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Wildlife, history and culture - enjoy an excursion to Dalyan

Posted by Luci Ackers on 26 June 2015
Related property: Physkos
The Dalyan countryside Wildlife, history and culture - enjoy an excursion to Dalyan Wildlife, history and culture - enjoy an excursion to Dalyan

Spend an incredible day out in Dalyan and experience wildlife, history, culture and beauty...

Dalyan, in south-west Turkey is well known for its Turtle Beach, the amazing Lycian Rock Tombs and the historic ruins of Kaunos. Situated in the Mugla Province, Dalyan is simple enough to reach from the popular tourist area of Marmaris, and one well-planned day out can combine these three favourite destinations.

Turtle Beach

Iztuzu Beach, or Turtle Beach as it's also known and so named for its chief inhabitants, is a narrow spit of land that separates the freshwater Dalyan River from the Mediterranean sea beyond, forming a delta lagoon. The golden stretch is roughly 4.5km long and is a hugely important breeding ground for loggerhead sea turtles. The turtles are now on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of endangered animals and the beach enforces strict regulations to protect the animals from the increasing tourism. Between certain months of the year access is restricted at certain times, animals and vehicles are always prohibited, nesting zones are marked out and protected. So far the measures have been successful and the beach is home to an average of 300 nests every year. The loggerheads' nesting season is between May and August and the females will climb to land and dig an egg chamber in the sand. Eggs will hatch about 60 days later and the hatchlings will instantly begin their trek to the sea.

Back in the 1980s construction plans were put forward for a hotel development that would have put an end to this important habitat. Environmentalist June Haimoff, along with other environmentalists such as David Bellamy launched a campaign to counter the development and June is still famed today for being the saviour of Turtle Beach. Visitors come from far and wide to visit this beach and see its wonderful inhabitants. The loggerhead's ancestors date back 40 million years and though these creatures spend much of their life in salt water, when females come ashore on summer evenings to lay their eggs, it makes for an incredible sight.


Turtle Beach fronts the delta of the River Dalyan. A boat journey winding up the river will reveal the ruins of Kaunos. In its time Kaunos was an important sea port and is thought to date from the 10th century BCE. At the historic site you will see amazingly preserved ruins of a large amphitheatre, the port agora, a nymphaeum (a monument dedicated to the nymphs), and an acropolis from which there are views of Dalyan, the river and Turtle Beach. The whole area is rich in wildlife, being a part of the Köycegiz-Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area and the archaeological remains display influences from a range of periods including Hellenistic and Roman.

Lycian Rock Tombs

Beyond the boundaries of Kaunos are the incredible Lycian Rock Tombs and continuing along the river towards Dalyan itself you will pass this incredible spectacle. The large tombs have been carved from the sheer rocks high above the river banks. Overlooking the River Dalyan, these tombs are thought to belong to kings, and date from around 400 BCE. There are many Lycian tombs in this region but these six famous ones are particularly remarkable with façades resembling ancient Hellenists temples. They are a fantastic sight when viewed from a boat, or from the opposite bank of the river, and at night they become illuminated.

Getting there

By Boat

If you are staying in Marmaris, Içmeler or Turunç you can enjoy a boat trip across the stretch of Mediterranean to the Dalyan coastline, enjoying the magnificent scenery along the way! A number of excursion companies offer a trip like this or one very similar. Some examples and useful links below:

By Car

If you do not fancy a journey across the sea (and it can sometimes be a rough journey), an alternative would be to reach Dalyan and Turtle beach by road. This is pretty simple from Marmaris and the journey will take you a little over an hour. You can rent a car from a number of places in the area, examples include:


Once you've made your own way to Dalyan you can enjoy the town and the beach at your own pace, and travel the short distance across the river to visit the ruins. Or you could enjoy a boat trip down the river to see the sights on the way to the beach. There is a bit of a walk from the river to Kaunos so do remember to take plenty of water and sun cream! Some useful links below.

Stay in the area

This is a fantastic area of Turkey to explore. Turunç is a peaceful coastal village a little way from the bustling tourist area of Marmaris. Find out how to stay in lovely holiday properties here by following the link below.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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