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Take the Family › Aegean Coast, Turkey

Aegean Coast, Turkey Family Holidays & Breaks

Gulet cruiseGulet cruise
EphesusEphesus
Gulet cruiseGulet cruise
Flying Time 4hrs
Carbon Footprint 2.25 CO2
Timezone GMT +2
Currency Turkish Lira

Today

Overview

Turkey's Aegean Coast (west and south-west) has been home to the Greeks, the Romans and the Ottomans, all of whom left their mark. But despite resembling a vast outdoor museum, it also offers long stretches of lovely, sandy, child-friendly beaches surrounded by pine-and olive-clad hills, and great but not over-developed resort towns with extensive amenities, making it a great choice for family holidays.

Things to do with kids in the Aegean Coast

Head for world-famous, 3,000-year-old Troy, the northernmost attraction in the Aegean – thoroughly excavated and well signposted and documented. The impressive stone walls are a testament to the military significance of the citadel, and kids enjoy playing on the huge reconstruction of the wooden horse at the entrance to the site.

Venture to Bergama not far from Troy – one of the most dramatic archaeological sites in all Turkey. Perched on a hilltop above the modern city, the huge acropolis boasts many remains belonging to the 3rd-century BC Pergamene dynasty.

Check out Kusadasi, the main resort on the northern Aegean coast – a brash, lively port packed with shops, restaurants, nightclubs and tourists. This is the main port of call for excursions to Ephesus, one of the greatest ruined cities in the western world. Famous in ancient times for its worship of the mother goddess, it is also believed by Christians to be the last resting place of the Virgin Mary. There are many extensive standing remains on this huge site, notably the 2nd-century AD Library of Celsus and Temple of Hadrian.

Travel down the coast – via countless classical sites (Aphrodisias, Priene, Miletus and Didyma to name but four) and the sandy beach at Altinkum – to Bodrum, one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations. This bustling town is divided into distinct halves: the vehicle-free eastern sector with its sandy beaches, and the western sector, with the yachting harbour (the tourist hub) at its centre. The most famous town landmark is the Castle of St Peter, built by crusaders in the 15th century. Bodrum caters for a range of tourists: families, yachters and single pleasure-seekers. If it all gets too much, retreat to the Bodrum peninsula – a wooded, rocky outcrop and tourist paradise with secluded bays, rocky coasts, secret hideaways and well-developed resorts, catering for every possible taste and a good bet for family holidays.

Hop south to the resort town of Marmaris, another thriving tourist hub. Lying in a sheltered bay, it has a seafront promenade that runs the length of the town, lined with hotels, restaurants and clubs (and locals touting for business). There’s a luxurious marina, an extensive bazaar, and busy holiday villages nearby. 

Get away from the crowds: the Datça peninsula is a long, pine-clad finger extending into the Aegean, cloaked with olive groves and almond orchards, and famous for its tranquil, clear waters.

Discover Dalyan, a pretty riverside village worth visiting for the amazing Lycian tombs carved into the cliff-face across the river, its quayside restaurants, its hot springs and mud baths, and – best of all for kids – its wooden boat trips to Iztuzu beach, famous as a rare breeding ground for loggerhead turtles. It’s been a protected area since David Bellamy made international headlines opposing the building of a hotel complex on the site.

From Fethiye, take the full-day‘12 Island’ boat-trip, stopping at various islands and bays and allowing plenty of time to swim – many of the double-decker boats even have a slide into the water, which is a real hit with kids!

Visit Olu Deniz, Turkey’s most famous beach, and one of its best, with stunning turquoise waters, a beautiful lagoon and lots of watersports. From here there are cheap taxi-boat trips to Butterfly Valley, where between June and September you can see unique Jersey tiger butterflies – otherwise, it’s an unspoilt beach with a tiny restaurant, wooden beach huts and a few hippies.

Eat

The Aegean Coast is particularly lush, and there is even more diversity to its cuisine than in the rest of Turkey – more fresh fish dishes, and much greater use of olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables. Resorts also offer plenty of international dishes and fast-food options for the unadventurous.

When to go to the Aegean Coast

The peak tourist season on the Aegean Coast is July and August, when the hottest temperatures are reached (43°C). Hence, spring and autumn are the best times to come here on a family holiday: the weather is hot but not unbearably so, the flowers are out and the resorts are fairly quiet.

How to get to the Aegean Coast

There are frequent flights (about 4hrs) from the UK, plus additional charter flights in high season from the likes of Thomas Cook and Thomson. Izmir Airport is 1hr 30mins from Kusadasi;  Bodrum Airport is 30mins from Bodrum itself; and Dalaman Airport is 1hr 30mins from Marmaris.

The Aegean coast is also easily accessible from Istanbul.

Cost

Turkey remains one of the better-value destinations in Europe. You’re looking at  £2,000–4,000 for four people for a week’s family holiday on the Aegean Coast, depending on the time of year and standard of accommodation.

By Liz Wyse

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