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Dalaman, Turkey: what to see and do. Boat trips and turtle spotting on the stunning Turquoise Coast
December 4, 2015 | By: High50
Dalaman saillingWhy go

The Dalaman area of Turkey is known as the Turquoise Coast – and it’s easy to see why. Lively holiday resorts like Marmaris, Icmeler and Olu Deniz link with quieter fishing villages along the white sand shoreline, overlooking Aegean waters of the brightest blue.

But Dalaman doesn’t begin and end at the coast. Inland a breathtaking landscape awaits, with pine-cloaked mountains, rushing rivers and lush nature parks.

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What to do
Dalaman Dunes of Patara flickr Tom Kelly 620

Dunes at Patara beach

The stunning coastline is undeniably the Dalaman’s biggest draw, and boat trips are a popular way to explore the seaside resorts and discover hidden coves, beautiful bays and pretty harbours. Gems to seek out include Samanlik Bay, sleepy Ovacik and unspoilt Patara beach, which is backed by Roman ruins.

Inland, and just a short boat ride from the village of Dalyan, the mud baths at Lake Koycegiz offer a natural beauty treatment. Let the warm mud dry all over your body and then wash off in the thermal springs. The river running through Dalyan is a playground for pleasure-seekers, whether you fancy a relaxing cruise or an exhilarating ride down the river rapids.

Olu Deniz is the real showstopper of the Dalaman region, gracing postcards in souvenir shops across the country. A visit to its breathtaking Blue Lagoon is a must. You can also parasail down from the Babadag mountain – or just recline on the beach and watch!

Where to stay
Dalaman Point Cafe Olu Deniz 620

The Point Cafe at Olu Deniz

Olu Deniz is a small resort but its stand-out beauty means it can get busy. If you want to stay in this area of Dalaman, the Oyster Residence, set in a traditional stone house surrounded by olive trees, offers tucked away tranquillity that’s still just steps from the beach.

If being near the river appeals to you, the Doga Hotel is a well-kept secret. This charming hotel is pretty as a picture, with whitewashed walls covered in bright purple flowers. It boasts a pool overlooked by the mountains, and a mother, daughter and aunt team ensure it feels like home.

You won’t find yourself short on hotels offering out and out luxury on the coast. If you want to be close to the action in lively Marmaris, but just far enough away to still enjoy a peaceful holiday, the D Resort Grand Azur, with its sweeping views and relaxing spa, ticks all the boxes.

Where to eat
Dalaman Akkaya Garden treetop tables 620

Treetop tables at Akkaya Garden

Fancy dining in an unforgettable location? Seek out Sahil, beside the Dalyan River, where you can feast on fresh sea bass with views of the famous Lycian rock tombs. If you’re lucky, the owner might offer to take you out on his boat afterwards.

For something truly unique, book a treetop table at Akkaya Garden, hidden away in the lush Akkaya Valley.

One of the simplest pleasures of a Dalaman holiday is dining with a sea view, and you’ll find plenty of places lining the beaches. The Point Café & Bistro in Olu Deniz is a fantastic day to night spot, serving up perfect pancakes (cooked in front of you) for breakfast and live music in the evenings. Plus it’s just steps from the Blue Lagoon

Be sure to try some traditional Turkish cuisine – meatballs, Turkish pizzas (lahmacun) and kebabs are authentic hole-fillers. Ovacik Main Road is a safe bet for dining like the locals.

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Getting around

Dolmus minibuses are the way to get around in Turkey. These are shared buses that will pick up and drop off wherever you choose – just stick out your arm when you see one. They’re super cheap but can be on the cramped side.

When to go

Summer in Turkey is hot and crowded but great for sunworshippers. April, May, September and October offer sunbathing weather without the scorch factor. Temperatures rarely fall below 15°C, even in the winter months.

Don’t miss
Dalaman Ephesus the world-famous Celsus library facade reconstruction flickr Rol247 620

The Celsus library facade reconstruction at Ephesus

Go turtle spotting down the Dalyan river or at Iztuzu beach – just don’t disturb any nests as these endangered loggerheads need protecting!

Take a boat trip past the Lycian rock tombs cut into the riverside cliffs. You’ll also find the ruins of ancient Kaunos nearby, including a Roman theatre, baths and Byzantine basilica.

Nearby Olu Deniz Turkey. Visit Turkey 620

As one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, and the most important archaeological site in Turkey, Ephesus is well worth seeing – and it’s within daytripping distance of Dalaman. Tick off the Temple of Artemis, Virgin Mary House, St John Basilica and Library of Celsus on your tour.

Busy beach resorts not your thing? Head for Sarigerme, just 20 minutes’ from Dalaman town, and enjoy a quieter Turquoise Coast experience. If there’s a decent sea breeze you can watch kite-surfers from your sunlounger.

Three things we like

  1. Marmaris Grand Bazaar is shopping heaven. Pick up everything from fine jewellery and traditional carpets to ‘designer’ clothes and handbags.
  2. Glorious sunshine plus seaview plus cocktail makes for blissful holiday moments. You’ll find many fantastic bars lining the resort beaches – Dost in Marmaris is a safe bet.
  3. The Blue Lagoon in Olu Deniz really is unmissable. We challenge you to find water that blue anywhere else in the world!
Bird's eye view of Olu Deniz

Bird’s eye view of Olu Deniz

Something we don’t like

Some of the Dalaman resorts can be crowded during the summer months. Marmaris is especially geared up for holidaymakers, although it makes up for the souvenir shops and banana boats with a charming old town, castle and marina.

High50 insider tips
  • Hop on the ferry from Marmaris and you could be on the historic Greek island of Rhodes in an hour and half. Just don’t forget your passport!
  • The Aegean just off the Turquoise Coast is dotted with picturesque islands to explore. The tiny Yassica islands are favourites for boat trips.
  • Heading inland? Stop off for fresh pomegranate juice from a roadside seller.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle in the shops and bazaars. It’s expected in Turkey, and the original price given will have plenty of wiggle room – often around fifty per-cent!
  • Be aware that many of the ‘branded’ goods on sale will be fake. Unscrupulous vendors have also been known to cover goods with a thin layer of leather to achieve that distinctive smell.
Need to know
  • Flight time to Turkey from the UK is around four hours.
  • Time zone is GMT +2.
  • The currency is the New Turkish Lira.
  • You’ll need a visa to enter Turkey. This can be done on arrival at the airport but, to save time, do it in advance at the e-Visa website. It costs $20. Passports need to have at least 6 months validity and should also be valid for 60 days beyond the expiry date of your visa.
  • Tap water is safe to drink but bottled water is preferable.
  • If visiting a mosque you should take off your shoes and dress respectfully. Women will need to wear a headscarf and cover legs and shoulders. Men should wear long trousers and sleeves.
  • You’ll need a two-pin European plug adaptor.