Marmaris

Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is pretty spectacular – range after range of rugged mountains drop down in a startlingly blue sea with equally sheer islands scattered in the foreground. It also has a remarkably consistent climate with warm weather just about guaranteed from April through to the end of October – after which the rains begin, ensuring that this corner of Turkey remains green and fertile. This is, after all, the principal fruit growing area of the country and filled with citrus and pomegranate trees.

MarmarisMarmaris faces a particularly lovely part of this seascape. You’ll find a long sandy beach, islands and sand bars, marinas and that warm, blue water in an almost entirely enclosed bay. In high season, it gets very hot and very busy. Out of season, though, you can expect balmy temperatures and a much slower pace. Spring is a particularly good time to visit when you can walk for a couple of miles along the promenade that stretches from the main hotels to the old town of Marmaris. The old town itself is full of narrow winding streets with charming cafes and restaurants and it fronts on to a marina full of super yachts. There’s a castle on a hill with great views from the parapets across the bay. What you see today is mostly Ottoman but there some fascinating finds displayed in its museum that date not just back to Greek and Roman times but even earlier. This is the region of Lycians and Lydians and the place where it is said the first ever coinage was invented.

Knidos, DatcaYou can actually see some of the remains of these very early civilisations if you go a little further down the coast towards Dalaman. The Lycians were particularly inventive when it came to their monuments, preferring to carve their mausoleums into the rock faces of mountains and sea cliffs. You can take a boat ride down the Dalyan River and find sites that are not unlike Petra in Jordan, albeit on a rather smaller scale. Their grand columned entrances look down from high on the mountainsides – but you can only see them from the river as it’s not possible to enter the tombs. The river, though, is a delight in itself and not just for the views. You can stop off at a waterside restaurant for lunch (overlooking the Lycian ruins) and if you carry on towards the sea, you are pretty much guaranteed to see the local Caretta Caretta turtles who will come right up to the boat (especially if you offer them a tasty snack).

MarmarisAnd there is another good reason to visit Turkey’s Turquoise Coast at the moment. The current exchange rate between the Turkish lira and the British pound has doubled (in our favour) so everything here is a bargain. Fancy a three-hour trip with a boat all to yourself to explore that gorgeous coastline? It comes in at the princely sum of £60. At the D-Resort Grand Azur where I stayed, you can treat yourself to some remarkably reasonable treatments in their extensive spa. The most expensive massage comes in at £35 for an hour while the whole hammam experience is just £30. And in case you imagine the hammam experience is just a glorified steam room, remember you are in Turkey where the whole concept was invented. You are cleansed, exfoliated, oiled and massaged – this is the cleanest and silkiest you will ever feel. And that’s a promise.

There are very few flights to Dalaman, the nearest airport, during the winter. However, everything opens up again in April and this (along with May, September and October) is the ideal time to go with summer temperatures without the summer crowds. And let’s face it, by then we’re all going to need a dose of vitamin C.

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Anna Selby

Travel writer & author

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