Cirali beach holidays

Cirali is pronounced ‘cheer-a-lay’ and you will definitely find plenty to cheer you in this beautiful Antalya coast resort, refreshingly free of major tourism developments and with a famously pristine beach. This small rural village in southwest Turkey is just 90 minutes’ drive from Antalya itself, but feels far more remote. The beach itself is wide and pebbled – deck shoes are useful for walking around – while the azure Mediterranean is calm enough for easy swimming.

The reason Cirali beach holidays are such a hit with families, with many returning year after year, is how wonderfully tranquil and safe it feels, perfect for toddlers as well as older children. You can pass the time swimming, sunbathing and sandcastle-ing, borrow bikes, or hike the trails in the mountains that enclose the beach. The spectacular Lycian Way passes through Cirali, and it doesn’t require too much effort to reach the ruins of Olympos or the flaming rocks of Chimaera.

Such developments that do exist here are largely concealed by groves of trees – pomegranate, orange and lemon, pine and eucalyptus. The overall impression is one of blissful solitude, broken only by the sound of chickens pecking in the dirt, children playing happily in the surf, or the village mosque announcing the call to prayer.

Accommodation

Most travellers stay in traditional wooden cabins that are set a little way back from the beach, tucked into fragrant groves of trees so neatly that they can barely be seen from the water. The cabins will typically sleep up to four people, though there are larger villas available too for groups and families.

Rustic comfort is the name of the game here: you’ll have air conditioning and usually a well-equipped kitchen, but also an inviting hammock on the private porch, ideal for a restful getaway. Some properties have communal swimming pools, others private gardens where young children can run around safely and enjoy handicrafts workshops. Most accommodations provide guests with a daily breakfast using local, organic ingredients. There’s an ATM and a supermarket in the village a short walk away, but also plenty of restaurants dotted around serving fresh seafood and other Turkish cuisine. Bring an appetite.

Things to do in Cirali beach

Chimaera

A scramble up the mountain behind Cirali beach leads you to a mysterious clearing where you’ll find the Chimaera – fires that have been burning among the rocks for centuries. Fed by leaking gas, these flames were once used for navigation by sailors, but are now a popular spot for toasting sausages or marshmallows on sticks. The effect is best appreciated at night, but be sure to bring a torch as you’ll need it to find your way back down in the dark.

Olympos

These ancient ruins, dating back to at least the 4th century BC, lie at the far southern end of Cirali beach. Meandering through them is very pleasant, with wild grapevines, bay and fig trees surrounding the area, and children can be entertained searching for fragments of pottery that can be frequently seen lying around.

Turtles

One of the main reasons Cirali beach remains largely undeveloped is that this is a conservation zone – every summer endangered loggerhead turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand. Between May and August the restaurants dim their lights to avoid distracting the turtles, and you can watch them with the assistance of conservation volunteers. From mid August, seeing the hatchlings emerge is a heartwarming sight and a living nature lesson for little kids.

Our top Turkey Holiday

Beach holiday in Cirali, Turkey

Beach holiday in Cirali, Turkey

Boutique beach bungalows with lots of rustic charm

From £320 to £390 7 days per person per week
Small group travel:
This beach holiday in Turkey is open between April to November
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Best time to go on a
Cirali Beach holiday

The main season for Cirali beach holidays runs from April to November, with July and August being the busiest months of the year, and the hottest too with daytime temperatures of around 34°C. Between May and August you can watch endangered loggerhead turtles as they lay their eggs in the sand on Cirali beach by night. By mid August the hatchlings are emerging and can be seen making their way down to the water’s edge. The best time to visit is in late spring, before the main summer season gets going, or in October, when you can still expect long sunny days and the sea is gloriously warm.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Lisa Joanes] [Intro: Prashant Ram] [Accommodation: Journey Anatolia] [Olympos: Rob Oo] [Best time to go: s_wh]
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