Discovering The Turkish Riviera

Updated: Oct 14, 2021



‘‘Let's embark on a virtual journey of adventure along the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast’’


The odds are we have heard about the French Riviera or the Italian Riviera but we may have never heard of the Turkish Riviera. A few months ago, I stumbled upon the term Turkish Riviera and immediately got captivated by it.


I hope I do justice to the topic in the following paragraphs and encourage you to commit to discovering this beautiful area of green, blue waters.


While conducting trade in the Turkish markets, early European traders came across a stone that was bright greenish-blue in color and since they had never seen something similar, they called it“Pierre Turquoise” in French translated as “Turkish Stone”. This happens to be the source of the name of the gemstone and the color that we now know as Turquoise. The waters along the Turkish Riviera exhibit manyhued blues and greens and rightfully earned their name “The Turquoise Coast”.


The Turkish Riviera or the Turquoise Coast stretches from the Aegean Sea in the North to the Mediterranean in the South and is approximately 600 miles of captivating shoreline. It extends from the Cesme peninsula in the north to the province of Antalya in the south.


I am contemplating a Blue Cruise, also called a Blue Voyage or Blue Tour along the Turkish Riviera from Cesme to Antalya. The word “Blue Cruise” is specifically associated with a cruise along Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. The Cruise can be on board a traditional Turkish Gulet or motor yachts. The Turkish Gulets are wooden sailing vessels that do have motors but also have masts and can allow you to enjoy sailing.


Turkey is one of the countries that has the most “Blue Flag” awarded beaches, marinas and yachts in the world. The “Blue Flag” is a prestigious, international award which basically certifies that a beach, marina or yacht meet the criteria to be considered as one of the best in the world. Turkey had 463 beaches, 22 marinas and 15 yachts qualify for the Blue flag as of 2019.


There are more than 60 notable places to visit along the Turkish Riviera but I have chosen to focus on a select few. For all my halal food and accommodation requirements, I know I can count on HalalTravels every step of the way. Traveling is a blessing and a form of worship. We will come across spectacular sceneries during our travels and uttering the simple word “SubhanAllah” will endear us to Allah swt and coming across historical ruins will allow us to reflect on the past.


Cesme


Cesme means fountain in Persian and Cesme possesses a lot of Ottoman fountains. Cesme is a seaside town on the Aegean Sea, located around 87 km away from Izmir. It has drier and cooler weather relative to the other towns on the Turkish Riviera.


Cesme does have its fair share of pretty houses, gorgeous beaches and surrounding hills but it has definitely made a name for itself amongst those who enjoy windsurfing and kiteboarding. The Aqua Toy City is a must visit if you are traveling with youngsters. Do set aside some time to visit the 500 year old Castle that is located in the city centre. Sailing along the turquoise coastline will allow you to get glimpses of playful dolphins and seals.



Alacati, a city in the Cesme peninsula, is famous for its windsurfing weather. It is the third best place on our earth for wind and kite surfing. Prior to being a hub for water sports, Alacati was famous for its architecture, windmills and vineyards.


Kusadasi


Kusadasi is found on Turkey’s Aegean Coast. The origin of its name is quite peculiar. Kus means bird in Turkish and ada means island in Turkish so Kusadasi means bird island because the island has the shape of a bird when seen from the sea. Kusadasi is considered a shoppers paradise and a major cruise ship destination in addition to its historical wonders.


The following are must - visits / must - do’s in Kusadasi:


  • The ancient city of Ephesus

  • Pigeon Island and its museum

  • The town of Selcuk

  • Enjoy a Jeep Safari

  • Enjoy a Horse Safari

  • Enjoy a Quad Safari

  • The preserved National Park, Millipark

  • The markets for bargain shopping

  • Adaland for white water rafting

  • Go Scuba diving

  • The highlight will of course be a tandem skydive.



After a lot of adrenaline packed activities, be sure to spend the day at one of Kusadasi’s many beaches to unwind. For a panoramic end to an action packed visit, a visit to the top of Ataturk Hill comes in highly recommended.


Bodrum


Bodrum is found on the Aegean Sea and it was named as one of 2020’s top travel destinations by Architectural Digest. Bloomberg also named Bodrum as one of the best places to travel to in 2019. Business Insider classified Bodrum as a luxury travel destination. Basically, Bodrum is the coolest place to be for a lot of celebrities. The gentle sailing conditions have made it a magnet for yachts and superyachts. The food selection will also not disappoint. The restaurants have managed to perfect their offerings inviting people to come back for more.



Bodrum also has considerable historical significance. The city used to be called Halicarnassus of Caria in the olden times. One of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Mausolus is also found in Bodrum. Bodrum Castle is a must visit. It was built by the Knights of St. John in the 15th Century and has now been converted into a Museum of Underwater Technology. The Theatre of Halicarnassus or the Bodrum Amphitheatre is quite a spectacle for those who would like to enjoy spectacular views of the Aegean Sea.


Bodrum has been associated with shipbuilding and is one of the principal areas where the traditional Turkish Gulets are made. A visit to its Maritime Museum will allow one to have greater respect for the finesse in building these three masted vessels.


Marmaris


Marmaris enjoys a typical Mediteranean climate with long hot summers and cool rainy winters. It is nestled and surrounded by pine trees. It is charming in its own way because it is surrounded by villages that lead you on a path to discovering the secrets of the past. Marmaris boasts two major marinas and a lot of smaller ones. It is a great spot to indulge in some diving and sailing to discover uninhabited islands.


The top 10 places to visit in Marmaris are as follows:


  • Marmaris Castle

  • Cleopatra Island also known as Sedir Island

  • The protected Marmaris National Park

  • Spare some time for the Dancing fountain

  • Blue Flag beaches like Icmeler and Turunc

  • The Archaeology Museum of Marmaris

  • Boat trip on Dalyan River

  • Marmaris Atlantis Waterpark

  • The Grand Bazaar is a shoppers delight

  • Enjoy sunsets at Marmaris Amphitheatre


For Resurrection Ertugrul enthusiasts, Marmaris represents a chance to visit Sogut and you can visit an actual Caravanserai namely the Hafsa Sultan Caravanserai.



Fethiye




Fethiye was previously called Makri but in 1934, Ataturk renamed it Fethiye to remember one of the first air force pilots, Captain Fethi Bey. It has a unique location. Fethiye represents the point where the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea meet. Its weather is typically Mediteranean with hot, humid summers and cool but sunny winters. There is so much to say about Fethiye.


The Oludeniz Beach has put Fethiye in the spotlight. It is a Blue Flag beach with perfect white sand and a beautiful blue lagoon nestled therein. The beach is a pebble beach. The waters close to the beach are clear but the lagoon projects a darker shade of blue. The lagoon has been declared a Nature Reserve that is protected for future generations.Paragliding, snorkelling and scuba diving are some of the activities recommended.


Nature enthusiasts and conservationists will undoubtedly fall in love with Fethiye.


• Butterfly Valley is accessible only by water taxi and it will undoubtedly give you an eye full of beautiful species of butterflies.


• You may notice bird hotels scattered around Fethiye. These were set up as shelters for birds during the winter season.


• The Caretta - Caretta turtles nest in Fethiye. They have been around for a very long time and are endangered. Volunteers are on hand to educate tourists to be mindful about hatching spots.


Looking up into the mountain reveals rock hewn structures that would need a closer look to get a glimpse from the Lycian past. These were tombs that the Lycians used in the past. For those who enjoy the outdoors, something worth mentioning here is the Lycian Way. The Lycian Way is a 540 km hiking trail that starts from Oludeniz and ends at our next stop, Antalya. The entire path can be covered in 25 - 30 days and is recommended to be done with others. It does offer spectacular views.


Kayakoy is a UNESCO heritage site. It consists of abandoned buildings and homes that belonged to the Greeks who used to call it home. It is basically an open air museum. Saklikent or “Hidden City” in Turkish is one of the deepest canyons in the world and a must visit.


Fethiye has its fair share of stunning beaches, markets and museums but if you crave for an ultimate and private getaway, then the place to be is Sovalye Island. It is accessible only by water taxi.


Antalya


Our final stop will be Antalya and it represents the Crown Jewel of the Turkish Riviera and is located on the Mediterranean coast. Antalya typically enjoys 300 days of sunshine. You can expect hot summers and mild, rainy winters. Antalya is both a city and a province. Its eastern point lies around 5 hours drive from its western point. It is a fairly big province and its city is equally big and glamorous. Antalya can cater to everyone’s needs.


Cultural & Historical enthusiasts must visit:

• Hierapolis & Pamukkale classified as World Heritage sites by UNESCO

• Termessos, Perge and Aspendos are ancient city ruins

• Minicity Antalya has miniversions of famous structures

• Antalya museum houses artifacts from as far back as the Stone Age

• The Old Town ( Kaleici )

• Yivli Minare built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad


For the Outdoor and Sports Enthusiast:

• Canoeing and white water rafting

• Cable skiing and Parasailing

• Diving and Scuba diving

• Boat trips & Submarine Nemo Excursions

• Antalya Aqualand and Sealanya Dolphin Park

• Duden Waterfalls made of recycled water

• Hiking on the trail of the Lycian Way


For the beach lovers:

• Lara Beach famous for its golden sand

• Konyaalti Beach is a pebble beach

• Side Beach is a long and sandy beach

• Olympos Beach is quite secluded if you prefer privacy



A stroll down the Old Antalya harbor will help put everything in perspective, the sea and the majestic mountains creating a natural beauty to be treasured for a lifetime.


A journey to the green blue comes to an end. I truly hope I have ignited a spark within you to go and visit the spectacular Turquoise Coast. The spectacular beaches, mountain scenery and warm climate are indeed blessings from Allah swt and must be appreciated.




@haifa_h.1

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