Burdur province is one of the as-yet undiscovered gems of Turkey. It's located just off the sea, a bit north of Fethiye and a bit east of Marmaris in the southwest of Turkey. The region is known as a lake district, with dozens of lakes each prettier than the next. Surrounding the lakes are beautiful rolling hills and plateaus, with ancient cities dotting the province as well, including the magnificent ancient city of Sagalassos.
The city of Burdur is the capital of the province, and has a long history itself, known in ancient greek as Polydorion, though there are no remains from this ancient city. As it's located just above Antalya, it features a warm, Mediterranean climate and the Lake Burdur, upon which the city lies, is a great place to relax and get away from the crowds amidst natural beauty that is truly one of the most beautiful spots in Turkey.
The local cuisine is excellent as well, "Burdur Shish Kebabs" are famed and go great with the local walnut paste, both local to the region. You'll see trout farmed locally from the lakes and rivers, and many of the local products are even sold along the streets for passers-by who've rented cars and are seeing the lake district and the various sites.
So if you're up for taking in the sights and seeing what Burdur has to offer, follow along!
DAY 1; Burdur Lake, Burdur Museum, Sagalassos, İnsuyu Cave
Lake Burdur is one of the cleanest lakes in all of Turkey, and also one of its largest and deepest. It really is like a sea, and it's even salty with high alkaline levels that mean it never freezes over.
If you're into birding, Lake Burdur is a must-visit particularly in the winter as birds escape the cold climes of the north to settle here. The white-headed duck in particular is a globally threatened species that makes Burdur its protected home, though 10 other internationally important water species make this lake their home.
Because the lake is salty, there's relatively little plant or fish life, though there are two endemic species (Aphanius anatoliae sureyanus and A. burduricus) that you won't find elsewhere.
So take a packed lunch (there are picnic benches all around the lake) and your bathing suit and enjoy the lake before moving on to the rest of what Burdur has to offer.
Burdur was an ancient region, (the region was known as Pisidia in ancient Greece), and as a result there are over 50,000 artifacts housed in this amazing museum. Many of the artifacts predate ancient Greece, with the region dating back to at least 7,000 B.C. The museum is award-winning and is well organized into eras so you can literally walk from the Neolithic up through to the present and discover not just the history of Burdur, but the history of Anatolia and civilization itself.
While the stunning Marcus Aurelius and Emperor Hadrian sculptures from Sagalassos now stand in the Burdur museum, the city itself is huge and impressive and has been on the UNESCO World History Tentative list for almost a decade.
The ruins themselves city on Mount Akdağ in the Western Taurus mountains at an altitude of 1,450-1,700 meters. The city was known as "the first city of Pisidia" (ie the capital of the region) and one stroll through the ancient city center is enough to see just why. During Hadrian's era the city was at its peak, and it remains one of the best-preserved settlements in all of Asia Minor.
This wonderful show cave was the first cave opened to the public in Turkey. It's got a length of 600 meters and is located near the city of Burdur in the village of Mandıra. The cave is thousands of years old with clean, cool air inside and lakes whose water is said to be good for internal diseases and diabetes. Not all sections of the cave have been explored yet, but the parts you see are really striking with stalactites and stalagmites and carbonated mineral water right at the entrance.
DAY 2; Lake Salda, Kuruçay, Hacılar, Kibyra
Lake Salda is a natural wonder 4 kilometers away from Yeşilova town center in Burdur. Like Lake Burdur, it's salty and very clean and its white sand beaches are some of the most beautiful anywhere in Turkey. It's a crater lake and covers 4,370 hectares with a maximum depth of 196 meters, making it possibly the deepest lake in Turkey.
The lake is unique for a number of reasons. It's surrounded by wonderful wildlife, with quails, hares, foxes, boars and wild ducks all living in the dark black forests.
In addition to holiday-makers, academics flock to this lake, in particular to study the ancient stromatolite algae which still grows as a result of the alkaline nature of the lake.
Kuruçay Höyük (Kurucay Mound)
This mound has remnants from the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic Age and sits overlooking Lake Burdur, surrounded by deep river beds on 3 sides. While the settlements are far apart in time period, it's believed to be a continued settlement at Kuruçay, though perhaps the late Chalcolithic settlement from a little under 5,000 years ago was separate from that of the Early Chalcolithic, which is closer to 7,000 years old.
Hacılar Höyük (Höyük meaning "mound”) is important for archaeology, located about 24 km west of the city of Burdur. The mound is one of the oldest known settlements in all of Western Anatolia, with 3 cultural periods dating back as far as 7,000 years ago.
Kibyra or Cibyra is an ancient city with some wonderful ruins. As you enter you'll pass through the monumental gate before you see one of ancient Anatolia's greatest stadiums before you, with a capacity of 11 thousand. The Odeion (House of Music) is nearby with a capacity of 3,600 people, giving you a sense of the size and importance of this great city. It truly is one of the greatest ancient cities you'll see and it's a bit off the beaten path, giving you the opportunity to have all of this marvelous city to yourself when you visit!