Do you love the sea and the mountains? Exploring the Dilek National Park in Güzelçamli, just 23 kilometers south of Kuşadası, Turkey, may be just the place for your next adventure! This day trip is great for anyone staying in the Izmir/Ephesus area and wanting to have a beach day or go hiking. Kuşadası is only about 15 minutes away from Ancient Ephesus, a site 1.5 million tourists visit every year.
Most people refer to Dilek Peninsula National Park as “Milli Park,” which just means national park in Turkish. This hidden getaway is so close to the island of Samos, Greece that your phone won’t even think you’re in Turkey anymore. It is also unlikely you will get cell service out there. Dilek National Park is about 20 km in length and 6 km wide. It is easy to get to by car or by taking a “dolmuş” (minibus) from the bus station in Kuşadası. The bus ride is about half an hour and will bring you to the park entrance. There is an entrance fee, but it is very affordable. It is 5 TL (Turkish Lira) per person. If you enter with your car, then it is 15 TL. I recommend going by car if you can, so that you can explore the various beach coves and choose which one you like. The length of the park is 20 km, so you can’t really get through the whole park on foot. A great alternative would be to go by bike, but you have to gamble whether or not you can trust the Turkish drivers on those mountain roads. Your call.
There are several coves where you can stop off to swim in some of the cleanest, clearest water you will ever see. We explored the very last beach, Karasu Köyü, but all of them look very beautiful and worth visiting. You will notice turnoffs on your right several times, those roads lead to the various coves.
The hiking trail is located on the left side about 10 minutes after you’ve entered the park by car. There are many unique plants and trees that you can see on this hike and signs to explain them to you. I’ve been to this national park in the winter, as well, and all you need is a good jacket to keep warm. It doesn’t snow on the western coast of Turkey, so it’s not too cold and it is much emptier than in the summer months. My husband and I went on a hiking date and really enjoyed the hike and sitting by the water afterwards!
Right by most of the beaches are picnic tables where you can set up for the day. You are not allowed to start any fires for barbeques so bring your food ready to eat. Unfortunately, there is one major downside to this park. There are a lot of bees. They are not likely to sting you, they just want to take your food. So, be prepared to protect your food and yourself from the very hungry, aggressive bees. Just try to remain calm.
A second unique characteristic of the park is the wild pigs! I am not joking, there are wild pigs, in Turkish called “yaban domuzlar” that wander through the park looking for food to eat. So, whenever you pull out your food, they are also likely to come around hoping for some scraps. They are also pretty harmless and fascinating to see. We saw a herd of about 20 rolling through, some very large and most pretty small. They aren’t like pigs I am used to seeing, they were a different shape and dark brown.
One other popular location in the national park is Zeus’s cave. We did not have the chance to go there this time, but it is a popular spot and looks beautiful. It is somewhat hidden and surrounded by beautiful plants. Since it is so well known, it may be crowded on the weekends. The water is much colder than the usual temperature of the sea, so be ready for cold water if you’re thinking of swimming here! It is located quite close to the entrance of the national park.
Overall, a day spent at Milli Park in Guzelçamli, Kuşadası, is a day well spent. The water is clear, the sun shines bright, and you will definitely feel the Mediterranean vibes (but this is the Aegean Sea, the smaller sea that connects to the Mediterranean Sea).
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