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Dalyan is a tranquil oasis in Turkey’s southern Muğla province that exudes calm and relaxation. Located on the banks of the Dalyan Çayı River, the town feels like a sleepy fishing village, though it has plenty of distractions for the inquisitive visitor. The area is filled with historical wonders such as the awe-inspiring Lycian tombs carved into the cliffs above the river, and the ancient ruined city of Kaunos, a short boat ride away. This region is also swimming with turtles. Famously, loggerhead turtles nest on the nearby İztuzu Beach, which is now a conservation centre for the creatures. Nearby Lake Köyceğiz is pitted with natural hot springs and also teeming with wildlife.
The nearest air hub to the town is Dalaman Airport (DLM) to the south, around 40 minutes away. Shuttle buses run from the airport and stop at a number of the nearby resorts; taxis are another option. Dalyan is located just off the D400 highway that runs along the coast: intercity buses tend to route around the town of Ortaca, about 5 miles away, with minibuses connecting to Dalyan. There is also a boat service from the nearby, larger town of Marmaris into Dalyan. The town itself is fairly easy to navigate on foot or bike, with both electric and conventional hire facilities available. A riverboat trip is a must while in Dalyan — there are frequent cruises to the ruins at Kaunos and the nearby İztuzu Beach.
With a number of popular holiday resorts close at hand, the town can get quite busy at the height of the summer season. In July and August Dalyan draws the biggest crowds. This is also when temperatures are at their peak, hitting 35 degrees Celsius at times. If you plan on experiencing the natural and historical wonders of the area, you may want to aim for the quieter and cooler months of May, June, or September. December and January are the wettest and coolest months. The annual Mullet Festival is not, sadly, dedicated to the retro hairstyle but rather to the popular local fish and takes place every December, involving music and fishy festivities. And there’s more aquatic fun at the Caretta Caretta Festival in June, celebrating the famous local turtles and all things Dalyan.
Take a short bus or boat ride or a pleasant cycle down to this glorious beach, famed as a nesting site for loggerhead turtles. During the day it’s a delightful place to swim or stroll, but there are restrictions at night so the turtle population goes undisturbed. There is also a visitor centre for the local turtle conservation charity where you can discover more about these wonderful creatures.
This ancient city, possibly founded around 9 BCE, was once a rich, thriving port town. The archaeological site was rediscovered in the 1840s and is a fascinating collection of temples, baths, theatres, and houses. Perhaps the most spectacular are the royal tombs carved into the cliff face, best viewed from the river below.
Getting therapeutically muddy is a popular pastime in this part of the world, and there are a number of mud baths and sulphur hot springs to explore here. The natural Sultaniye Hot Springs on the southern shore of Lake Köyceğiz are less frequented than some others in the area. The rejuvenating qualities of the natural thermal pools and mud baths have been used by locals for centuries. The lake itself is a delightful place to visit, with fruit groves, nature reserves, and idyllic boat trips.