Turquoise Coast – Turkey

The Turkish Riviera boasts over a thousand kilometres of dramatic Asian shoreline: a treasure chest of stunning coast, ancient monuments, rolling mountain scenery and some of the clearest sea water in all the world.

Having just returned from a delightful late summer blast of sunshine with family and friends, I’m happy to say the region has changed little in spirit since I first hitch-hiked along the west coast over 35 years ago. The people remain as friendly as can be, no doubt secure in the knowledge that their Antalya and Muğla coastline still punches well above its weight for natural beauty and classic holiday hot spots.

In the current economic climate, it is also one of the best-value, close-to-hand, high quality coastal destinations you can visit. Guaranteeing a favourable climate, sweeping beaches, warm and gentle seas, and a host of world class archaeological and natural sites.

Even though the region has become a genuinely popular, mainstream international tourist destination over the past decades, with some overly busy holiday hotspots, it is still very easy to get away from the throng, and find many a crystal-clear cove, sleepy bay or deserted beach around whichever corner you wish to turn.

Motorboats and traditional sailing gulets can be hired for further exploration, providing a chance to get a real feel of the dramatic coastline. Hopping between Lycian Way headlands, sunken ancient settlements and fine sand beaches, you can discover new places every day.

As these photos show, the abundance of choice is delightful. From beach ecosystems supporting turtle hatchings, fabulous diving and mountainous sand dunes, to ancient settlements, island fort ramparts and sunsets to knock the spots off anywhere.

The ancient Lycian, Roman and medieval settlements include Patara (birthplace of St Nicholas, AKA Santa Claus) and Simena Castle, off Kekovas Bay, all offering examples of a culture that stretches back over three thousand years. Early records – from 1250 BC – describe life before the Age of Legends, documented by the likes of Herodotus and Homer.