Offering Blue Flag beaches, lively tourist resorts and historical sights, holidays to the Dalaman area of Turkey fly off the shelves.
Slicing into Turkey’s south-west coast, the Dalaman area has been attracting visitors since ancient times. Back then, it was the destination of choice for Greek gods like Pegasus and Apollo.
The turquoise coast
The region’s appeal begins with its beaches. Known as the Turquoise Coast, the Dalaman area’s shoreline is a chain of coves, bays and long stretches of sand. Icmeler and Olu Deniz are bumper beach resorts. Their shorelines are accessorised with bars, restaurants, shops and watersports. The famous Blue Lagoon in Olu Deniz, meanwhile, is such a sight for sore eyes, it’s been turned into a national park. Then there’s Sarigerme, a relative newcomer to Turkey’s tourism market, and the proud parent of a 12-kilometre beach.
The Dalaman area’s coast is just the tip of the iceberg. The region’s mountainous backbone is encrusted with traditional hamlets that can be explored on 4x4 safaris. The Dalaman area is also within daytripping distance of historical sites like Ephesus which, in its glory days, was the second-biggest city in the Roman Empire.
Marmaris is one of the big names in the Dalaman area. The centrepiece of this town is a colourful bazaar. Here, stallholders tout loudly, shisha smoke curls through the air like calligraphy, and shoppers haggle to buy replica designer handbags for the price of a London latte.
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A 20-minute drive from Dalaman, this village on the southwest coast of Turkey was once the bustling ancient city of Pisilis. Sarigerme take things slower than its ancient ancestor, though, with a just a laidback village centre and a couple of bars and restaurants. It’s a different speed down on the sandy beach, mind – the sweeping stretch is popular with kiteboarders.
On Turkey’s southwest coast, Icmeler comes with a first-rate setting. It’s in a sweeping bay that’s surrounded by pine-forested mountains. The resort has a canal running through it, and there’s a traditional old village here, too. The place is purpose-built, but there are plenty of restaurants serving up authentic cuisine. And location-wise, it’s close to bigger and bubblier Marmaris.
Fethiye – on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast – was hit by an earthquake in 1958, but it rose again to become a flourishing holiday spot. The place comes with a traditional market, atmospheric old town and a marina filled with yachts, along with plenty of bars and restaurants. There are some great beaches in easy reach, too.
Marmaris is larger than your average resort, so it’s not surprising it has so much to offer. Set on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, it’s got a smart marina and a charming old town with a historic castle, as well as all the modern restaurants, bars and lively clubs you’d expect. And, conveniently, the place also comes with a beach that lounges along the whole length of the resort.
Ovacik is a sleepy village on the western rise of Turkey’s pretty Turquoise Coast, on the Anatolian Riviera. It’s set back a few kilometres from the coast, so you get a peaceful place with traditional appeal – as you’ll see from the thatched wooden houses and cedar-clad mountain scenery. Livelier Fethiye and Hisaronu are within easy reach, and just down the road you’ve also got the country’s most-photographed beach.
Wind back to 1990 and Hisaronu, nestled inland on Turkey’s southwest coast, was a quiet village. It began to develop as an overspill of nearby Olu Deniz, and is now a bustling destination in its own right. It’s full of bars and clubs that keep things pumping through the night, and it’s just a short dolmus ride from some of Turkey’s most jaw-dropping beaches.
Once a hideaway for pirates and smugglers, Olu Deniz – on Turkey’s southwest coast – doesn’t bury its treasures anymore. The Blue Lagoon here is probably the country’s most photographed tourist attraction, and it regularly tops polls of the world’s best beaches.
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