Turkey’s south coast is ideal for a family holiday, but with so much choice Melissa Shales helps narrow down the options.
BEST FOR THE BEACH
The beach and the pool are going to be the focus of any family holiday to southern Turkey. Some of the beaches near Bodrum are shingle whereas Turgutreis and Gumbez have proper sand beaches with hotels right on the seafront.
Over near Dalaman, Dalyan is actually on the river but has a luscious sand beach a boat ride downstream. Patara (where St Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) was born in the 4th century AD) has a magnificent 18 kms (12 miles) of golden sand.
By far the best beach for families is at Oludeniz, where a sandbar has created a magical lagoon, ringed by gently shelving sandy beaches. It’s a perfect playground for children, with lots of watersports. Pine trees shade the sand at the back while those who want waves can simply cross the sandbar to Belcekiz Beach.
WHAT TO DO
• Mess about in boats – every small town and village around the coast offers the chance to do a trip in a wooden gulet, the closest your kids are likely to get to a pirate ship.
• Watersports – older children have the opportunity to try out a whole range of watersports from getting their PADI diving certificates to windsurfing and waterskiing.
• Head for the mountains – the mountains behind Oludeniz offer wonderful mountain walks, the possibility of horse-riding, mountain-biking, canoeing, white-water rafting and quad-biking. Saklikent is where the Turks go to escape the heat, with a boardwalk through the canyon, an icy mountain river where you can paddle, and trout restaurants right on the river.
• Heroes and legends – this is the country of ancient Greek gods, legendary heroes, bloodthirsty battles, pirates, and crusading knights. If approached correctly, the local sights will fire your children’s imagination. They are also great for scrabbling over walls, running around in the open-air and playing gladiators in the amphitheatres.
BEST HISTORIC SIGHTS
• Bodrum Castle – a real Crusader castle, this is an amazing web of courtyards, dungeons and towers, filled with early shipwrecks.
• Ephesus – this is well worth the long day trip from Bodrum as one of the best preserved Roman towns in the world, with whole houses and streets standing to give you a real sense of what life was like in the ancient world.
• Letöon – one of the prettiest little sites along the coast near Oludeniz with a couple of temples, this is also famous for its ponds full of incredibly noisy frogs. Combine history and natural history!
WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT
Basic Turkish food is really simple (and healthy, but don’t tell the kids)! When in doubt, a chicken kebab and chips is available everywhere, while kofte are basically meatballs. Most tourist hotels have an international buffet full of spaghetti and pizza and there are plenty of ice cream shops.