Turkey’s best beaches, as chosen by a local

With 5,000 miles of coastline, the country has holiday options to suit everyone; local expert Jennifer Hattam shares her favourites

Tuesday 13 June 2023 12:46 BST
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<p>Take a trip to the Turkish coast this summer </p>

Take a trip to the Turkish coast this summer

Whether your idea of a perfect beach break is sipping cocktails on a sun lounger, a family-friendly frolic in gentle waves, dancing on the sands to open-air DJ sets, or a super-active stint of kayaking, windsurfing, or scuba diving, Turkey has a summer holiday destination to fit the bill. The country’s 5,000-plus miles of coastline encompasses broad sandy expanses along the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean villages with charm to spare, and the rugged Black Sea shores, where the crashing waves can be dramatically scenic (if not exactly alluring to swimmers).

Direct flights from the UK to Izmir, Bodrum, Marmaris, Dalaman and Antalya put Turkish shores within easy reach, though you’ll find more peace and quiet – and less-developed coastline – the further you venture away from these popular airports. Here are some of the top spots to consider this summer.

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Konyaalti Beach, Antalya

Konyaalti Beach, Antalya

Backdropped by the towering Beydaglari mountains, this long, busy pebble beach offers a little bit of everything: water sports, children’s play areas, restaurants and nightlife. When you need a break from sun and sea, pop over to the nearby Antalya Archaeological Museum, filled with splendid finds from ancient cities all around this part of the coast. Antalya’s pleasant old town (Kaleici) is just two miles away.

Where to stay

Conveniently set two blocks inland from the beach, the adults-only Sealife Lounge Hotel gets high marks from guests for its friendly staff and tranquil vibe.

Cesme Peninsula, Izmir

Alacati Beach, Cesme

Jutting out into the Aegean Sea and studded with olive trees, the Cesme Peninsula is a popular weekend break for residents of Izmir and Istanbul, with multiple towns suitable for a holiday base. Tiny Alacati is packed with picture-perfect boutique hotels and trendy restaurants serving seafood-heavy Aegean cuisine; its bay is prime windsurfing territory. Bustling Cesme has a 16th-century castle and better access to lovely sandy beaches like Altinkum and Pirlanta, both on the peninsula’s westernmost tip.

Where to stay

Bohemian-chic Gaia Alacatı blends comfort and relaxed cool for an intimate stay. The gourmet breakfast in the serene courtyard is a highlight.

Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan

Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan

Probably the best trip to the beach is the open-air boat service down a winding, reed-lined river to Iztuzu Beach near the western end of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. And what a beach it is: a protected nesting area for sea turtles, this gorgeous three-mile-long stretch of sand is super-clean and minimally developed. Dalyan itself is a laidback holiday town set between vast Lake Koycegiz and the ancient city of Kaunos.

Where to stay

On spacious, attractive riverfront grounds between town and the beach, the Dalyan Resort Hotel has a mildly maritimey vibe, tidy rooms, and amenities including a pool and spa.

Doubles from £116 per night

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Oludeniz, Fethiye

Oludeniz, Fethiye

Paragliders soar down from the peak of nearby Babadag to land along the white sands of Belcekiz Beach in this lively resort town, where the beachfront is lined with bars, restaurants, and cafes. (Head south about 2.5 miles to Kidrak Beach for more peace and quiet, with an equally beautiful setting.) Adventurers who prefer to keep their feet on the ground can hike part of the scenic Lycian Way trail for sweeping views over the area’s famous “blue lagoon”.

Where to stay

Helpful staff and a great location just off Belcekiz Beach elevate the small, simple Tonoz Beach Hotel into a prime pick.

Golturkbuku, Bodrum

Bodrum, Turkey

For a taste of the Turkish highlife, head to this secluded bay on the northern edge of the Bodrum Peninsula where the rich and famous go to play in high summer. The Turkbuku (north-western) end of the bay is where the real celeb-spotting happens while the Golkoy end is more understated. The public beach is small but many hotels have their own waterfront sunbathing platforms.

Where to stay

Stylish, comfortable rooms, excellent food, and a private beach make the Flamm Bodrum a great get-away-from-it-all destination.

Cleopatra Beach, Alanya

Cleopatra Beach, Alanya

The clear, warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea lap against 1.2 miles of golden sand at one of Turkey’s most (justifiably) famous beaches, fully equipped with cabanas, beach bars, kids’ playgrounds, volleyball courts and other facilities. Alanya can reach scorching temperatures in high summer but on a cooler day it’s well worth making the trek up the hill that overlooks the beach to the 13th-century castle on the summit, and the Seljuk-era shipyard and “red tower” on the other side.

Where to stay

The adults-only Cook’s Club Alanya, right on Cleopatra Beach, caters to a hip young crowd with DJs by the pool and a food-truck-inspired buffet.

Patara Beach, Kas

Patara Beach, Kas

The longest and one of the wildest beaches in Turkey, the sands of Patara stretch for eight miles along the Mediterranean, with little to disturb sunbathers, swimmers and strollers. It’s backed by dunes, behind which lie the atmospheric ancient ruins of Patara, thought to have been founded in the 1st century BC. You’ll find mostly simple, family-run accommodation in the rural village of Gelemis, about 1.5 miles inland from the beach.

Where to stay

The peaceful, family-friendly Pataros Hotel has simple rooms, a warm vibe, and an outdoor pool for those who can’t be bothered to make the trip to the beach.

Datca Peninsula, Marmaris

Datca Peninsula, Marmaris

This narrow, hilly, windswept peninsula near where the Mediterranean meets the Aegean feels blissfully remote – and locals would like to keep it that way. Outside of the pleasantly lively Datca town, the winding coast is dotted with tranquil coves and beaches. Find your favourite... and don’t spread the word too loudly.

Where to stay

Perched on a hill above Datca town, overlooking the turquoise sea, the Villa Asina hotel is an oasis within an oasis, treating guests to dramatic sunrises and delicious Aegean cuisine.

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