There are many things to do in Muğla, a province in Turkey that draws in plenty of travellers and holiday makers for its picturesque beaches and staggering scenery. Mountain peaks and carpets of forest fringe the coastline and the Aegean Sea is dotted with islands. The sun shines all year round and the area has an interesting history, with Persian, Ottoman, Athenian, Roman and Lycian influences having all played a part.
Here are your top things to do in the area.
Things to do in Muğla, Turkey
Hit the Beach
It goes without saying, the Turkish coastline is home to some of the best beaches you’ll ever find. They may not be golden (the sand here is a brownish colour) but they’re exceptionally clean and they come with some extraordinary settings. Iztuzu Beach – or Turtle beach as it’s also known – is one of the best. Its place in the top 5 beaches in Europe – voted by TripAdvisor in 2015 – is testament to that.
If you have some wheels, make sure you take a drive to the Blue Lagoon at Ölüdeniz Beach. The beach here is part sand, part shingle and is fringed with bars and hotels. But it’s also one of the most photographed places in Muğla – the views are simply stunning and you may even spot some of the paragliders soaring from the mountain-tops.
Belcekiz on the way to Ölüdeniz Beach is worth stopping for. You could easily while away a day relaxing here.
Katranci Bay is also one of the most popular bays for locals who spend the day here having BBQs with friends and family. We didn’t get chance to explore the actual beach but as you can see, it’s worth stopping for a photo of the stunning bay.
Visit Fetiye Market
Fetiye is a small coastal town that offers plenty of shops, cafes and pretty views over the Aegean sea. (It also has all the essential amenities such as banks, currency exchange bureaus and pharmacies). While you’re here, take a scenic walk along the river to Fetiye Market – a sprawling market where both the locals and tourists shop. It’s definitely one of the top things to do in Muğla.
You’ll find fresh produce and food and drink products such as fruit and vegetables, dates and spices, Turkish tea and dried ingredients. You can also pick up shoes, clothes, jewellery, fabrics and souvenirs.
Visit the Dalyan Mud Baths
The Dalyan Mud Baths and thermal springs are one of the most popular tourist attractions close to Dalaman. After getting changed into your swimming costume or bikini in one of their cubicles, you walk through a muddy pool and pile thick sludgy mud all over your body. Bake yourself in the sun until the mud dries and then wash it off in one of the hot showers.
It was a bit chilly when we visited but I recommend you come during the summer so you can let the mud fully bake on your skin. The Dalyan mud, or peloid, is said to heal a range of ailments from bad circulation to muscle pain and it’s even claimed that Cleopatra used to visit. There’s also an onsite spa and tanks by the baths filled with those fish that will nibble your feet!
Take a Boat trip along the Dalyan River
There are plenty of river boats that tourists and locals hop on and off to get from Dalyan to the Iztuzu Beach. It’s a lovely scenic journey and really helps you appreciate the beauty of Turkey’s Aegean coast as you float along these pretty backwaters. During your trip along the Dalyan delta, you can stop at lovely restaurants and spot ancient rock tombs along the way (more about that below). You can also go bird-spotting (there are flamingoes here in October and November), snorkelling and turtle spotting – this area is inhabited by the Caretta-Caretta (loggerhead) turtle.
See the Lycian rock tombs
If you take the boat trip I mention above, it’s a great way to see the region’s Lycian rock tombs from afar. As you float along the Dalyan river, you’ll spot these mystical limestone carvings high up in the face of the mountainside. This region close to Dalyan used to be the capital of the ancient ‘Kaunos Region’ and there’s thought to be more than 100 of these Temple Tombs dating back to around 400 BC. The rock tombs, ancient city and amphitheatre can’t be access by foot at the moment, however you can see the limestone rock tombs quite clearly from the river.
Hire a private yacht through Göcek and the 12 islands
For something really special, consider hiring a private yacht (great for honeymoons). Jump on at Göcek and then explore Göcek and the 12 islands. There are actually 17 islands in total but for some reason they focus on 12 (I don’t know why!). Tersane island is the largest and one island is the only one to have a population of rabbits! Jump off the back of the boat into the cool water en route. There are many tiny sand banks and islands where you can stop and admire the view. There are also restaurants you can stop at – see my next point!
Things to do in Muğla – Eat some traditional Turkish food
The food in Turkey is definitely one of its high points. You’ll find plenty of excellent restaurants dotted around the Muğla province. The Dalyan delta is also home to crab, yellow caviar and other seafood.
I can recommend Caretta Caretta restaurant, which you can approach by both road or boat and it serves typical Turkish dishes as well as fresh sea bream and crab. One of the draws of Caretta Caretta is you can see the Lycian tombs from the restaurant decking.
Zeytin is a great restaurant to stop at if you charter a yacht along the Göcek Islands and Fetiye Gulf. It’s found on Bedri Rahmi Bay and serves up fantastic bread and dips, seafood (think fried calamari and grilled sea bream) and all the kebabs and kofta that Muğla and the rest of Turkey are known for.
A la Turca
A la Turca is the signature Turkish restaurant at the Hilton Dalaman in Sarigerme. Here, you can expect to dine on all sorts of flatbreads and mezze, meat kebabs and usual Turkish specialties that are popular in the Muğla province. If you’re feeling brave, you can try the local Raki, a type of Turkish vodka (it has a similar aniseed flavour to Sambuca). They sip it with water during their meal with a glass of beetroot juice on the side. I have to admit, it wasn’t for me, but when in Rome…
Do you have any tips on things to do in Muğla? Leave a comment and let me know.