Dalyan is a small and lovely resort town located on the left bank of the Dalyan River (Dalyan Çayi), a stream that meanders through the reeds from Köyçeyiz Lake down to the sea. The lake narrows into a channel, flowing into the Dalyan river which empties into the sea at Iztuzu beach, one of Turkey's most spectacular beaches. This beach has been made a protected area as the breeding-ground of the Caretta Caretta which are a species of sea turtles. The best way to enjoy the whole site is to take a pleasant boat ride from Dalyan down to the sea (or the other way round for those on a cruise). On the right bank of the river stands the ancient city of Caunus with Hellenistic fortifications, beautiful rock-cut Lycian tombs, a well preserved theatre and some other minor ruins.
According to Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, the story of the founding of Caunus goes as follows: Miletus, the son of Phoebus (Apollo) and founder of the city of Miletus, loved the nymph Cyanee, the daughter of the river god Meander, who gave birth to the twins Byblis and Caunus noted for their beauty. Byblis fell incestuously in love with her brother Caunus and declared her love to him in a letter. Caunus, horrified, rejected her. Fleeing his sister, he came to this part of Caria and founded the city of Caunus. As for Byblis, she pursued him as he fled her but could not find him. She was weeping so much and was about to die from grief and exhaustion when she was turned by nymphs into a fountain.
Caunus was a wealthy city but gained an unhealthy reputation because the locals contracted malaria which was rife due to the proliferation of mosquitoes. The decline of Caunus, which was once upon the sea, was caused by the progressive silting up of its harbour which made it dangerous for ships. The population gradually reverted to village life and fishing as it has remained to the present day. The Turkish word “Dalyan” means “fishery”. The river is studded with wooden structures stretching accross it, to trap the grey mullets as they return to the sea after spawning in the fresh water of Lake Köyçeyiz.
Dalyan and Köycegiz Lake are also reputed for their therapeutic mud baths and hot sulphur pools used since Hellenistic times and believed to cure rheumatism, skin, liver, spleen and bowel complaints, as well as being beneficial for nervous and digestive disorders. It also cleanses and beautifies skin.


The Sultanye Thermal Baths: The Sultaniye Thermal Baths are to the Southwest of Köycegiz lake. The water here at 40 Celsius is second to none. The water at these baths was first used in Caunon times, then by the Byzantines, who rebuilt the accommodations. The ruins of the buildings from the period are submerged beneath the waters of the lake. It is not unusual to see the Turkish elderly make pilgrimages to the baths due to the water’s curative properties in case of neuralgia, rheumatism and skin disorders of the liver, spleen and bowels.

The Mud Baths: "Beauty Mud" which not only cleanses and tones the skin but is said to remedy rheumatism and has anti-ageing properties. After allowing the mud to dry, it can be removed in a natural clear water sulphur pool, at temperatures of around 40 Celsius. This leaves you refreshed and relaxed.

Caunos: The ancient city of Caunos stands midway along the channel facing Dalyan. Settlement here is believed to date from 3000 BC by Caunos, the son of Miletos and it later grew into a major port on the border between Lycia and Caria. Sprawling over a broad sloping site overlooking the sea and the delta, the principal monuments to be seen in Caunos are the Acropolis surrounded by city walls, a theatre, four temples, an agora, stoa, nymphain, baths, palestra, churches and a cistern.