adventures, with Kas and the Kekova Islands as the primary locations, enabling access to underwater Sunken City ruins and Ancient Simena ruins
  • Scuba Diving: Discover the underwater world of the Turkish Riviera, with recommended areas in Bodrum and Kas, often combined with day-long blue cruises
  • Canyoning: Experience thrilling canyoneering opportunities, such as the Kıbrıs or Hacıoğlan Canyons in Antalya, suitable for older children and adults
  • Rafting: Enjoy the excitement of rafting through gorges and Cyprus Trees in Koprulugu National Park
  • Explore and Indulge: Immerse yourself in the local area, food, and relax, taking advantage of any beach, cruise, hiking trail, or adventure activity you choose
  • Hiking: Explore the Turquoise Coast on scenic hiking trails, including those in Antalya, with views of the Taurus Mountain range
  • Beaches: Choose from hundreds of beaches 

 

 

 

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11 Places To Visit Along The Turkish Riviera

Discover the Turkish Riviera, where a captivating blend of towns and attractions awaits your exploration. Sink your toes into the sandy shores of Alanya while delving into its rich history amidst ancient sites.

  • Side, a charming destination, seamlessly combines modern comforts and remnants of bygone eras
  • Take your senses on a journey to Belek, a vibrant tourist hub brimming with luxurious hotels and invigorating mineral waters
  • Antalya beckons as the gateway, treating you to awe-inspiring views and exhilarating hiking trails
  • Seek serenity in Cirali’s secluded beach retreat or savor the vibrant nightlife and breathtaking beaches of Kas
  • Fethiye unveils a realm of heritage sites and tranquil lagoons, while Dalyan captivates with rock tombs and enchanting riverboat cruises
  • Marmaris, the party city, entices with both vibrant soirées and stunning natural beauty
  • Finally, Bodrum delights with its accessibility, pulsating nightlife, and panoramic coastline views.

Come embrace the magic of the Turkish Riviera. Here are our favorite towns along Turquoise Coast, Turkey:

1. Fethiye

Turkish Riviera - Sunset view of the city and mountains, Fethiye Turkey

Fethiye is a beautiful small harbor village surrounded by a stunning mountainous landscape and the beautiful Butterfly Valley.

Given its strategic position, Fethiye is the perfect base from which to explore the region by land or sea. If you are not sailing, Fethiye is the ideal place to jump on a 12 Island boat tour, which runs daily and takes visitors to many different bays and swimming spots.

2. Kas

Kas Ancient Amphitheater_Antalya - Turkey
The Theatre of Antiphellos Ancient City in Kas, Antalya

Kas is a small, picturesque town on the Turquoise Coast; Kas offers visitors the ultimate Mediterranean town experience. With narrow, cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, incredible food, and beaches, Kas is a great place to visit.

The area is also known for its fantastic diving, with outstanding visibility. Many dive trips are operated to visit waters filled with archaeological wonders, such as Lycian rock tombs and amphora – a type of vase-like container used by ancient civilizations to stock and transport products).

3. Cirali

Sandy Beaches In Turkey - Aerial view of Cirali Beach from ancient Olympos ruins

Cirali is a charming seaside town close to Olympus, boasting a beautiful long sandy beach. The town is rich in history and natural beauty, with Phaselis and the Chimera very nearby.

4. Olympos

Olympus is an ancient city from Lycian times and is home to some incredible archaeological finds. Olympus is now a bit of a backpacker haven, which offers many activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. It is also one of the main points of embarking on a sailing trip on the Turkish Riviera.

5. Dalyan

Hidden Gems In Turkey - Famous Lycian Tombs of ancient Caunos city, Dalyan, Turkey.
Famous Lycian Tombs of ancient Caunos city, Dalyan, Turkey.

The small inland town of Dalyan is the perfect place for nature lovers. Located on the channel that connects the Koycegiz Lake to the Mediterranean Sea, the town is surrounded by lush forests and very close to the sea. There are many incredible sights around Dalyan, including the ancient ruined city of Kaunos with its ancient rock tombs, mud baths, and hot springs around the Koycegiz Lake.

6. Antalya

Antalya Guide - Hidirlik Tower in Antalya, Turkey

Antalya is the gateway to the Turkish Riviera. A large city, Antalya is known for its beautiful nature scenes and is famous for hiking and sandy beaches. The Lycian Way begins in Antalya and takes you through the beautiful Taurus Mountain Range. The hike has plenty of trails leading to waterfalls, caves, and beaches. There are also two beautiful sandy beaches nearby Antalya, Konyaaltı Beach and Lara Beach.

 

7. Side Turkish Riviera - Old ruins in Side, Turkey at sunset — Photo

A resort town close to Antalya, Side boasts both natural and historic beauty. The town is home to the Apollo Temple, Greek Amphitheater, and many superb sandy beaches.

8. Alanya

Underground lake in the Dim cave next to Antalya

The resort town of Alanya is a popular tourist spot, boasting an old town overlooking the sea. Alanya is home to a stunning sandy beach, Cleopatra Beach, sitting at the base of the old town and reachable by cable car. It also has one of the prettiest caves on the Turquoise Coast.

9. Bodrum

odrum Or Antalya – Antalya Vs Bodrum - Sunset in Bodrum

A lively town with plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife, Bodrum is a prime beach resort along the Turkish Riviera. Bodrum boasts some of the best beaches in the region, including Bitez Beach, Yalikavak, Gündogan, and Gümüslük. The green mountains slope down to beautiful bays.

10. Marmaris

Things to do in Marmaris Turkey

Stretching into the South Aegean Sea, Marmaris is a popular beach resort with stunning natural landscapes. The site hosts many sandy beaches and turquoise bays, including Turunc, Içmeler, Akyaka, and Çinar. Given its popularity with holiday-makers, this is one of the busier spots of the Turkish Rivera.

11. Belek

Nestled in the Antalya province, Belek shines as a captivating tourist hub that promises a luxurious and unforgettable experience.

Prepare to be enchanted by the plethora of four- and five-star hotels that offer utmost comfort and impeccable all-inclusive stays. Belek’s allure doesn’t end there—indulge in the rejuvenating mineral waters and spa treatments sourced from seven springs, providing a perfect retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation.

As you explore this charming town, you’ll discover a haven of opulence, complemented by lush scenery and captivating coastal views. With its enticing blend of hospitality and natural beauty, Belek beckons travelers to embrace a memorable escape on the Turkish Riviera.

Citations:

Turkish Coast Food

There are so many choices for food in Türkiye. Due to its proximity to the sea, the Aegean and Mediterranean regions are particularly renowned for fish dishes and olives, wine, and fresh produce. If you’re on the Turkish coast, you should try out the following foods and drinks.

WHAT TO EAT ALONG THE TURKISH COAST
  • Olives: So many meals in Turkey contain olives. The main olive growing areas lie along Türkiye’s coastline, so expect olive oil and all kinds of table olives ready to nibble on
  • Fish: Along the Turkish coast, you will find fish served for lunch and dinner, usually grilled or fried with a small squeeze of lemon and accompanied by fresh vegetables or salad
  • Salads and Veggies: As with olives, salads are a prominent part of Turkish cuisine. They’re served at every meal.
  • Fruit: One must-try fruit you must try is the famous Aydin Figs. You’ll also come across oranges, lemons, apricots, nectarines, and plums, depending on the time of year you travel

Natural And Historical Turkish Sites Along The Turquoise Coast

The Butterfly Valley

The lush Butterfly Valley is situated between two huge mountains dropping into the turquoise waters. The beautiful valley is accessible by boat, either a day trip from nearby Fethiye or a necessary stop for any sailing trip. However, seasoned hikers can also hike from Faralya on the clifftop above the stunning beach.

The Ancient City Of Xanthos

The ancient city of Xanthos - Letoon Xantos, Xhantos, Xanths in Kas, Antalya - Turkey.

The ancient capital of Lycia and UNESCO World Heritage site, Xanthos, is perched above the Esen River. It is the oldest ancient city in Turkey, with many important archaeological sites to explore. This is a must-see on any Turkish Riviera trip.

Paselis

Dating back to the seventh century and one of the most important cities in ancient Lycia, Phaselis is a beautiful town situated on a peninsula. Phaselis is surrounded by natural beauty and is home to some of the region’s most impressive ruins, monuments, and artifacts.

The Eternal Flames Of Chimera

A site not to be missed, the Eternal Flames are an infrequent, natural phenomenon. While many myths surround this site, the flames burn due to methane gas deposits. The flames are said to have been burning mysteriously for thousands of years. This is a spectacular site on the Turkish Riviera.

Kekova

Located just off of the shore of Kas is the island of Kekova and its famous Sunken City. The city was once a vast, important port to ancient Lycian and Roman civilizations but sunk in the 2nd century AD. Although most of the town is

submerged, it’s possible to see ruins from the shore or from a boat. Diving, walking, or swimming around the site is impossible, given its historical importance. However, the fantastic transparent water is almost completely visible from above.

Patara beach

At 18km in length, the stunning Patara is the longest beach in Türkiye. Boasting rolling sand dunes and beautiful water, the beach is also home to the ruins of Patara. There are many monuments to explore, and it’s easy to see why this beach is one of the most popular in the region.

Oludeniz (The Blue Lagoon)

Things to do in Oludeniz - Paragliding_Blue lagoon in Oludeniz_Turkey

Ölüdeniz is a stunning beach and one of the most famous in the whole of Turkey. It’s easy to see why, with a picturesque lagoon of light turquoise blue waters and a white pebbled beach, the amazing beach is lined by impressive lush mountains.

Once on the beach, there are many beach clubs with sun loungers or umbrellas for rent. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing day. However, if relaxing is not for you, Oludeniz is a popular spot for paragliding over the incredible landscape or hiking across the Lycian Way.

Kaputas Bay

A small yet visually dramatic bay close to Kas, Kaputas Bay is an incredible place to visit. While the bay is most easily accessed by boat, walking down 200 steps to reach the golden sands is possible, which is definitely worth it.

Simena Castle

Located in the isolated village of Kalekoy, which is only accessible by boat, the largely intact Simena Castle looks out from the mainland over the beautiful Turquoise Coast. This is a great day trip and home to some of the best ice cream in the region.

Iztuzu Beach (Turtle Beach)

Turkish Coast - Iztuzu beach and the delta of Dalyan river, Dalyan, Mugla

Located near Dalyan, with crystal clear waters and a beautiful sandy beach, it’s not hard to see why Iztuzu Beach is so popular. It is lovely and gets its nickname from being the breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles. Between May and September, the beach is closed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. to conserve the area for turtle breeding. However, it’s possible to visit during the day.

As you can see, whether you choose to explore the Turkish Riviera by sea or by land, there is so much to see in this beautiful region.

Comments (11)

  1. Possibly the most dumbest question on the internet! I’m coming from Australia (first time overseas) where we have stunning beaches everywhere, never have I ever seen sun lounges and umbrellas to rent – it’s unheard of. Do you have to rent them to use the beach or can you just rock up with your towel and sit wherever you like?
    How do you know what’s a private beach and what isn’t? (Private beaches belonging to resorts in Australia are uncommon).

    1. Your question is not dumb at all! It’s quite reasonable, especially for someone traveling overseas for the first time. Beach cultures and norms can vary significantly from one country to another.

      It’s quite common in Europe to have sun lounges and umbrellas available for rent at the beach. However, you’re not obligated to rent these. You can absolutely bring your own towel and find a spot to relax. Just remember many beaches are pebbly so that rental chair might be nice.

      As for identifying private beaches, they are usually well-marked. I hope this helps and have a fantastic trip!

  2. Hello! Is mid April an ok time to visit the Riveira? Is there buses that easily connect each village?

    1. Sure! People live here all year, just remember that there will be lots of things not open. Eg beach bars, and some activities won’t be available. Buses operate all year as locals use them. Enjoy.

  3. Hi SJ
    Which place would you recommend out of Kas and Kalkan for a weeks holiday?
    I have heard Kalkan is more commercial and touristy
    Thanks
    Rachael

    1. Both Kas and Kalkan are fantastic coastal towns in Turkey, and they each offer a slightly different vibe for your vacation. Your choice really boils down to what kind of experience you’re after.

      So, Kalkan – it’s got this stunning harbor, incredible views, and loads of restaurants and shops to explore. And if you’re into nightlife, Kalkan’s got you covered with plenty of bars and clubs. Plus, there are some beautiful sandy beaches and beach clubs to soak up the sun. Just keep in mind that it can get pretty busy during the peak tourist season.

      Now, Kas, on the other hand, is this charming, laid-back spot with a super relaxed atmosphere. You can mix in some history with beautiful natural landscapes, and there are awesome outdoor activities like diving, hiking, and boat trips to keep you entertained. The nightlife here is on the quieter side, perfect for a peaceful getaway. However, the beaches in Kas are a bit smaller and have pebbles instead of sand, and you might find fewer dining and shopping options compared to Kalkan.

      Ultimately, your choice between Kas and Kalkan comes down to what kind of vacation vibe you’re into.

    1. Absolutely! Mid-October can be a fantastic time to visit Bodrum and hop over to the nearby islands by sea. The weather is usually still quite pleasant for swimming and outdoor activities, and it’s not as crowded as the peak summer season. You can explore beautiful islands, enjoy boat tours, and soak up the Mediterranean vibes without the scorching heat. It’s a sweet spot for a more relaxed and enjoyable getaway in Bodrum and its surrounding islands.

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