110km (68 miles) east of Marmaris; 76km (47 miles) northwest of Fethiye

Dalyan offers the perfect refuge from the high-intensity holidays offered by back-to-back hotels and the constant whirring of jet-ski engines. What sets Dalyan apart from a coastline of Mediterranean powerhouses is its serene upriver location, its small-town character, the nearby natural treasure that is Iztuzu Beach, and easy access to a collection of some of the most stunning ancient monuments of Turkey's Western Mediterranean. Its convenient location gets visitors access to all of the same activities available to those based in Marmaris, as well as proximity to the Lycian coast west of Fethiye.

One of the last remaining major breeding sites on the Mediterranean for the sea turtle (loggerhead, or Caretta caretta) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Dalyan rose from obscurity in 1986 when in protest against the development of a luxury hotel, environmental protectionists rallied to have the nearby beach declared a protected area. The publicity only served as a beacon for the first major wave of tourists, but even if every other street has a pension with the word "turtle" in it, Dalyan still remains, for the most part, a quiet river town. But even more monumental than the pristine pseudo-sandbar that makes up Iztuzu -- better known as Turtle Beach -- are the spectacular cliff-top temple-tombs soaring above the tall reeds on the opposite shores of the river. In addition to the ruins of ancient Kaunos, the area boasts some natural thermal sources in what has become a local ritual at the nearby mud baths. And as a delightful small village in its own right, Dalyan makes an off-the-beaten-track base for activities such as kayaking, rafting, diving, and snorkeling, exploring village life through treks, jeep tours, and bike rides, or sailing (for days) along some of Turkey's most stunning coastline. Getting around is half the fun: River dolmuses shuttle people up and down the river through an incredible maze of canals enclosed within 3m (9 3/4-ft.) walls of reeds, past mysterious Lycian cliff tombs. (Being a river town, the mosquitoes come out of the woodwork at sunset, so bring plenty of repellent for alfresco activities).