Akyaka: The Ultimate 3-Day Itinerary You Need Now
Akyaka is a vibrant, charming town on the southwestern coast of Turkey. Walking through the streets you’ll notice the unique buildings are reminiscent of ski chalets. These two to three-story wooden buildings are complete with intricate balconies and overhanging rooftops. Lining the footpaths are large flowering bougainvillaeas in more colours than imaginable. Cafes are buzzing with tourists and locals alike, each savouring with a cup of çay (tea).
Turkey is one of those countries that you have to visit at least once in your life. The best way to see the coastline is by hiring a car and road-tripping along what is known as the Turkish Riviera. Akyaka was a half-way stop for us and the perfect place for some R&R. The only place I can remember being equally as relaxed was on the shores of Lake Bohinj, Slovenia.
In this article, I have created the perfect 3-day itinerary for your visit to Akyaka.
Not to be overshadowed by the nearby beach towns of Bodrum and Marmaris, Akyaka is a hidden gem tucked away within a forest. In 2011 the town joined the ranks of 14 other towns in Turkey which have been awarded Cittaslow status. Joining the Cittaslow movement means the town has taken on a slower pace to improve the overall quality of life and preserve the town’s features. Which is why Akyaka is a wonderful place to come for a few days of rest and relaxation. With an increase in the town’s popularity the summer months are now starting to get busy with tourism – so visit here in the offseason for the ‘slowest’ experience.
Akyaka has three distinct regions. The first is the busier, lower beachfront area, complete with shops, cafes and bars. Next is the upper town which is perched on the hill and is home to the unique architecture mentioned above. These Ottoman-style buildings have been restored in recent decades and new ones built. Many have been converted to hotels which hold a lot of charm and character. Finally, the riverfront where you can while away time over the water watching the ducks and geese swim by.
I loved this quaint town and would recommend spending three nights exploring it and the nearby areas.
How to Spend 3 Days in Akyaka
Day 1 in Akyaka:
Ease into the cruisey beach lifestyle by taking a stroll through the upper town along Atatürk Cd. Stop at the bakery connected to the supermarket selling chocolate croissants, baklava and eclairs, plus many other desserts which I could not recognize. Order a few delights and ask for them to take away. Next, continue making your way down the footpath on Atatürk Cd. to the Akyaka Mahallesi waterfront. This shaded road makes for a pleasant stroll no matter the time of year.
Make sure to pack your swimwear as once you see the waterfront you’ll be dying to go for a dip. Here you will find restaurants and a few small resort-style accommodations all with a big dock out over the water’s edge. What makes this area so beautiful however is it’s all surrounded by a green forest. No doubt this place is very busy in summer, but I had it nearly all to myself during November. After you have gone for a swim, warm up again in the sun and then time to get some lunch.
My pick for lunch is the Ayk Restaurant, which is part of the Akyaka Yacht Club. Specialising in Mediterranean seafood style and pizza you can have a light lunch here. Although part of the yacht club, prices do not reflect accordingly.
After lunch, continue westward around the coast. You’ll be able to explore more if you have a car but it’s by no means impossible without one. A curving road hugging the side of a mountain takes you from one hidden beach cove to the next. The best ones here are the ones you need to hike down to and such become your own private beach. Most access paths are directly off the main road and will take a bit of imagination to get down to. If you are on foot, you have the added advantage of not having to find somewhere to pull over the car. Spend the rest of the afternoon here. Alternate between dips into the calm, deep blue waters and finishing off your book which you’ve been too busy to read until now. When you start to get a bit hungry, remember you packed your bakery treats.
When the sun starts to edge towards the horizon, make your way back along the road. The Mahellesi cove faces southwest, so depending on the time of year you could be lucky with an unobstructed view of the sun setting directly into the ocean. In that case, stop at the yacht club for a beer and sip contentedly before heading back into town ending your first day in this peaceful town.
When you’re ready, have dinner at Guzelkoy Firincafe. The food here is some of the cheapest I had during my stay not only in Akyaka but in all of Turkey. The food is a typical Turkish menu consisting of meats, chicken, pasta and starters.
Day 2 in Akyaka:
Sleep in today and when you wake up feeling relaxed, take an easy morning to wander to the nearest cafe for a coffee and some breakfast. Or do as I did during my stay – I stayed in an apartment (see below) and cooked my own breakfast each day. A lot of hotels also offer inclusive breakfasts in Turkey.
When in Turkey, don’t miss a magical hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
Today, head down to the Akyaka Plaji (beach). From here you will see the marina to the east. You can choose to take one of the many boats on a river cruise or a more leisurely walk alongside the river. I chose to walk the river which is less than 2km. At the mouth are a few stalls for browsing full of souvenirs and cheap jewellery. The river walk is flat and while you have to walk on the road in parts, the road isn’t too busy. Walk until you reach West Cafe and Bistro and have lunch.
West Cafe and Bistro is great. I visited here twice during my stay. The decking is set out over the river where you can sit listening to the running water and watch the water birds. The staff here are friendly and attentive plus they have their own pomegranate balsamic which is a must with the bread. Food is delicious and affordable. The whole restaurant is alfresco dining and has a colourful and cheerful feel about it. Tip: Try the halloumi salad and the shrimp casserole. Yum!
Walk back to the beach and through to the western side. Between the western end of the Akyaka plaji and the Akyaka Mahallesi is a hilly forested area with walking trails and rocky beach coves. Spend the afternoon in here enjoying the scent of pine and having another lazy afternoon of swimming, reading and exploring. Complete your day with a Turkish ice cream (Dondurma).
Stay along the beachfront area for sundowners and dinner.
Day 3 in Akyaka:
On your final day, you have two options. The first, continue to have a relaxing holiday and laze around enjoying the sun. Secondly, hire a car and go on a day of exploration and adventure. I chose this third day to see more of the Datca and the Marmaris peninsula. Drive for 30 mins until you reach Marmaris. This much busier town has a long stretch of beach and is known for its bars and nightclubs. While this wasn’t what I was looking for during my visit, it is a nice place for you to stop and spend half an hour wandering the beachfront. Walk up to the Marmaris Castle located at the eastern end of the beach which has a lovely view over the marina. Entry costs 8 TL (1.50 USD).
After you have spent enough time exploring Marmaris, drive another 45 minutes until you reach the tiny village of Turgot. The views along the coastline here are out of this world. Crystal clear azure blue water continually peaks through gaps in the pine forest. Once you reach Turgot continue through the town and follow signs for the Turgot Selalesi (waterfall). See map below.
While only a small waterfall it is very pretty within the pine forest. Spend a good hour or more here enjoying the various pools and walking trail which follows the narrow river. Although the water was not warm enough for me to swim in, the first pool is deep enough for you to jump off the waterfall’s ledge. Your lunch options consist of staying at the waterfall cafes, heading into Turgot for a local dish or to the Turgot Yacht Club for something more western. Even if you decide not to have lunch at the yacht club, this is a nice area of Turgot worth visiting.
My afternoon consisted of driving along the peninsula to Datca. There are incredible views due to the elevation changing so dramatically, although I don’t believe it is worth the over an hour drive it takes to get there. Instead, I would recommend visiting the nearer towns of İçmeler Belediyesi and Turunç. From Turgot, you can continue around a loop road, hitting both of these locations and eventually puts you back on the main road to head home.
Finish your drive before dusk so you can watch one last sunset from the beautiful shores of Akyaka.
Where to Stay
Budget Apartment – I stayed in the XOX Apart and would highly recommend this place. During the offseason and winter months, they offer a great discount. I had the top floor 1 bedroom loft apartment which was all brand new for 180 TL (34 USD)/night. Keep dining out costs low by staying in a place with a kitchen. Across the road from the XOX Apart there is a supermarket where you can buy breakfast foods and spreads to make sandwiches for lunch.
Camping – There are campsites all over Turkey’s coastline and Akyaka has a beautiful one. If I had the equipment it would be a great budget way to travel here. The forested area between the plaji and the Mahallesi known as Akyaka forest as described above is also set up as a large camping area. There are shops, toilets and electricity for campers. During the summer months, you can hire a tent which is permanently set up. A site costs 35 TL (7 USD)/day.
Hostel – The Agape Hostel is located near the beach and river and is rated 9/10 on Hostelworld. Mixed dorm rooms start at 45 TL (9 USD)/night. The hostel is within walking distance to everything you need and has a restaurant on site.
How to Get There
The closest airport to Akyaka is Dalaman. During the summer season, you can arrange through your hotel or hostel a shuttle at a cheap price. The shared shuttle will take about 1 and a half hours.
During the winter and off-season, there aren’t any shared shuttles to Akyaka. The cheapest private transfer I could find costs 252 TL (48 USD) – hello, NOT CHEAP! The cheapest option during this time of year would be to take a bus into Marmaris and then find the local Dolmus bus to Akyaka.