The sand running along the coast is generally softer and paler than that along the Aegean Coast, and the the water is warmer than the Black Sea. For these reasons resort towns line it, as they have done for thousands of years. Incorporate some role play into your trip by visiting the ruins of some of these ancient resorts and make like an ancient Roman, enjoying the sun, sea and sand.
Bodrum marks the western edge of the Turquoise Coast and Antakya the eastern end. This route breaks up the coast into recommended sections allowing you to choose your own in and out points. It works for both captains of graceful sailing ships and captains of the family car: most of the main attractions are close to the sea.
Bodrum's Turban Marina is the best place to stay if you're travelling the turquoise coast via boat, it's well equipped and near the market places and shops, which are one of the things Bodrum sells itself on. Bodrum's Tuesday Textiles Market is one of the most talked about, but this region boasts a market a day, as well as fighting for the accolade of chicest night life on the Turquoise Coast. The Lego-like crusader castle, now the Underwater Archaeology Museum, is worth visiting while staying in Bodrum. Out of town and the harbour the coastline is thick with green woods.
The next stop on your route along the Turquoise coast should be Sedir Island, also called Cleopatra Island, and famous for a beach which has some of the nicest sand in the world – so perfect that the story goes that Marc Antony had it shipped to this Roman resort island for Cleopatra's pleasure.
From there the coastline becomes more and more crenelated – in the day it was considered pirate-friendly – both these facts contribute to the name, the Bay of Sixty Six Inlets. Past all 66, the ruined city of Knidos has a romantic story to it also: built as a tribute to Aphrodite it's accordingly lovely and very well preserved. Datca is the nearest town.
Further south the waters continue to be calm and scenic, past Bozburun, the centre of the local ancient boat building industry, and the ancient ruins of Loryma and Amos. Then it's the surprisingly turquoise natural harbour of Turunc, and on to Marmaris – popular with the yachting set.
One of the most startling things about Marmaris is the view of it as you come towards it on the harbour, where the colours of the green hills, bright white sand and turquoise waters are most dramatic, so if you're mode of transport is land bound consider taking a day trip out on the harbour. And take photos now... Swim, snorkel and load your vehicle up with local honey and textiles before heading onwards to Ekincik, or even better Delikli Island which is a protected area of golden sand, saved for the benefit of the local sea turtle population. As well as wildlife, this island, almost touching the coast, has an ancient town, Kaunos, surrounded by steep cliffs into which huge tombs have been carved. Further inland is Köyceğiz Lake, good for a quiet stop off, especially if you like birds. It's just out of Dalyan of the hot springs and mud baths. İztuzu Beach is another visit-worthy local attraction if you're planning to spend some time in Dalyan and surrounds. The proximity to Dalaman and its international airport make this spot popular.
Visit Sarigerme or Baba Island for more sandy, calm water beaches, then on to the Gulf of Göcek, a gulf of small islands ideally spaced for a short island hopping trip. The it's on to Fethiye via the Byzantine ruins on Tersane Island.
Shore based trips about Fethiye could include visits to the Lycian rock tombs on the cliffs behind the town, but this port has more to offer along the coastline, including Ölü Deniz, touted as one of Turkey's most beautiful beaches – loved by both aesthetes and watersports-people.
About 65kms from Fethiye are the ruins of Xanthos, the old Lycian capital and Letoon, a major Lycian religious centre . Further South is another of Turkey's best beach boasts: Patara, which has a reputation for lovely dunes creeping slowly towards the ruins just back from the beach, and is the town the real St. Nick (Santa) comes from.
Kalkan is a nice port, its a small fishing village which has become popular with the yachting set, after which the next nice port town is Kas, precariously positioned, almost squashed, between the mountains and the sea.
South east from Kas is Üçagiz , the port town opposite Kekova Island, resting place of a sunken Byzantine city best explored with diving or snorkelling gear. If you want to visit Kaleköy Castle and maybe see the dolphins then spend a few days here.
Finike marina is a more cosmopolitan alternative to Çirali, which is more suited to people interested in history: it has two main attractions, the ruined city of Olympos and the rare loggerhead turtles that come here to rest on the beach, which is a mixture of sand and pebbles. If you're walking or cycling the Lycian Way this is a main stop along the route.
This region is steeped in mythology, Mt Olympos and Yanartaş, where the Chimera dwelt are just up from the coast, but with an expensive modern sheen added due to the popularity of the region as a holiday destination. Phaselis, Kemer and Kaleici are just three of the marina mooring options along the coast on the way to Antalya, Beldibi is the most posh if that's your style.
The largest airport on the Turquoise Coast is in Antalya, as is as a Roman Harbour and a historic and attractive town centre where the buildings date from the Ottoman and Roman periods. Some of the nicest buildings have been converted into boutique hotels or restaurants. The nicest local beaches are long and golden. These features add up to make Antalya a good in or out point.
Belek is the next major point on the map eastwards, it's an up-and-commer, so if you're not into golf resorts skip it for Manavgat, or the small modern town built almost within the impressively sprawling ancient Hellenistic city of Side. Alanya was once a favourite with the sultans, but these days is more popular with the package-tour set – both types of visitors appreciate a visit to Seljuk fortress. Seleukia is an old market town with a few interesting ruins of its own, and Tasucu, further south, is the port for the ferries heading for Cyprus. Kizkalesi follows, another town with an impressive medieval fortresses. Less well known, but equally worth a look in are the ruins slightly inland.
Tarsus, which is where St. Paul was born, is the next point of interest in the Turquoise Coast map. There the main attraction is a well, said to be the one St Paul collected his water from, and Cleopatra's Gate, which dates from Roman times. Adana, which is the next main port, is much more modern and much less interesting. Iskenderun nee Alexandretta is next - by no means as grand as it once was.
The main reason for travelling this end of the Turquoise Coast is for the region around Antakya, once an important stop along the Silk Road. Impressive Roman mosaics are on display in the archaeology museum, and this is also the nearest town to the world's first ever Christian church. St. Paul preached in a cave belonging to St. Luke cut into the mountain side here, or so the stories go – and because it's a cave it's still here for interested visitors. Antakya is also Turkey's künefe capital; because of its closeness to Syria the food here is a bit different to the rest of Turkey and its successful dishes, like the sweet cheese pasty künefes, spread from here.
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