The coastlines of Turkey front four seas, the Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara and Black so naturally, hundreds of beaches cover these areas stretching for more than 7000 kilometres. As with any destination that has dramatically risen in tourism, some beaches are popular favourites for families or couples. Featured regularly in tourism travel brochures, places like Icmeler or Iztuzu beach are the focus of package holidays or daytime tour excursions.
For the independent traveller, though, many beaches throughout the Turkish coastline remain unspoilt, extremely quiet and under-rated of which some people would argue is a good thing. To get off the beaten track and explore them is a surreal experience especially when your holiday photographs of Turkey are completely different to everyone else’s.
6 Under-rated Beaches of Turkey
Rustic Cirali and Olympos: Home of the Gods
Backing the forest and ancient ruins of Olympos, this stretch of sand and pebble beach connects the two rustic resorts of Cirali and Olympos. Largely undeveloped because of a preservation status for loggerhead turtles laying their eggs in the sand, it is an ideal choice for those of us who prefer the less-crowded beaches since it rarely gets packed because of the lack of tourism package operators in the area. A few restaurants and hotels back the beginning part of the beach but other than that, the lack of rows of sunbeds and beach peddlers ensures you are as close to nature as anyone can get.
Patara: The Longest Beach in Turkey
Patara on the Mediterranean coast was one of the first areas to embrace mainstream tourism but in later years, its popularity dwindled to independent travellers or expats living in the surrounding area. While this is a shame for local businesses, it means the beach remains pristine clean and clear. The brown sand is the longest beach in Turkey stretching for more than 15 kilometres and it is another breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead turtle.
During the height of summer, sporty people flock for the surfing waves while others prefer the more pleasant and slow-paced horse rides. Other than that, behind the sand dunes, are the ancient ruins of the city of Patara meaning you can combine historic travel with a beach holiday in one. Also, remember while visiting, that Patara was the birthplace of Saint Nicholas, more commonly known as Santa Claus.
Phaselis: Ruined by Pirates
Historical records tell us that Phaselis was a highly efficient and successfully commercial sea trading port. Unfortunately, their prosperity ended because of constant invasion by sea pirates and eventually the collapse of the Lycian empire to which they belonged. Sitting within a protected national park, boats operating daytime tour cruises from Antalya boost its popularity status but enter via the road entrance for a spectacular scene of ancient ruins, flanked by two beaches, and backed by the domineering view of the Taurus Mountains. While the smaller beach is pebbly and uncomfortable for sunbathing, the larger one stretches in a crescent moon shape and consists of sandy stretches in among greenery. Popular with Turks in the height of summer, but largely deserted in other months, your other companions will only probably be a fisherman or two.
Butterfly Valley: The Hippy Community
This pebbly beach in itself is not impressive but what draws in admirers are the hippy-based vibes reminiscent of those seen in the film “The Lagoon” by Leonardo DiCaprio. Famed for its potential as a scuba diving and snorkelling hotspot, the beach flanked by two mountains fronts a large canyon full of greenery and at the end of summer, a popular breeding ground for butterflies hence its name.
A strenuous approach can be made by road by most visitors prefer the water taxi from nearby Olu Deniz, home of the famous and most photographed beach of Turkey, the Blue Lagoon. Do not expect sunbeds or waiter service on this beach because the hippy vibe theme is purely about being at one with nature.
Pamucak: The Queen of Selcuk
A 30-minute bus drive away from the centre of Selcuk on the Aegean coast of Turkey finishes at Pamucak beach. Although backed by all-inclusive hotels and a few restaurants, seven kilometres of dark sand stretch in a half moon circle ensures no one lays head to toe as frequently seen on other crowded beaches.
Just 4 kilometres from Ephesus, it is worth staying overnight in the town of Selcuk to see the beach after exploring ancient sites. As a traditional working town, Pamucak beach receives more Turks than foreign visitors, although the strong surf may put off families with small children. Romantic couples will enjoy themselves though since the sunset is one of the best on the Aegean coast.
Sevgi Plaj: The Beach of Love
Another beach on the Aegean coast of Turkey, that although popular with Turks it receives few foreign visitors. Backed by a small green forest dwelling, Turks at the weekends in summer, flock for BBQs combined with sun, sea, and sand. In the small town of Guzelcamli, it neighbours the massive Dilek national park that is home to many wild boars and is just a 45-minute drive away from the popular holiday resort of cosmopolitan Kusadasi. A few shops and cafeterias exist but for picnic areas on the beach, this is one of the best in Turkey.
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