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Costa de Turismo - in Turkey?

Many experienced travelers are probably familiar with a stretch of Spain's Mediterranean coast that Rick Steves once derisively called the Costa de Turismo -- a stretch where expats from the UK are so prevalent, entire towns seem to be entirely devoted to serving their holiday needs: all prices are in Pounds, all the shops, bars and restaurants have signs 100% in English, with English football (what we Yanks call soccer) matches blaring on big-screen TVs, all the food is British, there are radio and TV stations dedicated to British expats, and nary a bit of Spain evident. If it weren't for the warm, sunny weather, wall-to-wall condo and vacation villages, one would be hard pressed to know that you weren't somewhere in England.

Now, that's not my cup of tea (and I think Rick Steves' snarky reference to the Costa de Turismo suggests he didn't paricularly like it either), but there's nothing wrong with that - if lots of Brits have found their happy place along the Spanish coast, who am I to criticize them? That's not the Spain that I like, but vive la difference, and all that. There are other places for me.

I'm currently planing a trip to Turkey. In my research, I'm finding what looks a lot like the same phenomenon along the Mediterranean coast there in Turkey. Towns that seem more than just v-e-r-y popular with Brits on holiday, but stretches of the coast that seem to have been transformed into places just like that stretch of the Spanish coast: dotted along the coast from Izmir to Bodrum to Dalyan around to Antalya. I suspect that is sporadic rather than completely pervasive all along this coast, with expat pockets interspersed with places that have not been transformed (it's a long coastline).

I plan to tour along this area, and am hoping to spend my time mostly in places that have not been highly transformed to expat holiday villages. This stretch of Turkey doesn't seem to be discussed much here (and the Rick Steves Turkey tour seems to bypass this coastal stretch...hmmm).

Anyone here familiar with this part of Turkey? Am I worrying too much about this? Can you provide any insights as to which parts of this coast are more (and less) overwhelmed and touristy?

Thanks for any insights and pointers you can offer.

Posted by
266 posts

Dalyan is a bit that way. I didn't see so many expats and condos as I saw a lot of British tourists there, but I didn't find it bothersome. And the Lycean rock tombs are very much worth seeing. Antalya, on the other hand, was full of Russian tourists. I always refer to Antalya as "Cancun for Russians." Also, a friend of mine sent me a brochure a few weeks ago about condos and developments that cater to German, English, and American expats in Alanya, south of Antalya.

Izmir is just crowded. Period. And I didn't find it touristy. Fetiye did not seem especially overrun with tourists, but I wasn't there for very long. I haven't been to Bodrum or Marmaris.

Overall, I think you are worrying too much. The Turkish coast is gorgeous, and most of what I saw --- except for Antalya --- was not very touristy. We took a four night gulet cruise starting in Gocek and ending in Fetiye, and it was absolutely spectacular -- one of my favorite travel experience ever. Gocek is what I would describe as a small yachting community. One day we hiked up to a farmhouse in the mountains where there were not even roads, much less tourists. The only way out was on foot or by donkey. Another day we went to Kayakoy, which was not crowded. When we went to Gemiler island, we were the only people there. The only unpleasant experience was that one night there was another gulet full of British tourists anchored next to us, and they had loud nightclub music blasting until late into the evening. But that was an exception to otherwise quiet and peaceful nights.

Just as an example --- here is where we were docked one day. https://mariematthews.smugmug.com/Turkey/i-BV9Jb2p/A

Posted by
6061 posts

Marmaris and Antalya may be the most touristed - the former is a gateway to Rhodes and "Blue Voyage" sailing trips. I was in Bodrum in October (still warm enough to swim and sail) and it certainly didn't feel like it was taken over by "holiday-makers". I took a ferry to Datça and definitely felt like the only tourist there at the time - it was very mellow and felt local.

I really liked Izmir and it didn't feel touristy to me. But it's not a resort town, it's a large(ish), dense city. Even with a giant cruise ship being docked there one day, I really didn't notice any major tourist crowds.

If you've already been to Greek islands (I have not), then maybe the Turkish coast isn't going to rock your world but I really enjoyed it and loved swimming in the warm water (part of one of those gulet boat trips). Bodrum also has an amazing Museum of Underwater Archeology and a Knights Castle worth seeing.

Posted by
106 posts

Dalyan and Göcek have some British people living there pretty much full time. They seem to go to
England in mid November and stay through January, so they have an extended Christmas at home. I have been to Dayan and Göcek a few times in recent Octobers and Novembers. I have talked with many English people and this is what they told me.

I prefer the Turkish coast to the Greek Islands. Different vibe for sure.

Posted by
5017 posts

Thanks for the responses and reassurances.

@Marie - I am quite interested in Lycia, so thanks for confirming that the rock tombs et al are worth visiting. "Cancun for Russians" sounds like something out of my travel nightmares, so thanks for the warning. Alanya was just on our "maybe" list. Izmir is our logical insertion point - our inbound flight comes into Istanbul (of course) but since it arrives at an ungodly early hour, we figure we should press on with a connecting flight to Izmir, which we will use as our jumping-off point for all the historic sites nearby and to the south (after a day recovering from jetlag and what I call "geospatial displacement trauma" - flying from one side of the planet to the other). The area around Fethiye has intrigued me (especially Kayakoy) so I am reassured to hear your impressions.

@Agnes - We have not been to Greece so I won't have that for comparisons. We are going in March so I'm expecting to miss the worst of high season crowding in most place (and we do not plan on doing any swimming on this trip - we will come back another time for that). The ancient sites have a strong pull for us -- give me a camera and a pile of old rocks and I'm happy for hours.

@Michelle - I have no problem with British folks (just seeking to avoid locations where it's just completely overrun with way too many people of any nationality). It does seem that the Brits have found some places in southern Europe where they have essentially moved in and settled down (a bit ironic with Brexit and all), Dalyan keeps popping up as an example.

Thanks all, your input appreciated and more is welcomed.