Sitting on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast is Dalyan, a small fishing town famous for its relaxed, traditional charm and unique historical sites. It’s surrounded by unspoilt greenery and inspiring scenery, cut gently in two by a wandering river. Whether you’re visiting with friends or family, holidays to Dalyan are perfect if you like your downtime to be low-key, laid back, and leisurely.
If you simply can’t have a holiday without a beach, then don’t worry! There are some beautiful sandy spots a short drive from central Dalyan, so you won’t need to compromise on your holiday.
Join the locals and jump into a water-taxi, which will take you on a laid-back cruise to the mouth of the estuary. The entire stretch is protected, partly due to the nesting loggerhead turtles that have made their home on Iztuzu Beach. However, there’s much more to this part of Turkey than meets the eye. It also houses some of the region’s treasures including the 9th-century remains of Caunus.
Things to do
Dalyan is an atmospheric and romantic destination with a rich history to discover. Take a river trip to see the vast, Roman theatre or the King’s Tombs of Kaunos. If natural attractions are more your thing, hop on a water taxi to Iztuzu Beach and watch endangered loggerhead sea turtles scraping their way along the sands. Once the sun’s slipped over the horizon, try some tasty mezes in a Turkish restaurant then pick a riverside bar for a glass of raki overlooking the water.
Mineral-rich mudbaths are one of the most popular attractions in Dalyan. Visitors are invited to take a dip in the muddy waters, covering from head to toe in the rejuvenating natural substance. The mud’s power is thought to reduce wrinkles and beautify the skin. To clean off, take a dip in the 40-degree sulfur pool and rinse away to reveal your newly refreshed skin.
Every Saturday, a market takes over the main streets. Have fun haggling with the local sellers for a fair price. The market stocks everything from locally grown fruits and vegetables to handmade clothing, so you’re sure to return home with a treasure in-hand. After a long morning shopping, stop off for some lunch and enjoy some traditional Turkish snacks while watching boats sail down the glistening river.
As the river curves and winds around tiny islands, it cuts beautiful bays into the land. So expect to find beautiful beaches in remote areas, some of which you might get to yourself!
Travel by boat along the water to find Iztuzu Beach, nicknamed Turtle Beach, for a long stretch of soft sand in a unique setting. The picturesque beach is a protected loggerhead turtle nesting reserve, which means it opens and closes at certain times. By day, you can relax here in the sun or shade beneath a fragrant pine backdrop. The calm, shallow waters are ideal for a dip or swim, so you can enjoy a perfect, peaceful beach day on your Dalyan holiday.
It’s almost impossible to visit Dalyan without running into a loggerhead turtle or two. Whether you meet one of the giants swimming in the sea or simply spot statues and images of turtles around the town, locals hold these impressive creatures in high regard.
Loggerhead sea turtles are endangered, but the protected areas around Dalyan mean things are looking up for the species. New laws and modifications to boats in Dalyan help keep the turtles safe too, so you don’t need to worry that you’re contributing to the problem when you visit.
History and culture
The once-working fishing town still has the harbour at its heart. A big part of Dalyan’s historical culture stems from the river, which flows through its thick natural surroundings. There are many things to discover nestled in the riverbank’s rich greenery, including the Caunos Tombs of the Kings on the western shore. Dalyan’s most admired feature, these ancient Lycian Tombs are carved into the rocky cliffside, an impressive sight to behold from a river cruise.
Kaunos is another must-see if you’re a history enthusiast visiting Dalyan. The ancient city ruins are just a short distance from central Dalyan, a place of mystery with many unanswered questions still surrounding it.
Food and drink
The small town of Dalyan offers lots of new dishes for foodie travellers to sample. And there are many restaurants and cafés scattered around serving up local specialities and some international favourites.
Whether you stick to the waterfront and enjoy casual eateries with beautiful views or wander deeper into Dalyan to find something unique, there’s something for everyone here. The town has a surprising number of restaurants for its size, so fussy eaters never need to worry about finding something tasty.
If you want to sample some of the best food in Dalyan, you can find plenty of locals’ favourite spots in the town centre. Turkish traditions mean meals often start with bread before moving onto cold starters, casseroles, kebabs, or grilled meat with rice, potatoes, and salad.
The nightlife in Dalyan is quite relaxed, although some of the bars stay open until the early hours, so you won’t be stuck for choice if you want to hit the down. Sofra Bar is a travellers’ favourite for karaoke and cocktails, a perfect place to drink and sing long into the night. Efe Bar boasts a large outside terrace and reasonably priced drinks, ideal for fun with friends or family.