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Ancient ruins, endangered wildlife, thermal springs—a boat cruise along the Dalyan River is full of surprises. Winding its way from Lake Köyceğiz to Dalyan Village before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea, the river follows a scenic route flanked by rocky mountains, pine-clad valleys, and sandy beaches.
A narrow spit of sand stretching out into the ocean, Iztuzu Beach (Turtle Beach) takes its name from the loggerhead sea turtles that nest on its shores. Forming a natural barrier between the Dalyan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the protected beach is one of the most important breeding grounds for the endangered creatures in Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye).
Whether you’re cruising along Turkey’s (officially the Republic of Türkiye) Turquoise Coast or sailing along on a day tour from Marmaris, you’ll likely find reason to detour to the scenic Dalyan River and its namesake port town. The area’s top attraction is Turtle Bay, (İztuzu Beach) a strip of sand between the river and the Mediterranean Sea. With its prime location at the mouth of the freshwater delta, Turtle Beach has become an important spot for endangered loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) that come ashore to lay eggs during breeding season. Watching the turtles in their natural habitat is a popular pastime among visitors.
Additional highlights along the Dalyan River include the Köyceğiz-Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area around Lake Köyceğiz, the impressive ruins of ancient Kaunos and a series of Lycian rock tombs carved into coastal cliffs. Be sure to take advantage of one of the delta’s most noted natural assets – its mineral-dense mud baths and sulfur hot springs, renowned for their healing properties.
Warm springs bubble around and under Lake Koycegiz, making mud baths a signature of the waterfront town of Dalyan. Minerals give the mud a sulfur smell, but can, locals say, work miracles on aging skin. Just lounge in the shallow pools, coat yourself in glop, then rinse off in the river, lake, showers, or spring-fed pool.
Ancient City of Kaunos near Dalyan, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. Kaunos was an ancient city founded in the 9th century BC, and it was quite important by 400 BC. It was located on the border between Lycia and Caria, and the city's culture had characteristics of both empires. The city was once an important trading post on the sea, though today it is set back a few miles from the sea since the coastline has moved over the centuries. The receding coastline, attacks from various tribes, and a malaria epidemic led to the decline of Kaunos, and the city was abandoned by the 15th century.
The ruins include a well preserved theater, parts of the old city walls, and an acropolis. There's also a basilica, Roman baths, two Hellenistic temples and four Roman temples. From the acropolis, you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the ancient city. The theater could hold 5,000 people and is still occasionally used for events. Nearby you can also see Lycian tombs in the rocks above the Dalyan River.
According to legend, Cleopatra enjoyed clandestine rendezvous with her lover, Marc Antony, on the shores of this tiny island in the Aegean Sea, just off the Gulf of Gokova. Their story makes the island a renowned romantic spot. Its other claim to fame is its unusually textured sand, which is made up of smooth, white, ground-up seashells.
With colorful fishing boats and home to a dazzling fleet of luxury yachts, Marmaris Marina is the vibrant focal point of the city’s waterfront. Marmaris Castle reigns over the harbor, which serves as the gateway to natural wonders such as Dalyan Mud Bath, Iztuzu Bach, and the Gulf of Gokova.
Aqua Dream Waterpark is one of Turkey's (officially the Republic of Türkiye) largest water parks and the biggest water park in Marmaris. It is located on the top of a hill overlooking the city, which offers visitors a spectacular view of the city and surrounding landscape while enjoying the rides at the water park. The water park has a wide variety of water slides, each offering a different experience. Some are body slides while others involve sitting on a tube. There are also several pools, including a wave pool, a pool that doesn't allow children, and a normal swimming pool. The water park also has a children's area for smaller children who aren't old enough for the bigger slides. Along the perimeter of the pools, chairs and umbrellas are set up where you can lounge, relax, and sunbathe.
Aqua Dream Waterpark is fun for the whole family. It has a restaurant and bar with both indoor and outdoor seating, changing rooms, lockers, and hot and cold showers. There are lifeguards on duty at all times to ensure the safety of the visitors. Bring your bathing suit, towel and sunscreen.
Turunç is a small coastal village about 12 miles south of Marmaris, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). It was once primarily a fishing village, but today it is also a quiet resort town. The village is small enough that you can walk from one end to the other in about a half hour. It's relaxed, small town atmosphere give it a completely different feel from the larger resort cities in the area, making it a great place for a vacation away from the crowds. Turunç is located on the edge of a bay with sandy beaches and calm, sheltered waters. Tree-covered mountains provide a picturesque backdrop.
Despite its size, Turunç has several hotels and guesthouses, as well as restaurants and cafes serving traditional Turkish food. There is a market on Mondays where you will find fruit, vegetables, other local foods, and gifts. Visitors can also buy souvenirs at a variety of local shops in the village. Popular activities include swimming, sunbathing, fishing, water sports, horseback riding and jeep rides into the countryside. You can also join a boat tour to see more of the coastline and some bays that are only accessible from the water. There are also day trips to nearby villages or to Dalyan to see the endangered loggerhead turtles on Turtle Beach.
A waterfront park with its own private beach, Atlantis Waterpark Marmaris is one of Marmaris’ most popular water parks. Nine high-adrenaline slides include freefall, whirlpool, and rafting options; little ones love the Kids’ Land pool, slides, and soft play area; sun loungers, restaurants, and a bar keep adults entertained.
Curving around the mountain-backed bay of Icmeler just west of Marmaris, Icmeler Beach offers some of the best scenery and waters on Turkey’s (officially the Republic of Türkiye) Turquoise Coast. The dark-sand-and-shingle stretch is lined by Icmeler’s shops, restaurants, and watersports—making it ideal for whiling the day away in the sun.
Datça Peninsula straddles two sunny seas, with its northern coast looking out towards the Aegean, and its southern coast out to the Mediterranean. The last stretch of Turkey’s (officially the Republic of Türkiye) Turquoise Coast is full of wildflower-covered hills, jagged coastal cliffs, and golden beaches. The peninsula is a popular stop when sailing from Bodrum or Marmaris.
Akyaka is a small seaside fishing village about 20 miles from the city of Marmaris, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). It is located on the edge of the Bozburun Peninsula along the Aegean Sea. Akyaka is bordered by forested mountains on one side, and the beach and Gokova Bay on the other side. The Azmak River runs through the middle of town. The town has a relaxed, laid back vibe and is much less developed than nearby Marmaris. It's a very traditional town where you'll see farmers at work in their fields and fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
Akyaka has a wide sandy beach along Gokova Bay. The water is shallow, which is perfect for a relaxing swim. There are pedalos and kayaks for rent at the far end of the beach. Near the beach you'll find several bars and restaurants where you can try fresh seafood and other traditional Turkish meals. Another popular activity is taking a river boat trip along the Azmak River through the village. You'll have the chance to see frogs, dragonflies, turtles, and a wide variety of birds. There are also several restaurants along the banks of the river.
Selimiye is a small seaside fishing village about 25 miles from the city of Marmaris, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). It is located on the Bozburun Peninsula along the Aegean Sea. Due to its unspoiled and laid back charm, Selimiye is often referred to as the real face of Turkey. While there are a few small hotels and guesthouses, you won't find big resorts here. There are restaurants and cafes serving traditional Turkish food, including plenty of fish caught fresh from the Aegean Sea and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Selimiye is well known for growing figs and almonds.
The town has a long tradition of wooden boat making, so visitors will see many boat yards in the area. These traditional boats are called gulets. Due to Selimiye's location and boat-making tradition, boat trips are popular activity for exploring the area. You can also visit the ruins of Hydas. The remains of three castles can be found in the hills of Selimiye. Near the shore is an old stone lighthouse, and southeast of the bay you'll find the remains of the city walls from the Hellenistic period. Visitors can also enjoy swimming in the sea from the small beach called Silimani.
Knidos(Cnidus) was an ancient Greek city near present-day Datça, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). The town of Datça is located on the Datça Peninsula, which juts out into the Aegean Sea. Knidos was an important cultural and political center by the 5th century BC and, due to its location on the sea and large harbor, it was a major trading hub as well. The city was a member of the Dorian Hexapolis, which was a federation of six cities of Dorian Greek origin. Over time the city became part of the Roman empire and survived into the Byzantine era.
Eventually the city was abandoned. Excavations began in the 1800s, and many ruins have been uncovered. Today you can see the ruins of temples, an altar, a sundial, a theater, a sanctuary, the agora, and churches, including the remains of a Byzantine church. The biggest find is the necropolis, which is almost four miles long. The theater could seat 5,000 people and was built with an impressive panoramic view of the sea. Although many statues and artifacts are now housed in the British Museum, there is still a lot to see here, and even just for the view, it's worth a visit.
Reigning supreme over Marmaris Marina, the 16th-century Marmaris Castle is one of the city’s oldest landmarks. As well as offering panoramic views of the coast from its turreted lookout towers, the castle is also home to Marmaris Archaeology Museum.
Set between two peninsulas in the Aegean Sea—Bodrum to the north and Datça in the south—and hemmed in by the dramatic sea cliffs, sandy coves and rocky islands of the Gulf of Gökova (also known as the Ceramic Gulf) make up some of the most picturesque landscapes of Turkey’s (officially the Republic of Türkiye) famous Turquoise Coast.
Jutting out of the southern coast of the Datça Peninsula and into the Mediterranean Sea, the mountainous Bozburun Peninsula is renowned for its tranquil sandy beaches, ancient cities, and lively nightlife, making it a popular stop for yacht cruises and jeep safaris from Bodrum or Fethiye.
Bayir Village is a small town on the Bozburun Peninsula in southwestern Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). It is built on top of the ancient city of Syrna, and it is believed that the town's mosque sits on top of the temple of Asklepios, the god of health, although there are no traces of the temple today. Just outside the village you will find ruins from the ancient city. There is an acropolis, pieces of the old city walls, some gravestones, and the remains of a few other structures. Another big attraction in Bayir is a 2,300 year old tree called Old Plane Tree. It is said to bring good luck and extend your life if you circle it three times. There are several cafes near the tree where you can sample the local food and drink some tea. There are also a few shops where you can buy local honey
Bayir Village is often included on jeep safari tours to various villages in the area. Bayir is located on top of a hill which provides spectacular views of the village and the surrounding peninsula. This small town will show visitors a glimpse into traditional Turkish village life.
Adaköy is a forested headland facing Marmaris Bay. Hailed as one of the region’s best-kept secrets, the peninsula attracts visitors with its tranquil atmosphere and secluded beaches. Plus, the sheltered position of Adaköy’s beaches make their waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling.