Less crowded than Greek hotspots like Santorini and less pricey than Balearics like Ibiza, Turkey’s coastline is perfect for sun-worshippers of all stripes. Whether you’re hoping to beach-hop on a budget, bask in the warm Mediterranean rays, gorge on extraordinary seafood, or explore the crumbling markers of long-lost civilisations, there is something for everyone here.
1. Antalya – Culture Vultures and History Buffs
Though the powder sands of Lara Beach and the waters off the aptly nicknamed Turquoise Coast are stunning, there’s much more to this popular resort town than spectacular scenery. In its heyday, Antalya was a vital Roman seaport and remnants of its prosperous past are all over the area. Journey to the nearby village of Çıralı, which harbours a set of ruins of that some have dubbed Olympos, or check out the ancient Greek and Roman city of Phaselis.
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2. Side – Anyone Looking for a Little Peace and Quiet
While more tourists flock to the diminutive village of Side, or “pomegranate,” every year, their numbers still pale in comparison to those at more popular Turkish seaside escapes. Party-animals will want to hit the clubs in Bodrum, while windsurfers book it to Alaçati. For those hoping to unwind with someone special in near seclusion, however, this area still offers some deliciously sleepy spots. If you tire of sunbathing or burn through your paperback, you can always roam about the columns of a once-grand temple of Apollo or stroll around an ancient amphitheatre.
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3. Alaçati – Wandering Foodies
Is there anything that this dreamy resort town doesn’t have? With its postcard-ready windmills and idyllic shores, Alaçati boasts a bit of everything. These days, gourmands are gravitating towards this idyllic town on the Aegean Sea to sample its superb cuisine. Though some chefs here stick to tradition, others feel free to inject a contemporary twist into the old recipes or to incorporate Italian or Greek influences. Organic, farm-fresh produce and freshly caught fish star in all manner of dishes here, all of which are best enjoyed with a carafe of regionally produced wine and chased with a shot of raki.
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4. Alanya – Adventure-Lovers
From the Roman to the Byzantine to the Ottoman, numerous great empires have held this prime patch of shoreline over the centuries. According to local lore, Cleopatra herself once swam off the shores of Alanya and the whole area possesses an almost mythical allure, not to mention a heart-stopping view of the Taurus Mountains. Be sure to scale the walls of the Alanya Castle, a citadel dating back to the 13th century.
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5. Kalkan – Romantics at Heart
Close your eyes and picture the Platonic ideal of a Mediterranean beach town. If your imagination conjures up alabaster-hued buildings dripping with fuchsia bougainvilleas and sun-drenched streets stretching down to the docks, Kalkan is the place for you. It’s impossible not to be charmed by this particular piece of Instagram-candy. Despite its obvious appeal and the fact that its main industry is tourism, this historic fishing village maintains its mellow vibe. Make your way at a languid pace to nearby beaches like Kaputaş Beach and Patara Beach, or spend your afternoon sipping Turkish coffee at one of the many sidewalk cafes. This is a place to swoon for and the odds are high that you’ll leave smitten.
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