About an hour’s drive from Fethiye, just west of Dalaman Airport and east of Marmaris, sits one of our favourite little towns, Dalyan.
Whilst we knew of its existence and proximity to Fethiye, before we moved here in 1998, we’d never visited Dalyan.
And when we did finally go a couple of years later, it was a case of, “Why has no one ever said to us, you really must go!?”
Things To Do In Dalyan
Of course, since that visit, all those years ago, the riverside town of Dalyan has become a regular feature on our calendar.
And will continue to be so in the future.
We’ll tell you more about that as we go through our list of things to do in Dalyan…
Because, whether you’ve chosen Dalyan for your holidays, a short break or just a day trip, there’s all sorts of activities to keep you occupied.
Some of these suggestions we’ve got for you are all about what we get up to when we’re in town.
Others, we’re yet to do ourselves – but they’re definitely on our list for future visits.
So, let’s get started: Our top things to do in Dalyan!
And, by the way, these suggestions are in no particular order.
Shopping At Dalyan Market
You know us; we love shopping at markets!
So a wander around the Dalyan Saturday market is a must for us.
Granted, the stalls to attract the tourists are there just like at our local Fethiye Tuesday market.
But a wander through the fruit and veg stalls oc this weekly market just to soak up the atmosphere is a favourite pastime.
And, as with lots of other local markets around this part of Turkey, you can get yourself a tasty gözleme to keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Dine At The Riverside Dalyan Restaurants
A central part of life in Dalyan is, of course, its river. The Dalyan Çayı.
This is the meandering stretch of water that connects the lake at Köyceğiz to the Mediterranean Sea.
Dalyan restaurants are pretty numerous so it would be remiss not to have at least one meal on the banks of the river.
Choose a selection of meze plates from the fridges and graze on classic Turkish delicacies whilst watching the river boats chug along the waterways.
Most of the riverside restaurants offer views across the water to the magnificent Dalyan rock tombs; the Kings’ Rock Tombs.
You can also catch a sunset. This is where life on the river slows down a little…
Hop In A Boat
A Dalyan boat trip of some description is a must.
In the summer season, as in nearby Akyaka, there are daily excursions where you can take a river cruise.
Use the people’s taxi boat to head to the protected area along Iztuzu Beach.
Or head in the opposite direction to Köyceğiz and its Monday market.
We love the taxi boat to Iztuzu Beach – buy a return ticket and the boat leaves when it’s full.
Of course, we all know the fame of the Dalyan mud baths.
Dalyan boat trips will make a stop here so you can get yourself all smelly and muddy.
If you’re a family or a group, you can also book private daily trips to take you around the bays and the lake.
Hit The Beach
If you know the area and you are telling people about the top things to do in Dalyan, a day on Iztuzu Beach is always going to be up there.
Famously known as Turtle Beach, Iztuzu Beach is a long stretch of compact sand that forms part of the river delta.
A protected area, it is a major nesting ground for Caretta Caretta (loggerhead turtles). Sun loungers, umbrellas and simple snack bars keep you going.
Head there by water taxi boat or go by road.
If you go by road, you’ll be at the far end of the beach where you can also visit the next of our top things to do in Dalyan…
A visit to DEKAMER is a must if you are in Dalyan.
This is the Sea Turtle Research & Rehabilitation Centre. Some of their work has been ground-breaking.
Visit injured turtles and learn about the challenges faced by Caretta Caretta and Chelonia Mydas (green turtles).
Once rehabilitated, the turtles are released back into the water.
DEKAMER is staffed by volunteers and researchers from Pamukkale University.
Drop the centre a donation on your way out so they can continue their important work.
You can also visit neighbouring Kaptan June’s Hut where you can learn more about the turtles and Kaptan June herself. A memorial stands by the water, opposite the tea garden.
It is she who spearheaded the campaign to protect Iztuzu and its nesting turtles by preventing a 1,800 bed hotel development in the area in the late 1980s.
It is thanks to her that this beach is as it is today. And her team campaigns to this day to make sure it stays that way.
You can keep up to date with them on Facebook.
Take In The Views From On High
Radar Tepesi (or Radar Hill) offers amazing views towards Dalyan centre, across the whole Dalyan delta and out to the Mediterranean.
We’re yet to head up here, but, in season, there are organised trips you can take and restaurants you can visit.
It will be out of season when we’re there so we plan to hike or drive.
Take A Trip To Sülüngür Gölü
If tranquil is what you’re looking for, Sülüngür Lake in Dalyan surely epitomises this.
Just a couple of kilometres away from the tourist centre of Dalyan town and you’re in peaceful bliss.
It’s a pretty stroll if you like to wander on foot.
Picnic tables or lakeside restaurants and cafes give you plenty of opportunity to while away a few very relaxed hours.
In summer, you can boat along the lake.
Across The River From Dalyan
We love to take the little private rowing boats across to the other side of the river to what feels like a world away from Dalyan town.
In years gone by, if you wanted to drive to the other side, it was a lengthy (but beautiful) round trip of Köyceğiz Lake.
These days, if you want to take your car across, there is a car ferry from Dalyan.
But, if you’re on foot, the ‘taxi’ rowing boat is a lovely way to cross the Dalyan river and only takes around 5 minutes.
A few lira bags you a return trip.
And, once you’re over the other side…
Dalyan Rock Tombs & Kaunos
Ahh, so peaceful. We’re now in the land of pomegranate groves and citrus fruits.
Stop to quench your thirst at one of the roadside stalls selling freshly squeezed juice before getting up close and personal with the Dalyan rock tombs.
Unlike Fethiye’s Lycian rock tombs, you can’t currently enter the site. You’ll need to admire from the road below.
Around 3 kilometres along the road from where you alight your rowing boat, you’ll come to the ancient ruins of Kaunos; an important sea port in its heyday.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you can have these ruins almost to yourself.
Just you, history – and views of the Mediterranean beyond.
Just beyond Kaunos is the village of Çandır.
There is a culture house here where you can learn more about the area.
We hope to walk to Çandır later this year, as, aside from a visit to Kaunos, this side of the Dalyan Çayı is relatively unexplored by us.
Do you believe in the power of mud?
If so, Sultaniye is where you come for what is otherwise known as the famous Dalyan hot springs and mud baths.
Just about anyone who books a day trip to Dalyan will visit these thermal baths.
And guess who has never been.
Yes, that’ll be us!
The odour of sulphur, caking yourself in mud; no thanks.
The thermal waters are slightly more tempting. So maybe, one day, we’ll make the effort to visit the Sultaniye thermals.
Day Trips From Dalyan
If you’re staying in Dalyan for a few days or longer and you’re looking to explore further afield, there are lots of places you can easily visit as a day trip under your own steam.
Some, you’ll need your own transport for, but others are accessible by public transport.
Ekincik is a beautiful cove that you can drive to. And the scenery along the route makes the journey worthwhile, too.
It’s a few years since we were last here, pre-Dalyan car ferry days.
If you want to go the long way round, your route takes you all around Lake Köyceğiz.
If you’re in Dalyan in the cooler months, it’s also possible to hike to Ekincik.
If markets are not your thing, Köyceğiz town is still very much worth a visit when you’re in Dalyan.
A leisurely lunch by the lake is a must when we’re there.
Get there in the morning so you can witness the lake at its mirror-like best.
Yuvarlakçay has crystal clear, icy cold water to cool you down in the summer.
Lots of natural shade from the trees and various riverside restaurants.
You can get here by public transport from Dalyan in the summer months. Otherwise, it’s just a short drive.
Akkaya is a lush valley with the Dalaman River running through it.
Visit the Akkaya Garden Restaurant and sit in bird’s nest seating amongst the trees. You can wander around the gardens and grounds.
Different activities are on offer including booking yourself a boat trip to the ‘beach’ further upstream.
Akyaka, as far as we’re concerned, is always worth a visit.
One of our favourite places. Part of the Cittaslow movement, this is a place to chill.
If you like peace and quiet, avoid weekends in high season as the town is immensely busy with summer day trippers from nearby Muğla.
Give yourself an hour to get there if going by car. If you’re going by dolmuş, the Ortaca to Muğla bus will drop you at the turn off for Akyaka.
Göcek is always pleasant for a little wander. And only around 30 minutes from Dalyan.
Not a place for the usual souvenir shops. So, if you like shopping, you’ll find some handmade crafts and clothing here.
Although the marinas of Göcek are full to the brim with yachts of the rich and famous, the harbourside restaurants are chilled and reasonably priced.
Fethiye – Of Course
And, what about our hometown?
If you’re staying in Dalyan, there are lots of must sees in Fethiye.
Easily accessible by public transport.
The drive from Dalyan to Fethiye is around 1 hour. Slightly longer by dolmuş.
Things to Do In Dalyan – Afternotes
And that’s just about it for our Dalyan travel guide.
Obviously there are lots of other things you can get up to in and around this small town.
There are bars, restaurants and cheaper eateries galore to keep you fed and watered.
As well as the waterfront places, there are lots of places along the pedestrianised main street. Turkish restaurants and international cuisine to suit all.
There’s also a good smattering of shops for those of you who like souvenir hunting.
And, as for Dalyan hotels, thankfully, you’re not going to find any huge complexes here.
Nor will you find high rise!
Most Dalyan hotels and pensions are small, family run affairs.
And, if you book an ‘apart hotel,’ the rooms will be equipped with cooking facilities.
Great for cooking all those foodie treats you couldn’t resist buying on the market – and perhaps to be used for trying out a few Turkish recipes.
Visiting Dalyan – FAQs
If you are arriving in the country by air and want to visit Dalyan, your nearest airport is Dalaman Airport.
Journey time to Dalyan is approximately 35 minutes. Airport shuttle buses leave from the domestic terminal to Ortaca otogar. From here, it’s a short dolmuş ride to the resort.
Whether you are travelling by dolmuş within the Muğla Province or you are arriving by intercity bus from elsewhere in the country, you will need to change at Ortaca bus station.
From here, Dalyan is just a short distance and the local dolmuş will ferry you there. The service is regular and journey time is 15-20 minutes.
If you are travelling from Fethiye, read our article about travelling by bus between Fethiye and Dalyan.
As well as the beautiful waterways, it is also possible to visit Iztuzu beach. This is a long sandy beach which is famous as a nesting ground for endangered loggerhead sea turtles.
A big yes from us! Picturesque town, weekly market, one of the most beautiful beaches, ancient kaunos ruins…
What’s not to love about this place?
This popular destination is the perfect place to unwind and never gets too crowded.
If you want to really chill out, however, and also have the weather to do a bit of exploring, June and September are the months we like to visit.