Dalyan: The Quaint Riverside of South Turkey

Dalyan, in the southwest of Turkey, is the sort of town one goes to completely unplug. Once a small fishing village, Dalyan has not lost its quaint village charm. Today, the tranquil vibes remain and is a less traveled area than the major touristic trail. I hadn’t heard of Dalyan until two kindred spirits highly, highly recommended a visit. I had traveled to many of the popular beach towns of Turkey which I adore individually for its own character. Though the ones I adore most are less commercialized. And Dalyan is just that: a cozy riverside getaway located in the Mugla Province (between the popular beach towns of Marmaris and Fethiye). One would fly into Dalaman Airport and drive just 35 minutes west to reach. Most guests stay on average of 3 days. Though, for those who yearn the slow paced life, I recommend at least 5 days of pure relaxation.

dalyan turkey

Things to Do in Dalyan, Turkey

things to do in dalyan turkey

King’s Tombs of Ancient Kaunos

Kaunos was the ancient city of Caria. Today, Dalyan River (the centerpiece of the town) was formerly the Calbys River which bordered Caria and Lycia. For those visiting Dalyan, the Ancient Ruins of Kaunos is its most famous attraction, which was abandoned in the 15th century. The intricate carving of the King’s Tombs and Lycian Rock Tombs is a signature photo backdrop of Dalyan. Once an important sea port dating back to the 10th century, the ancient Carian city stretches down one side of the tombs into the Dalyan river.

  • Through a boat ride or bicycle, you can explore the sprawling old city of the Roman ruins.
  • Inside are also 6 excavated temples and roman bathhouses.
  • Walk through the amphitheater where concerts still play today.
  • Climb the hill to the top of the Acropolis where you see can see views of Dalyan 500 feet above sea level.

Iztuzu Beach

Also known as “Turtle Beach“, is a tranquil 3 mile stretch of sand, most famously known for its protection of the Loggerhead Turtles (locally known as “Caretta Caretta“). It’s a gamble whether visitors will see turtles or Blue Crabs during the day as they typically wander onto the sand to lay eggs at night. Hence why it is forbidden to visit between the hours of 8pm to 8am. The short wooden fences are to protect the nests, and guests are advised to not step over them.

iztuzu beach dalyan turkey

Regardless if you are end up spotting the adorable turtles, the soft brown sand beach is a great place to relax and hideaway for the day, with a café there for basic lunch food and drinks.

iztuzu beach dalyan turkey

For those interested in the protection of Loggerhead Turtles:

Ways to Get to Iztuzu Beach:

  • By Boat: Via Boat Tour or hired Boat, which will typically give you half hour to an hour on the beach
  • Minibus “Dolmuş”: Cost: 11 lira ($1.50 cost roundtrip)
  • By Car: 20 minute drive
  • Bicycle: 1 hour-ish from the center of Dalyan
dalyan turkey to iztuzu beach

Lake Köyceğiz

Gliding through the reflective water of Lake Köycegiz was one of the highlights of my trip in Dalyan, Turkey. Needless to say, the scenic views is the perfect shot for those into photography. Or one who simply enjoys nature’s finest beauty.

lake koycegiz dalyan turkey

Sultaniye Thermals and Mineral Mud Bath

While Turkish Bathhouses “Hamams” are most popular throughout Turkey, Dalyan is most famously known for its Mud Baths. Commonly used since the Roman Era, the soil is rich in minerals (potassium, radon, sulphur, calcium, iron) and replenishes one’s body with all the vitamins needed during your vacation. The basic mud bath is communal and the thermal springs measure at an average of 40 degrees celsius. You can also schedule for a Mud massage at one of the parlors. On the lower end, you can find a day at the spa (turkish bath, mud massage, pool access, sauna) for around 175 liras ($20).

Note: Wear a bathing suit under your clothes, pack a towel and bring a change of clothes for after!

Hiking in Dalyan

Dalyan is part of the Lycian Trail, which starts in Fethiye to Antalya. The eco-friendly trail connects the Lycian and Caria trail, which one can hike or bike from Bodrum, through Fethiye all the way to Antalya.

Wander around Dalyan’s City Center

Dalyan’s City Center is an adorable town to wander by foot or bicycle. You won’t get lost as it’s pretty small, with dozens of shops and restaurants. Along the sea is a bike friendly path which you can also enjoy a walk on.

Getting To and Around Dalyan

Fly into Dalaman Airport

The closest airport to Dalyan is the Dalaman Airport, an hour flight from Istanbul ($20 average one way flight on Pegasus or Turkish Airlines). From there, you can take a bus from the airport to Dalyan, or rent a car. I rented a car out of convenience but I didn’t once use it during my 4 days there. If you want to visit Radar Hill, you will need to rent a 4×4 jeep (or go with a Jeep Tour).

Rent a Bicycle

The best way to get around is to rent a bicycle for 30 liras a day ($4 USD). It’s a good way to exercise and see a lot while still soaking in all of nature. As mentioned, I didn’t need a car at all in the duration of my trip in Dalyan as it is very bike friendly. Along old town, are bike trails and drivers are also more pedestrian and bicycle friendly here. It is also common to rent a Quadrabike. On your bike, you can visit Iztuzu Beach, Honeycomb Farm, Gokbel and ride up Radar Hill for a stunning view of Dalyan.

There are several Bicycle rental shops throughout Dalyan. I rented through Brothers Rental, who you can reach via WhatsApp +90 545 770 2870.

Day Boat Trip

One can join a Boat Trip that typically runs from 10am-5pm which I’d recommend on your first day to get an idea of the Dalyan landscape. During low season, you’ll have to check how often these boats run. I came to Dalyan in November 2020 (low season), and also in the midst of the Covid Pandemic. The Boat tour is super peaceful as it starts through the Dalyan Canals and takes you to the major attractions of Iztuzu Beach and glided along the serene, reflective water of Lake Köycegiz and the Ancient Ruins of Kaunos + King’s Tomb.

On your boat trip, there is also option for swimming and snorkeling.

Cost: Around $30 per person for group tour, includes lunch. $40 for a private individual tour.

Restaurants in Dalyan

Dalyan, Turkey has a range of restaurants to choose from:

  • Nice seafood restaurants along the dock: Iskele Balik
  • “Bufe” restaurants selling traditional Turkish cuisine: Nazli’nin Mutfagi (in the city center)
  • Western establishments for burgers, pizzas and even a Mexican Restaurant
  • Visit Myra Hotel for a homemade Chocolate Cake (a local speciality in Dalyan) + Turkish Coffee

Things to Eat in Dalyan, Turkey:

  • Honeycomb farm, with a cafe where you can taste Turkish pancake and Pomegranite juice.
  • Fresh Pomegranate and Orange Juice (great place to taste as Dalyan use to thrive in its Agricultural Business in Citrus fruits)
  • Chocolate Cake
  • Seafood
  • Olives and Olive Oil unique to the region

Where to Stay in Dalyan

I was convinced to stay at Arp Hotel after seeing the gorgeous photos on Expedia for around $50 a night. This choice was met beyond my expectations. Arp hotel is clean, simple yet elegant, in which I can imagine staying for a month. Studio apartment style rooms, two floors, with a gorgeous pool surrounded by palm trees which is the path to the common area. The living room provides a perfect view of the water. And it’s where breakfast is served, the perfect place to relax after a day of touring. Arp Hotel is family owned with a sister property next door. Rates are around $45 a night depending on season.

For a more moderately priced room, book a room at the family run villa, Myra Hotel, for around $30 a night. Breakfasts are almost always included in the hotel pricing.

things to do in dalyan turkey
Riding the TukTuk to Mimi’s Beauty Salon for my Daily Massage and Pedicure

For a massage, manicure/pedicure, hair salon services, schedule directly with Mimi’s Beauty Center. The owner will pick you up from your hotel in a pink tuktuk. I scheduled massages 2 days in a row (200 liras for 60 minutes) and then a pedicure on my 3rd day.

Dalyan is incredibly safe to travel in, as well as the rest of Turkey. Here are more tips on Solo Female Travel in Turkey. And information on Traveling to Turkey during Covid Pandemic.
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