Guide To The Turkish Riviera – Turquoise Coast Turkey

Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Here is your guide on how to explore the Turkish Riviera by sea or land. Also known as the Turquoise Coast, Turkey has much to offer those who love the sea and ancient sites. 

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, Turkey 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 Turkey, 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.


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

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

Marmaris: It has some of Turkey’s most popular beach resorts as well as 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 Turkey region. The large boats feature four to eight cabins for guests onboard.

While all boats offer the basic amenities, there are three types of gulet cruise 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, there are so many companies offering 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.

Places To Visit Along The Turkish Riviera

There is so much to see and do on the Turkish Riviera; you will be spoilt for choice. The region boasts incredible beaches, stunning mountain scenery perfect for hiking, and impressive archaeological points. Below is a list of some of the best places to see on the Turkish Riviera, whether by land or sea.

Here are our favorite towns along turquoise Coast, Turkey:


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.


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).


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.


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.


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 which connects the Koycegiz Lake to the Mediterranean Sea, the town is surrounded by lush forests and very close to the sea. There are so many incredible sights to see around Dalyan, including the ancient ruined city of Kaunos with its ancient rock tombs, mud baths, and hot springs around the Koycegiz Lake.


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.

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 great sandy beaches.


Underground lake in the Dim cave next to Antalya

The resort town of Alanya is a popular spot for tourists, 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.


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.


Things to do in Marmaris Turkey

Stretching out into the South Aegean Sea, Marmaris is a popular beach resort area with stunning natural landscapes. The site is host to 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.

Turkish Coast Food

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

  • Olives: So many meals in Turkey contains olives. The main olive growing areas lie along Turkey’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. Incredibly, 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.


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 not only surrounded by natural beauty but 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.


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 Turkey. 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, it is possible to walk down 200 steps to reach the golden sands, 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 nearby Dalyan, with crystal clear waters and a beautiful sandy beach, it’s not hard to see why Iztuzu Beach is so popular. Not only is it beautiful, but it gets its nickname from being the breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles. Between May and September, the beach is closed from 8 pm to 8 am 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.

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