Beach holidays in Turkey are often synonymous with (mostly) British tourists occupying row after row of sun loungers, rowdy club nights and expensive all-inclusive resorts. However, using public transport, or your own car, you can get to some of the best beaches in Turkey in no time. Meet the loggerhead turtles who bury their eggs in the protected sands of Çiralı or escape the tourist haven of BodrumTurkey’s favourite beach holiday destination – and find secluded coves just down the coast.

1. Patara

This broad strip of gently shelving white sand is not only Turkey’s longest beach, but also its most beautiful. Kids love its warm shallows, the legions of body-surfable waves and the serried ranks of dunes backing it. Development at its stunning south-eastern end has been confined to one very reasonably priced beach café with umbrellas and sunbeds for hire, reached through the romantic remains of a Roman city preserved in the shifting sands. 

Perched on a hillside and surrounded by olive, pomegranate, walnut and fig trees, The Viewpoint has wonderful views towards the sandy curve of Patara and the sea beyond. In keeping with the tranquil rural location, the emphasis is on a simple yet refined rustic charm. Gelemiş village centre, with its smattering of low-key restaurants and bars, is a short walk away.

Read a full review of The Viewpoint and check availability. Dalaman is the closest airport; TUI, easyJet and Jet2 all fly direct. 

2. Iztuzu Beach

An elongated 4.5 kilometers of sand makes up the inviting stretch of beach that is İztuzu. Nicknamed Turtle Beach, İztuzu is one of the most important beaches in Turkey for turtle conservation. The beach is a visually stunning natural landscape – it’s predominantly a long jut of sand that works as a barrier between the intricateness of the freshwater of the Dalyan river and the bold beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.

This idyllic slice of the Turkish coast reveals Turkey’s captivating natural scenery, which is best appreciated on a boat trip down the river delta. Cutting along the reeds, past ancient archaeological sites, the boat takes you all the way from the town of Daylan to the open coast of İztuzu beach.

3. Cleopatra Beach

On the other end of the spectrum is the very-much-organised Cleopatra Beach in the city of Alanya. Famous for its white sands and turquoise waters, it’s probably the best (and most popular) city beach in Turkey.

Legend has it that this 2.5km beach in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains was enjoyed by Anthony and Cleopatra, who herself imported the sand from the desert. These days, you can expect watersport, pirate party boats, sunbeds, beach bars, even crazy golf.

If you like your beaches organised and with plenty of activities, look no further than here in Alanya. It’s popular with young holidaymakers and families, particularly Russians. Outside high summer it’s virtually empty save for the joggers who parade up and down the promenade.

4. Icmeler Beach

Another beautiful beach in the Dalaman area is Icmeler Beach, located in Icmeler itself and just a 10-minute drive away from Marmaris. The beach is wide, sandy, and the sea is clear. Some parts are a little deeper than others, but it’s perfectly safe for children for the main part.

The beach is long and crescent-shaped, and some parts are private to restaurants and hotels. If you want to use those parts, you’ll need to either be a hotel resident or need to order food or drinks from the restaurant menu. However, that’s no big deal, as everyone needs to stay hydrated in the scorching summer sun! There is a public part of the beach, where you can just lay down your towel and do whatever you want, without having to buy a drink, but there is very little shade in that part!

5. Kabak Beach, Fethiye

Some 25 kilometres from the resort town of Ölüdeniz, you’ll come across the bohemian village of Kabak, frequented by backpackers, yogis and nature enthusiasts. Another 30 minutes on foot will take you to the steep trail leading down to Kabak Beach. This half-moon bay, surrounded by pine forests and mountains, can only be reached by descending this trail on foot, but the serene and peaceful beach at the bottom is well worth the effort (and the views from the top aren’t too shabby either).

On the pebbles and white sands of Kabak Beach, you’ll mostly be in the company of locals and backpackers travelling along the Lycian Way. You won’t find many amenities, any water sports or beach chairs for hire. The vibe is distinctively laid back, and people come here mainly to appreciate the natural beauty and undisturbed stillness during their villa holiday in Turkey. There are some shaded areas to escape from the sun with a juice or a beer from one of the beach bars. Other than that, it’s just you, the Mediterranean, and a few friendly loggerhead turtles to keep you company.

6. Butterfly Valley

This lush gorge, hemmed in by rugged cliffs, opens up onto a wide slash of white sand and shingle at its seafront.

Arriving in Butterfly Valley by boat, watching the valley and beach reveal themselves as you sail past the high bluffs of the Yedi Buran Cape, is part of this beach's theatrical appeal.

Most visitors stop here as part of a boat day trip from Fethiye. During summer, there are also regular shuttle boats running to and from Ölüdeniz.

The only other way to access Butterfly Valley is by a tough and sweaty hike from the tiny settlement of Faralya on the clifftop above.

For nature lovers, Butterfly Valley has more up its sleeve than sun, sea, and sand. The valley garnered its name from the Jersey Tiger butterflies that are endemic here. If you feel like a stroll and some butterfly spotting, there are lovely walks through the valley beyond the beach.

7. Konyaalti

If you like to stretch out at the beach then you will appreciate Konyaalti, one of Antalya’s urban beaches.

It’s another extensive sandy beach which proves why the Turkish Riviera is one of the best beach vacation destinations in the Med. It goes on for miles! It’s close to the city so you won’t get bored, and the Bey mountains provide a stunning backdrop.

Konyaalti is more popular with well-heeled locals than foreign holidaymakers, and behind the beach you’ll find an endless array of food courts and tasty treats.