Traveling the Turkish Riviera: Turquoise Coast Itinerary By Bus
You said traveling the Turkish Riviera was one of your 2019 travel highlights. But what exactly is this Turkish Riviera you speak so fondly of, Alex?
Just about one of the most ridiculously picturesque, yet relatively low key travel destinations in the whole world. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. It’s probably best you check it out yourself and then tell me how right I was 😉
Chances are though, when you think of a Turquoise Coast, the shores of Turkey don’t exactly come to mind. Very few of my fellow Americans even knew this place existed. BUT LET ME TELL YOU. The Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast, with it’s immaculate beauty was the place that surprised me the most last year (check out the other 11 most underated places!)
FOOD TO TRY:Turkish breakfast
TIPPING:5-10% in cash
Turquoise Coast Travel Guide Covers:
– 10 DAY ITINERARY
– TURKISH RIVIERA ROUTE
– BUS TRAVEL TIPS FOR TURKEY
– TOP THINGS TO DO
– WHERE TO STAY
– BUS DIRECTIONS FOR EACH STOP
Just imagine… aquamarine *clean* waters, delicious Turkish food, easy bus transportation, and a chilled out atmosphere all at a fraction of the price compared to other Meditterean destinations. This is the magic of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast.
Where exactly is the Turkish Riviera a.k.a Turquoise Coast?
Right here folks.
It encompasses the majority of Turkey’s southwest coastline along the Meditterean Sea. Although the entirety of the coastline is beautiful, large resorts are often found in the northern areas. For my travel guide, I’ll be focusing on a more southern route, visiting Fethiye, Ölüdeniz, Kas, Kekova, Olympos and Antalya noted by the yellow stars below.
When’s the best time to visit the Turkish Riviera?
Although temperatures are warmer and better for swimming in the summer months, heading to the Turquoise Coast right before the off season reveals a more relaxing environment for visitors.
By leaving Istanbul for the Turquoise Coast at the beginning of October, I was greeted with warm days, cool nights, bright blue skies and very little humidity. Even for me, an absolute pansy for cold water, I could still swim almost everywhere. Not only is the weather spectacular, but you’ll also find great deals on accommodations in the shoulder and off seasons.
10 Day Itinerary for Turkey’s Turquoise Coast
I spent almost 3 glorious weeks traveling Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. My pace was slow and relaxed, working on my computer a majority of the days. However, exploring the Turkish Riviera through my suggested Turquoise Coast itinerary could easily be done in 10 days.
How to Get Around Turkey’s Turquoise Coast
With reliable and easy to use buses reaching everywhere you’d want to go, the Turquoise Coast is easily accessible by plane, bus or car.
Fly Into Dalaman Airport from Istanbul
Being from the States where flights are always mad expensive, I often forget it’s not the same elsewhere. So when I mentioned I was looking into the grueling 8 hour bus ride to the Turquoise Coast from Istanbul, I was met with incredulous looks from the locals I was staying with.
With their suggestion to look at flights instead, I was delighted to find a whopping $25 flight from Istanbul to Dalaman Airport with Turkish Airlines. Absolute steal of a deal!
BuS Transportation in the Turquoise Coast
If you’re relaxed on time, getting around the Turquoise Coast by bus is one of the most hassle-free ways to travel here. A couple things to note about local transportation along the Turquoise Coast:
Tips for Turquoise Coast BUS Travel
- Otogar = bus station
- Dolmuş = local buses, usually smaller than tour buses and buses that travel from city to city
- Signs in town with a big letter D (typically blue) mean it’s a dolmuş bus stop.
- Look at the front window of the bus to see if it’s your bus – the final destination will be written on a sign or displayed electronically in the windshield window.
- If you ever have questions, almost everyone is more than willing to help tourists out.
- While not everyone speaks English, they’ll go and find someone who does for you.
- As it should be everywhere, but I especially noticed this in Turkey, give your seat to those with disabilities or the elderly.
- The larger buses that take you from city to city usually have a built in cooler behind a seat in the back with cold water for free.
TICKETS & PAYING
- Almost every bus has the price in Turkish lira written on a sign inside the bus.
- Pay your driver after you board, don’t be surprised if he starts driving without you paying yet. He didn’t forget, just give him your fare en route or once you stop.
- I don’t remember ever having a problem, but if possible, pay in smaller denomonations.
Bus Routes & Timetables
- To find timetables online I either check the route on Rome2Rio or type “X city to X city in Turkey” directly on Google. Although you make have to translate it, usually you can find some info online.
- If you can’t find the route times online, then go to the local otogar and ask the employees or bus drivers for the time table.
- Both the local and longer haul buses in Turkey are very organized and tend to coordinate with larger bus or flight arrivals.
Stop No. 1
Travel To Feithiye
Fethiye is a popular resort town with a natural harbor offering day trips to nearby islands and ancient rock tombs overlooking the town. Although the city centre itself is worth a visit, staying about 25 minutes away by dolmuş in Calis Beach, offers a more relaxing atmosphere.
Read about almost getting hit by a paraglider, becoming fish bait, being the youngest foreigner for miles and getting spammed by a Jehovah’s Witness in my full Fethiye travel guide here.
HOW MANY NIGHTS
2 nights will give you enough time to explore Fethiye and take a day trip to Ölüdeniz
WHERE TO STAY
Near Calis Beach for a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere away from the center of town.
TOP THINGS TO DO
- Kaunos Rock Tombs
- Fethiye Bay
- Amyntas Rock Tomb
- Calis Beach
- Tuesday Market
- Sunset Boat Tour
- Şehit Fethiye Bey Parkı
How to Get to Fethiye by Bus from Dalaman Airport
Dalaman Airport is tiny, so you’ll get through quickly. Walk down the stairs to the front of the airport and to the outside. Wait at the Park Cafe until you see a bus with Fethiye written in the front window.
Most likely a bus will already be there, waiting to fill up seats. But if not, ask around and someone (either a fellow bus driver or a cafe employee) will be able to tell you when it’s expected to arrive.
I paid 23 Turkish lira for the bus from Dalaman to Fethiye and it took just under an hour. Because I didn’t know the local bus schedule, I ended up taking a taxi from the drop off point in Fethiye to my hotel near Calis Beach.
Stop No. 2
day trip to Ölüdeniz
To limit how much you have to move around, Ölüdeniz is a perfect day trip from Fethiye. A small town built around tourism, Ölüdeniz boasts some spectular seaside scenery and beaches.
Read about almost getting hit by a paraglider, becoming fish bait in my full day trip to Ölüdeniz travel guide here.
TOP THINGS TO DO
- Relax on Ölüdeniz Beach
- But don’t get hit by a paraglider
- Swim in the Blue Lagoon
- Take a water taxi to Butterfly Valley
How to Get to Ölüdeniz by Bus from Fethiye
Catch a bus to Ölüdeniz from the center of Fethiye, the main bus stop near the big mosque. The bus takes around 30 minutes to Ölüdeniz Beach and should cost you 7.5 lira.
Stop No. 3
Travel to Kaş
One of my favorites towns from traveling the Turquoise Coast, Kaş offers a more lively and younger atmosphere than the resort vibe of Fethiye. Here you can dine in delicious restaurants, relax at waterfront beach clubs, hike the surrounding mountains and partake in nightlife shenanigans if you so please.
Read about a (veggie) restaurant I absolutely fell in love with, eating gozleme at night made on a hot stone in the middle of the town square, boat hopping and scooter rides to side of the road paradises in my full Kaş travel guide here.
HOW MANY NIGHTS
3 nights will give you enough time to relax a little and take a full day boat tour of Kekova Island.
WHERE TO STAY
Anywhere near the marina, I stayed at Hotel Ferah and would highly recommend it.
TOP THINGS TO DO
- Scooter to Kaputas Beach
- Explore Meis Island
- Walk to Kaş Belediyesi Halk Plajı
- Discover the ancient city of Antiphellos
- Chill out at the beach clubs
- Experience Kaş nightlife
- Full day boat tour of Kekova Island
How to Get to Kaş from Fethiye by Bus
From the Fethiye main bus stop in town near the big mosque, take a dolmuş that says “Otogar” to the main bus station. The dolmuş won’t take you directly inside the bus station but will drop you off in front of the gas stations near a line of storefronts on the street. You’ll know you’re at the right place if you see big buses parked behind the gas station.
Walk inside the gates to the bus station and look for a bus with Kaş written on a sign in the front window. If it’s not there yet, ask the other bus drivers and they’ll let you when it’s due to arrive.
The bus from Fethiye to Kaş will take around 2 hours and bring you just north of the center of Kaş. Taxis are available but you can easily walk to your accommodations if you’re staying near the center or harbor.
Stop No. 5
Boat Tour of Kekova Island
The boat tour will take you west towards Demre and the uninhabited island of Kekova. Along the way you’ll stop to swim and snorkel, eat a delicious lunch prepared on board, tour the ancient sunken city, and dock in the small village of Kaleköy for the afternoon.
KEKOVA BOAT TOUR INCLUDES
- Stop at crystal clear swim spots
- Sail around the island of Kekova
- See the sunken city ruins of Simena
- Eat a delicious traditional Turkish lunch
- Hike up the castle of Simena
Easily one of my favorite days spent traveling in the Turquoise Coast, the full day boat tour will only set you back around 160 lira (shoulder season pricing, could be a bit more during summer).
Stop No. 6
Travel to OlymPos
Does the idea of swinging in tree hammocks, sleeping in comfy wooden huts next to hanging citrus, shaded by mountain ridges and surrounded by ancient ruins entice the hell out of you? Yeah, me too. Olympos was all that and more.
Read about hiking ancient trade routes, scaling castle walls for panoramic sea views, petting a million + 1 doggos, and basically having one of the best weeks of my life in my full Olympos travel guide here.
HOW MANY NIGHTS
2 nights will give you enough time to explore the Lycian Ruins, beach and hike part of the Lycian Way.
WHERE TO STAY
TOP THINGS TO DO
- Hike the ancient Lycian Way
- Relax on Olympos beach
- Swim inside caves
- Explore the ancient Lycian ruins of Olympo
- Roast marshmallows on the Chimaera flames
- Walk the beach to Chirela for lunch
How to get to Olympos from Kaş By Bus
Getting to and from Olympos is a bit tricky. Type Olympos on Google maps and nothing comes up. However accommodations will show up, so I used “Bayrams Tree Houses” as a point of reference for Olympos. From the main bus station in Kaş (the same place you arrived) you’ll take a bus to “Olīmpos Junction.” Although Olympos isn’t on the map, the drivers know exactly where you’re trying to go and should cost around 28 lira.
Once you arrive to the Olympos Junction (pretty much just a cafe with outside seating) you’ll take a shared taxi van costing 7.5 lira to where all the accommodations in Olympos are. It’s a protected area so only wooden structures are permitted to be built here and therefore creates what looks more like a hippie enclave than a village.
Stop No. 7
FLY OUT OF Antalya
Heading into Antalya we had low expectations from other travelers who had been before. So we weren’t expecting much. But besides a less than stellar hostel that I will not recommend, Antalya was dope! I could have easily spent more time here. It sorta reminded me of a New Orleans meets Ottoman Empire, with cool nightlife options and live music everywhere.
Read about celebrating Republic Day among massive crowds of singing Turkish people, getting served coffee with cotton candy, and everyone thinking my friend and I were Turkish in my full Antalya travel guide here.
HOW MANY NIGHTS
2 nights will give you enough time to explore most of the city highlights and nightlife if you stay over a weekend night
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel in the Kaleiçi (or Old Town) neighborhood
TOP THINGS TO DO
- Walk under Hadrian’s Gate
- Relax at Lara Beach
- Check out the Old Marina
- Visit the Antalya Archeological Museum
- Explore Kaleici
- Shop at the Old Bazaar
- Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque
- Sunset on the waterfront Karaalioğlu Park
How to get to Antalya from Olympos By Bus
To get to Antalya from Olympos you’ll take the same shared taxi van from your accommodations to the Olympos Junction for 7.5 lira. Ask your accommodations in Olympos of the route times, they change throughout the season. At the Olympos Junction you’ll catch a bus going directly to Antalya for 20 lira and takes about 2 hours.
Once in Antalya, the bus will drop you off in the main bus station on the outskirts of town. Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll either take a local tram or bus into the city. Show the bus driver or employees where you want to go on a map and they’ll direct you to the correct one.
So clearly, traveling through the Turkish Riviera is an incredible experience and everyone should do it. That’s an order. The Turquoise Coast is now easily one of my favorite travel memories. A memory I very much intend to revisit one day.
As always, if you have any questions on my Turquoise Coast travel guide or getting around by bus in the Turkish Riviera, drop them in the comments below. Cheers!
Want more beautiful Turquoise Coast? Check out these other posts:
- 10 Day-TURQUOISE COAST ITINERARY BY BUS
- Stop 1-FETHIYE TRAVEL GUIDE
- Stop 2-DAY TRIP ÖLÜDENIZ
- Stop 2&3-KAŞ TRAVEL GUIDE
- Stop 4-OLYMPOS TRAVEL GUIDE
- Stop 5-ANTALYA TRAVEL GUIDE
Traveling the Turkish Riviera:
Turquoise Coast Itinerary By Bus
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LOVE the layout of your post and all the helpful tips for road tripping this gorgeous coast! All the photos are so pretty!
I’ve never thought about visiting the Turkish Riviera before reading this. You definitely sparked my interest though, it looks and sounds so beautiful! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Love this super informative post! 😍 your photos look incredible, your editing is amazing!
This is an incredible route! And a really good way to explore more of Turkey!
Great pictures and detailed itinerary. Marking it for my trip 🙂
You had me at breakfast hahaha. The photos look amazing! My boyfriend and I are looking for where to go by the end of August, I’m going to save this! It’s very detailed and might come in handy.
Hi there! This is so helpful. Have you been to Bodrum? How does it compare to Kas?
Hi Amy, I actually haven’t been to Bodrum but many of the people I had met in Kas had been there as well. From what I’ve heard it’s beautiful but Kas seems to be the favorite. Hope that helps!
How were the internet speeds on the Turkish Riviera? Enough to do Zoom video calls/Google Meets?
So sorry for the delayed response! They might have gotten better since I was there towards the end of 2019, but the internet was always a little bit of a struggle in the area unless you were in a big town like Antalya. I rarely had to make video calls for my work during my stay there so can’t attest fully but wouldn’t bet on consistently strong internet speeds. One idea I know some do is to ask the host of the Airbnb or hotel to send a screenshot of an internet speed test before booking. Most hosts are happy to provide this for those who ask.