Family Vacations to Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Family Overview - Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Turkey's Turquoise Coast stretches from Datça to Antalya (Digital Vision)

Turquoise Coast Highlights

  • Sail turquoise waters to coastal villages.
  • Explore ancient Greek and Roman ruins.
  • Visit Ephesus, the best preserved archeological site in Turkey.
  • Snorkel above an ancient submerged city.
  • Hike the hillsides to Olympos with its eternal fires.

The jagged southern coast of Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea—a region known as the Turquoise Coast—stretches from around Datça to Antalya. A family-friendly way to explore this region of clear blue seas, coastal villages, and nearby Greek and Roman ruins is by gulet, a traditional Turkish wooden yacht that sleeps around 12 people plus a captain, cook, and crew.

The yachts often embark from Marmaris and sail to Olympos. By sailing, instead of spending your time on well-traveled inland routes, you'll gain an expansive vision of the land, one closer to that enjoyed by the Lycians, the native Anatolian people who occupied this area 3,000 years ago. On a gulet voyage, experience the Mediterranean mostly without big city crowds, high-priced hotels, and overrated shopping ops.

The yacht either docks at a small marina or anchors in sequestered coves. Sometimes a guide drives you to nearby ruins of centuries-old stadiums. Other times you'll hike through the countryside or enjoy the turquoise sea from your secluded anchorage by swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing. The mix of hikes, historical ruins, legend, swims, and time to laze on the deck creates an easy, family-friendly pace, especially if you book a voyage on which there are other children.

Most itineraries visit Fethiye Bay's Blue Lagoon, a gorgeous swath of relatively calm water, popular with families. Kaş, a draw for yachties, features a well-preserved Greek theater and easy access to Aperlae, an ancient Lycian city that's now mostly underwater. Strong swimmers comfortable with currents can snorkel above the tiered ridges of uneven stone foundations, cracked urns, and rows of tumbled pillars.

A nice option on a gulet cruise: sleep one night outside on the yacht's cushioned stern. Doze off watching the stars in the jet black sky and wake up to soft bells as a colony of goats make their sure-footed descent down the hills.

Two more highlights: Ephesus, founded about 3000 B.C., and Olympos, a once-grand Lycian town whose nearby mountain burns with eternal fires. Ephesus is the best preserved and most visited archeological site in Turkey. It features Roman baths, a library, temple, marketplace, a stadium, and other structures.

A once-grand Lycian town, Olympos is best known for its nearby mountain which burns with eternal fires, but it also features ruins. The path to the scattered ruins cuts through Çirali beach, to the end of the brown-sand beach where fluted green mountains meet a stream. From here follow a winding brook through the woods to a cluster of ancient houses, some with their walls in tact. To reach the famous flames, hike uphill through a pine forest that thins to scrub brush, sage, and rocks. At the summit fires burn from crevices—most likely a result of gases released from the volcanic site. But it's easy to understand how these flares would mystify ancient peoples. Legend has it that on this site, Bellerophon, mounted on Pegasus, killed the monster Chimaera.

Tip: ROW International and Wildland Adventures are among the outfitters offering family-friendly gulet voyages.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 11 Sep 2007 | Last Updated: 7 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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