The Turquoise Coast is just as stunning as its name suggests. Luminous blue waves in that signature shade (the word "turquoise" actually comes from the French for "Turkish") lap at isolated coves and some of the country’s most iconic beaches—including Ölüdeniz, Patara, and İztuzu. Inhabited for millennia, spectacular archaeological ruins of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine origin are never far away. Termessos is said to have defied Alexander the Great because he was daunted by its height, and the antique theater in Apsendos rivals the Colosseum in Rome.
To the northwest is the Datça Peninsula, a Mediterranean landscape of rolling hills, with almond and olive trees looking out on a sea dotted with Greek islands. East of Marmaris, a more-touristy town, you’ll find the Lycian coast with its rich mix of ruins and camera-ready beaches. Each Lycian coast destination has a distinct feel: crowded Ölüdeniz with its lovely lagoon; laid-back, alternative Kabak; low-key Patara; upscale, ex-pat haven Kalkan; lively Kaş; and the green and relaxed Olympos area. Antalya, the biggest city on this stretch, has long beaches lined with resorts and an often tourist-free historic center, Kaleiçi, filled with historic mansions (many now converted into boutique hotels). Antalya also has the coast’s best museum and archaeological sites, Aspendos among them. East of the resort towns of Side and Alanya, the region becomes rugged, tourists rare, and prices much lower. Ruins, castles, and beaches remain plentiful, however, and the taste of "real Turkey" becomes more pronounced.