Why you need to visit Turkey's southwest coast
Turkey's southwest coast serves up the perfect blend of beaches, ruins, national parks, wildlife and the freshest seafood and local cuisine.
It's an instant hit with holidaymakers because a little bit of everything can be found in, around and between the hotspots of Dalaman* and Antalya*. It's also great value and typically bathed in plenty of sunshine - what more could you wish for?
Getting to Turkey: the airports of Dalaman and Antalya are your gateways to Turkey's southwest and TUI Blue offers a range of super-stylish holidays*, including flight to these airports, for all budgets from the UK.
Turkey's mammoth Mediterranean coast is a wiggly line of beaches and bays. Think everything from small, secluded rocky coves to long, sweeping sandy stretches, all lapped by warm clear waters.
In the southwest, the region of Dalaman, known as the Turquoise Coast, is arguably the finest and certainly the most well-equipped. The glorious arc of Oludeniz is one of the most well-known resort towns in Dalaman, its deep blue lagoon and curved white sandy Belcekiz Beach featuring in many a photo-shoot.
Others include Istuzu Beach (also known as Turtle Beach), located within a nature reserve at the mouth of the Dalyan Estuary and known for its visiting loggerhead turtles; the secluded cove of Asi Bay, a small beach backed by steep rocky cliffs.
Then there's magnificent Sarsala Bay, which offers both facilities and a feeling of isolation as the beach, which can get very busy with locals and holidaymakers at weekends, is surrounded by dense forest.
Neighbouring Antalya is also well-placed to access some of the coast's most popular beach spots. Lara Beach has every amenity going, including bars, restaurants and lots of opportunities for watersports, as does the 7 km-long sweep of Konyaalti Beach, a mix of sand and shingle backed by the craggy Beydaglari Mountains.
These, however, are just the tip of the sandcastle - hire a car and you can beach-hop your way along Turkey's southwest coast, stopping everywhere from wide, lively beaches to wild, facility-free bays where nature rules.
Top tip: pack your own snorkel and fins so you can delve beneath the surface whenever the fancy takes you.
Watersports & sailing
There's no shortage of ways to make the most of the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey, whether you're diving in, sailing on or soaring high above. Watersports such as hiring a jet ski, going paragliding or taking a speedy banana boat ride can readily be arranged along the coast but there are many other ways in which to discover the joy of open water.
For a laidback experience, try sea kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding; book a snorkelling trip with stops at offshore islands or splash out on a private sailing trip tailored to your requirements.
Away from the coast, you could book a lazy cruise up the Dalaman River. This is a tempting alternative that sees you sailing through rocky ravines to a secluded riverside beach, where you can take a dip in cool water before meandering out of this hidden valley.
Ancient ruins & remains
Anatolia, the ancient name for the region that makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey, is known as the Cradle of Civilisation, and for good reason. This expanse of land between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, made up of flat plains, dense forests and high snowy peaks, has hosted a great diversity of people and empires over millennia.
There are no fewer than 18 UNESCO sites dotted across Turkey, from huge archeological complexes such as those at neolithic Catalhoyuk and prehistoric Troy to the rock formations of Cappadocia, acropolis of Pergamon and curious carvings found on Mount Nemrut.
History lovers could easily spend an entire holiday exploring Turkey's mass of ruins, museums and memorials. If, however, you're just looking to dip your toe into the vast amount of history on offer here, the best way is to plan a few a manageable day trips in the southwest, either independently by hiring a car or through your tour operator.
While the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus, near the port city of Izmir* to the north of Dalaman, make for a fascinating day out, there are plenty of sites easy-to-reach historic sites in the southwest. These include the rock tombs of Dalyan and Tomb of Amyntas by Fethiye, Greco-Roman ruins of Side, ancient theatre of Termessos around an hour from Antalya, and Alanya Castle among many others.
Did you know? Turkey recently dispensed with its visa requirements for short-stay travellers (up to 90 days) from a number of countries, including the UK, which means you no longer need to apply for an e-visa or pay to enter Turkey - great news for holidaymakers!
Glorious national parks
Turkey is crammed with national parks (45, no less), natural reserves, wetlands and rugged ranges ripe for exploring. If your idea of an exciting day out is to lace up your hiking boots and delve into the wilderness, then southwest Turkey is the place to be.
The region of Antalya is especially good for outdoor enthusiasts. It's stuffed with national parks where deep gorges, cooling waterfalls, rocky mountain peaks and thick woodland alive with wildlife can be found.
Try rafting or ziplining in Koprulu Canyon National Park, discover UNESCO ruins at the heart of Gulluk Mountain Termessos National Park, visit the remains of ancient Lycia and trek Mount Olympos in Olympos Beydaglari National Park, wander among the deep canyons of Saklikent National Park and paddle into the Altinbesik Cave in Altinbesik National Park.
Super hikers might want to investigate the possibility of walking at least some of the mighty Lycian Way. Turkey's first designated long-distance walking route, it runs for 540 km and is said to take 29 full days to complete as it snakes its way along the coast from Fethiye to Antalya.
What's more, if you're visiting in the months of April, May, June, September, October or November, remember to keep eyes and ears open for signs of migratory birds. Many species stop to feed and rest in the wetlands and trees of southwest Turkey.
Whatever your age, you can't beat a fun day at a water park under the sun when you're on holiday. The good news is that the southwest corner of Turkey is dotted with water parks of all shapes and sizes with rides, attractions and watery play areas suitable for babies up.
Take your pick of slides and rides at Antalya Aqualand, Sultan's Aquacity, Aziz Aga Bay, Grand Ucel Waterpark, Water World Waterpark, Marmaris Aqua Dream Waterpark (the largest in Turkey) and Marmaris Atlantis Water Park, among many others in and around the region.
One of southwest Turkey's best natural assets is its weather. Warm-to-hot, sunny and dry, you're near-guaranteed prime holiday conditions with May to October undoubtedly the finest time to go. If you like things hot, June to September are the months for you with July and August both the hottest and sunniest.
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If, however, you prefer things a little fresher, late spring and early autumn are also delightful with ample sunshine. It's worth bearing in mind that while the sea is perfectly warm at the height of summer, booking a TUI Blue hotel that comes with a heated pool as standard is a good idea at other times, especially if you have little ones.
Ready to book your break? Check out the latest deals on holidays to chic TUI Blue resorts between Dalaman and Antalya today.
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