Dalaman doesn’t have as many holiday resorts as other Turkey cities but it’s a great stopping point for all your Turkey travels. After all, you’re always a short driving distance from centre-points like the Lycian Coast and the Aegean Region.
Dalaman has plenty of scenic bays located nearby, like the Wharf of Sarsala Cove, a sea journey and a great location for boat tours. Koycegiz is a lake-side setting just 20 minutes away and is a great natural farming community, less touristy then what you might expect. This is a great place to sample local brews of tea gardens as well nature walks.
The Dalaman River offers rafting routes while the waters of Incebel and Kapikargin, as well as Koycegiz, offer sulphurous waters for “thermal” tourists. These waters are known to have a rejuvenating effect on the human body and be effective treatment for a number of pains. This is because of ingredients like chloride, sodium, bromide, and hydrogen sulphide. This treatment is believed to be helpful for conditions such as rheumatism, blood disorders, heart problems, bronchitis, anxiety, kidney problems and metabolic disorders. The Kapidag Peninsula is another area known for bay views and attractions.
Mudbaths are among the top attractions in the area, and even grabs some tourists from other popular Turkey cities who don’t have authentic mudbaths. These mudbaths benefit from sulphur-rich waters and provide additional medical assistance, with the added perk of making your skin look younger. Even if you’re sceptical about the fountain of youth claim, you can still enjoy the cathartic experience of “muddening”.
Being a coastal community, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that many of the top attractions are water-sports activities. Hydrofoil trips run from Marmaris to Rhondes, and to Kos, and you don’t even need visas to visit these locations. Nearby Kalkan, to the south of Fethiye, has fishing.
Saklikent Gorge is a large area of waterfalls and even a “shower cubicle” area where you stand in water as water pours down on you from a curved cutting inside stone. Patara Beach is an archaeological site with dunes as well as Roman ruins, but it’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable wet time than seeing Kekova, which has an underwater town old from long ago, which you can tour from canoes or even by gliding over rooftops.
Elkincik and Ortaca nearby offer their own charms. Ekincik is a cove and stopping point for cruises. Ortaca has storks who drop in for a stay during the summer. Sarsala Koyu is another beach area, that is more reserved and easygoing than the usual resort beach.
Patara Beach has some ruins but even more sightseeing landmarks can be enjoyed from Kaunos, which was used as a harbour station for centuries, along with theatres, churches, Roman baths and city walls that can be toured. Kaunos is also called the “ancient city” of Dalaman, as it dates back to the 9th century B.C. and was part of Karia/Caria.
There is a nice path for historical sightseeing from Gokbel to Iztuzu. Ruins from Kyra, Lissia and Lydia also offer great views and they can be accessed via the Kapda Peninsula. Expect to see artefacts monuments and even century-old coins.
The Train Station or Hunting Manor is an odd site indeed, as this is a one-hundred-year-old station with no train, and one that exists mostly by unfortunate circumstance. Officials in Egypt decided to build a hunting manor in Dalaman and a train in Alexandria, and so collaborated with workers from France. Due to a mistake in planning, the train meant for Alexandria was built in Dalaman, while the hunting manor was erected in Alexandria. By the time the mistake was discovered the rail network had been laid out and official discovered shipping the materials back would be too expensive. The building, itself an elegant creation with ivies and a state farm, features some great trees and scenic views, and is a piece of Dalaman (accidental) history.
Rock Tombs in Fethiye, are near the Lycian walk. These tombs are just a few short miles from Dalaman, and offer plenty of wonderful pictures and sightseeing. You can also see a Roman-era amphitheatre, and a medieval fortress of the Ottoman Empire. The Fethiye Museum also has some educational exhibits and historical information.
Tlos, another ancient city, is along the Lycian path and is believed to be dated to 2000 B.C. The ruins of this lost civilisation include rock tombs, amphitheatres and old time castles. Saklikent Gorge is not a historical ruin site but fascinating nonetheless, as it is a gorge having been shaped by running water for over thousands of years.
There is plenty of land to trek in Dalaman and throughout turkey. In fact, walking the entire Lycian Way would be 500 kilometres. Scenic views of Fethiye and Antalya and in between are breathtaking. You can also see local farmers manning their fields and goats.
Mountains are plenty in the region and the best way to see them is to rent a taxi and explore the hinterland. There are literally thousands of feet to travel and sometimes there are huge patches of countryside cut off by snow in the winter. There is also fishing and local farming within the region. Other locations worth hiking include the Saint Paul Trail as well as the Eastern Black Sea Region, which has wonderful greenery and guided tours.
The cliffs of Olu Deniz offer some gliding fun. If you love roller coasters and want just a little more excitement and rush, try gliding off cliffs and flying through the air like a bird. It’s very safe, as you take off with an expert helping you glide. Olu Deniz is actually the host of the International Air Games event in October.
The best time for winter sports, including skiing at popular resorts outside of Dalaman, is between October and April, where this is greater snow cover. The best season for freezing temperatures, and thus winter sport hosting, is December and March.
Little surprise then that the biggest festivals of Dalaman are in June and other summer months. Kas hosts the Kas Lycian Festival, a celebration of local and international dancing. There are drinks and snacks served as well as a party atmosphere lasting from lunchtime to early morning.
Holidays and religious days are always major events throughout Turkey, so plan around these days, as traffic will be rampant. Banks are also closed during most holidays. Observed holidays in Turkey include New Year’s Day, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day on April 23rd, Labour and Solidarity Day on May 1st, Victory Day on August 30th, Republic Day on October 29th, as well as a special honouring of the death of Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic on November 10th.
Radaman Dates in June are also observed, and this is a time of fasting, prayer and celebration. During this time, traditional Muslims do not drink or eat. However, places of business are not closed during these religious days. Still, exercise caution in eating or drinking in public during the holy days, as it is considered disrespectful by conservative Muslims. Restaurants that are opened during this time period will have no qualms about business as usual. You may notice tents set up in major city squares, as providing help to those who are needy is part of the Islamic tradition.
Banks and offices are typically closed during the three-day national holiday of Ramazan Bayrami or the Candy Festival. Kurban Bayrami also lasts for several days and many businesses close during this time. One nice benefit is that during religious holidays, many large cities including the town of Dalaman provide free public transportation.
There is plenty of souvenir shopping in Dalaman, as well as weekly markets. Saturdays are best for a large public marketplace. Sarigerme’s market is somewhat smaller. Popular items from stores include postcards, cheap leatherwear (Turkey is the biggest producer in the world, so cheaper prices), handmade carpets and kilims, silk dresses, earthenware pottery (plates, pots, crafts), and meerschaum (sea foam) rock souvenirs, which are unique to Turkey. There is also quite a tourist market for affordable castile soap, laurel soaps, and other olive products like shampoos, olive oil and colognes. Turkish coffee is also a connoisseur’s dream. Pine honey of Marmaris, as well as chestnut desserts, are tasty snacks worth trying.
When you look for souvenirs remember that Turkey is a pro-haggling or bargaining country. It is a must because if you look overly enthusiastic and offer to pay full price, everyone will take advantage of you! If you are patient and friendly (and pay cash) you may get a better deal. Understand however, that luxury sites like hotels, buses and high-end shops usually have fixed prices, as they are chain-owned. In local districts and shopping centres in Dalaman, you may find a better deal on crafted gifts.