Antalya Old Town - or Kaleici - is the picturesque old quarter in the center of present day Antalya. With its narrow winding streets and historic wooden houses, bars, restaurants and Ottoman-style boutique hotels, it’s a lovely place to wander around or base yourself while visiting Antalya.
Kaleici can trace its orgins back to the Roman period, when it grew around the old harbor, protecting the harbor from the west and the passage of produce from the east. Originally surrounded by massive stone walls and several gates, Kaleici has only two walls and one gate remaining.
Imposing Hadrian’s Gate is a glorious example of Roman architecture and was constructed in 130 AD to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Kaleici. It has a triple-arched portal and decorative marble columns and is supported by enormous, turreted stone towers (from a different era). Hadrian’s Gate remains the most impressive way to enter the Old Town.
The beautiful spot known as Kelebekler Vadisi, or “Butterfly Valley,” holds an almost mythical attraction for many travelers to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, perhaps because of its relative isolation: the narrow, steeply walled cove can only be accessed by boat or on foot. To add to the mystique, the valley takes its name from the many species of butterflies and moths that breed here during the winter, including the brightly colored and rarely seen Jersey tiger.
From the secluded beach at the entrance to the verdant gorge that leads to a 60-foot waterfall at the back, the setting is simply delightful. Although there is a well-trodden path to the waterfall it’s a good idea to bring waterproof shoes, as some wading through the streambed is necessary.
Butterfly Valley makes an easy day trip by boat from Ölüdeniz, but in order to fully soak up the atmosphere you might want to stay a few days.
The Dalyan River runs through the town of Dalyan, Turkey, which is located in the southwest region of Turkey along the Aegean Sea. Life in Dalyan revolves around the river. It's an important source of fish for the residents. The river also flows through a special environmental protection area. There are also several boat tours that go up and down the river, taking visitors to see the ancient sites of the area. One of the main attractions for tourists are the facades of Lycian tombs. They are located above the river's sheer cliffs and were cut from the rocks around 400 BC. Just a short boat trip away, you can also visit the ruins of the ancient trading city of Kaunos.
Nearby you can experience the Sultaniye hot springs. Here you can enjoy the warm water and the therapeutic mud baths. You can also go for a swim in Köyceğiz Lake, which is connected to the sea by the Dalyan River.
Sedir Island is best known as Cleopatra Island, named after the pharaoh who allegedly met her lover Marc Antony on its shores. Forever romanticized by its connection with the iconic lovers, this small island in the Gulf of Gökova is now a popular stop on boat cruises and jeep safaris from Marmaris.
Cleopatra Island’s second claim to fame is its unusually textured sands, made up of smooth white, ground seashells. To preserve this one-of-a-kind sand, visitors are required to leave their belongings and shoes at the entrance to the beach. Removing the sand is strictly prohibited. Typically, such sand can only be found on Egyptian shores, fueling the legend that Marc Antony had it shipped in to Sedir Island from North Africa in an attempt to woo his mistress.
The island also has an additional sandy beach, popular among swimmers and sunbathers, that is home to a number of Roman ruins, including an agora and an amphitheater that dates back to the fourth century B.C.
With its northern coast lying on the Aegean Gulf of Gökova and the Mediterranean Sea lapping its southern shores, the Datça Peninsula serves up an endless panorama of wildflower-covered hills, jagged coastal cliffs and golden beaches. Marking the last stretch of Turkey’s legendary Turquoise Coast, the peninsula makes a popular destination for both single- and multi-day cruises from nearby Bodrum or Marmaris.
With dozens of beaches and snorkeling areas, most visitors to the peninsula spend their time on the coast, but there’s plenty of interest inland, too. Take a hike through forests and orange groves, tour a traditional olive mill, browse the weekly markets in the town of Datça or discover the ancient city of Knidos, a sprawling archaeological site best known for its timeworn sundial and statue of Aphrodite dating back to fourth century B.C.
Whether you’re cruising along Turkey’s 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.
Just inland from the main port area and east of the ancient amphitheater is Fethiye’s old town, known as Paspatur. The narrow streets here are filled with shops and street stalls selling everything from Turkish carpets, jewelry and antiques to edible goodies like spices and Turkish delight; there are also touristic knick-knacks aplenty. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, Paspatur is a great place for wandering around and people-watching, or for getting a bite to eat at one of the many cafés and eateries. Thanks to a canopy of vines above, its shaded streets are pleasant even during the height of summer. Nearby is Fethiye’s main fish market, where you’ll see local residents shopping and where you can even purchase your own fish and have it cooked up for you to eat at one of the nearby restaurants. While you’re in the area, you may also want to stop by the Eski Cami, Fethiye’s oldest mosque, or the Eski Hamam, a Turkish bath dating back to the Ottoman period.
One of the most important and best-preserved remains of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, the Bodrum Amphitheater boasts a dramatic location, carved into the hillside above the city of Bodrum. Originally constructed in the fourth century B.C. during the reign of King Mausolus, the grand, open-air venue wasn’t fully completed until the Roman era, with structural changes that were made for hundreds of years up until the second century A.D.
The 13,000-seat amphitheater is one of the oldest in Anatolia, and thanks to careful restoration, it remains in use, hosting concerts and theatrical performances during the summer months. The atmospheric venue is famed for its remarkable acoustics and magnificent panoramic views of the modern-day city of Bodrum, neighboring Gumbet and the surrounding Bodrum peninsula.
AquaDream Waterpark is one of Turkey's 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.
Turtle Beach, or İztuzu Beach in Turkish, is a large breeding ground for the rare and endangered loggerhead sea turtles. The beach is located just south of the town of Dalyan, Turkey along the Aegean Sea. Due to its protection status, the beach is quiet, though there are a few cafes and tourist facilities in the area. There are no showers on the beach because they don't want shampoo to contaminate the beach and harm the turtles. Certain sections of the beach are off limits during breeding season in order to protect the turtles and their eggs. The beach has been under threats of over development for decades, which would have a devastating effect on the turtles. Luckily there are groups fighting to stop the development and continue protecting the turtles and their habitat.
Kusadasi is a resort town located on Turkey’s Aegean Coast that is best known as a jumping off point for visits to Ephesus, the best preserved classical city in eastern Turkey. Just a few decades ago, it wasn’t much more than a small seaside village, but the growth of the local tourism industry has brought modernization and commercialization.
It is an easy walk from the cruise ship terminal to downtown Kusadasi.
Chances are you won’t be spending much time in Kusadasi itself as most cruise passengers join half or full day excursions to nearby Ephesus. If you do stick around, think of it as a chance to kick back and relax for a day. Try a Turkish bath, head to the beach to soak up some sun or cool off at the wave pools and water slides at one of the city’s aqua parks. You may also like to take a walk out to the small hilltop fortress on Pigeon Island, accessible by a footbridge just across from the port.
The ancient city of Olympos lies in ruins in a picturesque valley southwest of Antalya.
Founded in Hellenistic times and becoming part of the Roman empire in 78 BC, the city is believed to have taken its name from nearby Mount Olympos, one of many mountains across Turkey and Greece named after the heavenly abode of the Gods.
The city ruins lie scattered near the village of Olimpos, in an area known for its rich plant life – wild grapevines, oleander, bay trees, wild figs and pines – and are a short walk from pretty Olimpos beach.
Visitors making the trip to the ruins of Olympos also include a visit to the nearby Chimaera (Yanartas). Sitting on a rocky mountainside above the village of Cirali, these seemingly eternal flames (fuelled by natural methane leaking from the earth) have been burning non-stop for thousands of years.
Often nicknamed the St Tropez of Turkey, Bodrum has earned itself a stellar reputation among cruise travelers. The lively Bodrum Marina, a well-equipped and modern harbor with space for up to 500 boats, is at the heart of its sailing community. Even if you won’t be docking your private yacht in the marina, a stroll along the scenic waterfront provides an atmospheric introduction to the city with its line of designer shopping outlets, luxury hotels, top-class seafood restaurants and stylish selection of bars and cafes.
As well as being a place that offers yachts for hire and day cruises around the Bodrum Peninsula, the colorful marina also hosts a number of international boat races and festivals throughout the year, including the prestigious Bodrum Cup yacht regatta each October.
Carved into the cliffside above town is a group of ancient Lycian tombs that have become some of Fethiye’s most famous landmarks. Set higher than the rest, the most important of the tombs was built in 350 B.C. for “Amyntas, son of Hermagios” (according to a Greek inscription on the wall of the tomb), who is thought to have been a local Lycian ruler or nobleman.
The entrance to the Amyntas Tomb was carved out of the rock so as to look like a temple portico, with two Ionic-style columns topped by a triangular pediment. Grave robbers appear to have broken into the tomb a long time ago, as is clear from the missing panel in the bottom-right-hand side of the doorway.
About 500 meters down and to the right (east) is a cluster of several smaller tombs carved into the cliff face; very little is known about the identities of those buried here.
The Kaunos Ruins near Dalyan, Turkey are 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.
Hemmed in by a dramatic wall of sea cliffs and peppered with sandy coves and rocky islands, the Gulf of Gökova (sometimes called the Ceramic Gulf) is one of Turkey’s most picturesque coastal landscapes. Formed by the Aegean Sea flowing between the Bodrum Peninsula to the north and the Datça Peninsula in the south, the sizable gulf lies at the tip of Turkey’s famous Turquoise Coast and makes a popular inclusion on Mediterranean cruise itineraries.
The biggest city along the gulf is Bodrum, built on the ancient city of Halicarnassus, and other highlights include the tranquil resort town of Akyaka; Cleopatra Island, famous for its seashell beach; and the Greek island of Kos, which lies at the mouth of the gulf. Exploring Gökova is traditionally done by boat, but it’s also possible to hike along the coastal Carian Trail, which runs from Cape Crio to Bodrum via Akyaka and the Kiran Mountains.
Jutting out to the south of the Datça Peninsula between the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, the Bozburun Peninsula makes for a popular cruise destination from Bodrum or Fethiye. It is as renowned for its tranquil beaches as its atmospheric nightlife, and many choose to explore the length of the peninsula by jeep or boat from Marmaris.
The long, sandy beaches are the principal draw for visitors to the Bozburun Peninsula, with top spots including the Blue Flag beach of Turunc, Icmeler Beach and the vast Maiden’s Beach or Kizkumu. Additional highlights include the peninsula’s namesake town, known for its production of traditional wooden gülets; Turgut Falls; the hilltop village of Bayir; and the forest-clad mountains, where bird-watchers can spot Eurasian varieties like the jay and hoopoe.
With its crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful corals and sweeping coastal cliffs giving way to sandy beaches and secluded coves, the Bodrum Peninsula is one of Turkey’s most scenic destinations, stretching for 174 km along the northwestern Aegean coast. Bodrum, built on the site of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, is the main gateway to the region and the most developed of its towns. Legions of tourists are steadily drawn to Bodrum’s lively waterfront and numerous archaeological gems, including the ruins of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Touring the peninsula makes a popular day or multi-day trip from Bodrum. Heading west along the coast, the bustle of city life soon gives way to sleepy fishing villages, hilltops capped with whitewashed windmills and ancient olive groves. There’s plenty to see and do around the peninsula.
Turunç is a small coastal village about 12 miles south of Marmaris, Turkey. 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.
A forested headland facing Marmaris Bay, the secluded beaches and glittering waters of Adaköy remain some of the region’s best-kept secrets. While a handful of resort hotels line the shore, most visitors arrive at Adaköy by boat, and the tranquil peninsula is a popular stop for those cruising down the coast to Dalyan or Fethiye.
With its beaches well sheltered by steep coastal cliffs, the waters of Adaköy are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, and the surrounding hills offer a scenic backdrop for hiking and biking tours. Additional highlights include the peninsula’s north coast, affectionately nicknamed “Aquarium Bay” for its clear waters and huge schools of tropical fish, and a series of natural phosphorus caves carved into the sea cliffs.
Modern-day sun lovers worship Didyma’s golden beaches, but in classical Ionian times this was the legendary site of the Temple of Apollo.
In its heyday, Didyma’s famous temple was the home of the oracle of Apollo, who provided the Hellenic world with divine predictions from the gods. The sanctuary at Didyma was the most significant temple in the territory of the legendary city of Miletus, approached via the Sacred Way. It was renowned for its wealth and sacred spring, a revered site predating the era of the Greeks.
The symbol of Didyma is the beautiful stone heads of the Medusa that crown the temple’s Ionic columns. Monumental steps lead to the remains of more than 100 equally huge pillars, two of which are linked by a sole surviving architrave.
Recent excavations have unearthed other temples, including one dedicated to Artemis, destroyed by fire and earthquake over the millennium.
Selimiye is a small seaside fishing village about 25 miles from the city of Marmaris, Turkey. 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.
Knidos was an ancient Greek city near present-day Datça, Turkey. 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.
Bayir Village is a small town on the Bozburun Peninsula in southwestern Turkey. 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.