The Turkish Riviera: A 2024 Guide to the Splendor of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

Looking to explore the Turkish Riviera but don’t know where to start? I’ve got you covered.

Since moving to Turkey in 2019 and wandering around this country after the pandemic, the Turkish Riviera has become one of my favorite places to visit.

While it is a bit hot for me to live there, this region certainly holds some of my favorite vacation spots.

Whether this is your first time in Turkey or on the southern coast, this article will help you understand what the region is known for, what you can do on a visit there, and why you should go.

Just the other day, I was talking about Turkey with a friend, and I was saying that one of my favorite things is that anyone who visits can find something they will enjoy.

The same applies to the entire area along Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. You have adventure sports to get your adrenaline pumping, chill towns to meander, and museums to discover the history.

You have mountains and beaches and cities. You can be outside in the sun or indoors in the air conditioning.

It is quite a great place for a vacation, in my humble opinion. So, if you’re ready to start planning a vacation to the Turkish Rivera, let’s jump in!

beach and ocean in patara turkey
Image Credit: Kimberly from The Art of Living in Turkey

Explore the Turkish Riviera

The Turkish Riviera, a gorgeous stretch of land along the Mediterranean and even up into the Aegean Coastline, invites you with a promise of turquoise waters and a unique cultural experience.

This area is also known as the Turquoise Coast. It is made up of quite a collection of sandy retreats like the iconic Konyaalti Beach in Antalya, idyllic towns such as Kaş and Marmaris, and the gorgeous Bey, Akdağ, and Babadağ mountains. 

Looking for a tourist hot spot? It’s there. Hoping for a chill escape to a private cove? It’s there. The Turkish Riviera’s multifaceted coast promises to deliver experiences that will satisfy your quest for paradise.

One thing to make sure you know, as is probably common sense but I would be remiss not to say, is that during high season, it can be quite crowded and hot on the beaches. The sand becomes unwalkable without water shoes, and there are simply too many people, for me, that is. 

If that is your jam, like those who loved Clearwater, Florida (that is where I grew up), then you will absolutely love it! Otherwise, I think the best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons for a more enjoyable experience. 

Your Guide to the Turkish Riviera Cities to See


Of all the cities along the Mediterranean Sea, Kas is most loved by my local friends. It is one of the places I haven’t been able to get to yet, but it is on my bucket list

While Kalkan is not within the city of Kas, it is where you’d probably rather stay. You can rent entire villas in Kalkan with pools and epic views of the water, and it is just half an hour’s drive to Kas.

Kalkan is on the west side of Kas, and another famous city, Kekova, is on the east side. What makes Kekova interesting is that it is where you can see the sunken city of Dolchiste.

Dolchiste is an ancient Lycian city that toppled into the sea, likely because of an earthquake. When you join one of Turkey’s boat tours, you will come across these underwater ruins and be able to take pictures from above, though swimming close to the ruins is forbidden. 

Beyond that, there is much to see, some of the most beautiful beaches to lay on and boat tours to enjoy. It is definitely worth a visit!


Antalya is one of those cities I have been to many times. I don’t usually love to go see the same sites over and over unless it includes a beach. Somehow, the beaches never get old for me. 

That being said, I have been to Antalya for a variety of reasons over the years, and in addition to the beach, I get to discover something new there. 

Antalya has it all. There are waterfalls (both the Upper and Lower Duden Falls), there are multiple archaeological sites (Haedron’s Gate, Perge, etc.), shopping (everywhere), and beaches galore (my favorite being Konyaalti on the West side.)

And all of that is just in Antalya the city, not even looking at the entire Antalya province. 

The great thing about Konyaalti is that they have completely redone the whole area in the last couple of years. Along the beachfront, there are places you can rent a chair and umbrella if you don’t have your own. It makes for a lovely experience. 

But then, further inland, there is a strip of restaurants, shops, and coffee places. So when you need to retreat from the hot sun, there is somewhere to go! 

There are also some great all-inclusive hotels on the city’s east side. My mom and I went to the IC Hotels one over there and had a blast. Because it was off-season, it was a third of the price, making it even more enjoyable. 

rocky cliffs in marmaris turkey
Image Credit: Kimberly from The Art of Living in Turkey


I included Marmaris because I love its unique selling point: this is where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet (though some sources will say Datca, which is in line with Marmaris). 

If you go to Marmaris, make sure you don’t miss the boat tour. While the prices have definitely gone up and are more suited for tourists than for locals, it is still such a great excursion. 

The boat will take you from one small bay to the next. You get to swim in the crystal clear blue water, eat lunch, and enjoy the sun. 

Of course, all along the Mediterranean Coast, there are boat tours, but what makes the Marmaris boat tour different is that you get to explore more bays and lagoons, meaning there is a lot more variety. 

You can also choose your experience. Some really big boat trips are for 100+ people, which means they are cheaper. Or you can pay a little more per person and have a more chill, quieter experience. 

Besides the many beaches and the water sports, there is also hiking in the mountains. Some of it is quite lush, and in other places, you can still see the devastation from the massive fires of June 2023. 

Either way, it’s worth a visit!

view of kayakoy in turkey
Image Credit: Kimberly from The Art of Living in Turkey


Fethiye is probably my favorite. There are parts of it that are way too touristy for me, but then there are these other areas where you can experience the wonder of creation, and it’s stunning. 

One of those is the hike from Kayakoy to Oludeniz. You hike up and over this mountain/hill to get to the other side, but along the way, you get to the top and are rewarded with a gorgeous view of the bay.

When it isn’t too sunny, and there is just a bit of cloud to cut the sun’s reflection on the water, you can see the incredible azure blue water. 

Pro tip: make sure you’re ready for the hike. It is not for the faint of heart. I thought I was going to die at one point because it was such a steep incline. But I took breaks, and in the end, it was worth it. 

Another reason I love Fethiye is because you can stay in Fethiye, the city, and take day trips all around. Places like Oludeniz, Butterfly Valley, Tlos, Lethos, and so much more. The opportunities with a car are endless! 

If you don’t drive in from Istanbul, you can just rent a car in Dalaman when you land. 

Pro tip: Reserve your car before you come to make sure they have one available when you get there. 


Bodrum is a hoppin’ town on the Aegean Sea and is beloved by many foreigners. Since it is fairly close to the airport, it is also quite easy to make your way around. 

There are actually a lot of Europeans who end up settling in Bodrum, meaning there is a lot more English spoken than you might typically find outside of a big city. 

If you’re into nightlife, there is an entire street called Bar Street where I am sure you can find what you’re looking for. 

They have many great boutique hotels and quality hostels where you can stay on your vacation.

Or if you’re more into the lux scene, it seems like they are always adding new 5-star hotels along the beach. At least, that is how the advertisements go, but who can keep up with all of them? 

But best of all, the stunning beaches in Bodrum are sublime. That can be said about all of these cities along the beautiful Turquoise Coast. Enjoy the breath of fresh air. 

beach in kusadasi turkey
Image Credit: Kimberly from The Art of Living in Turkey


This is another quaint town on the Aegean Coast. It is just a 75-minute drive south of Izmir. If you’re planning a trip to Izmir at all, this is a great addition to your trip. 

Throughout Turkey, there is a mix of sand and pebble beaches. While there may be pebble beaches in Kusadasi, they seem to have more sand beaches. 

Also, because it is a smaller city, the pace is slower and has more of a relaxing vibe, which is usually pretty important to me as I am typically trying to escape the busyness of Istanbul. 

You can find an Airbnb on the beach as well as all-inclusive stays, both luxury and middle-class. 


Last but not least, we make our way all the way up the Western Coast to Cesme. A good friend and I were out there for a visit a couple of years ago and I so enjoyed our time there. I wish we had had longer.  

It is a small tourist town, but I think this place is special because it is at the tip of a peninsula. The view was so pretty and it felt super homey. 

We stayed at a small boutique hotel, had breakfast at a restaurant on the water, and then walked along the seaside. Even as we walked I could tell that this city was on the quieter side than the noisy one. A win in my book! 

There is also a little castle that takes you higher up and allows you to see further. It isn’t massive, but it is worth a peek. 

There is also this newly developed strip of shopping along the seaside, littered with restaurants serving local and international food alike. 

Unforgettable Activities and Experiences Along the Turkish Riviera

As you can see, there is a lot to do in this region. While each city is its own place, some things are pretty common throughout the Riviera. There are common activities and experiences.


Seriously, it seems like everything is available. You can find chill adventures like yacht tours to a plethora of small coves or adrenaline-driven adventures with water sports. There are so many underpopulated beaches where you can find a private paradise and make your own adventure even.

If you’re looking into adrenaline adventures, you will be able to find activities like:

There are entire companies dedicated just to adventures in this part of Turkey. 

Pro tip: If you’re going to book an excursion, make sure you read reviews and pick someone trustworthy. Don’t book it just because it is cheaper. This isn’t the place to do that. 

ruins in tlos turkey
Image Credit: Kimberly from The Art of Living in Turkey


For those interested in the whispers of the past, the Turkish Riviera does not disappoint here either. You can visit archeological ruins and rock tombs, remnants of civilizations past. There are 21 properties in the country on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, with a handful in this region. 

There are also many more on the list of tentative additions, like St. Nicholas’ Church and Alanya. 

Attractions such as the cliff-side Lycian tombs of Dalyan or the many other ancient cities are quite intriguing, and in taking time to understand more of the local cultural heritage, you will leave with a whole new appreciation of the depth of experiences this country has had.

This region is also home to two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, not much of either is left. Only bits and pieces remain of what were once considered the biggest feats of human ingenuity. 

The Temple of Artemis was once a breathtaking edifice dedicated to the Greek localized form of the goddess Artemis. Now, you can only see its remaining foundations and columns in the ancient city of Ephesus. 

The second is nearby in Bodrum, the Mausoleum of Carian King Mausolus. Though it is also in ruins, it speaks to the grandeur of the once towering structure built as the tomb of a Persian Satrap.

It was so big that it had 400 separate statues within it. You can see a model of it in a local museum there in Bodrum.

Every stone and artifact found reveals the layered histories that shaped this coast. It’s a place where myth merges with reality, where travelers can roam through ancient ruins, explore Lycian rock tombs, or uncover underwater ruins.

Each historical site is a portal to a bygone era, inviting you to walk the same paths that all cultures have tread before, making the Riviera a living museum of human heritage.


And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about authentic Turkish food!

Before I first moved here, I never ate eggplants or the greens from cabbage, but now these are staples in my diet. I am convinced that Turks have magical hands, especially when it comes to eggplant. Or maybe it is just all the oil that they use.

Along the coast, you will obviously have a lot of opportunities to eat fish and seafood. Some of the best calamari I have ever eaten has been in Turkey. 

Pro tip: ask to see a menu with prices if appetizers (mezeler) are involved, as the price of your meal can add up quite quickly without knowing it. 

A big part of Turkish cuisine is bread. I am from America, where it is hard to get fresh bread, but here it is everywhere. And let me tell you, it is so much better. My mom, who is sensitive to bread in the States, can eat it here without any problem. 

In Turkish cuisine, you will see a lot of bread, rice, seasonal vegetables, and meat. So make sure to try it all!

One of the things that still makes me smile is how they do salads. It is always more chef salad style where the tomatoes are grouped together, the peppers are together, and so on. I have always been more of a tossed salad girl. 

One time, I was cooking with a local friend, and he had me make the salad. When I finished my tossed salad, his response was, “Oh, you do salad like that.” It still makes me laugh. 

The food will likely be different than expected, but just enjoy the journey and try new things. I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Some of my favorites that you shouldn’t miss are:

  • Kebabs (the national dish of Turkey).
  • Sütlaç (rice pudding).
  • Anything with begendi in the name (eggplant and bechamel sauce typically with meat on top). 
gullet sailing boat on the turkish riviera
Image Credit: Kimberly from The Art of Living in Turkey

Along the Coast: Travel Tips and Accommodation

How to get there

Arriving at the Turkish Riviera can be a seamless experience, thanks to the many options.

I am a huge fan of road trips, but the trip from Istanbul to Fethiye or Antalya can be quite long for most. There are also buses…but no thanks. The easiest way is to fly down South or over West and rent a car once you get there. 

Key transportation hubs, including Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir, and Dalaman airports, provide easy entry points to this scenic coastline. From here, a range of local transport options, such as buses, taxis, and car rentals, are available to whisk you away to your adventure.

Renting a car allows for the most flexibility and freedom to explore the region. You can also, however, fly down and do a cruise up the coast and fly back through a different city. 

My parents took a sailing trip on a recent visit and had the best time ever. They saw so many little cities and towns, slept on this precious gullet boat, and floated in the Mediterranean. 

Where to stay

Accommodation choices in the Turkish Riviera cater to every preference and pocketbook.

Luxury seekers will find respite in five-star hotels and resorts that offer private beaches, decadent spa facilities, and endless buffets. 

We recommend:

For the budget-conscious traveler, guesthouses, mid-range all-inclusive resorts, and pensions provide comfortable lodgings without breaking the bank.

And for those of you who, like me, like to stay more like a local and desire a homier atmosphere or want to travel in larger groups, self-catering apartments are also available through sources like Airbnb and VRBO.

Pro tip: If you’re going with a hotel or resort, I recommend because they have a great review process. Make sure you stay at something with a customer score above 8 for the best experience. At least, that is what I do when I travel. 

Along the Turkish Riviera – Final Thoughts

While the Turkish Riviera is known for its blue waters and picturesque sandy beaches, I hope you see why it also offers so much more. 

Its 600-mile-long coast is home to the charming towns of Kas and Kalkan, 500 varied beaches, including one of my favorite pebble beaches, Konyaalti Beach, and so much more. 

Many historical wonders throughout the region include ruins of the Ancient Wonders of the World, tales of romance between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and even the hometown of St. Nicholas, the OG.

If you’re an adventure seeker, this paradise offers a variety of activities, from adrenaline-fueled sports such as paragliding and water sports to cultural explorations among ancient ruins and rock tombs.

We even looked at a few practical travel tips like transportation, accommodations, and Turkish cuisine that you shouldn’t miss.

On your next trip to Turkey, I hope you will consider a trip to Southwest Turkey to catch its breathtaking natural landscapes and rich history and enjoy an abundance of activities to suit every traveler.

FAQs About the Turquoise Coast 

What is the best time of year to visit the Turkish Riviera?

The optimal time to visit is from May until September. However, my preference is May and September. June through August is great if you want the hot weather, which is ideal for beach activities. However, if you prefer a less crowded environment, the shoulder seasons of late April/May and September/October can provide a more serene experience with mild weather.

Are there family-friendly activities on the Turkish Riviera?

Yes, the Turkish Riviera offers a ton of family-friendly activities. There are safe beaches, perfect for children to play and swim and historical sites that make for fascinating educational day trips. Water parks, boat tours, and nature reserves also offer enjoyable outings that are suitable for families, ensuring a memorable experience for both children and adults.

How does one choose the right gullet cruise on the Turquoise Coast?

Choosing the right gullet cruise on the Turquoise Coast depends on several factors, including the length of the trip, preferred route, budget, number of people, and the level of luxury desired. Research different companies to compare their itineraries and included amenities. Look at the size of the gullet and the number of cabins as well as read reviews from past travelers.

What are the must-see archaeological ruins on the Turkish Riviera?

Must-see archaeological ruins depend on your interests. Ephesus & Laodicea (my favorite), though not on the coast, have some incredible sites that you can wander for hours. Other significant sites include the Lycian rock tombs in Dalyan and the ancient city of Perge, and I also enjoyed the ruins at Patara. All these sites offer a fascinating glimpse into the ancient civilizations that once thrived along this beautiful coast.

What are the language and currency considerations when traveling to the Turkish Riviera?

When traveling to the Turkish Riviera, the local language is Turkish, and while many people in the tourism industry speak English, it’s helpful to learn a few basic Turkish phrases. The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira, and I highly recommend having local money on hand. Credit cards are becoming more acceptable, though cash is still king in Turkey because of the high fees the local shop owners have to pay.

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Kimberly, a passionate blogger and graphic designer, has called Istanbul, Turkey home since 2019. Amidst the enchanting, yet sometimes overwhelming, chaos of the city, she finds joy in the abundance of street cats in unexpected places and savors the art of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. With a heart set on sharing the wonders and beauty of Turkey, she thrives on helping others uncover its hidden gems.