Fethiye is on the Turquoise Coast of Southwest Turkey, half an hour east of the nearest international airport, Dalaman, Mugla. There are direct flights into Dalaman from throughout Europe and the Middle East for around eight months a year. In addition, daily flights go to and from Istanbul all year round, a flight of less than an hour.
The result is that Fethiye Turkey is very accessible to tourists and its recent growth is evidence that visitors enjoy this fantastic coastal location. Here are things to do in Fethiye, and many are reasons to return time and again.
Some top attractions in Fethiye revolve around the modern harbour, lined with cafes and restaurants looking out to the many gulets and the beautiful blue waters. There is a small marina where yachts touring this coastline can berth and restock their kitchens.
The promenade is a hive of activity, and one of the most exciting cafes along this walkway has tame (ish) pelicans that are tourist attractions in themselves.
The promenade has been expanded of late and now stretches a few kilometres. It is likely to go as far as the small town of Calis to the west in the future.
12 Islands’ Cruise
The most popular cruise out of Fethiye Harbour is this 12 Islands’ Cruise which travels around the bat between Fethiye and Gocek. A map of Fethiye reveals numerous small offshore islands, and a day out on the waters will involve several stops throughout the day for passengers to swim.
Small boats may have only a dozen passengers, while the larger ones have many times that. A BBQ lunch is provided in all cases, and drinks are available to buy. As a family group, you will be able to negotiate a price for a private cruise if you wish.
Fishing for Lunch
Hiring a boat for the day is also possible, and its captain will discuss a route for your day at sea. The crew will include a BBQ for lunch and other refreshments for early in the day and late afternoon. If you enjoy fishing, you can ask the captain about where the places are to catch lunch.
Frankly, the fishing is not great if you expect to catch large fish. However, red mullet is common, and they make for delicious eating if you can take the bones out. Food will be on board in case you catch nothing.
Fethiye Fish Market
You must visit the town’s fish market, which supplies hotels, restaurants, and the public. You can buy from the stalls then take your choice to any of the restaurants that surround the central stalls. They will cook for a set price and have their menus and drinks for purchase.
There is always plenty of choices here with calamari and prawns, sea bass and bream, hamsi in season, as well as larger fish like grouper and swordfish. You will pay by weight, and sellers will prepare the fish for cooking before giving them to your chosen restaurant. When it comes to things to do in Fethiye, visiting the fish market is a “must.”
The Fish Market is on the edge of Fethiye Old Town, where you will find narrow streets and buildings of quite an age. They have been converted into bars, restaurants, and stalls selling typical Turkish goods, including spices, carpets, and furnishings.
You can sit with a drink, and people watch. Activity includes tourists browsing the shops and shopkeepers restocking their stalls. There is plenty of shade in the narrow streets, and that is most welcome in the height of summer as temperatures rise. A cold drink in one of the bars can be most welcome.
The Tuesday Market
Every place has its weekly market. In Fethiye’s case, it is each Tuesday, and it is held in a large open area back from the harbour as you head for the town centre. While Fethiye has plenty of modern clothes shops, you should check out what the market has to offer. Clothing varies by season, with the tourist season providing plenty of T-shirts, polo shirts, shorts, and beachwear, ideal for your holiday.
There is also general clothing as well as areas dedicated to local produce and herbs and spices. The colours here are spectacular. Fethiye is a fertile region, and the range of fruit and vegetables is most impressive.
Amyntas Rock Tombs
The ancient Greek City of Telmessos was here in Fethiye, and the tombs are a constant reminder of those times. They are carved out of the mountainside above the harbour and old town. Named after Amyntas, son of Hermagios, the carving dates to 350 BC.
The Lycians lived in this whole region in those days. Telmessos was one of the city-states that made up Lycia. There is an admission fee to enter the area, which is hilly, but after a hilly walk, you can get closer.
Nearby and close to the harbour is a recently renovated theatre. The amphitheatre, which dates to the 2nd Century BC, was also a significant structure in the city of Telmessos. Its restoration is not without controversy, with old stones replaced by new ones.
However, the overgrown vegetation has gone, and today’s visitors can get a clear idea of what the amphitheatre would have looked like in its heyday and how many spectators it would have held. It was approximately 6,000, and who knows whether special events may be held here in the future?
The statue of the man who gave Fethiye its current name sits between the harbour and amphitheatre. Once called Megri (the “g” is silent), the town was renamed to remember a pilot, Fethi Bey, killed near Damascus on a flight between Istanbul and Cairo in 1914.
Sarcophagi are stone coffins that were a feature of several civilisations from ancient history, including the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and in this case, the Lycians.
There are several sarcophagi around the town. On the road to the tombs and Kayakoy, one stands right in the middle of a road, requiring traffic to go either side. Each is in typical Lycian style. One of the best ones stands on the Governor’s office grounds on the main street.
Among the places to visit in Fethiye is the town’s museum holds some exhibits as old as 3000 BC, right through to the Byzantine period. There is an open-air gallery and two halls, one ethnography and the other archaeology. The Lycian texts are fascinating, while the textiles and jewellery are most impressive.
Paragliding from Babadag Mountain
Babadag towers over Fethiye and its nearby resorts. It is almost 2,000 metres high, and you can paraglide down onto Oludeniz Beach below with an experienced pilot. There are trainers here to help. Still, a solo trip is not for inexperienced gliders. Indeed, you will not be permitted to go solo.
A road heads up to the summit, but even that is not for the faint-hearted. If you reach the summit, you will have some fantastic views from such an altitude and whether you want to paraglide as well is up to you.
This beach is one of the most photographed on the entire coastline. It is a pebble beach, and the beach’s colours contrasting with the beautiful blue sea make quite a photograph. It has earned its nickname. “The Blue Lagoon” and your Fethiye photos should include one of this lagoon.
As one of the top tourist attractions in Fethiye, there are plenty of tourist facilities here, including chairs for a small fee. It does get crowded, day and night, with shops, bars, and restaurants lining the beach to cater for visitors.
This narrow valley below Babadag is only accessible from the sea. Almost 4 km long, it gets its name from the brief period when several species of butterflies and moths occupy it. The most impressive is the Jersey Tiger moth. With a wingspan of up to 6.5 cm, they are in the valley between July and September.
There are two waterfalls and a small stream flowing through the steep-sided valley with walls almost 400 metres. You can stay overnight in this eco-friendly valley if you wish, with obvious restrictions ensuring the pristine environment is protected.
Soak Up the Sun on Calis Beach
Calis is a small town just outside Fethiye. It is geared towards tourism and has plenty of bars, restaurants, hotels, and apartments to cater to visitors. There is also a significant ex-pat population living here all year round.
Many bars and restaurants line the promenade. And, in front of that, there is a long strip of beach that welcomes sunbathers and swimmers. With refreshments close at hand, this is a great place to soak up the sun.
Saklıkent National Park
It is difficult to imagine ice-cold water during the warm months of summer, but you will find it flowing down the steep gorge at Saklikent. You can take the pathway at the side of the gorge or wade in the water if you wish.
The gorge is 20 km long, the second-longest in Europe. Just 4 km of the gorge is walkable once the waters drop from April. Those waters are the melting snow from further upstream in the Taurus Mountains heading to the Xanthos River.
Tlos is close to Saklikent and spreads over a large area, focusing on the acropolis. It was built in a natural defensive location, and city walls added to its protection. You will see Lycian tombs here while parts of Tlos belong to the Byzantine period.
Tlos was one of six main cities in Lycia and one of the oldest. There were still inhabitants here through most of the Ottoman period until the late18th Century. It was abandoned but then discovered by Charles Fellows in 1838.
Kayakoy is an abandoned village, once the home of Greeks before the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. To a man, they all left, and no one has lived there since. Kayakoy is just a short distance over the hill from Fethiye and has become a popular tourist resort. It was also a location in the Russell Crowe film, “The Water Diviner.”
You are free to wander around this village on a hillside which includes an impressive church. There is talk of restoration, and time will tell what the future holds. Tourist shops and restaurants are near its entrance, so refreshments are readily available.
This ancient city is a little further away. It dated back around 2,500 years and was opened to the public a decade ago. You will see cave tombs, a Hellenistic theatre, a temple, agora, and Roman baths, so it is a mixture of cultures.
Kadyanda is inland towards Uzumlu, and Lycian text is also a feature of this place.
The famous Lycian Way starts above Fethiye and stretches to Antalya. It is a favourite route for hikers and serious walkers running parallel to the coast. It takes up to two weeks to make the whole trip because it is approaching 500 km long. You can spend a few hours at its start on a day trip from Fethiye.
You can see from the above that there are plenty of things to do in Fethiye whatever your interests. There are things for families, history buffs, those who wish to do activities, and those who want to kick back and relax.
There are plenty of accommodation alternatives, and much is suitable for those on a budget. Local cafes and lokantas serve outstanding and inexpensive local cuisine. Even the markets guarantee value for summer wear as well as jackets. Fethiye’s annual tourist numbers suggest that many already know of its qualities for a holiday.