Dalyan and Kaunos (Caunus)

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The placid, cobblestoned streets of Dalyan overflow with pleasant restaurants and tacky souvenir shops. The town seems to have grown naturally out of the breezy river beside it Lycian rock tombs built into the nearby cliffs are visible from the harbor, and thick reed beds teeming with wildlife are just minutes away. A short trip downstream leads to the ancient city of Kaunos and the tranquil Turtle Beach, where endangered sea tortoises are struggling to survive. The Dalyan shore has recently been declared a natural reservation.

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Kaunos’s origins are unclear. When it became fashionable to live in a city founded by a hero or a god, early residents invented a son of King Miletus, named Caunus, and claimed that he established the city in 3000 BC—the story was probably meant, however, to whitewash the certain attributes of the historical Caunus, including his forbidden love for his sister Bablees. Throughout the ages, Kaunos appears to have fallen under, in order, the Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. Kaunos had a reputation for being unhealthy; contemporary scholars speculate that the marshy land was infested with malaria carrying mosquitoes, which eventually drove the Romans away. Still, Kaunos served as a major commercial harbor until the end of Byzantine rule, when silting rendered the harbor unusable.


Buses: City buses run to Ortaca (20mm., every 15min., $.40). From Ortaca, Kamil Koç (»284 31 26; in Ortaca »282 20 45) and Pamukkale (»284 20 82; in Ortaca »282 51 76) send buses to: Ankara (12hr.; 8, 8:30pm; $14,50); Antalya (5hr., every hr. 8:30am-11:30pm, $8.40); Bodrum (4hr., 7 per day 10:30am-7:30pm, $7); Bursa (10hr., 5;30pm, $14.50); Fethiye (1hr.p every 30min. 6am-midnight, $2.40); İstanbul (14hr.; 5:30, 6:30, 7pm; $22); İzmir (5hr., 7am-l:30am, $10); Kaş (4hr., 3pm, $7.30); Kuşadası (6hr., 11:30pm, $11); Marmaris (1hr., 8:45am-9:45pm, $2.40); Pamukkale (4hr.; 12:15, 1:45, 5;45pm; $7.30).

Dolmuş: The dolmuş from Ortaca stops in front of the mosque. Dolmuş run to Marmaris and Fethiye (10, 11am, noon; $1.80).


The open area with a turtle statue and mosque is a good reference point. Facing the river, walk left along Maraş Sok. to find pensions, restaurants, bars. Maraş Sok. is closed to traffic from 8pm to 7am to allow pedestrians a pleasant evening stroll.

  • Tourist Office: (»284 42 35). Tough to find. With your back to the turtle statues, head into the passageway directly across from the statue, by the ice cream parlors. The office will be on your left. Provides maps, accommodations listings, and information in 7 languages. Open daily 8:30am-noon and 1-6pm; in winter 8:30am-noon and 1-5:30pm.
  • Boat tours: Offices are behind the turtle statue. The 12 Island Tour travels to local bays and islands, leaving from Göcek (9am-6pm, $28-32 per person with lunch). Buses leave for Göcek from the mosque 8am, return 6pm. Cheaper tours travel to Bacardi Bay and other local bays for swimming (10am-6pm, $10 per person). The most popular tours cover the ancient city of Kaunos, mud baths and hot springs, and Turtle Beach (10:30am-6pm, $8 per person with lunch).
  • Banks: Several branches with 24-hour ATMs in the town center, by the mosque.
  • Laundromat: (»284 44 18), on Maraş Sok., across from Dalyan Camping. $5 per load. Open daily 8am-midnight.
  • Jandarma: (284 20 31), on Karakol Sok., off Maraş Sok. Open daily 8am-5:30pm.
  • Pharmacy: All along Maraş Sok. Open dally 8am-9pm. One is always on 24hr. duty.
  • Medical Assistance: Sağlık Ocağı (284 20 33), on 130 Sok. From Maraş Sok., turn right at the Çelik Hotel sign. Open daily 8:30am-noon and 1:30-5:30pm.
  • Internet Access: The inter.net.cafe is 1 block past the tourist office, on the right of the same small alley. $2 per hr. Open daily 9am-2am. The Fruit Bar (see Food, below) also offers internet access for $1.50 per hr. Open daily 9am-midnight.
  • PIT: (284 21 21), in front of the mosque. Offers currency exchange, poste restante, fax, and International phone service. Open daily 8am-midnight.


Many small family-run pensions line Dalyan’s main street, Maraş Sok. Make sure your room comes with mosquito-netted screens in the summer. Most offer amenities such as pools, air-conditioning, gardens, and views of the rock tombs. Bargaining for the rate may be worthwhile.

  • Gül Motel Pension (284 24 67; fax 284 48 03). From the turtle statue, walk down Maraş Sok. and make the 2nd left onto 10 Sok.; Gül will be on the first block to the left. A plant-filled entryway, Ottoman-style tea room, and attractive breakfast terrace accompany large, clean rooms with baths. Some have views of the rock tombs, though they’re a bit louder at night. The owner will make Turkish dinners on request-guests choose the menu. Breakfast included. Singles $7; doubles $12, with A/C $15.
  • Kristal Pension (284 22 63; fax 284 27 43), across from the Gül Pension. Marble floors, garden pool, and a gorgeous terrace. 20 clean rooms with bath and screens, and a great family atmosphere. Breakfast included. Singles $7; doubles $11.
  • Aktaş Pansiyon (284 20 42 or 284 22 73), far down Maraş Sok. on the right. 15 charming rooms with baths, fans, and a chalet-like atmosphere, some with great views of the rock tombs. Doubles with A/C $10; triples $20. 
  • Dönmez Hotel (284 2107). From the turtle statue, turn right onto Maraş Sok. Take the 2nd right, and the hotel is on the left. This spacious hotel surrounds a courtyard and fountain. Offers simple rooms with A/C and a swimming pool. Breakfast included, served on a terrace with views of the rock tombs. Doubles $15.
  • Dalyan Camping, 106 Maraş Sok. (fax 284 41 57). About 350m from the turtle statue. Turn off where the road begins to bend. Don’t be discouraged by the entrance; a clean campsite with views of the rock tombs and acropolis lies beyond. The mosquitoes are intense-buy repellent for $.50. Modern bathrooms with hot showers. Swimming available. Laundry $4 per 5kg. Large fish dinner $6. Breakfast $2. 2-person tents $5; 2- person bungalows $9; caravans $7.50.


Many restaurants along Maraş Sok. offer knockout views of the river. They serve nearly identical Turkish and European menus of mezes ($1-4), omelettes ($4), grilled meats ($7-10), and other standard fare. For do-it-yourself eats, visit the open-air market in front of the PTT. (Open Su 8am-8pm.)

  • The Cool Chill (284 48 84). With your back to the turtle statue, take a left, and this chili-pepper-laden restaurant is on the left. Catering to those in search of a decent samosa ($1.75), this vegetarian joint offers such creative delicacies as risotto fritters ($1.75), potato and aubergine curry ($3.75), and sweet lahssi ($1.25). Meat is available for carnivores. The Chili also reopens late at night to serve out batches of postclubbing soup to hungry revelers. Open 6pm-midnight; soup available until 4am.
  • Niobe Restaurant. Take the first left off of Maraş Sok., the restaurant is the 2nd on the left. Offers healthy vegetarian food, including such favorites as vegetable  kebap ($1.50) and vegetarian pasta ($2.80).
  • Dalyan Cafe (284 50 35), about 60m along Maraş Sok. Enjoy an incredible selection of gözleme (pancakes) amid Turkish rugs and traditional low tables. Experiment with fillings like banana, kiwi, cheese, or meat ($1-1.80) and watch your meal created before your eyes. Open daily 7am-2am.
  • Fruit Bar (284 41 64), on Maraş Sok. A cheerful bar where customers can indulge in their wildest fruit fantasies while dreaming of tragically hip Californian smoothie bars, Fruit pizzas ($6); crepes ($2.50); banana split ($6); melon ice cream ($3); shakes and fresh juices ($1-3). Try the fresh fruit and yogurt drinks ($2). Open daily 9am-midnight.


Carian rock tombs, dating from the 4th century BC, lie opposite the river. Dalyan’s other notable sights are best seen on a boat tour. After passing the rock tombs, the boats visit, the ruins of ancient Kaunos. From the drop-off point at the base of the acropolis, a 600m dirt path leads up to the admission gate and site.

Entering from the gate, an enormous Roman bath lies on the right. On the left side of the path, a well-preserved, rounded nave marks a 5th-century church, one of the oldest in the area. Walk down the path behind the church toward the remains of a measuring stone, used to position the city in relation to wind currents. Between the two, at the bottom of the hill, stand a first-century BC Doric temple and a recently discovered fountain, where ancient customs information was recorded. Farther down tire path, the theater once held 5000 spectators. (Open June- Oct. daily 8am-7pm; Nov.-May9am-5pm. $1.50.)

The boat tour continues along a circuitous path through reed beds to Iztuzu Beach. The beach is only open from 8am to 8pm in order to allow endangered loggerhead turtles to lay their eggs by night. Bring at least $4 to rent beach chairs with umbrellas, since sunbathing with towels on the turtles’ resting area is forbidden (see Save the Sea Turtle). Alternatively, take a dolmuş (every hr. 8am-7pm) from in front of the mosque. The Kaunos/Turtle Beach tours also stop at local mud baths and thermal springs. After coating yourself with the restorative mud, relax in the 40°C thermal baths, whose curative powers supposedly extend to arthritis, wrinkles, and stress. (Open daily 7am-7:30pm. $.80.)


  • Dancing Crazy Bar (284 47 00), on Maraş Sok., fairly close to the town center. This disco bar has a groovy cave-like interior complete with fake moss, plants, rocks, and flashing colored lights. Lots of room to shake your booty-thang. Plays techno-pop, house, and Turkish pop. Beer $1.50; raki $1.50; cocktails $4. Open daily 7pm-4am.
  • Blues Bar (284 48 15), on Maraş Sok. Join local favorite Murat on guitar for a nightly classic rock jam session and a beer ($1.50). Situated on the Dalyan River with a great view of the rock tombs and a wonderfully chilled-out atmosphere. Night has no music, but cheaper beer ($1). Raki $1.50; cocktails $6-12. Open daily 2pm-3am.
  • Albatross Bar (284 30 37), on Maraş Sok. Outdoors, with Ottoman-style seating. An excellent spot for people-watching while sipping a beer. A selection of rock, blues, and jazz, with occasional live performances. Beer $1.50. Open daily 5pm-3am.
  • Nektar Bar (284 20 70), on Maraş Sok. An open-air “Secret Garden Bar” complete with lush banana trees, waterfalls, and a twinkling disco bar. Entertain yourself and a newfound friend with a game of backgammon. Plays 60s, 70s, and 80s music. Beer $1.25; raki $1.75; cocktails $5-7. Open 24hr.