Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is all pristine beaches, rich culture and dramatic scenery – so it should tick all the boxes for most holidaymakers.
Flying into Dalaman and basing yourself around Dalyan, Fethiye or Olu Deniz, it’s easy to take in the best of the region and still have time to laze on the beach.
You could easily spend a week or two on the Turquoise Coast, but here’s how to do it in 48 hours.
9am: Dalyan Delta
From Dalyan book a boat trip up the Dalyan Delta to its cleansing mud baths. Mineral-rich mud – which tones the skin and is rumoured to have anti-ageing properties – is a feature all along the Lycian coast, and Dalyan’s baths are among the best.
The boat continues to a deserted beach, home to loggerhead turtles who lay their eggs here at night between May and October. By day, tourists can swim, sunbathe and watch local fishermen.
The delta is clean enough for swimming and the boat stops to allow tourists to dive in. On the return to Dalyan, view the Lycian rock tombs carved into the mountainside. Some date as far back as the 4th century BC.
If you don’t want to take a group excursion, hire a private boat from Dalyan marina for the day for about £30.
2pm: Lunch at Merig, Dalyan
Tuck into a late lunch at the traditional riverside Merig cafe, situated opposite the Lycian tombs.
The family-run restaurant specialises in Gozleme: delicious Turkish pancakes. Stuffed with potatoes, feta and spinach, or honey for those with a sweet tooth, the dish should be washed down with a glass of ayran – a mix of yoghurt, water and salt.
The ghost town of Kayakoy, near Olu Deniz, is a 90 minute drive away. It is the setting for Louis de Bernieres’ novel Birds without Wings, and its rolling hills are crammed with more than 1,500 empty stone houses, which were abandoned by their Greek inhabitants during the population transfers of 1923.
Kayakoy’s history is explained beautifully in de Bernieres’ novel, which also features characters from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. If you get peckish, there are a handful of quaint restaurants and cafes here.
8pm: Dinner at Cin Bal, Kayakoy
Bag a table at Cin Bal, in Kayakoy, a kebab restaurant known for its lamb, which is cooked in an underground oven and served up with an array of salads.
Many diners choose to have a barbecue brought to their table to cook their own food in this open-air venue. Raki, the potent national drink, will keep the conversation flowing well into the night.
11pm: Nightlife in Hisaronu
Head to nearby Hisaronu, which has a flourishing bar scene. Join the energetic staff at Time Out by dancing on the bar or croon out a classic at karaoke.
Some venues, such as Zombie, belt out pumping house music while others have belly dancers. Most stay open until the early hours.
10am: Breakfast at Olu Deniz
The hip Help Beach Bar in the upmarket resort of Olu Deniz, about 10 minutes’ drive from Hisaronu, is perfect for a hearty breakfast. With cosy seats and a hip design, this is the ultimate chill-out venue.
Watch the paragliders land on the beach as you feast on pancakes stuffed with banana, yoghurt, walnuts and honey or a Turkish breakfast of olives, omelette and bread. There’s also a wide choice of fruit smoothies.
12pm: Turkish bath
No trip to Turkey is complete without an indulgent session at a Turkish bath. Walk down the beach for a few minutes to the Sultan Hammam, which is part of the Club Belcekiz Beach hotel.
Sweat it out in the sauna and then enjoy a full body scrub in the hammam: a round steamy room. The masseurs cover you in soap suds and ease your aching muscles with a thorough massage that leaves your skin feeling super-clean and smooth.
2pm: Paragliding at Olu Deniz
Olu Deniz is hailed as one of the best locations in the world for paragliding. The view over the blue lagoon and the soaring mountains is breathtaking.
It is easy to book paragliding through local agencies or operators, and beginners can start with a tandem ride. Alternatively, work on your tan and watch the gliders coming in to land.
8pm: Dinner in Fethiye
Head to the vibrant harbour town of Fethiye, about 20 minutes’ drive from Olu Deniz, for an unforgettable dinner.
Choose a fish from the central market and take it to a nearby restaurant, where they will cook it for you and serve it up with salad and bread.
11pm: Cocktails on the beach
Recover from a non-stop itinerary with a frozen margarita or an ice-cream cocktail at the Buzz Beach Bar, or sink into a beanbag on the sand at the super-chilled Sugar Beach Club in Olu Deniz.
The vibe here is more laid-back and sophisticated than Hisaronu. Return to Help Beach Bar to check out its lively entertainment. Paragliding pilots, divers and travellers frequent this hippy hangout as night falls.