I first visited the Muğla Province of Turkey 5 years ago, and since then I’ve been back several times, and I can never get enough of the things to do in Dalaman.
Initially I thought Dalaman and the surrounding towns of Marmaris, Feyithe and Ölüdeniz were limited to package holidays and attractions you can find all around the Mediterranean. I was wrong, so wrong. It has so much more to offer than that, and I was about to find out why.
My eyes were first opened by a fantastic trip on the Dalyan River, and the surprises kept on coming. I stayed in both Marmaris and Ölüdeniz and explored the surrounding area, all of these are within a one-hour drive of the Dalaman Airport. I returned recently and lived in Marmaris for 2 months, road tripped around and explored this stunning area. And I’ll go back again that’s for sure.
Here’s my list of 10 things to do in Dalaman, and you can find them all pinned on the map above, enjoy!
Things to do in Dalaman – Map
I know you can’t wait to read the most unique things to do in Dalaman, so let’s jump right into it here below!
1. The Dalyan River
By far my favourite part of this trip, the Dalyan area is Turkey’s little gem, I would say hidden gem but it’s far from it, being one of the most visited attractions in this area. Yet remarkably I hadn’t heard of it and after a day exploring I was left wondering why.
As a day trip the Dalyan has so much to offer. We had a private luxury boat take us out to see along the river, along winding routes through the reeds and down to the sea.
My first impression of this place “it’s simply stunning”. As we cruised along the laid-back river we stopped at a restaurant famous for the visiting Loggerhead Sea Turtle, wait what, sea turtles? Yes.
This area is now a protected breeding ground for the ‘Caretta caretta (Loggerhead) Sea Turtle, and you have every chance of seeing them. In fact, we saw 4.
2. Full–Day Mud Bath & Turtle Beach Tour
An excellent day tour you can join from Dalyan is this one, which takes you to Turtle Beach and you’ll get to do a mud bath, which is popular in this region of Turkey!
Sail across the turquoise sea of Dalyan’s Lycian Coast to reach the Iztuzu Beach (also known as Turtle Beach), where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs and blue crabs call their home.
During the ride, feast your eyes on the rock-cut Lycian Tombs, where the Kings of Kaunos were laid to rest, filled with valuable items and food offerings.
Of course, the trip doesn’t end there, though; once on the beach, you won’t believe your own eyes! It’s no wonder this beach is protected too, as it’s the only nesting beach for sea turtles in the Mediterranean zone.
More than just a hotspot for ecotourism, Turtle Beach is loved by adventure-seekers (like myself), where a day spent wallowing in its therapeutic mud bath is a day well spent!
I suggest checking the tour out now and booking as soon as possible to secure your spot!
3. Join a Jeep Safari
Another tour I couldn’t recommend enough, and definitely one of the best things to do in Dalaman Turkey is joining a Jeep Safari, and I guarantee you that it’s as fun as it sounds!
You will get to the remote forests, mountains and villages of Turkish countryside near Dalyan, and you’ll discover archaeological gems while having fun.
But the adventure doesn’t stop there. You’ll stop at different locations for a swim, to do a waterfight with other travellers, and even at a restaurant for lunch (which is included, and that’s excellent).
The highlight of the trip is the breathtaking view of the beach from an incredible 600 meters altitude, where you can truly appreciate the beauty of Dalyan.
If you’re an adrenaline lover or want to have a fun day out with other travellers or your friends, this is just one of the best options out there.
4. The Lycian Rock Tombs
The Lycian Rock Tombs are several huge carvings overlooking the landscape. These imposing tombs are estimated to date back to 400 BC and are the resting place of the Kings from the ancient city of Kaunos. They’re breathtaking and frankly a must-see in Turkey.
You can hike along to them too, or go via boat.
We took the boat and cruised along the river and out to the Aegean Sea and we made our way through the shallows and out to a small secluded beach for lunch.
Yes, all this and we haven’t even had lunch yet! After a delicious fresh barbeque there was time for a swim and to make the return trip and more turtle spotting.
We stopped at Iztuzu Beach, a beautiful spot for swimming and a regular spot for passing Loggerhead turtles to be seen, before making our way back up the river.
This is the Best Tour in Dalaman
5. Paragliding in Ölüdeniz
There are a few places famous for paragliding, and Ölüdeniz is world famous. The take-off site on Babadag Mountain is one of the highest commercial take-off zones in the world, and at around 2000 metres it’s not for the faint-hearted.
You really get a feel for the height on the drive up, possibly more dangerous than the jump itself! I booked my trip before going and I couldn’t have been happier.
Your main instruction, when they say just run! And we did, right off the platform and immediately the thermal winds lifted us up, and we were gliding like an eagle above the incredible Turkey coastline.
Let me tell you now, there aren’t too many greater views or feelings of paragliding from this height. The take-off was smooth, and the pilot talked me through all the sights and took photos and video on a GoPro (you usually have the option to buy these at extra cost later, but it’s worth checking the details beforehand).
I also took my own camera but that’s at your own risk! For the adrenaline junkies out there (ie me) you are asked if you want to do any 360 spirals and general tricks and turns, now this will shorten the journey, but it’s great fun and I recommend at least one.
The flight lasts around 20-25 minutes and you glide right over the impressive Blue Lagoon (more on that later), before a very smooth landing right on Ölüdeniz Beach.
6. Kayaköy Ghost Town
Kayaköy is an ancient, and now empty village to the south of Fethiye in the Taurus Mountains. Most buildings were originally built in the 1700s and have been deserted since the 1920s. Exactly what happened is down to the historians (I am not a historian).
However, the fallout of World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to violence and retribution between the Greeks and the Turks. This was often aimed at the Greek Orthodox community within the new Turkish border, and in turn against Muslim Turks in Greece.
Many Greeks fled the violence in Turkey which led to the governments agreeing a population exchange in attempts to put a stop to the violence. The peaceful residents of Kayaköy therefore had to leave for Greece along with many other refugees.
It’s a sad story and there is obviously more to the conflict, it makes Kayaköy a very humbling place to visit and pay tribute to the people who lost their homes.
7. Take a Tour of Marmaris
I’m an adventurous traveller, and I love organising my trip on my own. However, sometimes, I love joining tours to learn more about the place I’m visiting or simply to meet other fellow travellers on the road.
And when in Marmaris, there’s no better way to visit than by joining this 5-hour trip to Marmaris and Peninsula.
This private half-day tour will take you on a journey through mountains, bays, and beaches, as well as ancient ruins that date back 2500 years ago.
The first stop is the panorama point at Yassipiren, giving you a breathtaking view of the entire area. Next, you’ll go to the traditional and modern villages like Bayir, Sögüt, Bozburun, and Selimiye, where you’ll get to see the daily life of locals.
But wait, there’s more! You’ll make a quick pit-stop at Orhaniye, where you’ll witness the incredible sight of people walking on water!
Also, on this tour, you won’t go hungry as lunch with Turkish pizza and refreshing drinks is included.
8. Saint Nicholas Island Kayaking Tour
One of the fun things to do in Dalaman is to get into the water and kayak to Saint Nicholas Island, one of the most beautiful islands around!
And let me tell you, there’s no better way to join a half-day tour with experienced guides! You’ll visit idyllic coves, including the beautiful gems of Gemiler, Darboğaz, and Aquarium.
Don’t worry if you’ve never kayaked before; this tour is perfect for both beginners and advanced paddlers, which I particularly appreciate.
As you paddle your way from island to island, you’ll get the chance to stop off and swim in secluded beaches. After all that paddling and swimming, you’ll have worked up an appetite, and guess what, a delicious lunch is provided!
While this half-day tour only lasts 5 hours, it’s one of the best activities in the Dalaman, and it’s surely your ticket for a cool time on holidays!
9. The Marmaris Honey House
While in Marmaris, why not visit the Marmaris Honey House, a scientific centre built to raise local awareness for bees and pine honey production in the area.
92% of the world’s Pine honey is produced in the Aegean region of Turkey, and Turkey itself ranks in the top 5 honey producing countries in the world.
The Honey House is a uniquely shaped building (shaped like honeycomb) and focuses on educating visitors on the importance of bees around the world, their decline in many countries, the history of beekeeping and the benefits of honey.
And although you may be reading this thinking ‘and what…’ I can tell you now it is incredibly interesting, and we really do need to look after our bees! I even brought home a jar of pine honey for my breakfast.
This is the Best Hotel in Dalaman
10. Take a Boat Trip to the Aegean Islands
Another one of the best things to do in Dalaman is to take a boat trip to the Aegean Islands, and it’s not only a great activity, but it’s also an awesome way to take stunning photos!
This adult-only journey offers it all: from sunbathing on secluded beaches to swimming in turquoise waters, visiting unspoiled isles untouched by tourism, and cruising through crystal clear waters.
Relax on the deck with sunbeds, shady spaces, and a cash bar, while sipping refreshing cocktails, beer, and wine. I simply can’t think of a better way to discover this part of the Dalaman Turkey.
The best part? You’ll get to enjoy a succulent lunch with a menu choice of steak, grilled fish, Turkish Shish Keba, grilled meatballs or grilled chicken over mezes, and more.
Overall, you will love this trip to the Aegean Islands, but I recommend booking as soon as possible, because it’s one of the most popular tours around.
11. Azmak River & Akyaka
The Azmak River located next to the town of Akyaka (a famous kitesurfing spot) is a unique habitat with a variety of wildlife and completely crystal-clear waters. The area in general has a very chilled and relaxed vibe making it the perfect place for a nature retreat.
Along the river you’ll see ducks, geese and kingfishers all enjoying the rich and plentiful supply of fish and vegetation.
Tourism here has boomed in the last 10 years, and it’s conveniently only 30 minutes from Dalaman Airport. However, although it’s a favourite with local Turks, it’s still considered a hidden gem, though with a great combination of food, architecture and nature that’s soon to change.
Selimiye is a very popular stop for boats sailing down from Marmaris, and it’s clear to see why. It’s a cute little village with traditional seafront restaurants on a promenade, and it’s building a reputation amongst the rich and famous as the perfect secluded getaway spot.
For that reason, hotel and villa prices are not cheap, so if your budget can’t stretch maybe you can stop by for lunch and paddle-boarding rather than arranging a stay.
For lunch I recommend Sardunya Restaurant and you can hire paddle boards at SUP Selemiye.
13. Take a Day Trip to Pamukkale and Hierapolis
Get ready to be blown away by the natural wonder of Pamukkale on this full-day tour from Fethiye.
You’ll start the day making your way to the “8th Wonder of the World”, as the locals call it, you’ll be transported back in time to Ancient Greece and Rome, where you’ll be exploring Hierapolis.
On the way there, you’ll be taken aback by the clear water pools, hot springs, and terraces of carbonate minerals that make up this incredible landscape.
Also, discover the unique travertine terraces known as the “Cotton Castles”, and admire the breathtaking views from the hills in Denizli.
Once you get to Hierapolis, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities to take in the stunning ruins of the Roman amphitheater and former Turkish bath, now an archaeological museum.
The tour includes transportation by air-conditioned coach, an expert guide, and a delicious lunch that will keep you fueled for the twelve-hour journey – Pretty much everything you need for the perfect day out!
14. The Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz
Just a short walk from Ölüdeniz beach is Turkey’s very own Blue Lagoon. It’s a natural cove and protected national park with beautiful turquoise waters and lots of lovely beaches.
There are plenty of activities on offer to see the lagoon such as paddle boarding and peddle boats, or you can just chill out and have lunch at one the restaurants. And if you’re only here for the day I fully recommend paragliding (above) or a trip to Butterfly Valley, a secluded beach that rivals Zante’s very own Shipwreck Beach!
15. Butterfly Valley Boat Trip
Looking for a tour that combines stunning scenery with delicious food and amazing activities? Then this is a safe option – the Butterfly Valley Boat Trip with Buffet Lunch!
Get ready to explore the best of the Turkish coastline on a traditional boat tour that takes you to some of the most beautiful bays and beaches in the area.
Discover the vibrant shades of blue in the water at the Blue Cave and snap some insta-worthy photos of the dramatic cliffs enclosing Butterfly Valley. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the butterfly species that live there!
But that’s not all. On this tour, you’ll also get to snorkel with diverse fish species at Aquarium Bay, paddle at Camel Beach, and refresh in the calm and cold waters of Soguksu Bay.
All in all, it’s one of the best tours money can buy, and I highly recommend you check it out!
Where to Stay in Dalaman
If you’re staying in Ölüdeniz I recommend the Liberty Hotel which is just 5 minutes’ walk from the beach and has all the bars and restaurants right on your doorstep. However, if nightlife is your thing then Ölüdeniz may be a little quiet for you.
Whilst it has some party bars, the clubs and late-night clubs can be found in the livelier Feyithe town. It’s only 13km away and there are regular buses or cheap taxis between the towns, and I also highly recommend the fish market in the town centre.
In Marmaris we stayed at the Tui Blue Resort Grand Azur and if you want some 5 star luxury, this is the place to be. With only all inclusive “plus” available, two outdoor pools, a spa and incredible panoramic views I really did not want to leave! It’s right on the beach and not far from the Marmaris Marina or the bar street for Marmaris’ popular nightlife.
Hidden Gem: for a real gem of a restaurant in Marmaris, head to the Hillside Restaurant with stunning views over the marina.
Best Tours in Dalaman Turkey
I have flown to Turkey a number of times, with my favourite Turkish Airlines, with EasyJet and with Jet2 from Manchester. One of my trips was sponsored by Jet2, and the other trips were either personal trips or because I was in Istanbul for another reason.
Currently UK visitors don’t need a visa for Turkey for visits up to 90 days, but be sure check if you do. Here’s more information about Turkish e-Visa.
Best Time to Visit the Dalaman
The best time to visit Dalaman is from April through November. During this period, the weather is warm and you’ll mostly have sunny days, making it ideal for outdoor activities and enjoying the beaches.
The busiest months for tourism in Dalaman are July, August, and June, and prices for hotels and flights may be most expensive during these months due to high demand.
If you prefer to avoid crowds and higher prices, visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) is recommended. During these times, the weather is still pleasant, and there are fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months.
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Read more about the Dalaman area from my friends on the trip with me: One week in the Dalaman by Mel from Illumelation Have you been to Dalaman or Turkey? Did you like it? If you end up going please tag me in your photos on Instagram (@IntrepidEscape), or I’d love to hear about it in the comments below 🙂
Have you been to this area of Turkey? What do you recommend? Please let me know in the comments below ?