Dalyan, Turkey

Coordinates: 36°49'36.3"N, 28°38'5.568"E

Everything you need to know about Dalyan and surrounding areas. Including the rustic resort town of Dalyan, the Dalyan Delta, the open air museum at Kaunos, Iztuzu Beach, and nearby Ekincik.


Visits to the Dalyan region are possible on any custom cruise and can easily be incorporated into trips to the Greek islands, such as Rhodes and Relaxation or Discover the Dodecanese.

This page was updated on Apr 20, 2021 12:49 PM

Dalyan Town Site

The laid-back town of Dalyan is a bit different from bustling Turkish resort towns like Ölüdeniz and Marmaris. Located in a fertile and productive agricultural zone (citrus and pomegranate orchards, in particular), the area is popular with nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful holiday getaway.

The town is located on the bank of the Dalyan River, and named for fishing weirs ("dalyan" is Turkish for "weir") placed along its length. Water taxis carry thousands of visitors through the river's shallow water to enjoy the sites and sounds of the region. And, each year, bass, mullet, and sea bream swim upstream through the river to spawn at Lake Köyceğiz, somehow navigating the fishing weirs on both the upstream and downstream legs of their journey.

İztuzu Beach

İztuzu Beach is located few kilometres outside of Dalyan. The 4.5 KM long, white sand beach is popular with holiday makers, and equally popular with endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) and green turtles who lay their eggs in the soft sand from May through October each year.

In 1987, İztuzu Beach found itself in the international spotlight when developers tried to build a large resort complex on the beach. Environmental activists spoke up about the ecological importance of the area and the beach was ultimately declared an environmentally protected zone in 1988. A statue of an adult sea turtle swimming with juvenile turtles was erected in the center of Dalyan to commemorate the achievement.

A sea turtle research, rescue, and rehabilitation centre operates on the south end of İztuzu Beach, and is open to visitors year-round.

Dalyan Delta

The Dalyan Delta is the shallow wetlands area where the Dalyan River and the Mediterranean Sea meet. Filled with reeds reaching up to 5 meters tall, the brackish water (a mixture of salt and fresh water) in the region is home to diverse species of fish, birds, and other water life.

Ancient Kaunos

The ancient city of Kaunos (or Caunos, if you prefer) is located a few kilometres west of modern day Dalyan. Once an important sea port (4th century BC) renowned for exporting salt, dried figs, slaves, and supplies for building and repairing wooden boats, the site is now about 8 KM inland due to silting of the Dalyan Delta.

As the water got more and more shallow, it became less and less prosperous for shipping, and the economy gradually declined. The city of was eventually abandoned in the 15th century due to a devastating malaria epidemic resulting from the marshy conditions in the region. Earthquakes and Mother Nature continued to take their toll on the site and it was completely hidden by sand and vegetation until "rediscovered" by an English archaeologist in 1842.

Nowadays, Kaunos is an open air museum operated by the government of Turkey, and was included on the "tentative" list for UNESCO cultural sites in 2014. Archaeologic excavations have been underway since 1966, and finds include:

  • An agora (market place) with a marble fountain house (4th to 3rd century BC) inscribed with rules applying to those using the harbour
  • Temples to various Greek and Roman deities, including the terrace temple with circular altar
  • Theatre – 75 meters in diameter, with a capacity for 5,000 people, the theatre is built into the side of a hill and features Hellenistic (Greek) and Roman characteristics
  • Roman baths
  • Palaestra (ancient Greek wrestling school)
  • A two-part, heavily fortified acropolis – which provides a lovely view of the ancient town site and surrounding area
  • A domed Byzantine church / basilica built in the 5th century
  • Wind measuring platform – dating to 150BC, the platform was used to assess prevailing wind direction when designing the town to ensure clean air and good ventilation for residents and visitors to the town
  • An extensive necropolis (cemetery) surrounding the main town site, including six Lycian-style rock tombs overlooking the Dalyan River which are believed to have been built between 4th and 2nd century BC. These tombs are remarkably similar to those seen in Myra – with temple facades used to decorate the modest chambers housing the remains of elite families of the area.
map of the ruins at the site of ancient Kaunos near Dalyan, Turkey

Click to enlarge.

For convenience, you are welcome to download a PDF version of this map.

Ekincik

Surrounded by forested hills on the Mediterranean coast between Dalyan and Marmaris, the small fishing village of Ekincik is a popular yachting anchorage. There are no big hotels, restaurants, or bars in the area – just acres and acres of pine trees, the occasional ancient ruin, and small family farms – making it a rustic piece of paradise for holiday makers who prefer nature and solitude to bright lights and partying. Besides having a beautiful stretch of beach and plenty of caves for adventure loving visitors, Ekincik is a convenient step-off point for cruisers who want to visit the nearby Dalyan region by water taxi.

The Dalyan Delta is too shallow to allow entry by most boats, so access by water taxi is a logical option when travelling by sea. (When visiting the area, we tyically anchor Arkadaslik at Ekincik and then make arrangements with the local water taxi cooperative to collect our guests for a day out.) It is also possible to walk along marked hiking trails overlooking the sea between Ekincik and Dalyan, with a visit to the ancient city of Kaunos along the way.

The area is known for its delicious pine honey.

Dalyan is accessible by land or water. The nearest airport is Dalaman (DLM), which is only about 15 minutes away by car. Who knows, you may fall in love with the region's relaxed and rustic atmosphere and return time after time!