1 September 2009 by Pete Mathers
Its lasting sunshine, beautiful beaches and excellent value make Turkey a great autumn destination. We asked Wexas European expert Daniel Walker about where to stay on the glorious Turkish coastline.
With countries inside the eurozone more expensive than ever, Turkey has grabbed the headlines as an affordable destination – the Mediterranean for a fraction of the price.
But it’s not like price is Turkey’s only appeal. You can barely turn a corner without bumping into a Bronze Age settlement, Roman bathhouse or ancient Lycian city. It is said that there are more Greek ruins in Turkey than there are in Greece, more Roman ruins than in Italy itself.
History then is carried in the dust. Homer and Herodotus wrote here, Alexander the Great slashed the Gordian Knot, Justinian built the Hagia Sophia, and colourful caravans brought silk from the East to the palaces of Ottoman emperors.
Food is another great attraction, with traditional meze, Turkish delight, kebabs of meat and seafood and thick sweet coffee among many a menu favourite. Then there are the beaches, 235 of which have won awards for their beauty. The ginclear waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean are rightfully known as the Turquoise Coast. And best of all, if you’re thinking that summer is passing you by, know that Turkish beaches come into their own in September and October, when temperatures have dropped from their scorching mid-summer highs. The only question that remains is where should you stay? In May this year, Wexas European expert, Daniel Walker, travelled with specialist tour operator, Anatolian Sky, to see a range of hotels along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. We asked him for his recommendations.
“Akyaka is a wonderfully low-key resort, surrounded by empty mountains and forests of eucalyptus. Its long sandy beach is in a sheltered bay with warm shallow waters, ideal for swimming. The whole region is protected against modern style development, so anything new is guaranteed to blend in with the old. The effect is a picture of old-world charm that in this day and age is increasingly hard to find.”
“Several quiet restaurants and a few relaxed bars line the seafront. If you ever want more then the large resort of Marmaris is just half an hour away. In comparison to Akyaka, Marmaris could be Benidorm, but it’s well worth a visit for its labyrinth of shops, selling everything from carpets to jewellery, all at good prices.”
“I’d recommend staying at the Ottoman Residence, which has a beautiful setting on the Azmak River, just a ten-minute stroll from the beach and Akyaka. Outside is a small pool and gardens leading down to the river, where hammocks have been strung between the trees and jumbo cushions lie scattered on the ground. It’s a nice alternative to lazing on the beach.”
“The interior is light and airy with a good bar and an authentic Turkish feel. I’d recommend upgrading to a Duplex Room. For surprisingly little extra you get a twostorey suite with a lounge downstairs and a spiral staircase leading up to a bedroom. Almost all rooms have wonderful mountain views, looking out across the orange groves and eucalyptus trees.”
“The food here is also exceptional. A true Turkish kebab is a far cry from what you find on British high streets, and all the chefs here are experts in creating the traditional Turkish dishes.”
“Ölüdeniz is a more cosmopolitan resort, perfect for families and young couples. Its famous lagoon, by far the star attraction, is the most photographed spot in all Turkey. The water is simply incredible – perfectly clear. It’s hard to find anything like it, except perhaps in the Caribbean. I was there once before at the end of September and was shocked at how warm it was to swim in.” “A sandbar peninsula stretches out across the bay, but its beaches charge guests for their suntan. You’re better off staying at the Hotel Meri, which has its own private beach on the opposite side of the lagoon. The hotel is offered on an all-inclusive basis, which keeps costs from spiralling. Attractive gardens lead down past the pool to the beach, and rooms are set into the hillside.”
“Away from the beaches – white sand and shingle – the countryside is a rambler’s paradise. The ‘ghost village’ of Kayaköy is easily accessible by dolmus bus, with no need for a guide. Over 3,000 homes were deserted by the Greeks back in 1923 and have been left to fall into ruin. A few quality restaurants have sprung up at the entrance; beyond that you’re free to roam in the mountains. For longer walks, try the first few sections of the Lycian Way, a long-distance trail running parallel to much of the coastline. It begins in the village of Ovaçik, a stone’s throw away from Ölüdeniz.”
“My final recommendation would be Kalkan, a compact harbour town on a steep hillside with an addictive charm of its own. Narrow streets and cobbled alleys lead down to the seafront, which is dotted with restaurants, cafés, bars and boutiques. Its steep hillsides are in part the reason why it’s escaped mass tourism, and in my mind is all the better for it.” “Kalkan beach is in fact shingle, and the water has the curious effect of being cold on the surface – a result of being fed by mountain run-off – but beautifully warm underneath. Once again the water is crystal clear, and if you must have sand, two of Turkey’s finest sandy beaches are a short drive away.”
“More than 25 historic sites lie round about, and Anatolian Sky offers every imaginable excursion. I should emphasise the quality of Anatolian reps. Almost all of them have lived in Turkey. They really know the country and its history, and if by chance you ask a question to which they don’t have an answer, you can bet that they’ll have it before long.”
“My favourite hotel is the Rhapsody, which overlooks the bay, the town centre and the mountains. I loved it how they cleared the pool area for dinner, setting up tables where the sun loungers were so that you never lost the view. Completely refurbished this year, it’s both stylish and modern and is run with impeccable service.”
You too can speak to Daniel about holidays in Turkey. Call our European experts on 020 7838 5965 or email [email protected].