8 of the Turkish Riviera's best beaches

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

If you love beaches, you cannot fail to be absolutely smitten with the glorious Turkish Riviera. We're talking a huge swathe of over 1,000 km of Turkey*'s coastline alive with a rich necklace of beaches, set against rugged mountains and aquarium-clear waters.

Some of the Turkish Riviera's best beaches © Dzmitrock87 - Adobe Stock Image
Some of the Turkish Riviera's best beaches © Dzmitrock87 - Adobe Stock Image

Here, on the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, there are beaches for all, whether you want all the resort frills and waiter service to your sun lounger or just prefer to chill with more loggerhead turtles than people.

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1. Olu Deniz

Ok, so the jaw-dropping sands here are no secret, but if it's your first time on the Turkish Riviera this camera-pleaser is a must.

The best approach is swooping down from the Lycian Way hiking trail. From this lofty approach, you really appreciate how spectacular it is with the beach-fringed lagoon set amidst pine-clad hills, a sandy spit jutting out into the waters. This Blue Flag winning beach often features in lists of the world's best beaches and it's easy to see why.

Famous Olu Deniz Beach © Tarik Gok - Adobe Stock Image
Famous Olu Deniz Beach © Tarik Gok - Adobe Stock Image

No longer is Olu Deniz* the preserve of the hippie community who 'found' it in the 1960s, with plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants on hand in the village and around. If you fancy a bird's eye view, paragliding is popular.

2. Kidrak

Just a few kilometres out of Olu Deniz, escape the crowds and built-up feel at the Kidrak Nature Reserve, home to Paradise Beach.

It's an apposite moniker as the beach is the stuff of TV advert; the difference here is you get to be the star of the show and actually walk into those inviting turquoise waters in this secluded cove.

The beach is fringed by the shade of pine trees too, handy in summer. Bring a snorkel mask for exploring the marine life-rich waters and eat before you come as there is only a snack bar; paradise indeed. Well worth the modest admission fee.

3. Cirali

Tucked at the foot of the Taurus Mountains amidst pomegranate trees is this gem of a rural getaway. The shingle beach stretches for over 3 km and invites serious lotus-eating.

A more cerebral experience awaits at one end with the ruins of Olympos, a historic site that swims in both Greek and Roman history. It's a hefty hike up to the famous Flames of the Chimaera - real-life eternal flames that burst miraculously from the rocks.

There are some low key seafood tavernas in Cirali, but it's relaxed enough for loggerhead turtles to come ashore in the WWF-protected conservation area. You won't find booming beach bars or jet skis here; you will, however, find plenty of peace.

4. Patara Beach

People love Patara Beach, a stunner rated by The Sunday Times as one of the 10 best beaches in the world.

The loggerhead turtles love it too; it's one of the oases on the Turkish Riviera where they come ashore. The beach is part of a protected national park, so development is mercifully kept to a minimum.

Early morning at Patara Beach © Ed Nurg - Adobe Stock Image
Early morning at Patara Beach © Ed Nurg - Adobe Stock Image

It's said to be the longest beach in Turkey and it certainly feels like it when you stroll its entire 12 km length. It's spot-on for a romantic stroll kicking through the sands and forgetting all about the rest of the world.

Patara is family-friendly too with shallow waters and wide sands; there is always plenty of space to spread out not worrying about other beachgoers. Note the beach is very much left to the turtles after nightfall as they get about the business of laying their eggs in paradise.

5. Cleopatra Beach

Another much-celebrated contender for the best beach in Turkey. Cleopatra Beach unfurls right in the city centre of Alanya below its landmark medieval castle, so it's definitely not unknown.

Cleopatra Beach and the city of Alanya © WildGlass Photograph - Adobe Stock Image
Cleopatra Beach and the city of Alanya © WildGlass Photograph - Adobe Stock Image

The name is said to have come after Cleopatra became smitten with the fine sands here. Today, her ghost is joined by over two million sunseekers each year.

There are, of course, all the facilities to cater for everyone like myriad places to eat and drink, and plenty of shops, plus a choice of watersports. Walk the promenade, though, and this well-kept beach reveals the beauty that first seduced a queen.

6. Kabak

With more backpackers than package tourists, this unspoiled charmer is ideal for those looking to escape all the, admittedly tempting, trappings of resort life.

It lies on the Lycian Way, so a steady stream of hikers descends here to hurl themselves into the tempting waters - you should follow suit.

Forget sun loungers and watersports though: this is a beach for just unfurling your towel and settling down with a good book. There are a few beach bars when you fancy something cooling. And this is another beach that the turtles love too, always a good sign.

7. Lara Beach

Lara Beach* is one serious party place: think Las Vegas crossed with Benidorm, and you get the idea. Where else do you get a hotel built to resemble the Kremlin?

Lara Beach Antalya and its many luxury hotels © Bulent - Adobe Stock Image
Lara Beach Antalya and its many luxury hotels © Bulent - Adobe Stock Image

It is, of course, brilliant fun with water parks, lovely hotels, sumptuous spas and loads to see and do. In short, everything you need for a brilliant beach holiday whether you're with the kids or not.

Off the beach by day you can bash about quad biking or go-karting; in the evening the hotels burst with the sounds of mini-discos for the wee ones and nightclubs for the grown-ups.

8. Turgutreis

Fancy chilling on the beach without the hassle of hefting yourself up to wander off to a shop or beach bar for a drink? Then head to Turgutreis*. Waiters ease around servicing your every holiday need at private beach clubs.

It's a hard place to knock when an ice-cold Efes beer arrives to accompany your view out to the impossibly blue waters. There is a string of sands to choose from, so if you're based in the area you can try a few different beaches. That is if you can rouse yourself from the waiter-tended comfort of your sun lounger.

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie
Posted on Thursday 20th January 2022 in: Beach Europe Excursions Middle East Nature Summer

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