Valentine’s Day has just passed and so in the spirit of getting all loved up and romantic we’re going to take a look at one of Europe’s best, but often overlooked, destinations for couples – Turkey.
While it may not have the reputation of say France or Italy as a romantic holiday destination, Turkey boasts a number of factors that could make it ideal for the hopelessly in love, from secluded coves and beaches, to ancient ruins, great restaurants and amazing sunsets. Below are some of my favourite locations in Turkey for a perfect romantic getaway.
Not only does the resort of Side on Turkey’s southern coast offer stunning beaches, warm Mediterranean waters and an abundance of restaurants selling fresh seafood, it is also one of Turkey’s most important historical sites. It is home to numerous ruins from Roman and Byzantine eras, including the massive Hellenistic Great Gate (Megale Pyle) and a Roman theatre complex.
The favoured spot for couples, however, is the Temple of Apollo located close to the shore, which makes for a great photo opportunity especially when silhouetted as the sun sets over the ocean.
Bitez, located on the Bodrum Peninsula in south-west Turkey, is the perfect place to go for a calm and relaxed couple’s getaway far from the stresses of everyday life. This part of the country is famed for its glorious sandy beaches and beautiful coves lapped by clear blue seas. But while the town is a lot quieter than many other resorts in the region, couples won’t be short of things to do. Among the most popular activities are boat trips including excursions on a traditional Turkish gulet, trips that stop off at some of the nearby hidden coves for some snorkelling and beach relaxation and catamaran and yacht charters and romantic moonlight cruises.
For couples who enjoy nothing more than a good few days lazing on the beach, then Olu Deniz is the place to go. The beaches here, with their golden sands and sparkling blue waters, turquoise lagoons and adjacent lush green hillsides, are among the most photographed in the world and the natural beauty of the place should be enough to put you in a romantic mood.
The atmosphere here is incredibly relaxed and informal, but there are still plenty of bars and restaurants to try out. And for those couples with a daredevil streak, Olu Deniz is considered one of the best regions in Europe for paragliding, with plenty of operators offering both tandem and solo flights for holidaymakers.
If you prefer the hustle and bustle of a lively town or city to quieter, more rural locales, then Fethiye on the Aegean coast, just up the road from Olu Deniz, could be the ideal destination for you and your partner. Stroll around the ancient, labyrinthine backstreets of this small but vibrant city and take the time to check out some of its fascinating historical sites. These include the Lycian Rock Tombs, carved into the rock sides over 2,000 years ago, and the Hellenistic amphitheatre by the main quay.
Also recommended is a visit to the Turkish baths in the city, which date back to the 16th century, where you can both enjoy a traditional Turkish body scrub and a soak in the warming waters, as well as a relaxing full body massage.
You can find out more about romantic Turkish holidays here.