Turkey is an ancient patchwork of cultures, peoples and landscapes. With Eastern Europe to one side and Asia to the other, Turkey has been shaped and influenced by empires, cultural connections and trading routes throughout its long history.
Its natural landscapes and coastline have long played an important role in the country’s fortunes, and today it’s these same beautiful beaches in Turkey that magnetize people to visit this historic nation. Surrounded by seas on three sides, Turkey’s shores offer the chance to swim in the clear waters of the Aegean Sea, the inland waters of the Black Sea, and the pure dazzling blues of the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re in search of unforgettable, fascinating and remarkably diverse beaches, then you should take a trip to Turkey.
See also: 6 Great Day Trips from Istanbul
To get to this pretty little beach in Lycia you are going to have to be prepared to do some hiking – and when we say hiking, we mean hiking. The descent from the top of the rocky cliffs might seem a little daunting, but the views from up high of Kabak beach far below will take your breath away. Captivating vistas over the top of shady pines, across the sandy enclave and out towards the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea – you won’t be able to stop taking pictures, it’s that beautiful!
After a rather long stumble down over sharp stones and down steep drops, your efforts will be more than paid-off. Kick back and relax on the soft warmth of the pure sand on Kabak beach, and splash in the shallows of the serene sea. Sailboats bob gracefully on the top of gentle waves and there’s a shaded area to take a break from the sun and have a much-earned refreshing drink.
Sandwiched between steep forested cliffs are the clear and calm waters of Kaputas beach. The perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling, Kaputas is a great beach for families with children. There are a wide range of amenities, including showers and toilets.
Once you have managed to traverse the 170 steps down to the beach itself, hire a sun-lounger and parasol and enjoy a few hours snoozing in the shade. Nearby, Kalkan harbor is lined with small restaurants and bars. Stay long enough for the sun to set, and enjoy dinner in the early evening as the yachts and boats return to the dock after days spent out at sea.
Down in the rolling foothills of the magical, medieval Alanya castle is the charming Cleopatra Beach. This alluring beach boasts soft sands that are said to have been brought there by Cleopatra herself, after she enjoyed swimming in the sea here. Whether or not you believe the tale, an afternoon spent on the beach in the shadow of the old castle can feel like stepping back in time – there’s even a Pirates of the Caribbean-style boat docked here for even more historical atmosphere.
This part of the Mediterranean is calm enough for swimming, but there are enough big waves to make trying out water sports extra fun. If you fancy something a little more relaxing, grab yourself a drink and have a leisurely lunch at one of the many beach-side cafes. This is the kind of classic holiday beach that has everything you need to make your beach day as relaxed as possible.
One of the two best stretches of sand in Antalya, Konyaalti Beach is situated to the west side of the ancient port city and stretches on for seven-kilometers. Known for its entertainment and nightlife, this slice of resort-quality beach comes complete with a tree-lined beach park populated by Turkish pine and hibiscus, plus a waterpark, nightclubs, bars, restaurants – and all of that overlooked by the magnificent Beydağları mountains.
Because of its position as one of the most popular beaches in the city of Antalya, there are life guards stationed at the beach, plus there are changing rooms, toilets and showers available free-of-charge to all visitors, making it an easy place to visit with a family.
Patara beach is a slice of secluded seaside for you to spend some time tanning and swimming in the warmth of the ocean. Located in a small, quaint village that makes up a section of the famous Lycian Way trekking route, Patara is Turkey’s longest beach. The lack of development in this area – especially along the seafront – makes this beach stand out from other Turkish seasides.
Urban sprawl hasn’t made it to this area due to the protected Loggerhead turtles that have been returning for 40-million years to lay their eggs. This special beach isn’t about sun-loungers and beach bars, but about appreciating the unique beauty of this part of Turkey, and understanding the historical and ecological importance of the beach and surrounding area.
This unspoiled beach where turtles return to nest is ideal for travelers looking for some peace and quiet. Enclosed on both sides by lush mountains that tumble into the curve of the pebbly beach and the crystal clear waters, Çıralı isn’t the easiest place to reach – but that does make it uncrowded. Without the normal beach backdrop of bars, blaring loud music and water sports, Çıralı is a charming cove of serenity.
The mellow atmosphere is infectious – take a sleepy stroll to the sea to enjoy a swim and then return to your sun lounger for a little more chilling-out. It’s almost hard to believe that further along the coast from here, booming holiday resorts sprawl along developed sea fronts. To the west of the beach, further along the stony sand, are the crumbling ruins of Olympus. And, if you’re really feeling enthusiastic, you can choose to hike up Mount Olympus.
Cobalt blue seas, beautiful natural scenery and soft sandy shingle – lovely little Ovabükü bay on the Datça peninsula really has it all. Packed full of gobsmackingly beautiful charm, the beach is home to a handful of locally-owned restaurants that serve up breads, fresh fish and salads under the shade of the surrounding pines. There are also some sweet little pensions here, so you can spend a night or two enjoying the authentic allure of Ovabükü beach.
The beach itself may be fairly small, but – surrounded by the freshness of the forested hillside and hidden inside this rocky enclave – Ovabükü offers the chance for a real slice of solitude, away from the obligations of modern life. If you’re in need of some time out, a few days exploring this part of the peninsula and the neighboring bays of Hayıtbükü and Kızılcık will be just the escape you need.
The well-known holiday resort of Icmeler near Marmaris attracts thousands of holidaymakers a year; people flock to this area in search of blissful beaches, fun times and great food, and Icmeler Beach offers just that. A magnet for families who want to spend holidays together by the sea, this is one of Turkey’s most popular seaside resorts – and it’s not hard to see why.
What was once a humble fishing village has grown exponentially into a thriving tourist destination, with beach bars, restaurants and water sports – everything that you could need for your holiday is available to you at this fun and vibrant beach. When you’ve had enough of splashing in the shallows and tanning, the nearby hills are great for hiking and can reveal some pleasant views of the beach from high above.
There may be a fair few places around the world that claim to be a blue lagoon, but this place might just be the real deal. Ölüdeniz Beach, otherwise known as Blue Lagoon, is a wide bay where people come to unwind in the tranquil waters. The beach itself is fairly gritty, but once you’re in the water it’s easy to spend hours simply lounging around in the shallows. Or hire a paddleboard and make the trip across the gentle waters to the small island in the bay and watch as the yachts arrive from out at sea.
The beauty of Ölüdeniz Beach means it attracts a lot of visitors from the surrounding areas, especially during high season, so make sure to arrive early so you can truly enjoy the beauty of the scenery – you might even be fortunate enough to spot a turtle.
An elongated 4.5 kilometers of sand makes up the inviting stretch of beach that is İztuzu. Nicknamed Turtle Beach, İztuzu is one of the most important beaches in Turkey for turtle conservation. The beach is a visually stunning natural landscape – it’s predominantly a long jut of sand that works as a barrier between the intricateness of the freshwater of the Dalyan river and the bold beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.
This idyllic slice of the Turkish coast reveals Turkey’s captivating natural scenery, which is best appreciated on a boat trip down the river delta. Cutting along the reeds, past ancient archaeological sites, the boat takes you all the way from the town of Daylan to the open coast of İztuzu beach. Spend the day swimming in the shallows of the superbly clean and warm shallow waters, then dry off on one of the sun-loungers dotted along the beach.