Lake Köyceğiz, the non-touristy gate to Kaunos
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In all honesty, this title doesn’t do the lake and its village justice. Köyceğiz is not on most people’s radar when traveling to Turkey, yet it is right behind the corner of a major attraction: Kaunos. Most people visit Kaunos from Dalyan, which is right across the river. Granted, it is the easiest way, but you have to like the tourist circus that comes with it. If you are searching for a more authentic and serene experience, then make Köyceğiz your base and visit Kaunos after a boat trip across Lake Köyceğiz. This post comes with a bonus: the old village, eski Köyceğiz, hides a mosque covered in ivy in the woods!
Köyceğiz: a great place to while away the day
Köyceğiz still classifies as an authentic Turkish holiday destination. Its lakeside setting makes the village attractive for people wanting to spend the day at the waterside, enjoying the splendid views and the serenity this place has to offer. In Köyceğiz life has a different pace. Most people stroll along the promenade only to halt at one of the many lakeside cafés and restaurants for an authentic Turkish meal or the usual çay. (Turkish tea) Since Köyceğiz is mostly a destination chosen by Turkish families, prices are still very moderate. In short, you’ll get a prime location for a fraction of the cost you would typically pay for a waterside meal in Turkey. The village may not be too picturesque, it has its pretty sides and features, and if it is authenticity that you are after, this is it. This is what life in Turkey looks like when there are not that many foreigners around. The busiest day of the week is Monday; when the weekly market brings a certain buzz to the village with people coming from Dalyan by boat on a day trip. Other than that, you’ll enjoy the fact that Köyceğiz has this peaceful feel that makes you forget time. We think the natural surroundings and the fact that Köyceğiz is part of the Köyceğiz-Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area may have something to do with it.
In the back streets, there are still some well-kept old houses to be seen as well as plenty of local craftsmen.
Köyceğiz: a lake with mountains as a backdrop
There may be many lakes in Turkey, and we can honestly say we’ve visited plenty already, but Lake Köyceğiz is special. A different kind of special than Lake Bafa, with its islands and Greek monasteries in it, Lake Köyceğiz is a paradise for birdwatchers and hikers. It is the natural habitat of the Caretta Caretta, the Loggerhead Turtle and, of course, a great lake for a boat trip. The other side of the lake is the entrance to the Dalyan delta that goes all the way to Iztuzu beach. So, instead of crossing the Dalyan river to visit Kaunos, you could turn this journey into an unusual experience by making Köyceğiz your starting point for your Lycian rock tomb visit in Kaunos.
The natural beauty and pristine surroundings are so dominant it makes you silent. After a very relaxing trip across Köyceğiz Lake, you arrive at Dalyan river and get to see the Lycian Rocks Tombs at Kaunos.
Köyceğiz: where the old village woods hide a mosque
Today’s Köyceğiz was founded after the old village situated 5km towards the east of the lake, was flooded and mostly abandoned in 1867. Even today, eski Köyceğiz (old Köyceğiz) shows the remains of what was once a flourishing village, ruled by the Menteşe family. Some streets are so narrow and sided by two ancient walls; a van couldn’t pass. Apart from some restored old mansions and the old village walls, eski Köyceğiz also hides an ivy-covered mosque in the woods. It is said the minaret dates back to the 14th century. What a found! There are no signs, in fact, there is barely a path leading towards it, but it is an exciting feeling to be coming across this mosque and some ancient gravestones in the midst of these forest lands.
The narrow streets and paths of Eski Köyceğiz take you to unexpected places like a hidden mosque in the woods.
On the lands surrounding the mosque, there are several old graves to be found. And for those who dare, the minaret is still accessible!
You’ll find some excellent and honest reviews on Köyceğiz and tips for things to do on TripAdvisor. Several people are offering boat trips departing from the small harbor in Köyceğiz. If you want to make it extra special, you can even ask for a moonlight trip!
The nearest airport is Dalaman with regular connections to Istanbul airports. You’ll find cheap flight options here.
Also, now that you’re here, check out the basket houses in Hamitköy and the Nomad Museum in Çandır, or head to Turtle Beach for a lazy afternoon by the sea.