Thanks to its wonderful Mediterranean climate, clear, turquoise waters, rich history and vibrant and varied culture, the coast of Turkey that stretches along the Antalya and Mugla provinces is also widely known as the Turkish Riviera – and indeed, it’s as exotic and appealing as its name would suggest. Journeying along the Turkish Riviera will allow you to discover fascinating archaeological sites, thrilling modern cities and quaint, unspoilt villages, as well as experience the unique way of life that still thrives in Turkey today, but no matter where your trip takes you there are six stops on the Turkish Riviera that you simply cannot miss.
The Temple of Artemis, Ephesus
Along the Turkish Riviera there is abundant evidence of the country’s Greek history, including the remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which dates back to 650BC and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although the remains are now somewhat scarce, it’s still an intriguing site to visit, as the lone marble column that rises from the ground hints at the grand scale of the building which once stood there, and the low-level foundations allow you to imagine for yourself what was inside.
Many hundreds of colourful yachts and boats line up in the harbour at Bodrum during the summer months, many of which belong to the rich and famous and certainly help add to the Turkish Riviera’s glamorous reputation. Look beyond the sails of the boats at Bodrum Harbour and you’ll see the Medieval Bodrum Castle, which should also not be missed for its fantastic views over the water, and the Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the castle grounds, at which you can discover some of the beguiling artefacts that have been plucked from Bodrum’s waters over the centuries.
Commanding unmatched views over the city of Analya, this 13th century Seljuq castle cannot be missed during your travels around the Turkish Riviera. The remains of Analya Castle are surprisingly intact, and you’ll have many photo opportunities of the Cicilian Mountains as you make your way around the ruins. Also close by the Analya Castle are the relics of a mausoleum from the same era, as well as an 11th century Byzantine church, a survivor of the fortification that existed in the same spot before Analya Castle was built.
The Lycian Tombs, Fethiye
Whilst there are many astonishing sights to be found along the Turkish Riviera, few come close to that of the Lycian Tombs in Fethiye, which were carved into the soft limestone rock faces and are still almost entirely intact today – a testament to the skills of the masons that hewed them, many hundreds of years ago. It was a Lycian belief that a dead person’s soul would be transported to the after-life by a winged creature, which explains why the tombs were built high up, near the top of cliffs or overlooking the water.
The Pine Forests of Icmeler
Enclosed by pine forests, the town of Icmeler is considered by many to be the quieter alternative to Marmaris, which is just a fifteen minute drive away. As you drive into Icmeler the fragran pines will give way to a sand and shingle bay, lined by many luxurious hotels like the Vela Hotel Icmeler, which make the town an inviting place to spend time on your Turkish Riviera journey.
Temple of Apollo, Didyma
According to Greek mythology, the site of the Temple of Apollo is where Leto and Zeus supposedly conceived the twins Apollo and Artemis – yet unlike the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Apollo’s shrine is still mostly preserved. The Temple of Apollo was one of the grandest constructions of its kind in ancient Greek times, and it’s still possible to walk through the corridors and around the columns to get a true sense of the shrine’s enormity.