Altinkum Travel Guide
Hagia Sophia at night © Moyan Brenn
Like Bodrum and Kusadasi, its neighbours on Turkey's south Aegean Coast, Altinkum is heavily frequented by British holiday package tourists, but unlike these other frenetic resorts Altinkum is small and quiet, making it perfect for families with young children and those seeking a relaxed, easy-going beach holiday.
The resort town's main attraction are its three long, sandy beaches, that stretch from the small harbour at one end of a gently shelving bay to a rocky cliff at the other end. Little wonder that the name Altinkum means 'golden sands'. In this resort devoted to leisure and pleasure, lazy days on the beach, perhaps indulging in some watersports, are the order of the day, while night time is spent trying out the laid back restaurants and bars, many of them serving up British fare and named for familiar English landmarks. Those with a yen for sightseeing will find Altinkum perfectly placed to visit two major ancient sites, the Temple of Apollo at Didyama and the vast Roman ruins at Ephesus.
Holidaymakers should brush up on their haggling skills as shopping opportunities abound along the pedestrianised seafront of Altinkum, which is packed with souvenir shops, jewellery stores and boutiques selling copies of designer clothing. The main centre is Dolphin Square, and there is a modern shopping complex called the Didyma Shopping Mall not far away. Self-caterers will find all the provisions they need at the two main supermarkets, Gima and Migros, between the seafront and town centre.
Altinkum is bursting with good restaurants serving most forms of international cuisine, although Turkish and traditional English predominates to cater to the demand of holidaymakers. With such a feast of eateries it is difficult to single out any particular establishment, but for the best of British it is hard to beat Ali Baba's for friendliness, price, and quality. The Mercury Restaurant serves top-notch English breakfasts, while Barney's Restaurant prides itself in introducing visitors to the delights of Turkish cuisine. For a family group or party of varied tastes opt for The Grand Restaurant in Dolphin Square, where the menu consists of Turkish, Indian, Chinese, and English dishes, all of high standard.
While it is not as rowdy as the major Turkish holiday resorts, those who wish to indulge will find plenty of after-dark entertainment and fun in Altinkum, where nightlife is centred mainly in Dolphin Square and in the bars along the sea front promenade. Everything from disco dancing, karaoke, and belly-dancing to bingo and pool is on offer, the entertainment fuelled by cheap drinks and cocktails. Clubbers are catered for during the height of the summer season at Medusa, an open-air night club that is regarded as Altinkum's best party. Another hot favourite for young people is the Dolphin Bar.
There are sunbeds and umbrellas aplenty for holidaymakers to rent on Altinkum's lovely beaches, where the turquoise waters shelve gently allowing for safe bathing. Those who are more energetic can try their hand at windsurfing, jet-skiing, pedaloes, a banana boat ride or perhaps a scuba diving lesson: all these activities and more are available on the beaches. A variety of tours, boat trips and excursions to surrounding resorts, islands, towns and historic sites are available, or visitors can hop on a dolmus (mini-bus) and explore on their own places like the Roman ruins at Ephesus, the Pamukkale spas and calcium deposits, or the lively resorts of Kusadasi and Bodrum. For a peaceful yet active afternoon, take a stroll around the scenic Bafa Lake.
During the local Turkish summer break in August, Altinkum is a favourite destination and can become rather overcrowded. Visitors should also be aware that temperatures can be extremely high in summer.