Turkey continuously stands out as one of the elite travel destinations for tourists the world over with its natural beauty spots, historic sites, excellent seacoast, and unique culture. Serving as something of a border between worlds – connecting Europe and Asia – this Eurasian nation is popular in no short part thanks to a culture steeped in history, a bevy of delicious foods, and an annual temperature which never drops below an average of 15℃ in its southwestern part, even in the winter.
Today, let’s explore another gem in the Turkish crown – the amazing natural sites you can visit throughout Southwestern Turkey. With so many areas of aesthetic brilliance to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down what you want to see. That’s why we thought we’d make the job of choosing that little bit easier. Here are three of the best natural beauty spots to add to your Western Turkish bucket list.
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1. Any of the waterfalls in Antalya
Cascading over the Taurus Mountains from a host of streams connected to the Mediterranean Sea, the waterfalls of Antalya are worth exploring for anyone staying in or near to this tourist-heavy city. Too numerous to count, these picturesque natural occurrences stretch out sporadically across all of Antalya’s 640 kilometre coastline. Famous collections include the Kurşunlu, Upper and Lower Duden, Manavgat, and Ucansu waterfalls.
Aside from the stunning image which the site of the crisp, blue water conjures as it crashes down in waves, visitors might also want to make the most of the chance to get their swimsuits on and take a dip. The waters themselves are much cooler than the sea, and often serve as a quick and easy way to refresh yourself after a long day of exploring.
Fans of history will also be able to find something they love at most of the more prominent locations. Manavgat is situated very near to the ancient city of Side (where a relatively well preserved Temple of Apollo still stands), while ancient mills used for olive oil making are a must-see if you’re in Upper Duden Waterfall Park.
Reaching the waterfalls depends on which particular group you intend to check out. Most are within a 30-minute drive of central Antalya, with parks attached to them for visitors to explore once they’re finished with the main event. This gives families a solid base of operations if the kids (or the big kids) need to let off steam after you’re done soaking in the majesty of the falls. They’re also perfect locations for a picnic.
2. Pamukkale Calcium Pools
Those looking to marry their sightseeing with some genuine rest and relaxation would be wise to explore the Pamukkale Calcium Pools. Often referred to as the “Cotton Castle”, “Velvet White Rocks”, or, most commonly, “The White Paradise”, these 17 hot water thermal springs are popular amongst tourists wanting to try something a little different, looking to take a break from the Turkish heat, or even attempting to cure what ails them.
Some believe the springs have healing properties, which is why a handful of tourists will spend anywhere from seven to ten days in Pamukkale in an attempt to holistically recover. Whatever the case, it’s believed that the area has existed since ancient times, when a spring with a high concentration of dissolved calcium spilled over a cliff edge. The result was a large calcium deposit, which over time was worn down into natural shelves, ridges, and pools.
The pools range in temperature from 35-100℃, and stretch out for a whopping 3 kilometres. Owing to how utterly unique the locale is, the site has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. And while that means that some of the pools are off limits, it highlights just how culturally significant the area is to the culture of Turkey.
Those wanting to explore the Pamukkale pools will do best to stay in the city of Denizli. Just a 22 kilometre journey away, the area is easily accessible via a simple car journey. Some tour companies will operate right out of Denizli for those not feeling comfortable with renting a vehicle.
3. The Butterfly Valley
Akin to something out of a fantasy adventure, the Butterfly Valley is a hidden paradise which sits between two sheer cliff faces in the Fethiye district of the Muğla Province. Found at the foot of the Babadağ Mountain, this beautiful strip of golden sandy beach, lush greenery, and beautiful blue waters is home to a diverse range of butterfly species – arguably the most famous of these being the Jersey Tiger.
The World Heritage Foundation has decreed it a “first degree natural site”, which means construction work of any kind is forbidden from occurring here. Currently, a butterfly museum is being created away from this region, as a means of preserving the immortal legacy of the area. Owing to its relative remoteness, the Butterfly Valley is one of those rare spots which can claim it really does present a showcase of truly unspoiled nature.
For those wanting to visit the Butterfly Valley, you have a few options. Boats run out of Ölüdeniz three times a day (to and from the valley), and generally set visitors back around $50 per trip. For the more adventurous amongst you, it’s also possible to paraglide to the spot (under professional supervision) from the top of the Babadağ Mountain. Just be sure to chart your course wisely, as one part of the beach is currently used as a nudist camp.
Those wanting to stay in the nearby area can choose from a variety of exciting accommodations. Arguably the best, the Alize Hotel, sits on the edge of the Babadağ, and is characterised by white natural stones which give the hotel a luxurious ambience. The Yacht Hotel, in Fethiye Bay, is another fantastic option. This locale provides panoramic views of the entire region, with the woodland mountains littered across a stunning backdrop.
Do you feel inspired to get out and explore some of these breathtaking areas of natural beauty yourself? Wherever you choose to visit, you can rest assured you’ll find something in Turkey which leaves you speechless. There’s a reason it continues to stand out as one of the must-see countries for holidaymakers, year-on-year.
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.