Dalyan is a special place for a summer vacation. It has winding waterways, beautiful beaches, and ancient ruins. Located in Ortaca, in southern Muğla, Dalyan is a great choice for a relaxing getaway.
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1. How to Get to Dalyan
Dalyan, located in Ortaca district of Muğla, is between Dalaman and Köyceğiz. The closest airport to Dalyan is Dalaman Airport, which is 30-40 minutes away by car. It takes one hour and 15 minutes to reach Dalaman by plane from Istanbul and Ankara. After landing in Dalaman, you can reach Dalyan Ortaca by taxi, by shuttle service departing from the airport, or by private transfers that you reserve in advance.
Click to get directions to Dalyan: Google Maps
2. When to Go to Dalyan
Dalyan has a Mediterranean climate, which means it has warm and sunny weather from April to late November. The busiest time for tourism in Dalyan is during July and August when many people visit. If you prefer a quieter vacation, it’s a good idea to plan your trip for other months.
3. Where to Stay in Dalyan
In Dalyan, you can find various types of accommodations like hotels, hostels, apartments, bungalows, and boutique hotels. Our suggestion is to pick a place on the southern shore of the Dalyan Strait with a view of the Kaunos Rock Tombs. This way, you can enjoy your morning coffee with the famous Dalyan view and witness the ancient structures lit up at night.
Arp Dalyan Hotel
Arp Dalyan is a small hotel with 15 rooms, right on the Dalyan canal, with a pier overlooking the King’s Rock Tombs. You can enjoy the view of the lake from the hotel’s pier.
Nova’s Riverside Lodges
Nova’s Riverside Lodges, which has a tiny house concept by the river, is an ideal place for you to have an extraordinary holiday in line with the spirit of Dalyan.
Dalyan Resort Spa Hotel
Dalyan Resort Spa Hotel offers much more than accommodation. 1001 colors of nature and traces of a deep-rooted history surround us in the form of Lycian Rock Tombs, historical Roman Baths, the ancient city of Kaunos and the famous pomegranate forms of Iztuzu Beach in the nature of the Calbys River. Dalyan’s citrus gardens and all the beauties of Dalyan Resort Spa. Dalyan Resort Spa places you right in the middle of this paradise for a holiday worthy of fairy tales.
Nish Caria Hotel
Nish Caria Hotel is situated in the Nish Caria Settlement, just 1 km away from Dalyan Canal and 12 km from Iztuzu Beach. It offers a tranquil atmosphere where you can relax and rejuvenate your mind and body.
4. What to Eat in Dalyan
Dalyan is a seafood paradise thanks to its location near the lake, sea, and the Bosphorus. You can savor the most delectable seafood in Dalyan, including fish, squid, octopus, and shrimp. While Dalyan is known for its blue crab, its consumption is restricted due to illegal hunting in recent years. If you’re not a seafood fan, don’t worry; Dalyan also offers restaurants serving international cuisine.
Caretta Restaurant & Bar
Caretta Restaurant, situated in Dalyan’s town square, offers a diverse range of Turkish cuisine. They have a variety of delicious dishes that cater to different tastes, including fresh seafood and high-quality meat options.
Hanedan Steakhouse Dalyan
Hanedan Steakhouse is a restaurant worth trying for meat enthusiasts visiting Dalyan. It’s a favorite among both locals and tourists. The friendly staff can assist you in selecting meat to suit your preferences.
You won’t easily forget the seafood dining experience at Mavi Yengeç, perfect for enjoyable evenings. They offer a variety of appetizers, fresh fish, blue crab, crab rolls, and other delightful seafood options.
5. Places to See in Dalyan
Iztuzu Beach is a remarkable destination known worldwide. It stretches for about five kilometers and is formed by the alluvial deposits carried by the Dalyan Strait as it flows from Köyceğiz Lake to the Mediterranean. The beach is unique because it sits between the Mediterranean Sea on one side and a lagoon on the other. The sea here is generally shallow with gentle waves, but it’s not ideal for swimming due to mild but persistent currents. However, you can enjoy the fine sandy shore and even rent sun loungers and umbrellas in some areas.
There is a fee you have to pay per person at the entrance of the beach. Unlike other beaches, this fee is spent for the maintenance of the loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), the main owners of the beach, and their generations. For the safety of the turtles, it is not allowed to stand on the beach, make noise or light around them between 20.00 in the evening and 08.00 in the morning.
Logerhead Sea Turtles home
Dalyan and Iztuzu Beach are significant because they are home to logerhead sea turtles, a type of sea turtle. These turtles come to Iztuzu Beach to lay their eggs every year from May to July. The eggs are protected by wire cages along the beach. The baby turtles hatch in August, September, and October. After hatching, they make their way to the sea at sunrise, starting a new life in the ocean.
Kaunos Ancient City
Centuries ago, the Dalyan Strait served as a port connecting Köyceğiz Lake to the Mediterranean. During that time, believed to date back to the 12th century BC, it was a bustling community inhabited by people who identified as Cretans. Today, the ruins of the city of Kaunos, situated on the Lycian border of ancient Caria, can be explored in the Kaunos Ancient City in Dalyan. To enter the Ancient City of Kaunos, which is a 15-20 minute walk from the beach, you’ll need to use a Museum Card or pay a small fee.
The remnants of this once-important city include an amphitheater, bathhouse, basilica, and temple ruins. However, the most captivating feature of the city is the Kaunos King Tombs, located at the opposite end of Dalyan. These tombs are carved into the rocks on the hillsides along the Köyceğiz slopes of the Dalyan Strait and are known for their mystical appearance.
The reason why the tombs were built in the 4th century remains a bit of a mystery. One theory is that people believed that burying important figures in high places brought them closer to God. So, the kings may have chosen these spots to continue their importance even after they passed away.
Despite not knowing exactly why they were built, the King’s Tombs offer one of the most amazing views in Dalyan. They are lit up at night and can be seen from almost anywhere in the town, making them quite a sight.
Mud baths and hot springs
The mud baths and hot springs near Dalyan, close to Köyceğiz, are a popular spot for people who seek healing from the thermal water. One tradition here is to let the mud, which has a strong sulfur smell, dry in the sun after covering yourself with it. It’s believed that this mud, used for beauty purposes for 2500 years, can help with various skin issues.
6. Things To Do in Dalyan
When visiting Dalyan’s unique natural environment, make sure to explore Iztuzu Beach, known for its caretta carettas. The Dalyan Strait, surrounded by reeds, resembles a labyrinth. You can join daily boat tours to see the strait, visit alluvial beaches, and swim in nearby bays. Another option is canoeing, which may be allowed along the river at specific times, where you might spot Nile turtles. You can also rent a canoe to explore the bays around Dalyan. Enjoy the diverse beauty Dalyan has to offer!
7. Dalyan’s Most Popular Beaches
Swimming in the Dalyan Strait is not recommended and is actually prohibited. The heavy boat traffic in the strait makes it dangerous for swimmers. Additionally, the water can appear cloudy due to the current and the boats passing through, making it an unattractive option for swimming. It’s best to enjoy swimming in the nearby bays or at Iztuzu Beach instead.
According to the locals in Dalyan, Aşı Bay is considered the most beautiful in the area. To get to Aşı Bay, you’ll need to take a 40-minute journey from the center of Dalyan, which can be a bit bumpy. Once you arrive, you can enjoy swimming in the bay, where you might even have some fish as your companions. Additionally, you can rent umbrellas and sun loungers to make your beach experience more comfortable.
Ekincik Bay is a must-visit spot for swimming when you’re in Dalyan. It’s also a place where you can observe the nests of caretta carettas, and it’s a popular destination for boat tours. Unlike Aşı Bay, Ekincik Bay is located near a bustling village, so the road to get there is much more accessible.
Make sure to include Kargicak Bay in your Dalyan itinerary, located a bit further south of Iztuzu. The road to Kargicak Bay is a bit rough and doesn’t fully reach the bay, which keeps it relatively calm no matter the season. To access the beach, you’ll need to walk for a few minutes after parking your car. Despite its tranquility, there’s a facility on the beach where you can find the necessary amenities.