With over 8000 km of coastline and over 300 blue flag beaches, Turkey makes the perfect spot for beach holidays. The country has some of the most beautiful pristine beaches in Europe, often with a backdrop of lush green forests and just a stone’s throw from an archaeological treasure. Many secluded beaches can be enjoyed by relaxed boat trips available from the resorts.
Moving round the Turkish coast anti-clockwise the first resort worthy of mention is Cesme and Alacati which is popular for its fine sandy beaches, mineral springs and ideal wind conditions, making it a popular centre for kite-surfing, sailing and windsurfing. Some of the nearby beaches include the out of town Long Beach, a 6km stretch of sand or the sandy beach of Kustur 5kms to the north. Further down the coast is the international port of Kusadasi with its well-known Ladies Beach, useful for its vicinity to the biblical site of Ephesus and for its shopping opportunities and lively nightlife.
Bodrum with its whitewashed houses cascading in bright pink bougainvillea is well-loved as one of Turkey’s most trendy and sophisticated resorts with blend of history, proximity to a vast array of fantastic beaches, fishing villages and hip nightclubs. The views of the city are exceptionally striking against the stunning backdrop of the Castle of St Peter which stands formidably between the city’s twin bays, making it a magnet for yachtsmen too. For those who prefer a more intimate setting Bitez, Gumusluk, Turgutreis and Turkbuku and are just a bus trip away from Bodrum, offering swimming, intimate restaurants and water-sports in a more laid back setting.
Marmaris, a favourite with British tourists, is a lovely seafront of restaurants and cafes against a backdrop of pine-clad hills with beaches just out of town. A buzzing resort, if the beaches get too crowded there are hotel pools as an alternative and the town really comes to life after dark. It is possible to take a day trip to the Greek island Rhodes just a few hours away by boat. The nearby Icmeler boasts the best beach in the area – a sweeping bay of coarse golden sand with a variety of water-sports on offer.
Further along the Loryma Peninsula, Datca is a popular stopping off point for gulet cruises and yachts as it is relatively difficult to access by road – meaning it has retained much of its unspoilt beauty and authentic atmosphere. There are some beautiful beaches nearby including the bays of Aktur and Kargi.
The most famous beach in Turkey has to be Olu Deniz (Dead Sea) near Fethiye, a serene lagoon beach with turquoise waters that graces the cover of so many holiday brochures. There is a small entry charge to use the lagoon beach, where only non-motorised sports are allowed. The main resort beach is free of entry charge, is the long stretch of shingle known as Belcegiz beach.
Fethiye with its backdrop of cliffside Lycian tombs is a bustling centre with a sandy beach nearby at Calis and the much-renowned Olu Deniz lagoon with its crystal clear waters close by. Nearby to Dalyan is the unspoilt Iztuzu beach which can be reached by boat.
Patara Beach is a 12 km beautiful white sandy stretch voted as one of the top beaches in the world by Times Online, Best of 2005 and known as the “widest beach of the northern Mediterranean”. Backed by mountains and bordered by sand dunes, mimosa bushes and the large marshy area which once was the harbour of Patara, this beach is part of a national park and a key biodiversity area, rich in birdlife and the breeding ground of the endangered loggerhead turtle (caretta caretta).
The Turkish Riviera
The Turkish Riviera city of Antalya set around a Roman harbour and old town is the main resort on the southern coast of Turkey; its long holiday season and warm waters can be enjoyed on the long stretches of beach just outside the town centre and there are too many activities available to mention, windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing to name a few.
Further along the coast Alanya, with its vast beaches, historical sites, caves reachable only by boat, hotels and motels, cafes and bars is one of the most popular and developed resorts of the Mediterranean coast. Nearby Side has a long stretch of golden sand, known as Kumkoy or ‘sand village’