The sheer beauty of the Turkish Riviera is no secret. From Marmaris, through Dalyan, down past Fethiye and out to Kalkan and Kaş – there’s breathtaking scenery at every turn.
What is less well known however, is how much there is to do in this small corner of the world. More than simply nice to look at, Dalaman’s surrounds offer everything from natural mud baths to white-water rafting and an underwater Atlantis. So if you have a week to delve into the unknown delights of Dalaman – where should you head?
Situated an hour or two along the Lycian Coast is the stunningly beautiful town of Kalkan. A popular resort in its own right, it’s the old town that’s the real draw here. Rows of red-roofed whitewashed buildings spill down the mountainside toward the sparkling azure waters of the harbour. Locals sell their wares in the streets; from intricate lanterns to bundles of handmade towels and mountains of Turkish delight. For a truly magical experience, stick around in the evening. In Kalkan, almost all of the restaurants host their guests on rooftop terraces, so you’ll get a breathtaking, panoramic view as the sun falls into the water over the bay.
Hiding at the foothills of the Taurus mountains, east of Dalaman, is the incredible Saklikent Gorge. A canyon 300m deep, it cuts through the rock for a whopping 18km, the first couple of which are easy to access. Once you’ve trekked for a while, head back and enjoy some hearty Turkish fare from the comfort of an ottoman, with the icy waters that burst out from the gorge rushing beneath your feet. Meanwhile, the adrenaline seekers amongst us will no doubt want a go at the white-water rafting that’s on offer. Grab a ring, a paddle and buckle up your lifejacket before you race each other down the crystal blue, freezing cold rapids. It’s refreshing to say the least.
Kekova and the sunken city
Atlantis may be the stuff of legend, but along the Turkish Riviera, it’s a reality. From harbours such as Kalkan and Kaş, you’ll see trips to Kekova signposted. Once you hop aboard, the first two hours of your trip will be spent navigating the rocky seas of the Lycian coast, stopping off at a few coves for a dip along the way. Soon enough you’ll arrive at Kekova. Grab your snorkel and swim beneath the old city walls, spotting ancient vases and plates as you go. Keep an eye out for giant sea turtles as there’s plenty in the area.
Located on the coast between the resort town of Fethiye and Kalkan is the 17km long, white sand Patara beach. A nature reserve, it’s only open to the public between 8am and 8pm, as it’s turtle hatching territory by night. The beach’s sheer length means that, if you’re willing to walk along at the edge of the water for a while, you’ll be able to bag yourself a spot where there’s quite literally no other person in sight.
Patara has even more to offer though. A short walk back up the access road, an ancient city awaits. Move between the monumental amphitheatre, the entirely rebuilt bouleuterion – one of the earliest examples of a democratic chamber in human history – and the Grecian columns that mark out the old market street. The city of Patara was not only visited by Alexander the Great, but was the birthplace of St Nicholas, otherwise known as Santa Claus.
One of the most iconic symbols of Turkey, let alone the Riviera, is the beach and lagoon at Ölüdeniz. A long spit of sand stretches out into the Mediterranean, separating a spectacularly blue lagoon from the gentle waters of the sea. All of this lies in the shadows of towering mountains, the summits of which are considered to be one of the greatest hang gliding sites on Earth. If you’re a serious adrenaline junkie, gliding day trips are on sale right from the beach.
The Turkish Riviera might be incredibly popular, but far too many visitors simply don’t make the most of what this exciting part of the world has to offer. Don’t be one of them. Make the most of this incredible coast with flights to Dalaman from Manchester Airport.