Beach holidays and cultural adventures are not often two things that can be had simultaneously, unless of course you happen to be travelling the Mediterranean. The south west coast of Turkey, known as the Turkish Riviera, is a gorgeous mix of beautiful beaches and history. Start with the Lycian coast, making your way ultimately to Ölüdeniz for the ultimate Turkish beach-hopping holiday.
Begin your Riviera holiday with a bang at one of the longest beaches in the region. Patara beach offers about 18km of sand, something that is often rare in the Mediterranean, an area more commonly noted for its pebbly beaches. Patara is part of a national park and is rich in birdlife as well as being a breeding ground for turtles. A ruined Roman amphitheater, half buried in sand, is just one of the side attractions to this endless beach.
If you happen to have your own yacht, you’ll feel very much at home with the community in Kekova. The area is known for its beauty as much as for the historic towns around it. Ancient Lycian tombs have tumbled into the waters around Kekova Island allowing for a fascinating snorkeling experience in crystal clear waters. A number of tour companies will arrange hotel pick up from the mainland along with a full day to explore the island and its bays. If you don’t like snorkeling, you can also explore the ruins in a clear-bottomed kayak.
A stop off at the lovely beachside hamlet of Çıralı ties in nicely with a visit to Olympos. The original city of Olympos dates back to 300BC and as such, is protected from unsympathetic modern development. One of the perks of the rigid protection rules is the unique tree-house style accommodation, a clever innovation and an ideal way for budget conscious travellers to spend the night. Near the beach at Olympos you can also see the famous flaming rocks of Yanartaş. The rocks site is a strange phenomenon that involves several small fires that burn continuously through vents in the rocks – a spectacular sight at night.
Lest you find sunning yourself on the beach at Konyaalti boring, diversions are a plenty in this town. Unlike places such as Bodrum, Konyaalti doesn’t get the masses of tourists, although it remains fairly popular with locals. The seven-kilometre long beach is bordered by the dramatic looking Beydağları Mountains.
For a village with a name that means ‘dead sea’, Ölüdeniz actually has one of the most ‘alive’ beach scenes in Turkey. West of the Lycian beaches, it belongs to what is known as the Turquoise Coast and is a meeting point between the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas. Despite being somewhat of a tourist town, there are no high-rise developments since the area is protected and you are all but guaranteed postcard perfect scenery. If the crowds are too much, you can take day trips to more remote coves and Byzantine ruins.