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Turkey's Turquoise Coast: A Travel Guide

Discover this crown jewel of the Aegean and Mediterranean regions and all the ways you can explore her treasures in this essential travel guide to the stunning Turquoise Coast.

This destination has sparkling-blue waters, ancient archaeological ruins, and picturesque sun-bleached rocky coastlines dotted with smaller beach towns and resorts – all attributes more closely associated with its Mediterranean neighbour, Greece. 

On the other side of the Aegean Sea, travellers seeking all the highlights of the Greek Islands but without the crowds will find what they're looking for along Turkey's Turquoise Coast. Also known as the Turkish Riviera, the Turquoise Coast stretches some 600 miles along southwestern Turkey's Mediterranean Coast along the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. Encompassing the provinces of Antalya, Muğla, and Aydın, the region's storied past and natural beauty offer something for outdoor adventurers and history buffs alike.

Turkey's Turquoise Coast: A Travel Guide

Turkey's Turquoise Coast: Getting There and Getting Around

The Turquoise Coast sits on Turkey's southern coast, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. With international airports, major cities like Antalya and Bodrum serve as gateways to different parts of the coast. Once you arrive, you can easily explore the area by renting a car or using public transportation like buses and ferries.

Top Things to See and Do on Turkey's Turquoise Coast

Dive into ancient history, bays filled with underwater ruins, and easy-going beach days discovering all the best things the Turquoise Coast has to offer.

Soak up the sun at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world 

Surrounded by steep mountains covered in lush forests, the immaculate white beach and famed Blue Lagoon at Ölüdeniz take your breath away with their sheer beauty and idyllic setting. Get a birds-eye view by going paragliding from nearby hills or simply sit back and relax on the beach.

Hang out in scenic beach towns

Charming small towns like Fethiye, Kalkan, Marmis, and many more dot this stretch of Turkey's coastline. While visiting, ease into each village's laidback lifestyle and enjoy its unique offerings from quiet beaches to ancient sites.

Dive into aquatic adventure, on and off the coast

Whether you’re into snorkelling, scuba diving or sailing, the pristine waters along this stretch of the Turkish Coast are the perfect underwater playground. Charming coastal towns like Kas and Kalkan offer serene and safe bays where you can swim, snorkel, or enjoy other watersports just steps from the beautiful sandy beach. Kayak or swim through the ruins of the sunken city of Dolichiste at Kevoka, look for loggerhead turtles at Iztuzu Beach, or undertake the famous Blue Voyage boat trip and go island-hopping and sailing along the coast on gulet schooners.

Watery adventure awaits off the coast as well. Head inland to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pamukkale, which is famous for its white terraced pools of mineral-rich thermal waters and hot springs where you can soak.

Visit ancient ruins and historical sites

Roman ruins, Lycian rock tombs, and Greek temples: see all these and more by visiting the hundreds of archaeological sites scattered along the coast. Everyone from the ancient Lycians to mighty empires like the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines have left their impact on this beautiful coastline, leaving behind incredible ruins and historic sites. The Turquoise Coast is even home to two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Temple of Artemis at the ancient city of Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, situated near Bodrum.

Other must-sees include the Lycian ruins at Xanthos and Olympos, the alleged original tomb of Saint Nicholas on Gemiler Island, and the impressive ruins of the cliffside tombs at Dalyan.

Hike the famous Lycian Way

Running 320 miles from Antalya to Fethiye, the Lycian Way is one of the most famous long-distance coastal paths in the world. Running along the coast along an ancient Lycian trade route, the 29-day route takes hikers through 25 historic sites with captivating ocean and mountain views every step of the way. If you don't want to do the full trek, the route offers plenty of spectacular day trips like the Butterfly Valley, a desert canyon leading to a secluded beach that, come June, fills with tiger butterflies.

Explore vibrant towns like Antalya and Bodrum

Past meets present in vibrant cities like Antalya and Bodrum, where you can explore old castles, wander historic city centres, and view archaeological treasures in renowned museums like the Antalya Museum, then turn around and enjoy the moment with happening nightlife scenes, shopping, and dining. Bodrum in particular is a party-lovers paradise, but also offers cultural immersion like visiting the Bodrum Castle or viewing the Theatre of Halicarnassus. Going on a boat tour around the yacht-filled harbours is an especially great way to view each city's stunning architecture and mountainous backdrops.

Dine on fresh seafood

Whether in local Lokanta eateries or while sailing on schooners along the coast, fresh fish, flavourful olives, refreshing salads, fresh vegetables, and regional produce like Aydin figs find their way onto your plate, introducing you to the flavours of the Turquoise Coast.


Top Outdoor Activities on The Turquoise Coast

Walk, bike, swim, snorkel: the Turquoise Coast offers it all and more.

Swimming and Watersports

Dive into the inviting sea and explore the vibrant marine life and underwater landscapes along the coast with swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, and high-octane watersports like windsurfing and parasailing. Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz, Butterfly Valley, and Kaputas Beach are among the best snorkelling spots in the region.

Hiking and Walking

Lace up your hiking boots and explore the trails that wind through pine forests, rugged cliffs, and ancient ruins. Some of the best hikes along the coast include the Lycian Way, Saklıkent Gorge, and the trails around Kaş and Olympos. If you want a bigger challenge, head inland to the Taurus Mountains for top-of-the-world treks among jagged peaks.

Sailing and Boat Tours

You're on the coast, after all: take the dazzlingly-clear waters on a boat tour or multi-day sailing trip along The stunning coastline to discover hidden coves, secluded beaches, and picturesque islands. The Blue Voyage in particular is an iconic way to explore the Turquoise Coast. Boarding a traditional sailing schooner like a gulet, the trip traverses the coast, pausing at historical sites, swimming spots, and charming towns.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

From easy, breezy routes along the coast to dramatic climbs and descents in the Taurus Mountains, the Turquoise Coast is a cyclists' paradise. Along the way, you can pause at historic sites and ruins, with stops in beach towns to refresh yourself on fresh produce, delectable seafood, and Turkey's signature hospitality. Our cycling tour in Turkey starts in Dalyan and meanders through hills, forest, and ancient Lycia. 

Wildlife Watching

No matter how you choose to explore the Turquoise Coast, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like dolphins, sea turtles, and bird species. Around Dalyan, the odds of spotting loggerhead turtles are especially good.


When is the Best Time to Visit the Turquoise Coast?

The best time to plan a visit to the Turquoise Coast is during spring (April-June) and early autumn (September-October). Not only are the summer months hot and humid, but it's also when the more popular beaches like Ölüdeniz will be at their busiest. Spring and autumn offer good weather and fewer crowds. 

The Turquoise Coast, Turkey: What to Pack

Considering the region's warm, Mediterranean climate and bountiful sunshine, here is a recommended packing list for what to bring to the Turquoise Coast:
  • Light and breathable clothing
  • Layers (light jackets, sweaters, pants, etc.) for cooler evenings and mornings
  • Swimwear
  • Flip-flops or beach shoes
  • Comfortable hiking and walking shoes
  • High SPF sunscreen
  • A sun hat and sunglasses
  • Travel adapters and chargers (for Type F sockets and 220V/ 50Hz electricity)
  • Travel documents (passport, visa, etc.)

The Turquoise Coast: Know Before You Go

Be prepared for your trip to the Turkish Riviera with these helpful tips:

  • Learn some basic Turkish phrases. English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist areas, but learning common phrases like please, thank you, etc., is both respectful to locals and can help you out in a pinch
  • Bring a scarf to cover yourself up with entering religious sites
  • Remove your shoes when entering homes or mosques
  • Although credit cards are accepted in major cities, carry cash (Turkish Lira) just in case
  • Be respectful of the environment by staying on hiking trails, not littering, and leaving wildlife alone

Safety on the Turquoise Coast

Turkey is an incredibly warm and welcoming country where hospitality is king, so travellers can feel safe and secure exploring areas along the Turquoise Coast. All the same, it's a good idea to practice standard traveller safety like being aware of your surroundings and watching your valuables in crowded areas.

Explore Turkey's Turquoise Coast

Ready to take to the Turquoise Coast? Learn more about our small group or solo travel tour options in the area, from a family sailing cruise to walking along the Lycian Way.

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