Turkish summer on the Turquoise Coast
he jet set’s raison d’être is to seek out new horizons, a change of scene and a different port to moor the yacht; under-the-radar destinations with all the basic requirements: waters of intense turquoise blue, fishing villages with the best fresh seafood and warm weather all year round. The Turkish coast checks all these boxes. Bathed by both the Aegean and the Mediterranean, the so-called Turquoise Coast includes several cities in the south and east of the country, a mountainous landscape peppered with bays and caves that once captivated the Romans, Greeks and Ottomans. Today, these coves and ports attract celebrities like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Brad Pitt.
The Bodrum Peninsula has for years been a favourite haunt of A-listers. Bumping into Mick Jagger or Richard Branson in Halikarnas was nothing out of the ordinary; an icon of Turkish nocturnal style, the club bade its last farewell in 2017 after almost 40 years of vibrant beachside parties. Still, you don’t have to be rich or famous to enjoy the Turkish coast like a Rolling Stone. Bodrum has options for everyone: small towns like Gümüşlük, where you can spend a whole day on the beach; Türkbükü, the chicest city-resort; or the restaurant of the boutique Maçakizi hotel, the place to see and be seen. At least post a photo on Instagram to show you were on the terrace.
As it turns out, Bodrum is just one of several equally seductive Turkish destinations. Antalya, dubbed the capital of the Turkish Riviera, has more than 600 kilometres of beaches and caves waiting to be explored. The Taurus mountains, avocado plantations and olive groves furnish the unique landscape where, according to legend, Mark Antony and Cleopatra played out their romantic history. Belek, known as the Turkish Beverly Hills, is perhaps the area’s most glamorous resort town, with popular attractions such as Lara Beach and historic sites like Side nearby. The Temple of Apollo and Athena, the Roman baths and the amphitheatre are among the most impressive monuments in a city where the past is very much present.
Losing yourself in the bazaars and trying the local cuisine are part and parcel of the true Turkish experience; the fusion between east and west is one of the main appeals of the Turquoise Coast. The mix of coastal cities with their European demeanour and the aroma of spices from the markets, such as Belek, are what make Turkey such a special destination. Traditional flavours can be tried at the legendary 7 Mehmet, located on a hill overlooking the beach at Konyaalti and famous for its grilled meats. The best seafood can be found around the Antalya marina and in the many village inns nearby.
The Dalaman Area stands out for places like the Blue Lagoon, at Olu Deniz. This small village is the ideal destination for those seeking for a relax holiday. Along with Patara, it shares the honour of being one of the best beaches in Turkey. Boasting 18 kilometres of sand, Patara is the longest beach in the Mediterranean and is unspoilt to protect the turtles who leave the sea to lay their eggs here between May and October. Perfect for a day’s sunbathing.
But it isn’t all peace and quiet in Dalaman. The Sea Horse Beach Club, located inside the Ölüdeniz Blue Lagoon National Park, livens up the days (and nights) with its beachside bar. The coastal city of Marmaris also combines sunny days, sand, and water activities with a bustling nightlife in the watering holes around the port and the neighbouring Uzunyali beach. Who knows whether any of them will become the next celebrity hot spot? The landscape and mindset are poised and ready; someone just needs to tell Mick and Naomi.