You’ve found beach paradise, you say. Truly? Do you feel wary whenever you hear ‘beach’ paired with one of those superlative ‘p’ words (pristine, pure, perfect – take your pick).

So many coasts have earned a dangerous reputation as idyllic spots. Dangerous because their fame soon brings high-rises and hordes, which in turn erode the beauty of their landscapes, the health of their environments and the integrity of their local cultures.

But there remain some beautiful (and beautifully preserved) coastal spots. Olympos, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast in Lycia, is one of them – and here’s why:

  1. It’s a protected coast. Local conservation laws prohibit concrete construction, so Olympos hasn’t developed beyond a cluster of secluded wooden tree-house-style guesthouses. Its beach and landscape have something of a wild feeling, too. The beach can be reached only by foot, along a riverside path that is shaded by fig and oleander trees. Some guesthouses, too, are surrounded by gardens made aromatic by bay trees, seasonal herbs and fruit (ingredients which often star in the family-style feasts served up by many of the guesthouses for dinner).
  2. It attracts low-key travellers. The charms of Olympos are no secret, and increasing numbers of travellers are finding this little haven. But they’re generally the laidback and companionable sorts you find in budget beach digs worldwide. Seasoned travellers will feel right at home. But if you like it less social (and less scorching) try Olympos in autumn instead of spring or summer.
  3. It’s rich with traces of the ancient. At Olympos, you don’t have to go far to find remnants of Ancient Lycia. Ruins of an ancient city line the path (itself ancient) that winds down to the beach. Nearby, eternal flames burn on Tahtali Dag (Mount Olympos) – the very flames that inspired the Greek myth of the Chimaera, a fire-breathing monster said to combine the features of a lion, snake and goat. And the 500km Lycian Way passes close by, too, along which you’ll tread in the very footsteps of the ancients.
  4. The living is good. The word is that trips to Turkey are slowly becoming more commercialised and more expensive. But Turkey’s hospitable tradition of showing visitors the good life on a shoestring lives on in Olympos. Guesthouses tend to dish up breakfast and dinner (accommodation is necessarily all-inclusive in this tiny ‘village’, which is little more than a clutch of guesthouses). The food itself is typically authentic, delicious and generous. Days tend to be uniformly sunny. Temperatures are scorching in the high season, and warm throughout the rest of the year. For evenings, there’s plenty of relaxed fun to be had at the guesthouse bars.
  5. It’s easy to get there. Travellers tend to make a fetish out of anything remote. But if you’ve been on the road for a while, you’ll immediately understand the value of a gently restorative beach destination at the end of a no-fuss trip. Frequent buses run from Antalya to Olympos (1.5 hours).

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