How to visit beautiful Salda Lake – the Turkish Maldives

Salda Lake, also known as Lake Salda, Salda Gölü or the Turkish Maldives is one of the most rare and beautiful places in Turkey. Find out how to visit here.

Salda Lake - Turkish Maldives

I saw a photo of Lake Salda on Instagram a few years ago and thought: Wow! Where is that?

It looked like some tropical island or beach, but it’s actually a crater lake in Turkey.

Then a few months ago, I planned a trip there with my oldest son, Theo, and one of my best friends.

And I can confirm what the photos promise: this place is magical. Think crystal-clear waters, white sands, and surreal landscapes.

In this blog post, I’m going to share everything you need to know to plan your visit to Lake Salda, including location, how to get there, what to expect, and more.

Let’s dive in.

Read next: The ultimate 7 day Turkey itinerary

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Is it worth visiting Salda Lake?

Um, yes!

Just look at the photos below – wouldn’t you want to swim in that? 😍

Lake Salda is often compared to the Maldives or the Caribbean because of its turquoise waters and powdery white beaches; and trust me, they are white!

What sets Lake Salda apart is its surreal landscapes that are related to Mars, and its unique hydromagnesite mineral mud, which is believed to nourish your skin and help with certain skin diseases.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda

Why is Salda Lake so blue?

Lake Salda is an old volcano crater filled with water.

The reason it’s so clear and blue?

That’s because of the magnesium in the lake. This mineral not only makes the water look bright blue, but also keeps it crystal clear.

The surrounding white beaches at the shores of Lake Salda, which are also rich in magnesium, add to this effect so it looks like the Maldives.

Salda Lake - Turkish Maldives

Where is Lake Salda?

Lake Salda is located in the southwestern region of Turkey, near the city of Burdur.

It’s about 2.5 hours away from Antalya and 1.15 hours from Pamukkale cotton castle by car.

The lake covers an area of 43.7 square kilometres and a depth of 196 meters, making it one of the deepest lakes in Turkey.

The surrounding area is a protected natural park filled with pine forests, rocky cliffs, and diverse wildlife.

How to get to Salda Lake

The best way to reach Salda Lake is by car or on a day tour. There are buses from Burdur and Antalya that stop near the lake, but they are infrequent and not very reliable.

By car

Turkey is an amazing place for a road trip because there’s so much to see along the way, and roads are in good conditions. So, if you’re considering renting a car in Turkey, I highly recommend it.

It’s an easy drive from the coast to Lake Salda.

We drove from Bodrum and there’s freeway most of the way. We followed road signs, but you can also use GPS.

Best Car Rental Company:


When booking your car rental online, I recommend Discover Cars. They compare prices at car rental agencies all over the country to get you the best deal.

Guided tour

All organised day tours start early in the morning and you’ll drive for about 3 hours before you reach Lake Salda.

They include a visit to the beautiful Pamukkale, which is only a plus! You’ll return in the evening, about 11-12 hours later, depending on your origin.

I’ve handpicked the best day tours to Lake Salda and Pamukkale for you that give you time to enjoy the Turkish Maldives, Pamukkale white travertine terraces and Hierapolis.

  • Day tour from Istanbul to Lake Salda and Pamukkale 👉 Book here.
  • Day tour from Alanya to Lake Salda and Pamukkale 👉 Book here.
  • Day tour from Marmaris to Lake Salda and Pamukkale 👉 Book here.
  • Day tour from Antalya to Lake Salda and Pamukkale 👉 Book here.
Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (11)

How to visit Salda Lake

Once you arrive at Lake Salda, there are several entrances. You can drive directly to the beach or head to some of the best viewpoints for some great photos and views.

There are several viewpoints around the lake, and the one at the main entrance (near Salda village) offers a shuttle bus to the viewpoint with a Lake Salda sign.

The shuttle is free.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (2)

Opening hours

Lake Salda is open 24/7, but there are no facilities or services after sunset. If you’re planning to visit at night, make sure to bring your own food, water, and flashlight.

There’s a toilet at the viewpoint by the main entrance.

During the day, there are vendors selling snacks, drinks, and souvenirs near the beach areas.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda

Entrance fee

There is no entrance fee for Lake Salda, but parking costs a small fee.

It’s always a good idea to have some cash on you, especially if you want to rent a beach umbrella or buy a bottle of water.

They don’t take cards.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (6)

History of Salda Lake

Salda Lake is an old volcanic crater lake.

The lake is believed to have formed during the Pleistocene epoch, around 1.5 million years ago, as a result of tectonic activities and the melting of glaciers.

The lake’s mineral-rich waters and mud have attracted people for centuries, because they believe to have healing properties for skin problems.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (7)

Importance of Salda Lake

Lake Salda has been nominated (but not yet accepted) as a UNESCO World Heritage site, so hopefully help is underway to protect its natural and cultural values.

The lake’s unique and diverse ecosystem is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna, some of which are under threat.

The lake is also a popular research site for geologists, astrobiologists, and other scientists who are interested in studying microbial life and signs of ancient life on Earth.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (9)

Lake Salda and life on Mars

Lake Salda in Turkey and Mars might seem worlds apart, but NASA scientists beg to differ.

It turns out, Lake Salda is the only known lake on Earth with minerals and rock formations like those in Jezero Crater on Mars, which was once a lake.

By studying Lake Salda, we might get some clues about Mars’ past and maybe even find evidence of ancient life.

It’s a pretty cool connection between our planet and the Red Planet.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (2)
Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (10)
turkey’s maldives

Things to see at Salda Lake

The viewpoint

One of the must-see attractions at Salda Lake are the viewpoints where you can get a panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding area.

There are several viewpoints around the lake. But if you drive to the main entrance, you’ll find the main spot.

After that, follow the main road to the right, and you’ll find several places to park the car and take some photos. Right before you reach the beach, you’ll pass the best viewpoint, at least inn my opinion.

Salda Lake - Turkish Maldives
The main viewpoint is about 3-4 km to the right on this photo
Salda Lake - Turkish Maldives
The Maldives of Turkey

Mud baths of Lake Salda

Another unique feature of Salda Lake is the mineral-rich mud that is said to be healing if you have skin problems like psoriasis and eczema.

You can find the mud along the beach areas. Make sure to apply the mud evenly and let it dry before rinsing it off in the lake.

Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda

Lake Salda beaches

Salda Lake has several beautiful beaches with soft white sand and turquoise waters.

Some of the most popular beaches include:

  • The Forest Beach Natural Park (the most popular for swimming)
  • Salda Maldives (the prettiest and the one you see on most photos)
  • Doganbaba beach (more quiet, and the sand is rocky)
Salda Lake - Turkish Maldives
Turkish Maldives - Lake Salda (3)

Where to stay near Lake Salda

The picturesque Lake Salda is located in the middle of nowhere and although the nearest large city is Denizli, I recommend staying in Pamukkale (1 hour, 15 minutes drive). There’s nothing to see in Denizli whereas Pamukkale has the absolutely amazing thermal pools.

Pamukkale Whiteheaven Suite Hotel (⭐ 9.5) is a highly-rated hotel, just a 5-minute walk from the town entrance of the Pamukkale hot springs. It has a large outdoor pool, a sun terrace, and a peaceful garden where you can relax after a day of exploring. Check rates and availability here.

Salda Lake - Turkish Maldives

Looking for more things to do in Turkey?


Pamukkale is a place you should 100% put on your Turkey itinerary. It’s so rare and beautiful.

The hot springs here have created terraces of white travertine, which makes the landscape look otherworldly. It’s like stepping into a natural spa, with warm waters.

But it’s not just about the springs – there’s history here too, with the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis and its huge amphitheater in walking distance.

Read next: One day in Pamukkale thermal pools is all you need

Pamukkale Turkey
The Pamukkale travertines


Cappadocia is another unique place in Turkey.

Here, towering rock formations create a surreal landscape, and you’ll find entire cities carved into the stone.

The most popular thing to do in Cappadocia is a hot air balloon ride over the landscape, where you can spot views that are truly one-of-a-kind.

And don’t forget to check out the underground cities and cave hotels – they’re incredible.

Read next: The perfect 2 day Cappadocia itinerary you’ll want to steal


Finally, there’s Bodrum, a coastal town known as the Saint Tropez of Turkey. This is a place to relax and soak up the sun, with beautiful beaches and clear waters.

The town also has a rich history, with landmarks like Bodrum Castle and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus where you can get a glimpse into the past.

Read next: 10 amazing things to do in Bodrum


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