photo of Turquoise Coast

Beach views on the Turquoise Coast, Turkey. (Olu Deniz/Getty)

What to do in Turquoise Coast

The Turquoise Coast (also commonly called The Turquoise Riviera) is a corner of coastal southwest Turkey extending roughly from Antalya to Datça and bordering both the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Thousands of miles of coastline, beaches, islands, cliffs, and coves—not to mention warm and sunny weather, ancient ruins, and lavish resorts—make this one of the premier beach destinations in the world. Caesars, saints, sultans, pirates, and queens from numerous epochs and civilizations have left their mark on this stunning coast, and history buffs could spend a lifetime there and not take it all in. Ancient ruins abound, even underwater, including The Sunken City of Simena in Kekova Bay.

Slightly more untamed than other Mediterranean resort areas, the Turquoise Coast's mountains and limestone cliffs create a jagged region that is accessible only by boat in some parts. Not surprisingly, the Turquoise Coast is a major yachting destination, with many tourists taking a "blue cruise" or "blue voyage" on a traditional wooden gulet sailboat for a few days to a few weeks.

The towns of Antalya and Dalaman at either end of the coast are well serviced by airports, and most tourists congregate in the scenic Fethiye/Göcek or Kalkan/Kas areas, the chic resort of Bodrum, or the more budget-minded area of Marmaris. No matter where you go, there will be beaches—albeit some of them pebbly—nestled between rolling hills, in small coves lined by pine forests. Lara Beach, east of downtown Antalya, is a good family option, with a nearby water park and zoo and an annual sand-sculpture exhibition. Iztuzu Beach, south of Dalyan, is also known as Turtle Beach, since it's a protected nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles. The seaside resort of Ölüdeniz means "Dead Sea," but it is better known as the Blue Lagoon, one of the prettiest coastal spots in Turkey.

Underwater enthusiasts will find themselves in heaven on the Turquoise Coast, with World War II wrecks in The Gulf of Antalya and submerged caves in The Gulf of Fethiye. To see ancient shipwrecks and relics unearthed from the Turquoise Coast's waters, head to the excellent Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, housed in an ancient coastal castle. Or if you prefer to stay dry, trek along The Lycian Way, a well-marked trail that snakes through the region and showcases historical and geographical wonders.

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