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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.