Thinking of visiting Turkey? You need this bumper guide to Dalaman! Stunning shorelines, historical sites and beautiful blue waters with a mountainous backdrop. Dalaman is Turkey but not as you know it.
Known as ‘Turkey’s Turquoise Coast’, Dalaman is a picturesque district of Turkey, as well as being the central town, located in the Muğla Province.
Dalaman is a surprisingly diverse holiday destination, with a range of sandy beaches, lively strips of bars, historical spots and Instagrammable seaside restaurants.
Guide to Dalaman
The comprehensive guide features some of the best things to do in Dalaman and the surrounding area.
It includes activities, where to stay and where to eat, so can make the most of your time in this beautiful region of Turkey.
Visit The Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz
Imagine a swimming spot that is so Instagrammable that you almost forget to take a swim in it because you are so busy snapping away?
The Blue Lagoon at Olu Deniz is such a place my friends! It’s a stunning UNESCO world heritage site, with clear blue waters, soft sands and a beautiful mountain backdrop.
At the Blue Lagoon Ölüdeniz you can swim, snorkel or paddle through the sparkling waters, there is also a beach area where you can rent sunbeds, pedalos and kayaks.
There are also nearby bars and restaurants to relax in with a cocktail or three and soak up the stunning views.
Relax in the Blue Lagoon National Park
At the western end of the Blue Lagoon is a national park you have to pay a small entrance fee for entry.
Alternatively, the opposite side of the lagoon there are some private beaches with restaurants and bars that you can access for the day for an entrance fee to use the facilities.
I would highly recommend spending the day, swimming sunbathing or paddling in this little slice of paradise, it is fabulously relaxing.
Go paragliding off Babadeg Mount
Adrenaline junkies will relish the opportunity to leap 1800 metres off Babadeg Mount and land on the beach.
For those of us scared of heights, the idea is nothing short of absolutely terrifying.
Olüdeniz is one of the best places for tandem paragliding in Turkey, offering incredible views of the beach and Blue Lagoon below.
Book paragliding in Olüdeniz
There are lots of different paragliding companies to choose from in the area and you can book Paragliding in Babadeg online.
The cost of paragliding in Olüdeniz can vary. Most reputable paragliding companies should offer transfers, full insurance, professional instructors.
After having a total anxiety vomit in a beach bar, we were soon taken up the twisty roads of the mountain.
Utter fear and travel sickness took hold and I was positively green on the way up as the pilots tried to reassure me that it was all “totally safe” as our van hurtled around narrow roads with severe mountainside drops.
On top of the mountain, you are kitted up and discussions on how you wish to fly are discussed with your ‘pilot’.
You can choose turns, spins, spiral dives and acrobatics, or if you have a nervous disposition like me, a nice gentle glide down.
I requested the ‘slowest and most serene flight possible’. My pilot looked disappointed until I explained I once threw up over an over-zealous skydive dive instructor in Australia.
Once you have taken flight by running towards the edge of a mountain you are soon floating through the air with the most spectacular views.
You can gaze down at the beautiful beach where you will be landing. Honestly, you will not regret this exhilarating flight and I highly recommend booking an Olüdeniz paragliding experience.
Enjoy a Dalyan river cruise
Set sail up the pretty Dalyan river for an afternoon of swimming, turtle spotting and relic gazing.
There is a range of Dalyan boat trips that will take you up the river and towards ‘Turtle Beach’.
We were lucky enough to have a private boat that had a bar and a BBQ, perfect for a day’s sailing indulgence.
Lycian rock tombs
On a typical Dalyan boat trip, you will sail through pretty reeds and also pass the Lycian rock tombs.
These cliff carved tombs date back to 400bc and are the final resting place of the kings of Kaunos. They are so imposing and beautiful that they almost don’t look real.
“Like they are a tomb raider ride at Disneyland” I enthused to our bemused boat captain. I don’t think he was paid enough to humour me.
I almost can’t quite believe that this is Turkey, as we glide through aquamarine waters and then towards ‘Turtle Beach’.
It’s located at the mouth of the river, which has saltwater on one side and fresh water on the other.
During your boat trip, you should be on the lookout for sea turtles. It can be tricky to sip wine on a boat and be on the alert for turtles. Probably one of the more pressing first-world problems of all time?
Iztuzu Beach turtle spotting
I was lucky enough to spot a turtle as I happened to have my camera in hand, I frantically started snapping and managed to get him peeking his head out of the water.
This means I can confidently add ‘wildlife photographer’ to my LinkedIn profile.
We briefly docked at Iztuzu Beach [turtle beach] and spent some time looking for turtle nests and having a paddle in the sea.
Our captain stressed that we needed to be back to the boat on time, due to tidal conditions.
He wasn’t kidding around, as we left we could see several boats struggling to sail in the shallow waters.
It took every ounce of self-control not to start a wine-fuelled rendition of Titanic’s signature song, ‘my heart will go on’. Clearly, I have grown as a human.
Hunt down foodie finds at Fethiye fish market
A visit to Fethiye fish market is an absolute must for seafood lovers. You can choose your own fish at this vibrant fish market.
It can then be cooked by one of surrounding small restaurants for a small fee. You can also order additional meze and drinks at a cost.
We spent a balmy night eating outdoors, with the smell of fresh fish in the air and the strumming of a local band that performed for tables, as the vino flowed.
Dining out in Turkey is an experience and the fish market is no different. Don’t expect to snarf your food down in ten minutes and be on your way.
Seemingly endless meze will arrive, rivers of wine will be poured, laughter will ensue and before you know it, midnight will arrive and you are somehow still eating prawns.
Browse Stalls at Fethiye market
If fish isn’t your bag, then there is plenty of other stalls to browse at Fethiye market.
You will find bars, restaurants, as well as stalls with spices, fruit, vegetables and meats as well as shoes, bags, scarfs and jewellery.
Spend some time wandering the market and taking in the smells, sights and the patter of Turkish stallholders, who will almost have you convinced that it’s definitely a real Chanel bag for €50.
Enjoy Marmaris nightlife
The Turkish city of Marmaris has acquired a reputation as a ‘party town’ over the years. Holidaymakers flood its main strip to indulge in drinking and dancing till dawn.
Whilst there are many bars and nightclubs, there are also many chilled out bars.
You’ll also find lovely restaurants, seaside dining and quieter drinking spots, should you wish to embark on a more sensible evening.
Bar Street Marmaris
Strolling down the main bar strip you will find a party and if you are looking for pumping music, flashing lights, lurid coloured cocktails and smoke machines then club heaven awaits you, clubbing kittens.
We visited an establishment called ‘Joy’, which looked exactly like the nightclubs of my younger, partying days, with strobes, podiums and brightly coloured drinks.
Other popular bars in this area include Back Garden Club, Black Mirror bar and Palace Beach.
If you are looking for live music then the beachside bar, Yunus Cafe Bar has chilled live performances and classic cocktails.
Marmaris Dancing Fountain
If you are out and about in Marmaris at night and don’t fancy dancing the night away in a club, I’d recommend watching the dancing fountain show.
Every night on the Marmaris main boulevard, a seemingly ordinary fountain comes to life with lights and music.
The music is perfectly timed to the fountain’s whooshes of water. It’s like something you might expect at Disneyland!
There are also several restaurants that face the fountain where you can grab a seat and watch the dancing water.
Get down and dirty at Peloid mud bath
“Dalyan Peloid mud bath has been accredited by the Ministry of Health” enthused our guide as we entered the Peloid mud bath.
This immediately conjured up images of a humourless bureaucrat waist-deep in the mud, with a clipboard and a rubber stamp.
Our guide explained that the Peloid mud bath Dalyan consisted of clay minerals, humic acid, lignin, hemicellulose and other such scientific terms.
I was nodding along but I have no idea what “kaolinite” is frankly, doesn’t it deprive Superman of his powers?
Turkey mud bath experience
The mud bath complex has changing rooms, showers, a snack kiosk, a shop and treatments such as a ‘fish spa’.
This where you pop your feet in a tank and lots of tiny fish to nibble away hardened skin on your feet [ewwww].
There is something childlike and rather wonderful about having a bath in mud, you can squelch around, smear mud all over yourself and roll around in glee.
You then lie on a bench and bake yourself in the mud before showering it off. Be warned, the mud gets EVERYWHERE.
Book a Dalyan Mud Bath tour
There are different mud areas to try, each infused with a different set of herbs or oil including sage and rose oil.
After spending some time baked in the mud my skin did feel a little smoother to be fair.
If you are one for alternative beauty treatments, then this could well be exactly the sort of spa you are looking for.
You can book a combined Dalyan Mud Bath and Beach Tour in advance online, so you can get your tickets straight away.
12 island boat trip Göcek
Set sail from Göcek Harbour and spend a day sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling around picturesque islands.
When you take a Göcek 12 Islands Boat Trip you can explore 12 different islands and enjoy time to relax onboard, swim, sunbathe, and snorkel on a top-notch boat.
Our boat trip made several stops in some beautiful secluded bays. this meant we could swim in the crystal clear blue water and enjoy amazing views of the turquoise bays, small islands and tiny beaches.
One of the beaches even had adorable goats peering out at us from the beach. We could even hear the tinkle of their bells as they climbed across the hills.
It was a scene that was so tranquil I thought I must be dreaming, or perhaps mildly inebriated from the wine?
It reminded me a lot of sailing around gorgeous islands in Malta, the water and the scenery looked very similar.
Our boat trip also included BBQ lunch on board as well as a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks.
Like many boat trips, you get what you pay for and this is also true of Göcek boat tours.
One of the best parts of the day was when we feasted on fresh fish, BBQ grilled off the side of the boat.
There’s nothing quite like a healthy, simple fish dish served with lemon, salads and meze to make you feel you deserve that extra glass of wine!
Explore the Ghost Village Of Kayakoy
The ghost town of Kayakoy is all that is left of a once-thriving village. The town was abandoned after the Turkish Greek Population exchange that took place after the founding of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s.
Kayakoy now serves as an open-air museum with around 3500 preserved houses and three churches.
The largest of the churches is the beautiful and deserted Basilica of Panayia Pyrgiotissa.
Booking a Kayakoy tour
There are several guided tours to Kayakoy running from Oludeniz. I would suggest exploring with a knowledgeable tour guide that really knows the history of the area. This way you can get a proper insight into how events unfolded here.
Alternatively, you can read up on the history yourself and catch one regular local buses from Fethiye.
Go paddleboarding in Selimiye
In the laidback fishing village of Selimiye, you can glide across calm, blue waters with S.U.P Selimiye.
Selimiye is a small seaside fishing village about 25 miles from the city of Marmaris, Turkey. It is located on the Bozburun Peninsula along the Aegean Sea.
Hire yourself a SUP board and explore the picturesque marina whilst trying to maintain your balance whilst balancing on a giant board.
If you are successful in your paddling, ensure someone captures your boarding grace. Immediately start demanding pictures from the water and disturb the serenity, anything for ‘the gram’ right?
Explore the village of Selimiye
After your paddling session, make sure you spend some time exploring this gorgeous, sleepy village. It is a world apart from what you might expect from Turkey.
There are sunbeds to relax on, you can swim in balmy water and you can also dine at fabulous waterside restaurants, sipping wine whilst you admire the view.
Have the scrub of your life in a Turkish Bath
A Turkish bath is quite unlike any other I have experienced. In Turkey, you can visit a tradition ‘hamam’, which is a heated tiled room with a heated stone slab for visitors to lie on.
Indulge your sense and pamper your body with a traditional Turkish Bath in Marmaris. It’s an unforgettable experience
Having never visited a Turkish bath, I had no idea what to expect? We first got changed and spent some time lounging in the sauna before being taken to a large tiled room.
Turkish bath benefits
What happened next was that a man came in and a man washed me. This is a sentence you don’t expect to say in your adult life.
I was scrubbed, exfoliated and massaged within an inch of my life and came out absolutely sparkling. I had no idea I was so filthy?
I was terribly British and awkward about the whole thing and felt compelled to keep apologising throughout the washing, i’m not sure for what exactly? Being washed? My awkwardness? Simply existing?
Afterwards, all professionally wrapped in towels, we sipped on hot tea and giggled at what had just happened.
It’s definitely an unusual experience for a British person but I would highly recommend setting aside your inherent Britishness and indulging in some serious scrubbing.
Where to eat Dalaman
There are lots of restaurants, cafes, bazaars and markets in the Dalaman region.
Many restaurants will offer traditional Turkish cuisine as well as a variety of tourist favourites.
Here are some of my favourite places to eat that offer traditional Turkish cuisine, incredible fish dishes and international dishes.
VIP Bar, Oludeniz
You cannot come to Turkey without feasting on a kebab and at VIP Bar in Oludeniz.
I recommend you order an Adana Kebab, which is grilled lamb served with flatbread, Turkish yoghurt and rice, grilled to perfection.
When you take a trip to Turkey, chances are you will be served Turkish Meze at some point.
Meze is a selection of hot and cold appetizers and starters and they seemingly never stop arriving. This means that dining out in Turkey can sometimes last for hours.
Oyster Restaurant, Oludeniz
We had an amazing selection of Meze at Oyster Restaurant in Oludeniz. It has an incredible location right on the promenade looking out to sea and the decor is what I would describe as ‘Pinterest goals’.
The restaurant also has a fantastic selection of seafood dishes and meat courses including Mousakka and lamb chops.
Akyaka restaurant, Azmak river
If you are a fish lover then there is no better place for fresh fish than at one of the traditional fish restaurants on the Azmak river, just outside Akyaka.
Here you can eat trout freshly caught from the river, in a peaceful setting.
We ate at the Azmak restaurant and dined right on the water’s edge as boats and kayaks slowly passed us.
My favourite thing about dining in Turkey was the dreamy scenery. Many of the restaurants we visited had capitalised on the incredible views and offered sea view dining.
Sardunya Restaurant, Selimiye
We ate a huge selection of meze while gazing out to blue waters at Sardunya Restaurant in the traditional fishing village of Selimiye.
We were treated to a selection of meze, salads, stuffed mushrooms and even a goat dish! The restaurant had simple and contemporary decor, as well as a relaxed vibe and spectacular views of the water.
If you are a fan of cats then you will be greeted by furry visitors to your table, who rub your legs purring, waiting for a tasty morsel to be slipped under the table.
Cafe Savas Anne, Marmaris
Cafe Savas Anne is located right on the beach in Marmaris and will make you a stonking cup of Turkish tea if you ask them?
Traditional Turkish tea and Turkish coffee can be found in most places in Turkey.
Turkish tea is often served black although there are herbal varieties available.
Tea is served in curved tea glasses with a small plate underneath for carrying and serving.
Rixos Premium Göcek
I had a ridiculously strong and delicious Turkish coffee at People’s Restaurant at Rixos Premium Göcek.
The restaurant has beautiful views and exquisite decor, making it a lovely place to relax with a Turkish coffee.
This contemporary restaurant also serves a range of à la carte dishes and the presentation of the dishes and the flavours are excellent. We had a leisurely lunch watching the yachts and enjoying the sunshine.
If you are interested in trying local Turkish food products, I would recommend visiting Marmaris Balevi.
It’s an adorable honey house in Marmaris where you can taste local pine honey.
It also functions as an informative beekeeping museum, where you can learn about bees and beekeeping and you can also taste and purchase sweets made from pine honey.
Honey tasting Marmaris
Turkey is actually the second most successful producer of honey in the world.
The honey house’s aim is to introduce the ‘‘Marmaris Pine Honey’’ brand internationally and to educate locals and tourists about beekeeping.
There is a shop and a ridiculously Instagrammable cafe on site where you can buy gorgeous honey deserts.
Where to stay in Dalaman
There are many hotels in the Dalaman area to suit your budget and accommodation needs.
There’s a huge range of luxury hotels, boutique hotels, budget hotels and Airbnb properties to choose from.
Luxury hotels Dalaman
Holidays are surely the time to spoil yourself and luckily there is a range of luxury hotels and resorts in the Dalaman area. We stayed at the Liberty Oludeniz hotel for our first few days on the trip.
This gorgeous hotel has very stylish décor, restaurant, fabulous pool and is conveniently located near the beach.
Choose from a range of room options including standard, superior and family rooms to suit your needs and budget.
At the hotel, you will find a pool bar serving a range of drinks as well as two restaurants including an à la carte restaurant and a buffet restaurant, serving Turkish cuisine as well as international dishes.
It was a really relaxing hotel and the staff were extremely friendly, in fact, the buffet chef would high five you with a big smile when he flipped a pancake. Obviously, I loved this.
D-Resort Grand Azur Marmaris
We then switched it up and stayed at the swanky D-Resort Grand Azur Marmaris.
This gorgeous hotel has a beachside location, freshwater pool, spa, pool bar and several dining options.
There is a serious wow factor in this hotel. I looked around the grandiose lobby and immediately made a mental note to brush my hair and put on some ‘nice shoes’ as my mother would call them.
All-Inclusive resort Dalaman Turkey
You can choose from a range of rooms including double or twin room with and without a sea view, or a suite with land or sea view.
The hotel also offers ‘All-Inclusive Plus’ as a board basis. The buffet restaurant has one of the most extensive breakfast selections I have ever seen.
There’s a huge spread of local breakfast options as well as your more typical European offerings.
I sat on the terrace and enjoyed a lovely view of the pool with my coffee. I was so chilled out I almost nodded off at the table.
The pools are a brilliant feature, there are 2 outdoor freshwater pools as well as 2 indoor pools, with a pool bar and free towels.
Spend an indulgent morning relaxing poolside with a coffee [or a cocktail, you are on holiday after all] and have the occasional lazy dip in the pool. Utter bliss.
Probably my favourite part of the hotel was the beachside bar, where you could sip wine in a chilled out setting and watch the sun go down in full relaxation mode.
I would really recommend D Resort Grand Azur Marmaris if you are looking for an indulgent stay in Marmaris, it really is a ‘spoil yourself’ hotel.
Getting to Dalaman Turkey
Getting to Dalaman was easier than I expected, I thought that there may be a long flight connection, or I would have to travel to London to fly.
I actually flew from Manchester airport to the refurbished and extended Dalaman airport on a direct flight with Jet2.
There are also plenty of airport hotel options at Manchester airport, should you have an early flight.
Flights to Dalaman are also available from several airports across the UK including Birmingham, Glasgow and London.
Flights to Dalaman
You can compare and book flights to Dalaman with Expedia. Search for discounted flight tickets from over 400 standard and budget airlines.
Airport Parking and lounges
Save money on your Dalaman trip by booking your airport parking in advance. You can find great airport parking deals online with Holiday Extras.
Get up to 70% off airport parking when you book in advance online. Keep your car secure and safe whilst you are on your holidays in an official airport car park.
You could also park your car at the airport with Car & Away. It’s the first person to person car-sharing service that matches car renters to car owners in a very simple and transparent way.
The service gives airport parking customers the opportunity to ‘rent and earn’ whilst on holiday. It’s a unique way to save money for travel, that’s for sure.
Why not spoil yourself with airport lounge access before your flight? Lounges don’t have to be super expensive, book online with Holiday Extras to save money on your lounge splurge.
Is Dalaman worth visiting?
The Dalaman region of Turkey was not what I expected at all. With its beautiful blue waters, quiet fishing villages and range of activities, it was far more of a diverse and interesting destination than I ever could have imagined.
Are you planning a trip to the Dalaman region of Turkey? let me know in the comments below.