1) Iztuzu Beach (voted number 1 attraction by Trip Advisor)
This is one of the top ten beaches in the world and home to the giant loggerhead turtle that has been breeding here for the last 80 million years! Yes that long. To get to this delightful beach you take one of the many local boats and meander through reed beds passing the ancient Lycian tombs that take you back in time. You will pass colourful fishing and crabbing boats, see kingfishers diving for their dinner and if lucky, you may see one of the pair of sea eagles that live in the mountainside overlooking the beach.
With the mixture of salt and freshwater, the wetlands have become home to a vast number of fish, birds and other water-life. There are over 180 bird species, it is a wildlife paradise.
After a 30 minute boat trip you arrive at the Mediterranean with a 5km golden sand beach to explore. Unspoiled by modern buildings there is a bar/restaurant for snacks, showers and changing rooms, sun beds to hire and a first aid post. Stroll along the 5kms of sand and visit the Turtle Sanctuary at the other end where local students and the Carretta Carretta charity look after injured or orphaned Turtles, nursing them back to release in the ocean. Just a 5 minute walk on this wide beach and you are almost alone (even in the height of summer it is possible to sunbathe in private with a short walk). The return can be by Dolmus from the Bacardi beach end as locals have named it or return by boat – both are beautiful routes.
The ancient city of Kaunos is a delight to visit any time of the year but in the height of the summer go early as the heat can be oppressive. Take a boat over the river at the end of the walkway by the moored boats opposite the riverside restaurants.
The ancient city of Kaunos hosts more tourists each year. The ancient city opposite Dalyan dates back 3,000 years, attracted 30,000 tourists last year. Kaunos had been an important sea port and the history of the city is thought to date back to the 10th century B.C.
The city had two ports, the southern port at the southeast of Küçük Kale and the inner port at its northwest. The southern port was used from the foundation of the city until roughly the end of the Hellenistic era, after which it became inaccessible as it dried up. The inner or trade port could be closed by chains. The latter was used till the late days of Kaunos, but due to the silting of the delta and the ports, Kaunos had by then long lost its important function as a trade port.
The latest excavations have revealed the Turkish bath and the walls that surround the city and other unknown parts and secrets of Anatolian archaeology.
Walk along the road about half a mile passing beneath the Lycian Tombs and you then take a short rise to the entrance where you can wander freely around the ruins, of special interest is the amphitheatre which is virtually intact and hosted the Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008, playing live classical music. Make sure you take some water as it can be hot although a small cafe is on site.
3) The Lycian Rock Tombs
The Lycian Rock Tombs can be viewed on the way to Kaunos by road or even, if you want to be lazy, as you take an evening meal in one of the riverside restaurants as they are lit up with floodlights at night – truly magical. If you want a proper tour the only way Is with Abidin, one of the original guides who still has the necessary authority to take you close to view these fantastic tombs – hand cut for the resting place of the ancient Kings and Queens who believed that it was necessary to lie in rock and not soil on the way to the afterlife.
4) Mud Baths and Roman Spa
The authentic Mud baths and Roman spa springs on the lakeside (not the riverside or the artificial ones in Dalyan village) are a must for young and old to visit. Take a boat from the village or go on one of the regular organised trips and return looking ten years younger. On a more serious note, as well as having huge fun, the sulphur spa spring (that has been here since Roman times) is famous for its curative benefits for all types of skin complaints and also rheumatic and joint disorders. A wonderful day out or half day as the spa has a full restaurant, showers, changing rooms, Turkish baths and massages.
5) Dalyan by Bike
Dalyan is easy to explore on foot but it is even better to hire for a few days some mountain bikes and tour around the village or better still take the beach road and call in at any one of the many little bars and Gozleme (pancake) cafes that are on the roadside. Distance to the beach is around 11kms so round trip is 22kms and any half fit adult can manage it (apart from the return trip from the beach that is quite steep).
We recently received this from a very happy holidaymaker:
A great easy ride is out to Golbashi restaurant for a lovely breakfast on the Iztuzu beach road and some lovely views to enjoy. My favourite ride of all is to get a boat across the river near the lakeside (take the road by the football stadium) and pay a small charge to get to the other side then set off until you reach the junction. Turn right towards Koycegiz (not signposted), continue on passing the sulphur springs and mud baths spa on your right and then there is a long hill (1 mile) not too steep but takes a fairly fit person to do it without stopping (I have two 70 year old friends who have done this several times). From the top the views of the lake are spectacular and all along the way is a ride of absolute beauty and delight.
6) Akkaya Gardens Restaurant
The Akkaya Gardens restaurant is hidden away in a secret valley but is no ordinary restaurant. It is set in the mountains with a stream running through it and tables set by the stream but also hanging in the trees. The huge Eucalyptus trees have five bird nest tables made from Eucalyptus that seat up to seven people and it is a lovely surreal experience hanging thirty foot in the air having a meal with friends. Great prices and high quality food make this a good venue for daytime and night time.
Visit in the day and you can use the large pool that is in front of the restaurants or try the equestrian centre or even hire a kayak for a paddle on the green melt-water lake.
The restaurant will collect you from Dalyan and return you after the meal or trips that can be arranged to explore this wonderful hidden valley.
7) Fethiye Market
Fethiye Market is a great day out. The town is full of small backstreets that can be explored searching for bargains if you don’t find anything suitable in the visiting market stalls. If you have time take a trip around the bay ( the opposite side to Calis beach) and visit the boat building yards where the ancient art of hand built boats still continues. From small boats for local fisherman to full blown Gulets sleeping 20+ people it is a fascinating picture of true craftsmen at work.
Finish your day with a visit to the fish market where the days fresh catch is delivered to the central stalls and happy visitors can select the very best fish that money can buy, then take it to any one of a dozen surrounding restaurant and have it cooked to your liking with garlic and butter or spicy Piri Piri that is great with Prawns. You will even receive a shoulder massage from the waiters after you finish or simply settle for a Turkish coffee or one of the many varieties of tea.
A great day out that can be arranged through any one of the tour companies or if you have a group just ask one of the Dolmus drivers in the village and they will take your group for the day at a very reasonable price.
Dalyan, so much to offer
We have selected these seven things to do but Dalyan is a place to explore to get the most benefit of a holiday in this outstanding area that is filled with all types of nature and wildlife. Historic ruins, mountains, rivers, streams and literally hundreds of bars, restaurants and live music venues.
If it’s McDonalds or Burger King and water-parks you are looking for then go to Marmaris but once you have visited this charming authentic village you will want to return again and again.