Ask any Turk and they will tell you that Dalyan is one of the most beautiful places in Turkey; a natural wonder. That is quite an endorsement. There is something magical about Dalyan and it is really no wonder that it has become one of the most popular places in Turkey for foreign property investors. The small town of Dalyan is unique in many ways and it is these many special qualities that draw visitors back year after year. There are currently 850 expats living in Dalyan and over 1000 villas or apartments in Dalyan have been purchased by foreign investors over the years.
Dalyan is a small town in the Muğla Province of the Mediterranean region, located on the southwest coast of Turkey, between the popular tourist destinations of Marmaris and Fethiye. The town sits on the banks of the Dalyan Çayı River and a lot of travel around the area is done by boat. Dalyan means “fishing weir” in Turkish and the river that runs between the Mediterranean Sea and Köyceğiz lake is laden with Bass, Mullet and Sea Bream so it is no wonder that fishing is a big industry in Dalyan. Aside from fishing, the region around Dalyan is a productive agricultural zone, once known for cotton, now pomegranate fields dominate the surroundings, alongside vegetables and citrus fruits trees.
The Mediterranean Weather
One of the biggest reasons people choose to go on holiday, or to live abroad is to find better weather. This is particularly true of Brits, but really of anyone living in northern Europe. Even those from the GCC states will appreciate this sentiment, although they are coming from the other end of the spectrum. Brits want to escape the cold and rain and those from the Gulf want to escape the desert heat. The Mediterranean climate is just perfect. For nine months of the year, you will find sunshine and warmth in Dalyan and even the winter can bring a mild climate out of season.
The best months of the year for weather are May, June and September. Endless days of sunshine and the degrees of warmth creeping up gradually will greet you during this time. July and August can be very hot and very humid and October brings the beginnings of Autumn; cooler temperatures and some rainy spells. Generally, throughout the season, Dalyan is swept up in a cooling breeze which can make the days more bearable in the humidity and the nights perfect for al fresco dining. On a particularly hot day, you only need to head for the beach to escape the heat of the town. Just be sure to apply sun cream!
The Typically Turkish Charm
Unlike its neighboring resorts of Marmaris and Fethiye and even those further afield like Antalya and Bodrum, Dalyan is a protected area. Provisions have been put in place across the town which prevents high rise buildings. You will very rarely find a building in Dalyan which is more than two storeys high. As holiday resorts and tourist destinations go in Turkey, Dalyan is as close to typically Turkish as you can get. The main strip in Dalyan may well be littered with restaurants and bars, but this is only a very small percentage of the town, and they have been added tastefully and traditionally. The hotels and pensions that scatter Dalyan are also traditional looking and in keeping with other properties in the area, old and new. In general, developers have done a great job at keeping the Turkish look consistent across the board.
You only have to step just a few meters away from the main strip of Dalyan to see that the tourism industry has integrated well into Dalyan’s local life; even the local primary school sits on the main road between the restaurants and the river. The locals live amongst the tourists and the expats in their traditional homes, their many chickens running around to greet you and their home grown vegetable patches and fruit trees adorning their yards. Their cats and dogs watch you intently but in the most part, greet you with the charm and hospitality you come to expect from the people; you may even unwittingly adopt one or two during your stay. Local life continues around you, from the women hanging out their washing in the sun, to the men playing backgammon in the local tea house and the children playing in the street.
You may be able to find a McDonalds in Marmaris, or a Starbucks in Antalya, but in Dalyan, there is not a chain restaurant, fast food outlet or international institution to be found. Dalyan is one of the few destinations in Turkey that manages to cater to its international visitors without losing its home grown charm!
The Glorious Terrain
Everywhere you look in Dalyan, your eyes can expect a feast of splendour and beauty; your breath will be taken away every time you leave your front door. You only need to tilt your head slightly upwards to set your eyes on the natural beauty of the terrain around you. Wherever you go in Dalyan, or indeed just outside of the town, you will be welcomed by a grand array of pine covered mountains. Their majesty and grandeur is so prominent but they could just as easily be a painting.
But life seems to revolve around the river and the hundreds of boats which lie in wait. Depending on the light, the water changes from a sparkly and welcoming azure blue, to a mysterious and natural green. In the heat of the day, the water looks so inviting, a stark contrast to the awesome mountains surrounding it. The waters are calm and serene, bordered by reed banks that willow in the breeze, attracting all kinds of wildlife. One of the best ways to enjoy the river is of course to be on it, but you can while away hours of your day by sitting in one of the many restaurants along the riverside, watching the boats and Turkish life revolve around you.
Adjoining the Dalyan river is the spectacular and vast Köyceğiz Lake. Many a boat trip will take you there or you will travel over it if you choose to visit the Köyceğiz market on a Monday. Once you get out there, aside from a few other boats ferrying around tourists, you feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere. It really is sublime. You can spend hours lazing around on a boat, dipping in and out of the cool water, swimming with fish and turtles, you can spot birdlife in the reed banks or you can just marvel at your surroundings. Dalyan is generally peaceful enough, but on the lake, all you can hear is nature (and the odd boat engine!).
Dalyan is a small town, but if you can’t find enough to keep yourself occupied in Dalyan itself, the town is perfectly located for adventures of all kinds. Dalyan can provide you with Roman ruins, Lycian tombs, wildlife, hiking, a beach, thermal springs and mud baths, but awaiting you just a few miles away are some of the most brilliant excursions. Tour companies around Dalyan will offer you trips to the 12 Islands from Göcek, a day on the Greek island of Rhodes, a jeep safari up in the mountains and to other inaccessible spots around town, day trips hiking at the Saklikent Gorge, and boat trips aplenty. But you only need to hire a car for a day or two and the possibilities are endless.
The harbour town of Fethiye is just one hour away and you can stop at the small town of Göcek to marvel at the yachts of the rich and famous before you reach Fethiye where you can shop till you drop for clothes, Turkish carpets, copper ware and fresh fish at Fethiye’s infamous fish market. Close to Fethiye is Ölüdeniz, a beautiful (if not now slightly commercial) beach town, famed for its Blue Lagoon. You could also stop in at Kayaköy, the local ghost town, one of many examples of a town that was once inhabited by Greeks before they were suddenly told to up sticks and return to Greece and are now left empty.
In the opposite direction from Dalyan, just over an hour away is Marmaris, should you feel the desire to see what it is all about. On the road to Marmaris, you can leave the beaten track for a few miles and end up in Yuvarlakçay, an area up in the mountains that hosts the most crystal clear river waters you will ever have seen and some of the quirkiest fish restaurants. You could also stop in the sleepy town of Akyaka. The beach here is protected and the site is more or less a museum these days. Legend has it that Akyaka is home to the most precious sand in the world, King Augustus brought the sand over from Egypt as a gift to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. The beach in Akyaka is now known as ‘Cleopatra’s Beach’.
Dalyan is steeped in ancient history and you can’t miss it. The cliffs of the mountainside that looms over this riverside town is adorned with Lycian tombs. Dating back to 400BC, the Lycians, the pre-Greek people of Anatolia, turned burials into a form of art and their tombs can be found dotted across the region. Some of the most famous and impressive examples of these tombs are set in Dalyan, just a stones throw from the ancient city of Kaunos.
Kaunos was a sea port which dates back to the 10th century BC. The southern port was used as the foundation of the city until the end of the Hellenistic era when it became inaccessible due to its drying out. The city was captured by Turkish tribes and then a malaria epidemic during the 15th century AD left Kaunos completely abandoned. While the sites at Kaunos are now mainly Roman, the oldest finds date back to the 9th century BC. The amphitheater is still in fantastic condition, you could easily spend a whole day exploring the history of the area.
Iztuzu Beach and the Turtles
Turkey just wouldn’t be the holiday destination that it is today without a good beach, and Dalyan has the most unique of them all. Iztuzu Beach is a narrow spit of land which forms a natural barrier between the fresh water delta of the Dalyan river and the Mediterranean Sea. Not only is the beach stunningly beautiful, but it is also home to loggerhead sea turtles who use the beach as their breeding and nesting ground. Today, Iztuzu is known as ‘Turtle Beach’. There are two ways to access the beach. You can catch a dolmuş (mini-bus) from town, which will drive you over the mountains and down to the land side of the beach, or you can take a 25 minute meander down the river, through the delta by boat to the sea end of the beach. Either way provides a unique experience and an incredible view. The sand is warm, the water is cool and calm and the area is completely unspoilt. Aside from the odd foot hut and a few sun beds, there is not a building in sight. All around you, you can stare in awe at the area’s natural beauty and yet again, feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere.
If you decide to visit the land end of the beach, you can also visit Muğla and Pamukkale Universities’ Turtle Hospital, a rescue and research centre for injured turtles. The turtles are rehabilitated here and hopefully returned to their natural environment once they are well enough to survive on their own.
As if all of that is not enough to entice you to visit Dalyan, it is the people of the area that cannot go unmentioned. Their hospitality is second to none. The Turks are so proud of their country, and of Dalyan in particular and they want to show it off to tourists. You will be well looked after wherever you go. Enjoy what Dalyan has to offer and you will soon see why so many people choose to buy an apartment in Dalyan. You will even understand why so many people buy their own plot of land and build their own villa in Dalyan! Visit Dalyan, we promise that you will not be disappointed. In fact, we would put money on your falling in love with the place and planning your next visit while you are still there! It really is a piece of paradise!
''Turkey Homes would like to thank Rachael from Roam the Earth for these wonderful pictures''