Things To Do in Mugla Turkey
If you are looking for things to do in Mugla, Turkey, get ready for a trip of a lifetime. To be clear, we are talking about the province, although there is a city of the same name. Hardly anyone ventures to the city for tourist reasons, although thousands explore surrounding areas. Sitting in the southwest corner of Turkey and facing the Aegean Sea, prominent destinations include the Fethiye, Marmaris, Bodrum and Datca peninsula.
Bordered by the Aydin, Antalya, Denizli and Burdur provinces, Mugla is a sailing and beach holiday hotspot, but also full of many historic attractions. To get here from other countries, fly into Dalaman or Bodrum airports, two of Turkey’s top touristic air travel hubs, with millions of passengers every year. You can also sail into top world-class marinas. Aside from that, hundreds of attractions and compact towns and villages to explore are worth putting on your bucket list.
Things To Do in Mugla Turkey
1: Blue Lagoon and Butterfly Valley
There is nothing better to rejuvenate the soul than getting back in touch with Mother Nature, and the Fethiye region is the perfect place to do this. Think dramatic mountain scenery, the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea, long sandy beaches, and a general sense of appreciation for all things natural. Start in Oludeniz at the main beachfront. Facing the Mediterranean Sea, turn right and walk to the end of a path.
Pay the small entrance fee and enter the Blue Lagoon, one of Turkey’s most photographed sites. Spend some time swimming, relaxing on a sunbed, refreshments of hiring a pedalo and just enjoying a laid-back, stress-free lifestyle. Another thing to do from Oludeniz is to catch the morning water taxi across to Butterfly Valley, whose sense is at peace with Mother Nature. This untouched valley nestled in between two mountain ranges and fronted by a pebbly beach is one of Turkey’s top snorkelling spots.
2: Kayakoy Ghost Village
From places of natural attraction to eery deserted villages, Kayakoy Ghost Village is also in Fethiye. Wander up and down the stone-cobbled paths, past crumbling houses that were once people’s homes, full of laughing children and love. The background story stems back centuries, but the turning point, in its historical timeline, was the Turkish War of Independence, and the Treaty of Lausanne’s citizenship exchange, when Greeks living in Turkey had to go to Greece and vice versa for the Turks living in Greece. The returning Turks could not settle and eventually, deserted the village. Before visiting an excellent book to read is “Birds without Wings” by Louis de Bernières. Although never confirmed, the book’s setting is Kayakoy ghost village.
3: Saklikent Gorge
Head to Fethiye’s outskirt region to arrive at Saklikent Gorge, a majestic landmark that once again was formed by the power of Mother Nature. A fast-flowing stream descends from the Taurus mountain range, which can be hazardous just after winter so always go with an experienced guide, or tour. While some people head to the safest parts of the gorge, others stay on the viewing platform and then retreat to surrounding restaurants to relax in style.
4: Babadag Mountain
Standing at 2000 metres high, remarkable Babadag mountain in Fethiye gives off fantastic views of surrounding landscapes. Rather than descending down via the road, most people run off it instead. Don’t worry, because it is all good fun since Babadag mountain is Turkey’s top para-gliding hotspot. Buying tickets from licensed para-gliding shops, passengers’ hand over control to an experienced pilot and they take them for a bird's-eye view over the coastline, before landing on a strip on Oludeniz beach. Find out more attractions and things to do in our Fethiye region guide.
5: Caunos Ruins, Dalyan Mud Baths, and Iztuzu Beach
Heading slightly inland, we arrive in Dalyan, a rustic village emphasising the natural, beautiful side of life. When sailing up the river, watch out for dramatic views of the Lycian rock tombs, standing on a tiny hill overlooking the river. Belonging to old emperors of the Lycian empire, it was where they buried their dead believing it gave them easier access to the afterlife. They also belong to the ruined city of Caunos, that can be explored on foot if Turkey’s history is your passion.
The key attraction here is the mud baths, with high levels of sulphur. Ignore claims they will make you look ten years younger. They just happen to be good for the skin. After sailing back down the river, a wonderful place to end your day is Iztuzu beach. Made famous by Captain June and David Bellamy, it is protected by law from construction, because masses of Caretta turtles lay their eggs in the sand. Most people see all these three attractions in one day by buying an excursion ticket from local tour shops—more about attractions in Dalyan, Turkey.
6: Daytrip to Marmaris
Marmaris doesn’t have any major attractions, yet is still worth visiting for a day or overnight trip because the town itself is a delight to explore. Start at the old harbour entrance where the landmark castle reigns supreme. The long stone cobbled path in this part of town, also called bar street, comes alive at night-time when venues open their doors to drink and party with style.
Explore the old bazaar part, an impressive place to buy souvenirs or practise your bargaining skills, and then relax on the largest beach. Despite its lack of major attractions, Marmaris is one of Turkey’s holiday hotspots, and once you see it for yourself will understand why. If you want to explore other places on this peninsula, head to neighbouring Icmeler that is known for its water sports.
7: Akcapinar Beach and Akyaka
Coming off the peninsula to head further north, you will arrive at the Gokava Gulf, and Akcapinar beach. Thanks to ideal wind conditions flowing around the bay, Akcapinar beach attracts experienced boarders and windsurfers coming from all over the world, but schools sell lessons for beginners. If you want a place to stay overnight, choose Akyaka, a favourite holiday spot for Turks and daytime excursion for foreigners staying in other resorts. Old houses and hotels still display traditional architecture from the Mugla region.
8: Gulet Trips from Bodrum Town Centre
Heading further around the Aegean coast, we arrive at Bodrum town centre. For decades, it has been the favourite holiday spot for royalty and celebrities. Although it has a reputation for the more elegant side of life, it does an exceptional job at catering for budget holidaymakers as well. The castle and Underwater Archaeology Museum are the major attraction here, but Bodrum’s esteemed reputation for boat construction and sailing brings in yachts from all over the world.
The time-honoured theme is to book a four-night, gulet trip to sail to surrounding places, and on some occasions, to Greek islands opposite. Gulet boats, traditional Turkish fishing vessels, have been used throughout the Mugla region for centuries. In later years, locals adapted them to cater to leisure passengers instead of fishermen. Read more about the best things to do in Bodrum.
Handy Tip to Know
There are plenty of things to do in Mugla, but the province also sits next to Denizli and Aydin provinces, which also hold two of Turkey’s biggest and most popular attractions; ruins of Ephesus and the white calcium pools of Pamukkale. Most tour shops in high profile places like Fethiye, Bodrum and Marmaris run day and overnight trips to see the attractions, or if time allows, tag them onto the end of your journey.
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