Few places can enjoy as idyllic a setting as EĞİRDİR, with its vast lake encircled by undulating mountains. Long heralded by locals as Anatolia’s best-kept secret, this humble lakeside town has a reputation for enticing travellers to stay a lot longer than they’d intended. That’s not surprising when you consider the plethora of hikes – Eğirdir is a major stop on the acclaimed long-distance St Paul Trail – bike routes and watersports in close proximity.
A kilometre-long causeway divides the town, separating the mainland market town, with its historical sites and harbour filled with colourful fishing boats, from Yeşilada, a tiny island reached by a sliver of land running out onto the lake, which is home to most of the local pensions and lakeside restaurants. Aside from its scenic vistas and outdoor activities, Eğirdir’s real charm lies in its endearing indifference to modern tourism. You’re more likely to find restaurant proprietors sipping tea on the terrace than rustling up business on the streets below, so take heed of the slower pace of life and relish lazy evenings relaxing by the lakeside. Just don’t forget your insect repellent; summer nights are swarming with mosquitoes.
Founded by the Hittites, Eğirdir was taken by the Phrygians in 1200 BC. Not until Lydian times, however, when it straddled the so-called King’s Way from Ephesus to Babylon, did the town become famous for its recreational and accommodation facilities.
Turkey’s second-largest freshwater lake, spreading for a vast 488 square kilometres at around 900m above sea level, Eğirdir Lake is an expanse of glistening blue framed by dramatic mountain peaks. With its cool clear waters, the lake offers some ideal swimming spots. Come summer, it plays host to watersports such as kayaking, windsurfing and catamarans, all on offer for around ¨25 per hour at the Eğirdir Outdoor Centre (see p.418). Alternatively, local fishermen are more than happy to take you out in their boats (¨50 per half-day), and know all the best swimming, fishing and barbecue spots. There’s even a growing trend for paragliding when the winds pick up, with tandem flights soaring up over the lake and affording some incredible views over the valley below.