Where to Stay on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey

SD › Best Places to Stay along Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast
Updated: September 16, 2020
By Santorini Dave

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The Best Areas to Stay on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey

The port at Alanya, Turkey.

The best area for first-timers and families on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast is Alanya, with its beautiful port and several vibrant festivals and events through the year.

Turkey is blessed with three coastlines: along the Black Sea to the north, the Aegean Sea facing Greece and its numerous islands to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea in the south. The latter is dotted with so many golden beaches and such crystal-clear waters that it’s often called the Turquoise Coast. Most major towns along this coast have an extended marina, ancient castle, old town with meandering cobblestoned streets, and, of course, plenty of tourists, especially from mid-May to mid-September. In high season (May to early October) all places listed below are efficiently connected by public buses and, sometimes, ferries. Buses run less regularly during the offseason and ferries stop altogether.

Where the coast along the Aegean meets the Mediterranean Sea, Marmaris is one of the region’s most appealing towns and especially popular for its active nightlife. About 50 miles via an inland road, Dalyan is so likably different to anywhere else on the coast: based along a canal, it features ancient ruins just across the water and boats to an inland lake and a protected (and, therefore, undeveloped) beach.

An attractive regional hub less affected by tourism (because the nearest decent beach is 10 miles away), Fethiye is dotted with ancient ruins and often used as a departure point for cruises on traditional yachts. Also easily accessible by local bus, trendy (and more expensive) Kalkan is renowned for its range of outdoor activities and restaurants along a very scenic bay. Close by, Kaş is the finest spot for diving and snorkeling along the coast, if not all of Turkey.

Most hotels in the two major towns along the eastern part of the coast remain open during the off-season because the weather is still mostly mild. The largest city along the Mediterranean Coast, Antalya boasts a wonderful old town perched along a hilltop overlooking the spectacular bay. Even more appealing, Alanya offers a magnificent harbor/marina/ferry terminal below the old town and two golden beaches, both remarkably convenient.

Further east of Alanya and certainly beyond Silifke, tourist amenities, and attractions become fewer and/or more isolated. Thereafter, the coast is too close to Kurdish separatist areas and the Syrian border.

The Best Places to Stay along the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey

Antique Roman Palace Hotel in Alanya, Turkey.

The Antique Roman Palace in Alanya, Turkey, is right across from a gorgeous beach and offers fantastic sea views.

Best Areas along the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey for…

  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Sightseeing: Dalyan
    Dalyan is uniquely positioned along a canal where boats head to a vast lake with therapeutic mud baths and hot springs before reaching an excellent and remarkably undeveloped beach with a research/rehabilitation center for protected turtles. And just across the canal from the town center are ruins of the ancient city of Kaunos and the remarkable Kings’ Tombs somehow carved into the cliffs. Also easy to day trip by public bus to the adorable town of Marmaris, with its sprawling old town and extended beaches, and to Fethiye, a pleasant regional hub with easy connections to the ruins at Telmessos, Greek ‘ghost town’ of Kayaköy, and spectacular beach at Ölüdeniz.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Beaches: Alanya
    For over 40 miles, the road from Antalya to the airport beyond Alanya is absolutely jam-packed with massive and, often, garish resorts. Outside of Alanya, most of these resorts face a beach which can be disappointingly narrow and, sometimes, pebbly, and are positioned along a busy and noisy road. Far more attractive and convenient are the two beaches within Alanya: Cleopatra Beach, in the town center and connected to the castle by a cable car, and the seemingly unnamed beach between the Panorama and Sunset Beach hotels. This 6-mile-long stretch of sand (which starts just outside the town center) is lined with mid-sized hotels and lavish resorts, many offering rates which include all meals and drinks, making them ideal for families.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Outdoor Activities: Antalya
    For locals as much as foreign and Turkish tourists, an impressive range of activities are available at the largest city along the Mediterranean Coast. These include ‘safaris’ in a jeep – either drive-yourself or chartered with a driver – along bumpy mountain roads and shallow creek-beds, white-water rafting, getting dirty on quad bikes, and hiking along the Lycian Way trail which starts close to Antalya and stretches over 300 miles towards Fethiye. Also, from the spectacular port/marina/ferry terminal, wooden boats – often with a ‘pirate’ theme – head to secluded coves and bays, and reputable companies organize diving trips to shipwrecks.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Diving and Snorkeling: Kaş
    More charming than most resort regions – but also more upmarket and expensive – Kaş is popular for its range of activities on and below the water. Local and foreign experts regard the area in and around Kaş as the finest along the coast, if not the entire country, for diving and snorkeling among shipwrecks and submerged ruins. Several reputable companies offer good-value tours as well as rentals and internationally-recognized courses. Underwater attractions, some within swimming distance of the shore, are also accessible via hikes and kayaks.
  • Best Areas along the Mediterranean Coast for Boating: Marmaris and Fethiye
    It’s hard to imagine a more picturesque marina and harbor anywhere along the Mediterranean than at Marmaris. In fact, the bay is so sheltered that the inlet is very difficult to see from the esplanade. At Marmaris, boat-lovers can hire yachts – or charter one with a crew – while others can join organized boat trips to remote coves for swimming, snorkeling, and/or scuba-diving. A must-do for those with enough time and money is joining a leisurely cruise along the Turquoise Coast in a traditional wooden boat called a gulet. Usually starting at Fethiye, trips up to four days include stops at secluded bays, pristine snorkeling spots, and coastal ruins otherwise difficult to reach.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Nightlife: Marmaris
    Where the Aegean Coast ‘meets’ the Mediterranean Sea, the charming town of Marmaris also has a reputation for its nightlife. A delightful seaside path skirting the old town is packed with top-class waterfront cafés and bars, some featuring live music. The path heads further northeast to the marina via a thoroughfare called ‘Bar Street’, which is crammed with places to drink, dance, and socialize with names like Joy Club and Crazy Daisy. Pleasingly distant from most hotels, these bars and nightclubs compete by offering the sort of loud music, flashing lights, and drink specials that can (almost) rival parts of Ibiza.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Food & Restaurants: Kalkan
    Kalkan is renowned across the country as the finest place anywhere along the Turkish Mediterranean Coast for the quality, range, and settings of its restaurants. Many of the foreigners who now call Kalkan home have set up fashionable places to eat, drink, shop, and stay, and the town generally attracts big-spending tourists rather than those on packaged tours. So, many of the eateries are world-class and fairly pricey. Along the idyllic bay, visitors can enjoy a morning croissant and latte at a French-run patisserie, devour lunch and a pint or three at an English-style pub, and then relax over a seafood dinner at a family-run bistro on a terrace with live jazz.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Families: Alanya
    Alanya offers two particularly lovely stretches of sand: Cleopatra Beach, conveniently located within the town center and linked to the hilltop castle by cable car, and, just a few miles from downtown, the extended yet unnamed beach lined with resorts. Many top-end resorts and some mid-sized hotels across Alanya offer children’s pools, activities for families, and package deals that include all meals and drinks – great for saving money and pleasing fussy eaters. These beaches are linked by an efficient bus service, which also heads to the Alanya AQUAPARK. Activities easy to arrange through the hotel receptions include boat trips to explore caves, white-water rafting, jeep safaris, and quad-bikes. (Note: all other beach areas near Alanya will be alongside a busy road, face a narrow beach, and be up to an hour by bus from the town center.)
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for History: Antalya
    The largest city along the Mediterranean Coast is the ideal place to learn about the region’s rich and fascinating heritage. The world-class Antalya (Archaeological) Museum explains in English the extensive history of the coastal areas, while another in a renovated mansion provides intriguing displays about more recent traditions. Along stone paths within the vast old town are numerous Ottoman-era homes, many converted to guesthouses, as well as ancient walls and old towers with strategic and scenic views of the remarkable harbor. Just outside the old town, there are substantial remains of Hadrian’s Gate, built nearly 2,000 years ago. From Antalya, it’s also easy to organize day trips to the remarkable ruins at Aspendos and Perge/Perga.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Vibe & Culture: Fethiye
    This administrative center and transport hub is often ignored by tourists, so it can offer a more authentic slice of Turkish life while still providing plenty of tourist amenities around an attractive bay. The town is dotted with reminders of its heritage, including an ancient theater, tomb, and fortress, and public buses regularly head to charming villages as well as the Greek ‘ghost town’ of Kayaköy and ancient ruins at Telmessos. With the nearest beach and major resorts 10 miles away, Fethiye retains a likable vibe and offers several festivals – whether for locals (e.g. mushroom harvests) or tourists (e.g. folk music and dance).
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Festivals and Events: Alanya
    Alanya offers much more than the usual folk music and dance festivals (although there is one of these). Events in this adorable town are traditional (e.g. those based around the oncoming of spring), touristy (e.g. stone sculptures), sporty (e.g. triathlon), or simply lots of fun for locals (e.g. fishing tournaments and Christmas markets). Public holidays, such as the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, are also particularly vibrant. Adding to the appeal is that Alanya is close enough to visit festivals on day trips to Side (for culture) and Antalya (for film and jazz).
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Shopping: Antalya
    As the largest city along the Mediterranean coast, Antalya is sizeable enough to offer the best of all worlds: large malls in the suburbs, fashionable boutiques along winding streets around Kaleiçi (old town), and the centuries-old Iki Kapili Han bazaar also in Kaleiçi. Radiating from the edges of the old town, several streets – some for pedestrians only – are crammed with everyday shops priced for locals, not tourists, and accessible by the excellent tram service.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Transport: Antalya
    About halfway along the tourist-oriented section of the Mediterranean Coast, the region’s largest city is the natural point for reaching this part of Turkey and then exploring further. The airport offers numerous domestic and international flights and, unlike most towns and tourist regions in Turkey, it’s conveniently less than 10 miles from downtown. Plenty of buses head to major cities like Istanbul and Ankara, regional villages such as Side, and tourist centers in both directions. Within Antalya, two tram lines link both the city center and old town with the bus station and attractions like the museum and waterpark. Metered taxis are also available.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for Romantic Holidays: Kalkan
    Quieter, smaller, and more laidback than Antalya and Marmaris, Kalkan is also very attractively positioned on a hillside along a scenic bay. Not tacky or overbuilt, it retains the sort of old-world charm often lacking elsewhere but is more expensive overall. For a romantic getaway, Kalkan offers a delightful old town for lazy walks and no-hassle shopping, boat trips to secluded coves and caves, and some activities rarely offered anywhere else, like cooking classes. What’s more, the range and quality of restaurants here are renowned across Turkey and those along the waterfront are especially dreamy after sunset. The choice of accommodations ranges from quaint guesthouses in the old town to spacious suites up the hill.
  • Best Area along the Mediterranean Coast for First-Timers: Alanya
    Alanya offers an (over)abundance of hotels within meters of the sand, whether in the delightful inner-city area around Cleopatra Beach or the extended (and unnamed) beach just a few miles further southeast. Many resorts and even some mid-sized hotels offer package deals that include all meals and drinks – avoiding possible hassles of finding restaurants and ordering unfamiliar food. With so many amenities within walking distance of almost every hotel and an excellent bus service along the beaches, Alanya also has plenty to see and do. These include a hilltop castle accessible by cable car, boat trips on ‘pirate ships’, day trips to ancient ruins, and a range of outdoor activities. (Note: all other beach areas near Alanya will be alongside a busy road, face a narrow beach, and be up to an hour by bus from the town center.)
  • Safest Area along the Mediterranean Coast: Kaş
    Over recent years, Turkey has suffered some sporadic political unrest, but this is almost entirely limited to the cities, particularly Istanbul and Ankara. Possible serious conflict involving Kurdish separatists and neighboring Syria are restricted to border areas in the far west, over 500 miles from Antalya. No areas along the tourist sections of the Mediterranean Coast are particularly unsafe, and most trouble that tourists get into is self-inflicted, e.g. not swimming between flags and drinking too much. In crowded areas, like the trams in Antalya and bars of Marmaris, opportunistic petty crime is always possible, so take the usual precautions. Probably the safest area is the quieter and more upmarket town of Kaş.

The 7 Best Areas along the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey for Tourists

Grand Pasa Hotel in Marmaris, Turkey.

The beautiful pool with waterslides at the Grand Pasa Hotel in Marmaris, Turkey.

1. Marmaris

Marmaris is arguably the nicest of many adorable towns along the coast. The castle dominates the hillside old town which is a delight to wander about – although getting disoriented or even lost along the steep and winding lanes is inevitable. The beach in the town center is, ironically, less crowded than the one in the tourist district further southwest, which is narrow and a little rocky in places. Adding to the appeal is the very efficient bus service linking the old town and tourist district, but for some, a major attraction is the nightlife, especially along ‘Bar Street’ between the old town and the new and secluded marina, which is popular among yachties. A few charming guesthouses are in the old town, but most accommodations are spread along the beach in the tourist district.

2. Dalyan

Pleasingly laidback and likably different, Dalyan is based along a canal. Across the water from the town center are ruins of the ancient city of Kaunos and the remarkable Kings’ Tombs carved into the cliffs. Boats and buses regularly head to the excellent Iztuzu Beach. Named after the endangered Caretta Caretta turtles that nest there, the beach is surprisingly underdeveloped and home to a research and rehabilitation center. Boats and buses from downtown also go to an amazing lake dotted with therapeutic mud baths and hot springs. Accommodations in Dalyan include budget-priced and mid-range hotels within the town, less charming villas in the suburbs, and more upmarket options along the coast nearby. There are no hotels, however, along Iztuzu Beach, which is part of a conservation area and off-limits after dark.

3. Fethiye

Substantially destroyed by an earthquake about 60 years ago, Fethiye is a regional administrative center and transport hub often ignored by tourists and, therefore, comparatively quiet and un-touristy. Based along an attractive bay, Fethiye is an ideal base for exploring nearby attractions such as the old Greek ‘ghost town’ at Kayaköy and ancient ruins of Telmessos, virtually in the suburbs, and there are even more historical remnants to explore around town. Fethiye is also a departure point for extended cruises on traditional gulet boats. Many appealing and inexpensive hotels are within the town center, while more upmarket options are dotted along Ölüdeniz, about 7 miles south and regularly connected by minibus. This beach is beautifully located along a lagoon facing a national park and lined with cliffs that are ideal for paragliding.

4. Kalkan

Built along a hillside overlooking a picture-perfect bay, Kalkan is among the prettiest towns along any Turkish coast. It is also more romantic and upmarket (and, therefore, more expensive) than other towns and resort areas along the Mediterranean Coast. Kalkan is home to many expats and popular among tourists who return year after year for its beach, which is conveniently located within the town center, and range and quality of restaurants. Popular activities include boat trips around the coves and scuba-diving among the wrecks. Most accommodations are mid-range guesthouses offering charm and value along the meandering streets of the old town.

5. Kaş

Barely 15 miles by regular bus from Kalkan (see above), Kaş is quieter, cheaper, smaller, and in many other ways, more appealing. Most come for the range of outdoor activities, which include boat trips around the islands and coves, guided kayaking tours, mountain biking, paragliding, and superb scuba diving and snorkeling – arguably the finest in Turkey. Just along the finger-shaped peninsula from Kaş are some ancient ruins as well as several sandy beaches accessible by water-taxis. And all-year ferries chug along to the Greek islands which are easily seen from Kaş’ pretty bay. Most accommodations are dotted along the peninsula and beachside road in town.

6. Antalya

Easily the largest city and most developed area for tourism, Antalya still retains plenty of charm and an abundance of history. The atmospheric Kaleiçi (old town) is particularly enjoyable for wandering about and the fascinating cafés along the marina, flanked by dramatic cliffs, offer excellent people-watching opportunities. Unusually, most guesthouses in the old town are accessible by taxi, while many upmarket hotels are about 3 miles away and particularly family-friendly. A useful tram service links the old town with the bus station as well as the pedestrian-friendly streets packed with shops and several inner-city attractions, including a world-class museum. Popular for its range of outdoor activities and very easy to arrange day trips to the ancient ruins at Termessos, Perge/Perga, and Aspendos.

7. Alanya

The coastline on either side of Alanya is packed with massive Vegas-style resorts, but most are too close to the main road, face an unimpressive beach, and lack nearby amenities. Far more appealing are the hotels and resorts facing Cleopatra Beach in the inner city and those along the extended and nameless stretch of sand starting a few miles southeast of downtown, all of which are also easily accessible by bus. Looming over a spectacular bay with a marina, port for trips on ‘pirate boats’, and terminal with ferries to Cyprus, the old town is home to several adorable boutique hotels and an ancient castle (also accessible by cable car). Many upmarket hotels and resorts offer package deals that include all meals and drinks, but decent mid-range and budget-priced options are limited. Alanya is also the finest place along the coast for festivals and particularly good for families and those traveling to the region for the first time.

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Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.