Even though Turkey's southern coasts are dotted with luxury hotels for vacationers, camping sites in the southwestern city of Muğla's popular resort towns of Ula, Marmaris and Fethiye are also affordable vacation alternatives, giving you a chance to be surrounded by pine forests. Camping is a great way to explore the remote parts of Turkey's countryside, getting close to nature and enjoying the tranquility of some of the most remote places in Turkey.
Campers from across the country prefer to cool down in their tents under big trees or even in caravans where they can spend the entire summer. Camping also appeals to foreign travelers with three camping options in Muğla, including the Akyaka Forest, the Günlüklü area in Fethiye and the Çubucak and İnbükü camping sites in Marmaris. Standards vary widely, from campsites in empty fields to fully-equipped sites.
The Akyaka neighborhood located right on Gökova Bay is also one of Turkey's slow cities, as declared by Cittaslow International, and is less than an hour from Marmaris. Devoid of blaring music and noise, travelers will discover huge pine trees in a forest that extends all the way down to a nice, clean beach. On Gökova Bay nearby, campers can spot herons, pelicans and some flamingos.
Early in the morning, campers freshen up by swimming in the cool waters of Gökova Bay before enjoying a rich, organic breakfast. Local campers also cook traditional food at their campsites and have fellow campers join for meals and have fun spending time together.
Sebahat Arkan, a coordinator of the recreational areas in Muğla, said that Akyaka's forest camping area is very popular and in high demand. A camping holiday generally costs TL 35 ($11) per day and Arkan said that the area is very suitable for nature tourism. With 300 tents available along with masonry houses which were renovated and recently introduced to visitors, Arkan said: "Some campers stay for five or six months. We get customers from all over Turkey." To make campers for more comfortable, daily and seasonal tent areas are available.
In Muğla, vacationers can find 11 national parks and two city parks among the 74 recreational areas. "Neighborhood relations are very important for seasonal campers. Toilets, electricity and shops can be found at the campsite.
Camping in a caravan in the Akyaka forest, Muammer Kuran said he has been camping in the area for the last seven years. "Every year, I generally spend six months here," Kuran said. Another regular visitor to Akyaka is Senem Toklu, who travels from İzmir with her family and children. Like Kuran, the Toklu family has been camping in Akyaka during the summer months for the last seven years. "I have an 8-year-old girl and she spends her summer holidays here. In big cities, children cannot find a decent place to play but here they can do whatever they want. They are playing together until late hours," she said, adding that she is very happy with the recent regulations for seasonal campers. "I highly recommend camping here. Everyone must see this place," Toklu went on to say.
The area boasts a natural park with archeological sites and hosts visitors who make day-trips from neighboring cities like Aydın. Visitors also flock to Akbük, the kite surfing area, and Azmak Beach.
Another camping site in Marmaris hosts around 2,000 people in summer. At the Çubucak camping site, renting a tent for four people costs around TL 30 per day and campers can also rent caravans.
On the other side, the Günlüklü Bay situated on Göcek-Fethiye Highway and only 17 kilometers from the central Fethiye is the next destination for campers, where the aerial view here is enough to allure visitors with its lush shades of green. Similarly, the Kabak Bay in Fethiye is a hot spot for camping. It's not very easy to access this place as it protected by the high rocks surrounding it. With its 200 meter-long beach, turquoise waters and the Aladere waterfall running down from rocks and forests of sandalwood and pine trees, it embodies everything that nature could bring together for tranquility. You can be sure that you will be fully aware of every second that breathes in a place where time passes much slower than in the city.
Campsites around Turkey generally have permanently erected tents, comfortable mattresses and blankets. Some have simple wooden bungalows, similarly equipped, for rent. In many parts of Turkey, camping is obligatory if you want to experience the natural beauty of the landscape. This is especially true on the Aegean coast, where camping is the ultimate way to enjoy idyllic beauty spots. With the growing popularity of trekking, camping in the wilds of the Kaçkar or Toros Mountains is becoming the trend of young Turkish trekkers.