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Turkey’s Top Beaches: Your Ultimate Guide to Sun, Sand, and Sea

Posted by BlogEditor on 29 June 2024
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With its pristine appearance, clean streets, and full-fronted harbor with gorgeous Mediterranean Sea views, deciding what to do in Fethiye, Turkey, can be overwhelming given the multitude of options. Built over the ruins of Telmessos ancient city, it joins other coastal towns as a prominent landmark of ancient Lycia, one of many kingdoms from past civilizations that left their mark.

Part of its popularity is due to the variety of activities available, from relaxing and water sports to historical sites and cultural experiences. For Brits, it is a favored family destination, while budget backpackers flock for cheap cabin charter Blue cruises. To see and do everything at a leisurely pace takes about a week, but if time is short, here is a highlight of attractions.

From beaches to historical sites, we have listed things to do in the main town and, if time allows, further afield by either hiring a car or signing up for guided tours. One thing is for sure though, whether you are a solo traveler, a group of friends, a couple, or a family, Fethiye will surprise and delight at the same time.

What to Do in Fethiye: Places, Attractions, and Sporty Things

  1. Fethiye Lycian Rock Tombs Overlooking Fethiye town center like a king surveying his kingdom, the Lycian tombs project a majestic view and insight into the beliefs of ancient Lycians who buried their dead in high-up places, so it was easier for them to enter the afterlife. Amyntas, the most famous tomb, dates from 350 BC and is unique since the large interior is a typical size of a Lycian temple. Although reaching the tomb on foot is strenuous and not for those who have walking difficulties, the impressive view of Fethiye city is a worthy reward.
  2. Town Museum and Hellenistic Theatre Following the Lycian story, Fethiye town center museum is an over-brimming treasure chest of artifacts including coins, jewelry, vases, and other everyday items used in history. Objects include those discovered at other nearby Lycian cities such as Letoon and Xanthos, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Walking along the harbor district, an impressive 6000-seater Hellenistic/Roman theatre of Telmessos comes into view. Dating from the 2nd century BC, it was neglected for many years but underwent a significant restoration project in May 2014.
  3. Kayakoy Ghost Village A short bus drive takes tourists to the eerie hillside Kayakoy ghost village. Occupied at the beginning of the 20th century by Greeks and Turks, the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne ordered Greeks and Turks to return to their respective homelands. Greeks left Kayakoy, but returning Turks could not settle and deserted their new home. Many small earthquakes that followed prompted total desertion, and Turkey’s most famous ghost village was born. Cobbled streets, ruined houses, and empty churches tell a sad story about war and the aftermath of destruction.
  4. Blue Lagoon and Oludeniz As a prime waterfront location, Fethiye boasts of outdoor activities including sailing, scuba diving, swimming, water sports, and boats. The Blue Lagoon, the most photographed beach and cove in Turkey, is a short bus ride away from Fethiye town center and suits most families. This is also a great opportunity to make a day of it because the Blue Lagoon connects with the beautiful sandy main Oludeniz beach. Bars and restaurants back the beach, and a delightful splattering of local shops breaks up the swimming breaks.
  5. Butterfly Valley Intrepid explorers often catch a water taxi across to Butterfly Valley (Kelebek Vadesi), a rustic and natural beach backed by a towering green valley encouraging visitors to be at one with nature. Locals also say it is the best snorkeling spot. Although the beach is stony, it offers scenic views, and the walk to the back of the canyon leads to small waterfalls. Be warned though, don’t expect to see masses of butterflies unless it is breeding season.
  6. Daily Boat Cruises Plenty of beaches outside of Fethiye make a roaring trade, with Calis being particularly popular. Fethiye is a center of excellence on the Turkish Riviera, worth exploring by boat. Hosted daily boat trips sail around the coastline to coves and bays for swimming and snorkeling breaks, and a visit to nearby Gemiler Island and its ancient churches. Jump on board a boat trip leaving from the harbor every morning during summer, or hire a Turkish gulet boat for a blue cruise of the Turquoise Coast.
  7. Saklikent Gorge Eighteen miles away from Fethiye is Saklikent Gorge, one of Mediterranean Turkey’s most stunning natural landmarks. A rushing stream of pure limewater gushes through the gorge between two hills separated thousands of years ago by an earthquake. Walk the designated path with a guide or stay in the visitor’s scenic area for photo opportunities and end your day in a traditional restaurant at the gorge side to sample fresh trout.
  8. Paragliding Fethiye itself is a delight to explore and stroll around without a set agenda. The last recommended activity while in Fethiye for 24 hours is to jump off Babadag Mountain with a qualified para-gliding pilot in a tandem ride. Aimed at novices who have never flown before, after landing on Oludeniz beach, passengers receive a video and photos as souvenirs.
  9. Tlos Ancient Ruins A favorite day trip out is to see Tlos ancient ruins in Xanthos valley. Fame surrounds this ancient city because it still displays a perfect blend of Lycian, Byzantine, and Ottoman architecture. From the Lycian rock tombs at the top of the hill, a marvelous view over the valley is a camera-worthy moment. Most tour agencies combine this trip with visits to Saklikent Gorge and Yaka park, a fresh trout farm high in the hills.
  10. Nostalgia in Paspatur For a glimpse of bygone eras when Fethiye was just a small town, head to the Paspatur area near the harbor. Narrow, cobbled streets are home to a delightful collection of shops and bazaars, many of which sell souvenirs. After spending your cash, relax in a street café or bar. Paspatur is also a great place at night for sit-down entertainment and is near the Hellenistic theatre.
  11. Lycian Way Hikes The Lycian way stretches for 5,000 kilometers from Fethiye to Antalya, which would take months to complete. However, within the Fethiye region are short daytime walks that take in scenic landscapes. Pack a flask and picnic basket and put on those walking shoes to enjoy the best of the Med coast. Before leaving though, make sure you tell someone where you are going and have a good Wi-Fi connection on your mobile.
  12. Day Out on Sovalye Island Fethiye’s splattering of coastline islands includes gems like Gemiler, home to old ruined churches, and Sovalye, a secluded destination perfect for couples seeking peace in a busy holiday resort. Spend your time doing water sports or book an overnight stay in a luxury hotel. Get there via water taxi from Fethiye town center.
  13. Xanthos and Letoon How about a day out at a prominent UNESCO site in Mediterranean Turkey? Sitting an hour’s drive away, Xanthos and Letoon were the ruling capital of ancient Lycia, hence their inclusion as a world heritage site. Both archaeological complexes sit side by side and together display Byzantine, Roman, Greek, and Anatolian civilizations. Landmarks to see include the sarcophagi, rock tombs, acropolis, and Artemis, Apollo, and Leto temples.
  14. Head to Mountain Uzumlu For something different from the sandy beach resorts, head inland to the Taurus mountain range to reach the small but delightful Uzumlu village. Mixing traditional Turkey with modern vibes, it blends together to present an addictive place you will return to. Known for its annual mushroom festival, this is also a favorite haunt for many holidaymakers to buy large, secluded villas with private swimming pools.
  15. From Fethiye to Rhodes There is no perfect combination than mixing Turkish and Greek culture in a one-day trip. The ferry departing from the main harbor in Fethiye town takes just 90 minutes before arriving on the fourth-largest Greek island. Sites to visit include Tsambika monastery, Epta Piges seven springs, and the old part of Rhodes. However, we enjoy an alternative form of shopping before putting our feet up in a local pub to taste delicious Greek cuisine.

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