TOP 9 THINGS TO DO IN DALYAN TURKEY
Top 9 Things to do in Dalyan Turkey with kids
Dalyan is a hidden gem of Turkey.
There is so much to see and do if you want or alternatively it is a great place to relax.
We stayed in Dalyan for one action packed week and we absolutely loved it!
Because we went late in the year (October) we were very fortunate to have most places and activities completely to ourselves. This made it a magical trip for us all. We would thoroughly recommend visiting towards the end of the season.
One of our favourite things about Dalyan is that you can go everywhere by river taxi! The kids loved this, in their opinion it is the best way to travel.
Here are our top 9 things to do in Dalyan, Turkey with your kids...
This is a strange but fun activity for families.
Dipping yourself into warm mud/clay up to your waist is an interesting sensation that’s for sure!
We took a taxi boat to the mud baths. Simply head down to where all the boats are waiting. Definitely ask more than one boat how much they charge to get there. They will undercut each other to get your business.
Common questions about mud baths…
Is it safe for children?
Yes, they’ll love it! Obviously it is important to keep an eye on your children whilst they are in the mud but it is certainly an experience they’ll never forget.
Is it good for you?
Apparently it is, although I’m not sure any of us experienced any of the supposed benefits. Although the cold shower afterwards was certainly good for the pores!
Some of us loved it, some of us weren’t so sure and one hated it (Calista, age 4!)
Whilst at the mud baths there was also the opportunity to experience a fish pedicure. If you fancy having your toes nibbled by tiny fish you can do that here too!
Top Tip: If you know you intend to go to the mud baths before you leave home pack old swim wear that you don’t mind getting thick with mud! It did wash out of ours but best to play it safe.
This is an epic all day, fun and bumpy ride! You get to see so much of the Turkish landscape.
We went with Kaunos Tours and are so glad we did, our guide/driver was local and he really knew his stuff. Our girls thought he was hilarious with his so called ‘short cuts’ which were often very long and incredibly bumpy and had us bouncing out of our seats!
Throughout the day we made a few stops…
- The first stop was at the top of a very big hill which overlooks the whole of Dalyan; including the gorgeous Iztuzu beach. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.
- The next stop was the spectacular Kargicak Bay (this is where our cover photo on our home page was taken!). Because we went late in the season we had the entire bay to ourselves. A deserted beach is our favourite kind and this is definitely one of our highlights of the trip.
- Lunch over a river! Such a beautiful setting – a bridge over a river running through the forest. There was a swing which swings you out over the river, which was great fun whilst we were waiting for our lunch to be prepared by a local family. Such a unique experience with the sounds of the river coming over the waterfall and rushing underneath you! The food was delicious but there were only a couple of Turkish options (chicken, meatballs and side dishes) so that is something to be aware of if you have fussy eaters. It would be wise to pack some snacks into your back pack for them!
- River stop. After driving through local countryside seeing the citrus groves and farms you arrive at the edge of a lovely clear river where you can dip your toes. Our driver produced some water pistols and we had great fun soaking each other with the cool river water!
12 Islands Cruise
Another full day adventure with spectacular views!
Whilst the boat doesn’t actually ‘stop’ at 12 islands you definitely see the Göcek islands!
The boat itself was gorgeous and very relaxing with plenty of opportunity for sunbathing and resting whilst sailing around. The scenery is truly breathtaking with mountainous coastline mixed with sandy beaches and the crystal clear blue water of the Aegean Sea.
We made several stops where we had an opportunity to jump into the refreshing water and swim. One of the stops was at a sand/pebble bank where you could walk in from the shallows instead of jumping into the deeper water – although you could also do that from the back of the boat if you preferred. The other stops were over fairly deep water.
There were woggles/noodles and snorkel masks provided on the boat.
Lunch was served on the boat by the captain and it was amazing! There were quite a selection of dishes to help yourself from, the girls gave everything a try and surprised themselves at how tasty they found it all!
It was so idyllic that we even considered selling up everything we own to buy a yacht to live on.
Top tip: There are drinks and snack provided on the boat, we were lucky that there were not lots of other travellers with us. You may wish to take some extra snacks in your bag for your children – swimming definitely made us hungry!
Village life tour
We believe that no matter where you travel to in the world it is important to experience local culture. Getting to know the local people of the places you visit gives you a richer experience and it helps you to understand the locals perspective.
So when the opportunity arose for us to visit a local village we jumped at the chance!
We spent time…
- At the village school – This was an incredibly enlightening experience and it made a big impact on all of our children. They got to play with the school children and even took part in their lessons. We helped in an English class and Saskia still talks about how she took part in a maths lesson in Turkey!
- In the village mosque – after the school we had the opportunity to meet the local Imam. He showed us around the mosque and we were there when he called the village to prayer. A very interesting experience for us all! Our children were very proud to impress them with their knowledge of Islam from their RE lessons at school.
- Having lunch at a local farm house. They prepared the most wonderful food for us and even provided chips in case our girls weren’t keen on the Turkish cuisine! We watched as they made balloon bread and some kind of desert (which was delicious) in an outdoor oven in front of us. We chatted about life in Turkey and got to have a look around the farm.
Overall the trip was invaluable and gave us an insight into daily Turkish life.
Top tip: Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and arms and take a lightweight scarf in your bag in case the ladies in your family are asked to cover their hair.
Bonus tip: If you do get to experience visiting a local school find out what they need and take them a gift. We stopped on the way and bought footballs for each of the 5 classes – the kids were so excited to receive them!
This was probably, unintentionally, the number one highlight of our trip.
We had a boat pick us up from Dalyan in the late afternoon, it took us along the river to Iztuzu beach. We arrived at the beach after the last taxi boats had left the beach for the day. Our boat driver told us to go and explore the beach whilst he prepared a bbq dinner on the boat.
The 5km beach was completely deserted.
Not another living soul in sight and it was so beautiful. This made it a once in a lifetime opportunity and we will forever be thankful!
Whilst the sun slowly went down we had the best time dancing and playing in the sand and water.
Having that gorgeous setting all to ourselves will remain in our memories forever!
Once the sun had completely set we went back to the boat to a wonderful meal of chicken, rice and various Turkish side dishes – yummy! We ate our food before the boat slowly took us back down the river to Dalyan.
Entering Dalyan by river at night is a great experience, the tombs are lit and the restaurants and hotels along the river look spectacular with their lights shining.
If you get the chance you should definitely do this!!
Top tip: Research local tour companies to book experiences like this. This trip we did through a different tour operator.
Lycian Rock Tombs
We didn’t actually do a trip to go to the Lycian Rock Tombs because our Airbnb villa was directly opposite them!
You will see them as you travel up and down the river, especially if you go to Iztuzu beach because you have to pass right underneath them.
They are incredible to look at and it is worth looking up their history even if you don’t get a chance to visit them.
Carved into the rock some 2400 years ago they are very impressive.
The tombs are lit at night which gives them a mystical feel.
Top tip: Find accommodation that is overlooked by the tombs!
Learning How To Make Balloon Bread
When we sat down for dinner one night in a restaurant along the water we were asked if the girls would like to learn how to make balloon bread in the restaurant kitchen with a chef!
This was an impromptu surprise, although I’m sure many of the restaurants in Dalyan itself would be more than happy to accommodate and show your children how to make it.
The girls thoroughly enjoyed the experience and did very well, we ended up with three balloon breads to eat along with our meal!
Top tip: Ask at the restaurants along the water front, we found everyone to be very friendly and if they can help you they will!
A visit to Dalyan would not be complete without a day spent on the beautiful Iztuzu beach. It is commonly known as Turtle beach because it is a nesting site of loggerhead turtle.
There are special rules in place which are displayed on the beach. If you go to Iztuzu beach please make sure you abide by these rules. The nesting sites are marked in order to protect them and you must avoid these areas.
At certain times of the year you can see the baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean. Unfortunately we were there too late in the year to see this but it would be an incredible experience.
The beach is 5km long with places to buy food and drinks and loungers for hire at either end.
Top tip: To be in with a chance of seeing baby turtles plan a visit for July – Sept
You cannot get to the turtle sanctuary by boat from Dalyan directly. The sanctuary is at the opposite end of the beach from where the boats drop you off.
We chose to walk the full 5km length but you could take a taxi to it from Dalyan instead.
Our visit to the Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation left us with mixed emotions.
It was amazing to see the turtles up close and to see the fantastic work that the foundation is doing. But at the same time it was heartbreaking to see some of the injuries the turtles come in with.
The top two problems we saw were:
- Being hit by boats – a couple of the turtles that were being cared for had large chunks of shell missing from being hit by propellers.
Plastic consumption – we all know this is a problem, there probably isn’t a person alive that hasn’t seen the images of turtles and plastic bags. To see the effects of fishing lines and bags for yourself is devastating. They cannot be easily removed and must be drawn out very slowly over a long period of time to prevent damaging the turtles internal organs.
Help the sanctuary
We would love to be able to do more for the sanctuary to help them in their work and aim to do so in the future.
At the moment they are asking for support in the form of signing a petition to help them stop inappropriate feeding of the turtles. Please don’t ever take part in turtle trips where people bait the turtles to get them to come closer for interaction with humans.
Please sign their petition to show your support and to stop this happening:
If you would like to make a donation you can click on this link: Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation.
We are not in any way affiliated with the turtle sanctuary, we’re just trying to do our bit to help a worthy cause!
So, there are our top 9 recommended things to do in Dalyan with kids
Dalyan should be on everyone’s list. It is beautiful, educational and quieter than other parts of Turkey.
Many of the trips listed above we booked with Kaunos Tours – they have an office in Dalyan centre and we just walked in, let them know what we would like to do and together we came up with a plan!
We can’t recommend them enough. They did their best to make sure we experienced what we wanted to and also took us out on private tours due to the quiet end of the season.
Have you been to Dalyan? If not, are you planning to go there for a future family holiday?
Let us know in the comments below!
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