Like Bodrum and the rest of southwestern Turkey, Dalaman was once part of the Ionian sphere and is blessed with a network of wonderful monuments and a fascinating history. But as any visitor to the area knows, its cultural treasures pale in comparison to its natural ones: a hinterland of astonishing rugged beauty and some of the best beaches in Turkey.
There’s no shortage of beaches in and around Dalaman but one of the loveliest areas is the Blue Lagoon, a peninsula of pure white sand spearing out into the Aegean Sea. You do have to pay to take advantage but it’s worth it for the views alone. For those who don’t fancy flopping out on the beach, there are pedalos for hire and sea kayaks which you can use to explore the craggy coastline north and south of the beach.
One of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, Ephesus is one of Turkey’s most famous historical sites and is remarkably well preserved. Highlights include the magnificent Temple of Hadrian and the Library of Celsus, as well as the imposing amphitheatre where 25,000 citizens once watched gladiators battling it out on the sand below. There’s also the excavated remains of a Roman street that was once home to the city’s biggest brothels.
Whether or not you plan to splash the cash, it’s hard not to fall in love with the exotic bazaars of Turkey which brim over with Ali Baba slippers, embroidered leather pouffes and all manner of colourful spices. Fethiye’s weekly market offers all three, as well as a slightly dubious line in Prada and Gucci knock-offs. More authentic and just as interesting is the town’s Turkish Delight factory, which offers visitors a first-hand glimpse of the secrets of making the traditional sugar-dusted sweet.