Personally, we can’t decide between Olympos (Çıralı), where the adventurous can stay in tree houses (our old favorite is Orange Pansiyon for its grape vine-covered outdoor terrace and proximity to the beach), gorge on gozleme and fresh mussles during the day, and wander Roman ruins in between dips in the sea; Kabak Koy for the beach’s beauty and seclusion; and Iztuzu for the miles-long shallow water beach backed by an arc of protected pine forests. If you’re heading on the road to Bodrum (from Antalya) make sure to check out Kaputas Plaj too. There’s no sign for the beach but the parked cars backed up on the winding road. Head down a hundred cement steps and find yourself confronted with the clearest crystal water you’ve ever seen.
If you’re looking for great food to compliment your trip to the beach, check out Turkey’s Best Beach Food.
Gallery before the Guardian post is our own.
Originally posted in The Guardian here.
Winning tip: Çıralı, Antalya
Nestled in a valley, overlooked by the ruins of Olympos (Tahtalı Dağı), lies one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Çıralı is so special due to its two-mile sweeping beach which remains undeveloped thanks to the loggerhead turtles that nest on the sands each year. At one end of the beach lies the town of Ancient Olympos, while at the other is the natural phenomenon of the constantly burning Chimaera flames. The tiny hamlet is full of charm, with each impressive garden full of pomegranate and citrus trees. Stay in one of the simple pensions: favourites are Hotel Villa Monte and Anatolia Resort.
villa-monte.com (doubles €60 B&B), ciralipansiyon.net (doubles €65 B&B)
Kelebek Vadisi, near Fethiye
Only accessible by boat, Kelebek Vadisi (Butterfly Valley), close to Fethiye, feels like a south-east Asian paradise beach. It has remained undeveloped, with just a few wooden buildings and a campsite dotting the lush valley. The stunning walk to a waterfall and the gorgeous beach make a popular day trip from Fethiye for TL10 (£2.50) return, but if you want to escape the crowds and totally switch off, this is your place. Camping and basic huts with restaurant and bar available on the beach.
Akyaka and Gokova, near Marmaris
You won’t find many sunbathers on Gokova beach, but it’s a great place to picnic and watch the kitesurfers making the most of the windy conditions. Around the cove is sandy Akyaka beach, which has sun beds and parasols and is surrounded by restaurants, as well as the Azmak river, which is great for a boat tour. Along the coast is pebbly Cinar beach, where you can hire a lounger and cool off in the calm sea. There’s a snack bar for lunch and beers. A boat trip to Cleopatra Island is a must, if only to jump off into the serene and secluded coves.
Gemiler Cove, near Fethiye
Surrounded by a pine forest, opposite St Nicholas island, Gemiler beach is quieter than the touristy beaches of Ölüdeniz. Take a minibus from Fethiye to Kayakoy that is marked Gemiler and bring a picnic and a mat to sit on (although you can rent loungers and umbrellas). As the sun sets, take a boat across to the island, climb to the top of the hill past the ruins of ancient churches, and witness a stunning sunset, dotted with paragliders.
Patara, near Kas
Founded by a son of Apollo (really!), Patara is a laid-back village full of restaurants and hotels between Fethiye and Kas. The 18km beach is just stunning; it feels like you have the whole place to yourself. The sea is warm, shallow, and swimmable. If you visit at the right time of year, you’ll see newly-hatched turtles scrambling down to the sea. There are extensive, well-preserved ruins of the Greek and Roman settlements that once thrived here. Patara is one of the few remaining relaxed, tourist-free, unspoilt places in Mediterranean Turkey.
Kabak valley, near Fethiye
If you can face the taxi ride along the jaw-dropping heights of the mountains along the coast, the picturesque Kabak village is well worth a visit. There are several small scale places to stay in this secluded cove, all offering eco-friendly accommodation and prices include homemade breakfast and dinner. My favourite place to stay is Shambala, which is perched above the sea with magnificent views and only a five-minute walk to the beach. If you are more of an active soul, you can always do the day hike to the waterfall, or alternatively do some hiking along the famous Lycian Way.
theshambala.com, half-board from £20 a night
Iztutzu beach, near Dalyan
Iztuzu beach near Dalyan is an idyllic stretch of over two miles of sandy beach. From Dalyan town, take the dolmus from the Minibus Co-operative. The bus trip has stunning views of Sulungar lake and the Dalyan delta. A slightly longer journey – but well worth a trip – is on the public boat goes from the riverside in Dalyan. It chugs past the rock tombs and the ancient site of Caunos, through the reed beds of river delta. Well worth £2.50 for the return trip. I like to take the boat mid-morning, walk the length of the beach and stop at the green wooden café for tea and toast before returning to Dalyan on the bus.
Lake Eğirdir, Isparta province
The drive to Eğirdir is stunning in itself, as you round the bend to see a majestic view of the lake. But the tiny peninsula that reaches out into the centre houses some beautiful pensions lining tiny pebble bays with some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Not a “beach” per se, but if you want something different, to relax on a lounger with a chai and enjoy the mountainous backdrop, Lake Eğirdir is truly stunning.
Alacati, Çeşme peninsula
Trendy young Turks and windsurfers make the vibe around Alacati’s beach on the Çeşme peninsula super-chic. The sea breezes keep the temperatures pleasant even in mid-summer and the pristine white sands of are perfect for chilling on. Sip exotic cocktails when the sun sets at Nars Cafe, or explore the cobbled streets and flower-adorned stone houses of the pretty village. Friendly owner Celal welcomes guests to the cool courtyard of his Bey Evi Hotel with plates of pitta bread and local cheese, washed down with homemade limoncello. Shades almost obligatory.
Yalikavak, near Bodrum
Secluded from Bodrum’s party reputation, Yalikavak, an unassuming fishing town, is a refuge of relaxation, casual meandering and slow-paced socialising. There’s a blend of high-end restaurants and clubs with small-scale local fish restaurants. I would recommend Sofi’s Restaurant for a water-edge traditional meal (choose your fish from a freshly caught selection). The hilly landscape of the town exemplifies the beautiful sunsets and morning views with Turkish coffee.
Melissa B Wear