Why Turkey is the best bargain in the Med – 31 May 2007

Bustling resorts, sun-drenched beaches and vibrant nightlife – it’s no wonder Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline has become so popular with British holidaymakers.

Night owls will love the buzzing resorts of Bodrum and Marmaris with their raft of bars and clubs, while picture-perfect Olu Deniz is ideal for sophisticated travellers seeking a fabulous beach.

But best of all, this region caters for all budgets. Flights to Turkey on no-frills airlines EasyJet and SunExpress mean that even cash-strapped clients can enjoy a holiday here.

At the same time, well-heeled visitors are well-catered for following the recent arrival of several boutique hotels, including the Adam and Eve, in Belek, Antalya, which boasts four à la carte restaurants, hot tubs in the bedrooms and a double Olympic sized pool.

But tour operators are confident the two different markets can sit together comfortably.

Anatolian Sky managing director Akin Koc said: “It’s a competitive market as an increasing number of people are booking directly with hotels and no-frills airlines. But we offer an exclusive programme and we have the opportunity to expand into a niche market offering tailor-made trips.”


By day

Adrenalin-junkies can try paragliding in Olu Deniz, near Dalaman, where they will have incredible views over Xanthos valley. Beginners can take a tandem jump, which can be booked locally or with a tour operator.

Bargain hunters should head to the Tuesday market in Fethiye, where you can buy spices, clothes and handicrafts, as well as sampling the local food.

Try a gozlem, a delicious Turkish pancake. Fethiye is also popular with scuba divers and is a good spot for day trips by boat.

Mudbath in Dalyan, turkeyWallow in a beautifying mud bath in Dalyan as part of a day trip that includes a river cruise down the Dalyan Delta and a visit to an unspoilt conservation area, home to loggerhead turtles.

For isolated beaches with white sands and turquoise waters, send clients to Patara, the longest beach in Turkey, a stone’s throw from Kalkan. A nesting site for endangered turtles, this beach is a protected nature reserve.

The ancient ruins of Patara, which include an amphitheatre, are worth a visit. Also near Kalkan is Kaputas, an unspoilt and tranquil beach region, dubbed the Turquoise Coast because of the colour of the sea.

Treat yourself to a spa with a difference by visiting a hammam or Turkish bath, where you will receive an invigorating scrub and massage. There are separate sections for men and women.


By night

After Istanbul, Bodrum is unbeatable for nightlife but it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. After sunset, the streets buzz with hawkers selling their wares and artists offering henna tattoos.

Rowdy bars and pricey superclubs line the mile-long bar strip, which runs parallel to the beach. Perched on the edge of the bay, the open-air club Halikarnas is the most famous venue in town.

It features a laser show and views over the ancient castle and has attracted scores of celebs including Mick Jagger and Pamela Anderson. The ‘it’ crowd favours M&M, another open-air club that attracts international DJs.

The most European of Turkey’s resorts, Marmaris is renowned for its wild nights, with dozens of waterfront bars and plenty of lively entertainment in the form of sequined belly dancers and comedians.

Sip cheap cocktails at Davy Jones’ Locker, dance on the bar at Vagabundo or watch a drag act at Cheers. Shops in the maze of streets open until late and there are restaurants to suit all tastes, from local dishes at lokantas – Turkish restaurants – to Chinese and Italian. No visit to Turkey is complete without sampling a Turkish delight, doner kebab or meze platters.

With its jazz bars and smaller dancing venues the Kalkan region is ideal for those who prefer a laid-back night out.


Where to stay

Designer boutique hotel Hillside Su, in Antalya, offers five-star luxury for sophisticated travellers. Overlooking the Mediterranean and with views over the Taurus mountains, the hotel’s stylishly kitsch lobby features rotating disco balls.

For something different suggest a gulet cruise. Guests can soak up the sun and watch the beautiful Turkish coast go by, charter a private gulet with family or friends, or join a shared cruise. Active guests can try windsurfing, fishing, snorkelling and water-skiing, and visit local villages, markets and historical sights. But there is also plenty of room on deck for sunbathing and relaxing.

For an all-inclusive hotel with a difference, try the five-star Club Marmaris Palace, in Icmeler, where guests can skate on a real ice rink a mere stone’s throw from the hotel’s private beach. Book with from £35 per person per night on an all-inclusive basis.


The lowdown

Who flies there?British Airways flies to Ankara, Dalaman, Istanbul and Izmir. EasyJet flies to Istanbul and SunExpress has a Stansted-Izmir service.

Thomas Cook Airlines goes to Bodrum, Antalya, Dalaman and Izmir. Goldtrail Holidays operates a charter to Antalya.

Flight time: Four hours to Bodrum.

Currency: Turkish lira.

Time difference: GMT + two hours.

Weather: In summer the Lycian Coast scorches into the low 30s. Winters are mild (2C to 10C).


Sample product

Olympic Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the three-star Magico Bronzo Hotel in Ovacik Hisaronu from £335 per person, including flights and transfers.

Kosmar Holidays has seven nights’ all-inclusive at the four-star Golden Beach Hotel in Turgutries, on the Bodrum peninsula, from £429 per person twin-share, including flights and transfers.

Exclusive Escapes has charters on the gulet Seyhan Hanna starting at £830 per person. This is based on 12 sharing the gulet, including seven nights on board, all meals, return flights to Dalaman and transfers. 

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.