Over the last twenty years, Turkey has risen to fame in the travel industry as the ideal beach holiday destination. Providing everything couples, solo travellers and families want for their sandy retreat; the 445 Blue Flag beaches probably take much credit. However, stats exclude scenic, small bays rarely visited by tourists and holidaymakers.
Indeed Turkey has an average of 7,200 kilometres of coastline and some seaside districts also have a large expat population. Mainly attracted by low property prices, many have also achieved their dream to live beachside with gorgeous weather because of a low cost of living. So if you are seeking sun, sand and sea, we have got the info on the best places to go.
Sarimsakli means “land of garlic.” However, this is not an accurate reflection of the long 7-kilometre and 100-metre wide beach belonging to the town. Another destination that is mainly ignored by mainstream tourism but popular with Turks, especially from Istanbul during July and August, it is one of the longest beaches in Aegean Turkey. Standard water sports are available for rent, and nearby eateries provide cheap food and refreshments, but one of the biggest lures is watching the vibrant sunset.
The tiny coastal resort of Kadiklesi hardly features on the mainstream tourism face of Turkey; yet again, it is popular with Turks during summer. This large, wide beach provides ample amount of space for everyone and wind surfing schools have set up shop there because of the gentle northern breeze. Although the amenities are restricted to a few restaurants, it is not a pebbly beach like others, and anyone seeking peace and quiet will find that.
For many years, Yalikavak has been a tourist hot spot and popular expat destination. Holidaymakers returning year after year are easily won over by the half sand, half pebble beach and the restaurants backing it. Sunbeds, umbrellas and an endless supply of food and drinks makes Yalikavak beach a firm favourite of families, couples, and group of friends.
Note: The Bodrum peninsula is famous for scenic, sandy coves and blue bays like Bardakci and Kargi (camel beach.) An ideal way to see some of them is on a daily boat trip leaving from most harbours. Bodrum also has many beach clubs such as Xuma, Juju, and Xiana. While the costs are more expensive including entrance fees, facilities and amenities are some of the best offered in Turkey. (Read our Bodrum area guide)
Pamuk beach more than makes up for the lack of choice in services with its long stretch of sand delighting anyone who dreams of a beachside life. High winds dominate the scenery and lifeguards do not operate there, so families with small kids might want to choose another beach. Otherwise, ample amounts of space accommodate everyone even in the height of summer. Backed by all-inclusive hotels, most people stop by Pamuk beach after a trip to nearby Selcuk to see the ruins of Ephesus. Local buses also regularly leave from Kusadasi town centre and will drop you off, with only a short walk to reach Pamuk Beach.
We prefer Ladies beach o the outskirts of Kusadasi main city centre simply because the amenities and facilities are excellent. Rent beds and umbrellas or take advantage of water sports to keep teenagers entertained. However, the backing restaurants and bars provide all day refreshments and food setting us up for a full, relaxing day.
Note: Kusadasi is also a centre of excellence for scuba diving. Many established schools with qualified PADI instructors sell lessons to gain the qualification. They offer try dives from the beach for novice and beginner divers, but the highlight is the sunken A300 airbus place that is an artificial reef attracting copious amounts of stunning underwater flora and fauna.
If you want to see how the locals do it beach style, head to Sevgi Plaj in Davutlar. During winter, the town is relatively dormant but in summer comes alive because of the many Turks who own holiday homes there. Turks also thoroughly enjoy a long day at the beach and make an occasion out of it by firing up the BBQ in the picnic area backing the beach. The name translates to Love Beach, but romantic couples might not like the huge crowds in the height of summer. Instead, this beach is ideal for families or groups of friends.
The name of the small but bustling coastal resort of Altinkum translates into golden sands giving a huge hint of the gorgeous beaches awaiting holidaymakers. Even though they are some of the best beaches on the Aegean Coast of Turkey; their names are quite plain, as in first, second, and third. Don’t let this deter you though because they are ideal for families in particularly.
In the heart of the town, the Blue flag “first beach” commands the most attention simply because of its central location. Further, along, second beach is favoured for its water sports. The Third Beach is also home to a scuba diving centre. A well-kept secret of this region though is Yesilkent, a 5-minute drive from the Altinkum town centre. The sandy beach leads into shallow and cooling waters making it a favourite of families with small kids. (Read our Altinkum area guide)
Most of the places mentioned above attract foreign holidaymakers, but Cesme and Alacati on the Izmir Peninsula have always been popular with Turkish tourists. Youngsters enjoy the latest music trends music and entertainment supplied by trendy and hip beach clubs like Babylon that are relaxing sandy havens by day and party hotspots by night. Many small coves and bays also surround the area, but it is famous for two particular reasons.
Alacati is a windsurfing hotspot, even holding championship competitions while Cesme boasts about Ilaca Beach. Turks love the clear waters of Ilaca that is warm in some parts thanks to nearby hot springs. The soft sand emphasises the dream of beach holidays, and while it is calm at times, gentle north wind often provides small waves adding to the idea of splashing fun.
Further Reading: Read more about the Aegean coast of Turkey in our area guide. Talking about famous towns, and recommended places to visit, it is helpful advice for first-time visitors to the region.