From Antalya to Izmir, was pretty much what we had in mind for a trip along the Turkish Turquoise Coast. It would involve crystal clear beaches, stunning hikes, scuba diving, paragliding and just chilling on the Turkish Riviera.
Don’t get me wrong, things went pretty great except that we brought horrible rainy weather with us and the timing was probably not the best![toc content=”.your-container” headers=”h3″]
When’s the best time to visit the Turkish turquoise coast?
From mid-April to the end of summer I’d say. The warmer the better.
We visited in late March as it was our only chance during Nowruz holidays and got unlucky with rain and clouds for half of the trip. It was also much colder than I had expected and we would be easily wrapped in layers by the evening. There was really no chance of sunbathing or going for a dip. We just tried really hard to get our feet wet and let me tell you that it was damn chilly!
Many shops and cafes were also closed. A lot of renovation was going on and many boat shuttles or companies offering water sports were not working. The ones that did, however, would you give much better deals. And on the bright side, we would get the beaches and streets all to ourselves.
I’d say we had an epic holiday, but I do regret not having gone a bit later in spring.
Itinerary for Turkish Turquoise Coast
One week in the Turkish Riviera
- Day 1: Antalya
- Day 2: Kaş
- Day 3-4: Fethiye (Oludeniz, butterfly valley)
- Day 4-7: Alaçati (Izmir, Ephesus)
Alternative destinations for extending your trip
We had only a week to explore the Turkish Riviera and we stuffed in as much as we could into the itinerary. You could say we spent quite some time on the road. If I could give a piece of advice, it would be to either stay longer or skip Antalya and stay less in Alacati. There will be less time on the road and more chilling. I’ll be getting into more details on that. 😉
Renting a car for your road trip along the Turkish Riviera is also highly recommended. Since we’re Iranians, and we’re just mistreated by the whole world and put under sanctions for no good reason, not being able to own a credit card meant that there was no car rental opportunity for us! But for the rest of you, this is probably the most popular and practical option. The roads along the Turkish turquoise coast are pretty great and absolutely scenic and it really helps to visit some off-beat destinations along the way. If cars are not your things, however, the Turkish turquoise coast is very well connected by buses. From our experience, they are affordable, on time and very comfortable to travel.
Day 1: Antalya
Antalya was our first stop of the trip to the Turkish Turquoise Coast. We really didn’t plan on exploring the city, it was just easier to get here first and we thought we’d stay here for a night before starting our trip. We arrived in Antalya late in the afternoon and it was raining cats and dogs. Despite that and not having brought any umbrellas, we headed over to the old town to eat and explore the city at night.
We had dinner at Can Can, a cheap restaurant with a great reputation in the center serving local dishes. We absolutely loved everything here and would highly suggest it if you’re traveling on a budget (even if you’re not – it’s just really good!).
Getting from Antalya Airport to the city
Apart from taxi there are a few shuttle buses going to the city from Antalya airport. Ours cost 12 TRY but then our hotel was 20 min from the old town so it might have been a little more expensive.
Antalya is more of a resort destination. There are lots of resorts stretching along the beach with affordable prices. If nothing, that’s really why most Iranians go to Antalya. There’s a small historic town to see, a few museums, a great rafting opportunity at the Koprulu canyon of the city and a nice harbour as well.
We stayed at My boutique Otel for one night which was not the best accommodation but super cheap. I guess the price made up for its shortcoming.
What to do in Antalya
- Visit the old town – Kaleici
- Check out the Panoramic glass viewpoint
- Visit the ruins of Perge (outside of Antalya)
- Go white water rafting at Koprulu canyon nation park with Adrenaline hunter company
- See the Duden waterfalls (best viewed from a ship)
- Enjoy the sunset at the harbor
Where to stay in Antalya
- Budget: Delight Deluxe apartments
- Mid-range: Delight Deluxe boutique hotel
- Luxury: Prime boutique hotel
Where to eat Turkish food in Antalya
On our second day in Antalya, it was still pouring and we decided to head to Kaş as soon as we had breakfast.
Antalya to Kaş by bus
Bus from Antalya to Kaş run very frequently. We were lucky to have a station right in front of our hotel but you’d have to go to the Otogar (Main bus terminal) to catch the bus otherwise. It costs 30 TRY, takes about 3 hours making stops in Kemer, Kamulca, Finike, and Demre. The drive goes along the coastline passing through some of the most scenic panoramas.
Day 2: Kaş
Kaş is a beautiful little village with whitewashed houses, cozy cafes, crystal clear waters and yachts parking along its harbor. It’s one of the best destinations to go scuba diving in Turkey and it should definitely be on any Turkish Turquoise coast itinerary.
If you’re skipping Antalya all together and starting at Fethiye, Kaş makes for a great day-trip. The town is very small and could easily be navigated within half a day. You could also visit the Kabutaş beach on your way which is claimed to be the most beautiful beach in Turkey.
But if you do plan to stay in Kaş as we did, there’s still plenty to do in the village which I’ll get more into it in an exclusive blog post soon. 😉
In Kaş we stayed at Nirvana apartments and it was an absolute delight. For 40€ that was shared between the 5 of us and magnificent views of Kaş, it was literally Bingo!
Now, our two bedroom apartment might not seem too fancy but it had everything we could possibly need and a balcony that offered the most pristine view of Kaş.
Buses from Kaş to Fethiye
Buses from Kaş to Fethiye run frequently from Kaş bus terminal (Otogar). They take up to 2.15 hours and cost 22 TRY passing Kabutas beach on their way.
Day 3-4: Fethiye
If there was something I would have definitely changed in our Turkish Turquoise Coast itinerary is to add more days to Fethiye. We absolutely loved Fethiye and had such a short time to explore it. We stayed at the Infinity Exclusive hotel which was our best accommodation of the trip hands down. The owners were a lovely couple who we got to meet over breakfast. They literally do breakfast here like no other!! and the hotel is very well located just next to the port and the bazaar with almost 50€ a night for a triple room at the time we visited. It’s an absolute bargain!
Fethiye is a beautiful port town. There’s a small bazaar, a spice bazaar, lots of great seafood and day cruises. Many people visiting Fethiye are longing to visit the Ölüdeniz beach, blue lagoon, and Butterfly valley which are some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Turkey. If you’ve come all the way to just relax at the beach, there are tons of accommodation options in Ölüdeniz as well.
We spent a whole day in the valley and strolled the streets of Fethiye in the evening. We basically had 1.5 days here which meant we hardly saw much of everything Fethiye has to offer. I’d strongly suggest spending at least 3 full days in Fethiye. Don’t make our mistake! It’s just too good!
Buses from Fethiye to Izmir
Fethiye to Izmir is a long 4.5 hours ride. During our whole trip to the Turkish Turquoise Coast, we had been just popping to the terminal and getting the first bus, but in Fethiye we got unlucky. It was the time of the elections and for some reason, all the buses were fully booked. We finally managed to get one at 7:30 in the morning for 46 TRY with Kamilkoc company. We heard the buses used by Pamukalle company are much better but there were no seats left. So I’d suggest booking in advance if your traveling in high season.
If you have enough time Kusadasi, Bodrum, and Marmaris are great stops between Fethiye and Izmir. If you plan on visiting the historical site of Ephesus, I’d also suggest going to Selçuk from Fethiye, staying a night there, visiting the city and then heading onwards to Izmir. We wasted quite a bit of time getting back to Ephesus from Izmir.
Day 5-7: Alaçati
We actually never planned on staying in Izmir. I’m kind of glad we didn’t and kind of not! We had booked to stay at Alaçati for 3 nights. It was too much. Alaçati is very very cute but quite small and easily visited within a full day. There’s a nice beach a few kilometers away but then again it wasn’t beach season when we travelled. Don’t get me wrong, I loved staying a night in Alaçati. There are so many beautiful boutique hotels and streets are a delight to walk in.
Alaçati is a picture-perfect village with narrow cobblestoned alleyways, designer boutiques and cute cafes that once survived over tobacco and olive oil has now become a trendy holiday destination for the wealthy Turk.
If you do come here, however, make sure it’s in the warmer season as there’s little liveliness to the village this time of the year. On the bright side, we got most of these streets all to ourselves.
We stayed at the Maison d’Azur which bloggers had raved about. It was fine and pretty cute but definitely not up to my exceptions. For one thing, we didn’t have wifi in the rooms, our blanket had holes in it and apart from the owners, the staff spoke very very poor English. So basic stuff.
Alaçati is also super expensive. Everything costs almost double to triple. Prices are pretty much like Istanbul. I’d suggest staying one night here and spending a full day, but that’s about it.
Buses from Izmir to Alaçati
Alaçati can be only accessed by bus via Izmir. It takes up to 1.5 hours and costs 20 TRY. You can catch a bus either from Izmir Otogar or Üçkuyular Bus Station. The latter is closer to the city center of Izmir and even closer to Alaçati.
We had 3 days in Alaçati. One was spent in the town itself, the other in Izmir and the 3rd in Ephesus.
Izmir is pretty cool. It’s a huge city stretched along the water but don’t expect anything like Istanbul from it. Compared to Istanbul it’s got no character. It’s just a big city that gets most of its beauty from the sea and not itself.
Reaching Ephesus from Alaçati was again a challenge. We had to head back to Izmir first and then take the bus or train to Selçuk where Ephesus is located.
How to get to Ephesus from Izmir
- By bus: You could catch the bus from Izmir Otogar for Selçuk bus station for 15 TRY and then get on a Dolmus (minibus) from Selçuk bus station to Ephesus for 3.5 TRY. Don’t attempt to walk the distance to Ephesus. It’s long and uphill! Leave your energy for when you’re there.
- By Train: Take the red line of the metro from anywhere to Hilal station. From there get off and change to the Izban(train) heading to Selçuk.
Tips on visiting Ephesus
- Ephesus has 2 gates and you can start or finish at any of them.
- The Entrance fee for Ephesus is 60 TRY and there’s an additional 30 TRY if you want to visit the Terrace Houses.
- Everything inside the complex costs 4-5 times more expensive. And it’s a long walk so bring your water bottle and snacks along.
- The parking is at the lower gate which is closer to Selçuk village. The minibusses from the Selçuk station also go to the lower gate.
- Most visitors and tour like to start from the upper gate simply because it’s a downhill trek from there.
- We started from the bottom and it’s not really that steep so don’t worry about it too much.
- There are no minibusses at the upper gate to take you back to Selçuk so your only option is getting a Taxi. We got ours for 30 TRY.
- If you’re visiting in high season, make sure you either go early in the morning or late in the afternoon as it can get very crowded.
- The whole visit should take up to 2-3 hours.
Selçuk is such a peaceful village and there are quite a few other historical sites apart from Ephesus here. You can see why it’s wiser if we had just come straight to here from Fethiye instead and not spend so much time on the bus. A tip to remember for next time I suppose. 😉
We finished our Turkish Turquoise Coast road trip in Izmir and caught the flight back home. Izmir airport is also easily reachable by train. It’s exactly the same as going to Selçuk except that you will get off from the Izban at the airport station before reaching Selçuk.
If you do manage to put Pamukalle on your itinerary as well, then it would be just perfect. We could have easily traveled here for two weeks and still have places to visit.