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Hidden Turkish Resorts Have More To Offer Than Cheap Deal

Monday, 22 June 2009

Turkey is emerging as one of the top short-haul destinations of 2009. Benefiting from a eurozone free exchange rate, the southern coast offers Turquoise seas, white beaches, unspoilt coves and fishing villages as well a fascinating Lycian history.

Traditionally, easyJet customers have used low cost flights to Dalaman to reach the adjacent seaside resort of Marmaris, with its world class marina, bazaar and tourist hotels. But there has been a growth of savvy independent travellers seeking the hidden treasures of the Lycian Coast, from Fethiye to Kas. They are in good company - Demi Moore is a fan!

Paul Simmons, easyJet's UK general manager, explains: "Approximately 35 per cent of visitors to Dalaman from London Gatwick and Manchester are opting to hire cars in order to independently explore the south eastern coast of Turkey.

"In addition to offering four months of guaranteed sunshine throughout summer, it is undoubtedly the most scenically beautiful region of Turkey's Mediterranean coastline."

The area is also popular with walkers and cyclists with its 320-mile Lycian Way path between Antalya and Fethiye which has been dubbed one of the world's best long walks. This year it is home to the first cycling marathon.

If you are looking for some inspiration this summer and want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Marmaris party town, favourite off the beaten track Turkish destinations include:


Dalyan (approximately 30 miles west of Dalaman)

Lying inland on the east bank of the Dalyan Cayi, this sleepy resort offers several good seafood restaurants and boat trips to the local beaches.

It is most famous for the spectacular Iztuzu Beach, a three mile stretch of sand with a healthy breeding colony of loggerhead turtles, who come here to lay their eggs.

You can take a trip to the Dalyan mud baths, which claim to increase male potency as well as curing rheumatism.

The final week of June is the Dalyan Tourism Festival, with live music, folk dancing and a firework finale.


Kaunos, six miles west, and a 10 minute walk from where the boats dock, is worth the trip. It includes the city ruins, the restoration of a Roman bath, a Byzantine basilica and reed beds filled with terrapins and flamingos. 


Fethiye (Approx 30 miles south east of Dalaman)

A busy port and market town at the western end of the Taurus Mountains, it is one of the closest to Dalaman Airport. It remains a working Turkish town. Next to the yachts and gullets, the marina is home to brightly-coloured fishing boats and commercial vessels. Parks and open air cafes line the seafront and there is an abundance of bars and restaurants.

The abundance of shops spill out onto the streets creating an informal bazaar where you can barter for 'designer' goods. The museum is worth a visit and definitely try the good value 'catch of the day' at one of the fish market restaurants.

The deserted village of Kayakoy some 4 miles south of Fethiye is an eerie ghost village on the site of ancient Karmylassos. Until the early 1920s it was home to around 3,500 people, mostly Greek Orthadox, who were deported when the population exchange with Macedonian Muslims took place. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Ölü Deniz (Approximately 12 miles south of Fethiye)

A tiny town hidden in a natural cleft in the Taurus mountain range, Ölü Deniz retains a hippy-like vibe protected by the restrictions on building. It has a reputation as one of the most beautiful lagoons in the Mediterranean, but the beach can get busy at the height of summer.

The nearby historic site of Pinara is worth a visit, here your can see the amphitheatre, walk the remains of the town and see the Lycian tombs embedded in the rock face. These were designed for the afterlife and as bodies were buried with a full range of possessions many are so inaccessible that builders were lowered by rope.


Kalkan (22miles west of Kas)

One of the prettiest of the coastal resorts on this stretch of Turkey, it was a Greek village until 1923 which made a living from fishing and olives. Today the cottages which stand on the cobbled streets leading down to the harbour are now home to shops and rooftop restaurants.

The tiny harbour at the foot of the hill is now a smart marina with outstanding restaurants and easy access to the abundance of traditional gulets offering sightseeing trips.

If food is a key aspect of your holiday Kalkan is the place for you. Many restaurateurs grow their own produce on nearby farms, offering fresh, high quality dishes in a stunning setting.

The Kalkan Regency hotel spa offers a chance to visit a traditional Turkish Bath for a scrub down from the resident Haman, it also has the best cocktail menu in Kalkan!

There is a small man-made beach next to the harbour, but visitors shouldn't miss an opportunity to catch the little free Putt Putt boat (or take a taxi) to the Mahal Beach Club across the bay. Here you can relax on sunloungers or your own rock platform above the turquoise sea, or have a massage in a private seaview cave. The club's outstanding restaurant is also worth a try.

For those in need of a beach for their holiday to feel complete, the six mile taxi journey to Patara's white-gold sands is worth the trip. Visited by Brutus and Cassius seeking booty to fund their war against Mark Antony and Octavian, the site is now more famed for its nine mile sands. It is a breading ground for turtles in the summer. Take refreshments for the beach offers peace and quiet without the hustle and bustle of hotels, cafés and restaurants.

Within easy reach of Ölü Deniz and Kalkan, the Sakklikant Gorge lies 300m high and 18km long. Access is via a suspended wooden catwalk and a short knee-high dip in the icy cold waters of the Esen River. Once in the cool gorge you can walk unaided for a few kilometres before needing equipment and mountaineering skills. The restaurants at the base of the gorge are renowned for their fresh-cooked trout from local farms.

Kas (74 miles south east of Fethiye)

At a 100 miles journey it is one of the furthest resorts from Dalaman Airport, but Kas is one of the most popular. Despite development, it has retained its quaint charm. The town's most popular feature is a Hellenistic theatre from the 1st Century BC. A Lycian sarcophagus dating from the 5th Century BC stands at the head of the main shopping street.

It does not have any beaches, but boats depart the harbour daily for sight seeing tours to Kekova and Simena. Here you can get a stunning view from the castle and see the remains of the sunken city in the clear waters.

It is a haven for the sporty as it is within easy reach of the Lycian Way walk and remains popular with divers, sea kayakers and paragliders. A trip some 12 miles north of Kas reaches the substantial remains of Phellos. This offers stretches of fortified city walls, elaborate house tombs and views from a magnificent mountain walk.

For the more adventurous, you can continue to drive east towards the sights of Olympos, the natural phenomenon of Chimaera. Olympos is a tranquil haven on the river mouth complete with flowers, birds, frogs, turtles and fascinating excavated ruins. Its superb beach is ideal after a busy day hiking in its National Park.

The Chimaera is best viewed just before sun set. A natural phenomenon - a series of flames spouting out of the bare hillside.

Nick Howdle (35) from Didsbury, Manchester cites Turkey as a favourite holiday destination. He and his partner, Victoria, (see attached image) have travelled the southern Turkish coast for the last three summers.

Nick says: "We were keen to get some sun and sea, but we wanted to be off the beaten track. The essential was finding a holiday destination that didn't offer an English breakfast!

"A friend suggested Turkey and we loved it. The short flight, stunning blue seas and the abundance of restaurants serving high quality, fresh food have encouraged us to visit every summer.

"It is easy to get a cheap flight and hire a car at the airport and the coast road is easy to navigate. Kalkan is one of our favourite spots, with quaint, candlelit roof top restaurants and an outstanding beach club where you can swim in the clear sea without the hazard of sand!

"This year we have just organised the flight and the car, as we intend to travel along the coast stopping at lots of different spots throughout the holiday."

Flights to Dalaman from London Gatwick are available from low fares airline easyJet from just £32.99 (including taxes) one way, and from Manchester to Dalaman from £36.99.

The Coast road was completed in 1988 and provides easy navigation to the seaside resorts on the Lycian Coast, south of Dalaman.

International car rental companies are all widely represented at the airport. Advance booking is essential at peak periods and can be more cost effective. Discounts are available at www.europcar4easyjet.com Remember there is a total ban on alcohol when driving and seat belts must be worn at all times.




Notes to editors

easyJet is Europe's leading low-fares airline, currently operating 175 aircraft on 420 routes between 110 airports in 27 countries. easyJet carried over 44 million passengers in the past 12 months.


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