Forming the main bulk of the Turkish Riviera, the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is a delightful collection of small villages, quaint towns, and cosmopolitan cities. Backed in parts by the scenic Taurus mountains, sandy beaches stretch for miles and hold the crown of most beautiful in the entire country. Anyone choosing to holiday there will be pleasantly surprised and instantly recognise why “The Turquoise Coast” is its nickname.
Covering the southern side of the country, it provides everything a popular tourist destination should including a wide range of hotels, beautiful destinations, historical sites, adrenaline sports, cultural influences, and delicious food. All this explains why it is not only a thriving tourism hub but popular with ex-pats, who choose to spend their days under the Turkish sun. But what do holidaymakers need to know for a fruitful and smooth trip?
The best time to go is from May to October. Officially the tourist season has started, and everything opens for business including hotels, bars, restaurant, travel agents and shops. However, the major city centres of Fethiye and Antalya operate year-round. If shopping, nightlife, spa or simply relaxing is on your schedule, everything is on your doorstep.
The Turquoise coast has one of the better weather climates resulting in hot summers and cool winters. January and February are rainy months. From March, temperatures heat, but it will still be cold at night-time until the beginning of June. In the hottest months, July, August, and September temperatures reach into the mid-forties, so use sun cream, drink lots of water and seek shade.
The two major airports, Dalaman in the Mugla region and Antalya, operate international flights from many countries during summer. Still, flight schedules scale down in the winter, in which case, catch a connecting flight from Istanbul. Alternatively, the cross-country bus system connects with the rest of the country. From the central stations; Antalya, Fethiye and Mugla, passengers catch connecting buses to smaller resorts and towns. Both airports and many towns across Turkey have car hire offices to pick up and drop off in different locations. When on the D400 highway running the entire length of the Mediterranean coast, all resorts and towns are well signposted.
We like road tripping because of distinctive characteristics, cities and villages display. However, it is possible to stay for two weeks or more in a place and still be active every day. Typical tourist resorts include lively Oludeniz in the Fethiye region that is home to the Blue Lagoon or Alanya in the Antalya region. Golfing fans head to Belek, while nearby Side is a quaint town with historic ruins. Hillside Kalkan earns fame for its private, luxury villa rentals while Patara, home to Turkey’s longest beach, is a rustic village. Everyone favours the Kas Peninsula because of its laid-back ambience. More about holiday towns and where to stay.
Travellers have the best pick of accommodation with a wide variety of luxury, budget, B&B, all-inclusive and self-catering options. Prices start at roughly 120 lira a night, and road trippers can book as they go via websites like Booking.com or Trivago. Hotels rarely turn people away because of full occupancy. However, this might happen during the Turkish festivals of Seker and Kurban Bayram (dates change every year). The Turkish school holidays run from the end of June to the end of September, and during this time, prices may increase.
Within coastal resorts, towns and cities, small Turkish buses called Dolmus operate. These cheap and frequent services list their eventual destinations in the front window. To go from one town to another, head to the local bus station (otogar) because the D400 highway connects all resorts. When considering car and scooter hire, check your licence and the terms and conditions of insurance policies. Even confident drivers should watch the traffic for a day or two because Turkey’s driving rules vastly differ, and many famous tourist places become congested in the height of summer. Otherwise, yellow taxis typically wait at designated taxi stops throughout the town or ask reception to call one. Most run meters unless travelling a short distance in which the taxi driver sets a price.
Budget holidaymakers should find Turkish lokantas serving traditional Turkish food at low prices. Also, stay away from beach-side establishments because these are more expensive. Otherwise, if money is no object, knock yourself out because restaurants in all central touristic districts offer international menus including Chinese, Indian, British, and refined dining concepts. During summer, the trend is seaside alfresco dining, where Turks often choose Turkish mezes, fish and Raki.
Whether travelling independently or with local travel agents, a mass of tourist attractions and historical sites awaits. Some popular attractions include Mount Tahtali in Antalya, and Saklikent gorge and Kayakoy ghost village in Fethiye. Most resorts sell daytime excursions, tickets to Pamukkale, one wonder of Mother Nature. Families and groups of friends often join a jeep safari to explore mountainous, while during summer, others opt for a trip across to the Greek island of Rhodes.
A Turkish-bath is a cultural experience best done at the beginning of your holiday. The old town centres in Antalya, Marmaris and Fethiye are ideal for strolling around, whether it is to see the fortress in the first two or just shop for souvenirs in the bazaar. If in Antalya, visit the ruins of Olympos and the burning flames of chimaera. More about things to do and touristic attractions.
The Mediterranean region has two major claims to fame. Gulet cruising and yachting away from the mainland to secluded coves, bays and islands is a favourite summer activity. From the western Mediterranean, all the way to the east, this stretch of coastline hosts many blue cruise tours, where passengers make the most of sunshine to see picturesque landscapes from the sea, drop by beautiful beaches, visit waterfalls, spot loggerhead turtles, and indulge in water sports like scuba diving, and parasailing. Some book a private yacht charter while others sign up for daily boat trips that leave from the harbour in most towns in the morning. Also known as Blue cruises, to sail the Turkish riviera, is a must-do lifetime experience.
The second claim is the famous Lycian way, covering 500 kilometres of inland and coastal trekking paths. During ancient times, various civilisations ruled these lands. Still, the most prominent besides the Ottoman-empire was Lycia, a forward-thinking society, who has left tombs scattered all over the region.
The ruins of their ancient cities eventually became archaeological sites and then tourist attractions. The itinerary takes months to complete, but many do it in sections and often return to Turkey year after year. For those who trek the entire way, pensions and camping sites accommodate their overnight needs.
The crime rate of Mediterranean Turkey is low; however, don’t lay yourself open to opportunist crime and take the same precautions you do in your home country. These include only using licensed taxis, don’t leave drinks unattended, letting someone know where you are, and keeping handbags or purses close by. If it is your first visit, read our country guide listing the top attractions, and reasons foreigners buy property on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.
About Us: We are Spot Blue, an international real estate agent who has helped many people buy property, and relocate to Turkey. We have put our local knowledge of the towns, villages and cities to good use in our blog about Turkey that also talks about living and working here.