On the south-west of Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline, situated at the foot of the Taurus mountain range sits the seaside town of Fethiye, a bustling market town and popular holiday destination which still retains it’s Turkish authenticity. The picturesque bay of Fethiye boasts lush green hill sides, pristine beaches, charming coves, blue skies, hot summers and mild winters. With a quaint port and harbour Fethiye is a natural starting point for multi-day gulet cruises along the Turquoise coast and offers many day trips to surrounding islands. Fethiye’s marina is a hub of activity with a pretty boardwalk leading to the Paspatur (Old Town), frequented both by holidayers and locals the old town hosts a colourful shopping area and covered market as well as many restaurants, lively bars, accommodation to suit every budget and travel agencies which offer a wide range of daily Fethiye tours.
Within the Town
In Fethiye you are likely to be staying close to the Old Town, just inland from the port and coastal park. To locals, this quirky part of town is known to locals as Paspatur and is a popular meeting point for locals to eat and drink Çay (Black tea) from hourglass shaped glasses. The streets are filled with shops selling anything from fresh spices, souvenirs and jewellery to Turkish woven carpets and textiles. While a few high street shops have made their way onto old streets the majority of space is reserved for individually owned businesses and local produced goods. Even those who do not want to shop can enjoy a stroll along the shaded streets under the vine canopies and colorful umbrellas. Old Town is also a delightful place to people-watch, grab a coffee or taste Turkish cuisine, seafood is the specialty although there are plenty of options on the menu. In the evenings the streets fill up with party goers looking for a taste of the national beer (Efes Pilsen) or cocktails, there is live music every Saturday and bars are open until the early morning during the summer.
When you’ve finished shopping for knick-knacks you can stop by Fethiye’s fish and fresh produce market. Extended on a Tuesday, it brings in tourists from nearby coastal resorts as well as residents of rural villages who come to do their weekly shopping. I’s a busy whirl of activity, particularly in summer when it is recommended to visit early to avoid the crowds and pick the freshest fish which you can barbeque at one of the seaside picnic areas.
Before returning to the marina you could pay a visit to Fethiye’s Eski Cami (Old Mosque) or Eski Hamam (An Ottoman Turkish spa) or stop by one of the Lycian Sarcophagi. Fethiye was previously known as Telmessos. A major city dedicated to the god Apollo, Fethiye is dripping in history from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Ancient Lycian cave-tombs, a medieval castle and a Roman theatre are an easy walk from the center. The Roman Theatre, built in the second century in typical Roman style, is the easiest to find, standing opposite the commercial harbour where most boat tours depart. Below it are the semi-excavated ruins of a Greek amphitheatre the ongoing restoration project began in 1993. Meanwhile the less visited ancient castle would be an excellent spot to watch the sunset, it’s a short walk up the hill either along the road or by navigating a maze of staircases behind hillside houses. The eleventh century castle sits upon the place where the city was founded, it served as a naval base and was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, a Turkish flag is flown above the ruins.
Fethiye has excellent public transport within the city and also to nearby sites so make sure you leave yourself a few extra days to visit some of the following locations.
This wide pebble beach is located a short bus ride from the centre of Fethiye, it offers views across to Sovalye Island and is a popular spot for Kite-boarding or sunbathing. Shops, hotels and restaurants line the seaside so it’s a good option for those who prefer not to stay in the town centre. If you’re feeling active you could rent a bike and cycle the five kilometers through the coastal park.
A breathtaking natural wonder! Saklikent, meaning ‘Hidden City’, lies just a 40 minute drive from Fethiye. Daily tours are available to visit this spectacular sight. Not only is it the longest and deepest gorge in Turkey but, at 300 meters deep and 20 kilometers long, Saklikent is also the second-largest in Europe. As the snow melts on the Taurus mountain peaks icy water fills the gorge and gushes between natural stone walls forming small pools ideal for swimming. From April it is possible to walk 4 kilometers through the gorge and rent a tube to float back downstream, stopping to immerse yourself in one of the natural mud-baths. Other outdoor activities include hiking, rafting and canyoning. For adventurers, Saklikent Gorge will be the highlight of your trip!
The Ghost Town of KayaKoy
Since the ‘population exchange treaty’ in 1923 Kayakoy, which was once a Greek village, has become known at ‘The Ghost Town’ due to the remains of around three thousand abandoned buildings built on the steep slope of the valley. New houses sit below the ruins, some offer accommodation and refreshments. Buses run to Kayakoy every 15-20 minutes in peak season, alternatively you could choose to walk the six kilometer marked trail from the edge of Fethiye marina. The marked trail continues through ruins to the ‘blue lagoon’ at Oludeniz.
Oludeniz and Butterfly Valley
At only 14 kilometers from Fethiye is Oludeniz, noted by UNESCO for its sublime flora, the Oludeniz Lagoon is a national park which sits alongside Belcekiz Beach. Oludeniz is a stunning resort town and major tourist destination. Babadag (father mountain) provides a majestic backdrop as you swim in the turquoise bay and as one of the most renowned paragliding spots in the world you’re likely to see people floating overhead while you on the beach. From Oludeniz you may wish to take a boat to the next bay and walk to the waterfall at Butterfly Valley. At the foot of a cliff face, Butterfly valley is only accessible by sea or by a steep and rocky trail from the village of Faralya on the cliff top therefore it should be free from large crowds.
The Lycian Way
The Lycian way is Turkey’s first long distance hiking trail. The waymarked route begins at Ovacik, just 11 kilometers from Fethiye on the Fethiye-Oludeniz road, and continues for 500 kilometers over through pine forest, rural villages, high mountains, dry scrub and quiet beaches, finishing in Geyikbayiri, 20 kilometers for the coastal city of Antalya. It is possible to hike just sections of this epic trail as accommodation and transport to Fethiye is available in most villages. Ovacik to Faralya can be walked in one day. This section is particularly spectacular as you are rewarded with views over the Oludeniz bay. From Faralya it is possible to return to Fethiye by bus, alternatively you could descend to Butterfly Valley and take a boat to Oludeniz.
12 Island Boat Cruise
Scattered along the coast are many small islands some of the most beautiful include: Red Island, Flat Island, Dockyard Island Rabbit Island and Cleopatra’s Bath. The best way to see them all is with a 12 Island Fethiye Day Cruise, these usually depart from the central harbour and make various stops for swimming and to visit the islands. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing on deck, or watching for wildlife, you are likely to see flying fish, dolphins and sea turtles. This is a fantastic day trip on the open sea and a perfect way to end your vacation in Fethiye, Turkey.