Unlike many of the Turkish resorts, the riverside town of Dalyan retains much of its authentic charm. Don’t get me wrong: it is set beside a river in stunning, protected countryside and has a dramatic backdrop of beautiful mountains… but it is a tourist resort. However, step away from the main drag with its lively bars and restaurants and it is easy to discover the essence of this traditional farming community in its back streets and charming architecture.
It is also a fantastic spot for explorers to base themselves while exploring the wonderful environmental treats which surround the resort; the mud flats of the river delta, a beautiful lake, an ancient tomb built into the cliffs, and even a nearby beach which is the natural nesting ground to the loggerhead turtle. Dalyan certainly has plenty to discover beyond the Mediterranean sunshine.
For a wildlife lover’s guide to Dalyan, here are just some of the wonderful excursions ripe for exploration in and around this charming little town.
Beauty and Turtles on Iztuzu Beach
A short, spectacular boat ride along the river from Dalyan will bring you to the Mediterranean and the beautiful Iztuzu Beach. Nicknamed ‘Turtle Beach’, this stretch of sand is home to the nests of the loggerhead sea turtles.
This is a protected area: the Turkish Environmental Agency works with other organisations (such as Green Peace, which runs the cafés along the beach) to ensure that tourism does not encroach on these beautiful creatures’ vital nesting ground. The beach is open to sun worshippers and naturists during the day – although areas in which nests are present are cordoned off – but night-time visits are prohibited to protect laying mothers and their hatchlings. Nature lovers will appreciate seeing the Environmental Agency patrols during the breeding season (May to October) and can get more information about the nests and hatching habits of these protected turtles.
Sea Turtle Reseach and Rescue Centre
To the south of Iztuzu Beach is the headquarters of the Turtle Rescue Centre. Established by environmentalist June Haimoff, the beach-hut-cum-research centre is now a museum where visitors can find out more about the work carried out here to protect the turtles. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see one of these beautiful creatures being treated for a range of injuries, usually inflicted by fishing equipment or boat propellers in the local waters.
Discover a Rural Idyll at Lake Köyceğiz
Turn your back on the crowds and heat of the Mediterranean coast and venture inland instead to the stunning, environmentally-important Lake Köyceğiz. The lake is connected to the Med by the Dalyan River, but lies serenely behind it. Surrounded by small farms growing the traditional lemons, oranges and pomegranates of the region, visiting this farming community is like stepping back into Turkey’s rural past. It offers a beautiful, tranquil alternative to the hectic coastal resorts.
Look Ten Years Younger after a Dalyan Mud Bath
An unusual treat to enjoy on the shores of Lake Köyceğiz, is a trip to the mud and sulphur baths on offer along its shores. Legend has it that Cleopatra herself used to travel here to enjoy the therapeutic minerals contained in the wet clay. Today you can join the crowds who come here to wallow in the mud and relish the photo opportunity of yourself and your friends covered from head to toe in grey mud. Local legend has it that the tightening affects of the mud will leave you looking ten years younger, and the mud itself is said to contain properties which help with a range of medical conditions from sciatica to rheumatism.
After a good wallow, visit the springs at Sutaniye with its thermal waters to wash off and enjoy bathing in the restorative waters.
How to Get to Dalyan
To get to Dalyan it’s best to fly to Dalaman Airport. There are a range of direct flights from the UK (with more during the busy summer period). Flights take just over four hours and are offered by British Airways, Pegasus Airlines, easyJet and Jet2 (amongst others). The transfer from the airport to Dalyan is only about half an hour by car and I would recommend booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct online when you book your flight. Use the simple internet booking system and you can relax knowing that all your transport needs are taken care of before you arrive.
Where to Stay
Erasmus Apart Hotel – For a cheap and cheerful home-from-home with a Turkish twist, try the Erasmus Apart Hotel. With a pretty garden, a pool and views across the valley to the ancient cliffside tombs, this is a great base in the town for those who want to go self catering. There is free WiFi throughout the property and air conditioning in some rooms.
Hotel Happy Caretta – Set beside the river with beautiful river views is the traditional Hotel Happy Caretta. The shaded gardens look out over the river and the hotel is perfectly situated for boat trips to the beach or the lake, which leave from the hotel’s own jetty. The cabana-style outdoor bar and riverside terrace is a perfect place to relax out of the sun after a long day’s exploration of the area. There is free WiFi.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of Europe and North Africa’s leading airport transfer providers, offering a range of travel options to suit every budget. From economical group transfers, shuttles and coaches to private car services, you will find all kinds of transport available on our website and bookings can be made quickly and easily online.