From miles of sandy beaches on the Mediterranean to forgotten coves on the Black Sea coast, thirteen fabulous destinations for bathers.
How to choose the best Turkish beach. It’s not easy: one of the thousands of beaches in the Aegean? Perhaps better a sandy area in the Mediterranean? Or the Black Sea? Or the inland sea of Marmara? It is not easy to choose in a country almost completely surrounded by warm and transparent seas, full of myths and history. We propose thirteen, the best thirteen.
01 Kabak, luxury campsites, and yoga
A dizzying tractor ride can take us to the Mediterranean beach community of Kabak, quite lonely at the moment, although more and more are discovering it thanks to the combination with another incredible enclave of this coast: the Butterfly Valley. Regardless of how the steep downhill journey to Kabak takes place (10 minutes by tractor or 20 on foot), we will be rewarded by this spectacular beach bordered by two long cliffs.
About eight kilometers south of Faralya, and a minute away from elsewhere, Kabak is ideal for lovers of camping and hiking, yoga, and untapped natural beauty.
Accommodation at Kabak consists of campsites, tent platforms, and bungalows, some of which are truly luxurious like the Turan Hill Lounge, perfect for vegetarians and yoga lovers.
02 Where the Turks spend the summer
In the north of the Turkish Aegean coast, we would never know whether we are in Greece or Turkey. The sun and the sea do not have easy-to-define borders and history has been a round trip for this coastline and islands, in permanent exchange. Here is Izmir, the capital of the region, but also the enigmatic Troy or the Roman ruins of Pergamum.
In Bozcaada, the smaller of the two inhabited Turkish islands in the Aegean (the other is Gokceada), there are some of the best beaches in the whole country (Ayana, Ayazma, Sulubahce, and Habbele), and also among the most visited by the Turks. But Bozcaada is more than just a place to relax: its impressive castle is worth visiting. It dates from the Byzantine period, but almost everything you see is later (Venetian, Genoese, and Ottoman).
Although there are many Istanbulites that fill the boutique hotels and restaurants, Bozcaada is still one of the most beautiful villages in the Aegean, with its cobbled streets clustered under the immense medieval fortress. The island is small and easy to explore, and along the coast road to the south, there are beautiful coastal beaches.
03 Patara: ‘hippies’, archeology and Santa Claus
Patara’s prominent place in history is well documented. It was the main port of ancient Lycia and here was born Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Byzantine bishop who gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus. Before that, it was already famous for its temple and its oracle of Apollo, of which hardly anything remains. Currently, it is bathers and sea turtles who flock to its 20 kilometers of white sand.
On the Turkish coast of the Mediterranean there are many beaches, but none as long as this one. The small and quiet village of Gelemis is the perfect place to combine archaeological visits and long walks along the kilometer-long sandy area. Although once part of the hippy trail, today it is rarely crowded with travelers, a true miracle when its charm is proven. Fortunately for those who make it there, Gelemis continues to practice a traditional village life.
The beach is one that is not forgotten: surrounded by large dunes, it stretches for 18 kilometers where you can take a leisurely stroll, rent umbrellas and deckchairs, explore it on horseback and even have a drink at a beach bar. In high season there are minibusses from the village to the arena.
04 Alacati, the Ibiza of the Turkish Aegean
To the north of the Aegean is the Cesme peninsula, turned into a summer resort for the Turks and also a stopover place to go to one of the best beaches in the country, the sophisticated Alacati, with lots of boutique hotels and expensive restaurants, and become a mecca for windsurfing and kite surfing.
Until 10 years ago, Alacati was a forgotten town of dilapidated stone houses. Everything changed in 2001 when an entrepreneur converted one of these buildings into a design hotel, after which many other imitators emerged. Today there are more than a hundred accommodations and its heat have sprung up restaurants, art galleries, and cocktail bars.
Today it looks more like Ibiza than an Aegean town, while remaining a windsurfers’ paradise thanks to its strong and regular north winds, blowing at a constant speed of between 16 and 17 knots. Of course, speculation has already reached this far and various projects threaten the peace of wave lovers.
05 Happy life on the Turquoise Coast
Fethiye beach is one of those corners of the Turkish Mediterranean coast that appear in the photos with an endless azure sea bordered by kilometers of sand pyas behind which towering mountains rise. The icing on the cake (and the photo) are the ancient ruins that dot its fragrant bushes and pine forests. They call it the Turquoise Coast for nothing. Fethiye is also one of the best natural ports in the country, protected by 12 islands that can be explored by boat, with or without crew.
Just 15 kilometers south of Fethiye is Öludeniz, any tourist’s dream come true. It is a sheltered lagoon next to a lush national park, with a long stretch of sand and a mountain, the Baba, which casts its shadow over the sea. Although tourism has taken its toll on paradise, it is still a good place to have a good time before visiting other nearby places, such as Kabak.
One of the most recommended activities is paragliding from the cliffs: a subsequent descent of up to forty minutes will allow us to have impressive views of the Axul lagoon, the Butterfly Valley, and even the distant island of Rodas.
06 More than a night out
Marmaris is one of the most popular destinations on the Turquoise Coast and the closest thing to the Costa del Sol in Turkey. It is the perfect place for the last night of partying, to take a güllet (schooner) cruise along the coast or to have a few drinks, although it also has nearby beaches where you can escape the tourist hordes.
About 10 and 20 kilometers away, respectively, are the sands of Icmeler and Turunc, which can be reached by dolmus (local minibus) from the center. In high season there are water taxis that connect the promenade with these beaches. Many companies offer boat trips in the area, with stops in much quieter coves.
07 Beaches with a Greek flavor
North of the entrance to the Dardanelles, the rugged and sparsely populated Gókceada (Celestrial Island) is the largest island in the country (13 kilometers from north to south and less than 30 from east to west) and a fascinating place, with some landscapes Spectacular and true Greek atmosphere. A destination to escape to after visiting Gallipoli.
In other times, the island was Greek (Imbros) and has passed from one state to another continuously. Since the 1960s, when the Cypriot conflict broke out, the Turkish government has pressured local Greeks to leave. Now only a few hundred retirees and several semi-desert Greek villages remain. That is why its excellent beaches are much more enjoyed, which have not yet been invaded by tourism since it is a military base.
Those who come here can enjoy sandy beaches such as Aydincik, the best on the island, or the beaches of Kapikaya and Ugurlu, on the picturesque southeast coast. Calm waters and perfect waves for windsurfing. The island is reached by ferry from the Gallipoli peninsula or from Canakkale.
08 Pamucak, a secret in the Aegean
Close to Kusadasi and Selcuk, but much less developed and in the wide delta of the river, Pamucak is one of the least crowded beaches in the Aegean. It is in an area that once was nothing more than an inhospitable malaria-infested swamp. Now, however, it is a picturesque sandy cove flanked by pine-covered hills. It is only seven kilometers west of Selcuk, but very little urbanized, with only a handful of beach hotels.
It is not the most well-kept beach in Turkey, but in return, we can enjoy some privacy, even in the high season. From February to March, the estuary marshes, a 15-minute walk from the beach, attract many flamingos. It is another good time to visit. There are minibusses from Selcuk and nice accommodation at the Dereli.
09 Saved by the Loggerhead Turtle
Although from the name, we could believe that it is in the Basque Country, Iztuzu beach is one of the most beautiful in the Turkish Mediterranean. It is next to the famous Sultaniye (Dalyan) hot springs, bubbling pools of hot mud with mineral waters that are very good for all kinds of ailments (rheumatism, skin, bronchitis, etc.).
Iztuzo, 4.5 kilometers long, is a perfect beach to bathe afterward. Hotel developers have coveted it for years, but loggerhead turtles have saved it: as it is one of their nesting places, it is subject to a special screening. The beach is open to the public during the day, but between May and September, it is forbidden to visit it at night. A line of wooden stakes on the beach delimits the nesting areas and visitors are asked not to cross it so as not to disturb the turtle nests.
10 On a Vespa through paradise
The most typical of Kas, probably, are the yachts that come to this Mediterranean paradise to rest, to take day trips in this region, by sea or on Vespa. The beaches are the star of the place, such as that of Büyük Cakil (Big Pebble), relatively clean and only a kilometer and a half from the center, or like the nearby Akcagerme Plajt.
But the best thing to do is hop on one of the port’s water taxis and head to one of the three beaches on the adjoining peninsula, Liman Agzi. Another good option is to rent a boat in the marina and spend a whole day touring the surrounding islands. If it is done in a group, nothing is expensive.
Lovers of secluded beaches have a safe bet at Kaputas, about 20 kilometers from Kas and seven from Kalkan, at the point where a narrow valley meets the sea. The beach is quite popular among travelers exploring the area because it is one of the least touched by human hands and it keeps that charm of the wild that everyone looks for on the Turkish coast.
11 By the eternal flame
In the Mediterranean, we find one of these ancient mysteries that travelers like so much. It is about the Burning Rock, the Chimera, a group of flames that spontaneously burn in crevices on the rocky slopes of Mount Olympos (one of many in this area with the same name). It never goes out and, of course, it responds to a beautiful legend with gods, monsters, and beautiful maidens. At night, the 20 or 30 flames are visible from the sea.
A magical and mystical experience that is the favorite excursion of those who rest in Cirali, a quiet village with various guesthouses and hotels that reach the homonymous beach, perfect for nature lovers. An excellent alternative to the backpacker’s paradise that is home to the nearby Olympos beach.
12 The forgotten beaches of the Black Sea
Dazzled by the sunny beaches of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, many forget that there is another rugged and spectacular coastline to the north of the country, washed by the Black Sea and full of castles, churches, monasteries, ancient myths and coves and beaches to discover.
It can be done through a spectacular stretch of road along the coast that has remained as an alternative route to the new highway. It runs from Bolaman to Ordu, right in the central stretch of the coastline. The winding route takes us, for example, to Cape Jason, where there was a temple dedicated to Jason and the Argonauts, or the surprising Caka beach, a 400-meter stretch of white sand considered the best in the Black Sea, with a nice beer garden.
13 Cleopatra’s Beach
This beach of the tourist Alanya, on the island of Sedir, usually appears in many rankings as one of the best in the world, so we were not going to miss it even if it is too crowded for many. In low season you can enjoy much better its fine sand and the magnificent views of the fortress.
It is, without a doubt, the best in Alanya: three kilometers of calm waters, of a crystalline and intense turquoise, perfect for practicing water sports or getting on a boat to visit the mysterious secret caves in the area, such as the Phosphorus, the Girls or the Lovers.
In addition, on the island of Sedir there was an ancient Roman city of which very interesting remains remain, such as the amphitheater. And why Cleopatra’s beach? Because as Cleopatra did not want to set foot on land that was not Egyptian, Marco Antonio transported the sand to the island especially for her.