Legend has it that upon marrying Cleopatra, Mark Antony gifted her the Turkish Riviera as a wedding present, such was its astounding natural beauty. In that respect not much has changed on Turkey‘s sweltering south-western coastline. Stretching from Çeşme to Alanya, with the Mediterranean on one side and the Baba, Akdağ and Bey mountains on the other, the region dubbed the Turquoise Coast is still captivating visitors two-thousand or so years later.
Marmaris & Fethiye
For the purpose of exploring the Turkish Riviera, Dalaman is regarded as the best option for those jetting in. A straight-forward hour drive away, Marmaris is undoubtedly the most popular destination for travellers flocking to this part of the world and its ‘party town’ reputation is well-deserved. Consequentially, this has allowed its southern neighbour Fethiye to go somewhat under the radar. Built on the site of the ancient dwelling of Telmessos, the harbour town’s most distinguishable feature is the Tomb of Amyntas, a can’t-miss rock-face temple that dates back to 350BC.
The Lycian Way
The town of Kalkan, one of the many sites viewable from the Lycian Way
The 540-kilometre Lycian Way links Fethiye and Antalya, the area’s largest city. Rising into the mountains, the hiking trail offers splendid photo opportunities of the landscape below. Particular highlights include the ridgetop walk to Finike, the climb to Mount Olympus and the jaw-dropping views you’ll get high above Kas and Kalkan.
One of the many sculptures found in the Antalya Archaeological Museum – image by Devrim PINAR
Further west, you’d be amiss to forgo a trip to Antalya – though not to pay a visit to the city’s flash new resorts, but rather for the pull of spending time in the city’s Archaeological Museum. Its comprehensive collection shows off the regions’ rich history, with exhibitions focusing on discoveries from as far back as the Stone Age to the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. It is also among the leading museums in the world for Roman sculptures, with the marble statue of Heracles proving to be a particular highlight for art and history lovers alike.
The ancient ruins of Phaselis
But if you prefer your history out in the open air, the many archaeological sites on the Turquoise Coast should mean you’re never too far away from something special. One such example is the ancient city of Phaselis, found just an hour to the north of Antalya. This once-thriving port specialised in the export of timber and perfume. Its small, secluded coves make it a popular place for yachts to drop anchor, and those who take a stroll down Harbour Way will be rewarded by discovering the city’s picturesque Roman theatre.
Staying on the same lines, to find not only Turkey’s, but the world’s best preserved Roman amphitheatre, you only need make the trip to Apsendos. Built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the awe-inspiring 15,000-seater theatre is, for good reason, one of the more frequented tourist attractions in the area, and is still used as a venue for operas and concerts to this day.
Alanya and the Red Tower
As you travel further east, one of the last major resorts comes in the form of Alanya, a town that has seen a dramatic increase in tourism in the last decade. With an average temperature of 27°C in the summer months it is one of Turkey’s hottest locations, which only goes to make the prospect of staying firmly glued to the sun-lounger by the sea an even more appealing notion. But that shouldn’t stop visitors from making the one-hour climb to the domineering Seljuk-era castle, or the equally impressive Red Tower. With both offering splendid views of the town below, the beachside destination certainly proves to be one of the more photographic settings on the Turquoise Coast.
Have any other ideas about where is best to visit on the Turkish Riviera? Leave us a comment below!