15 things to do in Fethiye (Turkey)

People have lived in this town on the natural harbour of the Turkish Riviera for 5,000 years.

Fethiye was once Telmessos, part of the ancient Lycia, a federation of independent city-states.

The Lycians are known for their unique burial habits, leaving 2,500-year-old sarcophagi on the streets of Fethiye and fantastic rock tombs on the cliffs outside the city.

Today Fethiye is a holiday destination and easy access to the remote ruins of other Lycian cities, the 18km Saklikent Gorge and Oludeniz’s remarkable beaches and lagoons. But the resort itself has a lot to love, too, from its authentic weekly market to its superb museums to the cool, shady lanes of the Old Town.

1. Oludeniz Beach

Oludeniz Beach

Near the headland, only ten kilometers south of the old town of Fethiye, is a rare beauty.

The blue-flag Oludeniz Beach is a crescent-shaped beach of white pebbles whose crystal-clear waters give off a stunning turquoise hue in the sun.

So many things combine to make this place so special.

One of them is the skyscraper landscape on its edge: Babadağ Peak, 2,000 meters above sea level, just 5 kilometers from the coast, confronts 1,400 meters of karate.

Behind the northern end of the beach is a lagoon, dark blue but equally clear, protected like a nature reserve.

There is a beach club on the shore of the lagoon, complete with sun loungers, where you can slip into the warm shallow waters or rent a pedal boat for a small sailing.

2. Tomb of Amyntas

Tomb of Amyntas

You can see the fascinating ruins of ancient Telmessos on the high limestone cliffs that form the southern border of Fethiye.

There, you can walk up the steep walkway at the base of the cliff to get a better understanding of the Lycian tombs.

These are made of rock walls and can be very grand, with frieze, gables and ionic columns.

The best is at the highest point with exhilarating views of Fethiye and its bay.

This is the Tomb of Amyntas, carved around 350 BC, its scale is unparalleled in this whole, and it has a narthex in front of its burial chamber.

The inscription on the side reads “Amyntou tou Ermagiou”, (Amyntas, son of Hermagios).

3. Lycian Sarcophagus

Lycian Sarcophagus

A quirk of Lycian culture is that, unlike ancient Greece, the dead were buried throughout the town, not in a single cemetery.

Such is the case in Fethiye, and it is exciting that these monuments built of local limestone stand as the modern city grows around them.

So you can turn around in one of Fethiye’s side streets and come face to face with a tomb dating back 1,300 years.

These can be decorated with reliefs and rise to three levels.

The most ornate is the garden of the Belediye, which is designed like a two-story house with movement reliefs on the walls, including depictions of soldiers with shields on the roof.

4. Fethiye Museum

Fethiye Museum

Given Fethiye’s archaeological wealth, a visit to the town’s museums is a must.

You can set your sights on a wealth of artifacts from the Bronze Age to Antiquity, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.

There are coins minted over hundreds of years, as well as architectural fragments such as jewelry, amphora, busts, tombstones, figurines, amulets, pottery, altars and capitals and bases.

You can see the entire tomb brought from the Tlos site, but probably the most important find in the exhibit is the “Trilingual Stele”. This has the same inscriptions in Lycian, Greek and Aramaic.

The piece has been a key tool in helping scholars decipher the Lycian language.

5. Saklikent National Park

saklikent national park

Deep into Fethiye’s rocky hinterland, you can head to Saklıkent Canyon, about 40 kilometers east of the resort, within the national park created in 1996. The statistics of this natural wonder are mind-boggling: the canyon is 18 kilometers long, 300 kilometers deep and narrow to just two meters wide.

It’s all sculpted by Karaçay, a tributary of the Eşen river, where violence can occur between November and March.

The rest of the time, you can walk the gorge for about 4 kilometers, through wooden walkways in the walls, and explore waterfalls and a series of caves.

The canyon has little sunlight and is fed by the cold springs of Bay Mountain, so it’s a great place to escape the heat.

If you have water shoes, bring them for navigating the slippery rocks, and be prepared to soak up your waist if you want the full experience.

6. The Ruins of Telos

telos ruins

Combined with a day trip to the Saklıkent Gorge is this ruined Lycian city on a rocky plateau.

Tlos began to form as early as 4,000 years ago, which is unusual for a Lycian settlement, as it was inhabited by Romans, Byzantines and Ottoman Turks until the 19th century.

Part of the fun of venturing through Tlos is finding out which ruins are from which era.

For example, the decaying fortress at the top is Ottoman, but the walls are carved in Lycian and Roman stone.

There are Lycian rock tombs, the grandest of which is the temple-like tomb of Bellerophon, with reliefs on the porch showing the eponymous hero riding a Pegasus, and a lion or leopard carved inside.

There is a Roman-era theatre with carved garland details, as well as a stadium, market hall and an early Christian cathedral.

7. Fethiye Market

Fethiye Market

On Tuesday, there is a huge bazaar on the east side of the old town, opposite the minibus station, where Atatürk Caddesi meets İnönü boulevard.

The good thing about the market is that it is popular with people living in Fethiye and surrounding communities like Ölüdeniz and Çalis.

So this is a great opportunity to take the pulse of everyday life and pick up some local specialties and typical ingredients such as nuts, pickled and smoked olives, dried fruits, various grains, lentils, various spices and cheeses.

If you like, there’s also a ton of the latest fakes, from clothes and accessories to bags, belts, shoes, football shirts, watches and sunglasses.

Don’t forget, haggling is part of the fun!

8. Fethiye Old Town

Fethiye old town

Due east of the wharf is Fethiye’s Old Town, or Pastur.

You can sneak into this narrow, walkable alley and browse nearby shops selling souvenirs, Turkish rugs, tea sets, and more.

The scent of spices wafts in the air, and even when the sun goes down, Paspatul remains dark under a vine cloak on a pergola or a large awning that covers the width of the alley.

In this dim and cool environment, there are many cafés and restaurants with terraces.

Look out for the 18th-century Eski Cami (Old Mosque) minaret, and the nearby fish market is a microcosm of local life.

Heading west, above the pier, you will come to the Hellenistic theatre of Telmessos, built in the 2nd century BC and extensively restored, although it is not difficult to distinguish between ancient and modern stone.

9. Chalis Beach

Calis Beach

North of Fethiye’s natural harbour, the coast opens into a long bay.

This is the beach of Çalis, which stretches for several kilometers, a mixture of dull sand and pebbles, beaten by low to moderate waves.

The resort continues on the promenade at the back, and you’ll never have to travel long distances to grab a bite to eat or spend a blissful afternoon in the sun.

The length of the beach means there is room for everyone to relax, which is suitable for the older, more laid-back crowd that comes here.

As you’d expect from Fethiye, the views are delightful, especially when the sun goes down and the bay and sky are golden.

10. Kayaking


Eight kilometers south of Fethiye is a ghost village formerly inhabited by a mostly Greek Orthodox Christian community but abandoned in the turbulent first decades of the 20th century.

The Ottoman Greeks lived relatively peacefully within the empire for hundreds of years, but that changed after the First World War and the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922 followed by a population exchange.

Kayaköy (Livissi) had a population of 6,000 when it was abandoned and dates back at least to the 7th century, when it was a Christian bishopric.

There are Lycian burials here, but most of the houses, school buildings and churches were built in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Some of these buildings have been restored, but most have been preserved as open museums.

Stroll the steep winding lanes for as long as you can and look for the 17th-century fountain in the town centre.

11. Fethiye Port

port of fethiye

Fethiye’s waterfront is open to the public, with a promenade lining the bay for hundreds of meters, all the way to the marina on the south side.

The views have always been special, in Fethiye Bay or the Xiaomudou peninsula that protects the harbour to the west.

As you head south, you’ll see boats moored alongside the marina, from traditional sailboats (caravans) to luxurious modern yachts.

There is shade of palm and pine trees, many restaurants and cafés, and a trail dedicated to cyclists.

Right next to the marina, you can take a water taxi to Çalis Beach and enjoy the scenery along the way.

12. Butterfly Valley

Butterfly Valley

South of Oludeniz, there is a beach that is almost inaccessible by land, as it lies at the end of a canyon with a rock wall up to 350 meters.

Butterfly Valley, named for the many species (more than 80 species) that inhabit this habitat, is a popular day trip by boat from Ölüdeniz.

You’ll be transported to pristine sand coves with crystal clear waters dwarfed by those towering rock walls.

There is a small cafe on the beach and you can decide if you want to go up the valley.

Note that butterflies are naturally seasonal and peak in numbers between June and September, but there are also a pair of waterfalls that flow year-round and are also worth a visit.

13. Blue Lagoon Ölüdeniz Tandem Paraglider in Fethiye

Blue Lagoon Ölüdeniz Tandem Paragliding from Fethiye

If you want to make memories of a lifetime, you can fly from the top of Babadag over Ölüdeniz and its beaches and lagoons.

Offered through GetYourGuide.com, this is a two-person flight, so you don’t need any prior experience.

You’ll be strapped to an experienced pilot, so you can relax, take in the views and take as many photos as possible.

The flight takes just over half an hour as you are lifted by the heat and swooped down to the beach for a gentle landing.

Hotel pickup and drop-off included.

14. Kajanda


If you’re still interested in ancient Lycian history, you can venture to the ruins of Kadyanda near the town of Üzümlü, about 25 kilometers from Fethiye.

Perched on top of a mountain, Kadyanda was inhabited from about 5,000 years ago to the 7th century AD.

This is a famous city, as can be seen from the extent of the ruins: there are bazaars, stadiums, theatres, baths, impressive tombs, defensive walls and the remains of several temples.

Hidden in the pine forest, Kajanda is far away from the sight of many tourists. Come here and have the opportunity to enjoy this charming ancient city alone.

15. The Lycian Way

Lycian way

Ölüdeniz is the western start of an epic trail through the Aegean and Mediterranean regions of southern Turkey to Geyikbayırı, not far from Antalya.

The trail is approximately 540 kilometers long, marked with red and white stripes, and takes you to ruined cities, tombs and remote villages.

The route winds its way through some brutal but uncharacteristically beautiful mountain views, along old walkways and mule trails, best done in the spring.

Although the walkers spent a good amount of time under the cover of the pine trees, it was clearly not a challenge for the faint-hearted or unprepared, and was the course for a multi-day ultramarathon at the end of May.

The good news is that Fethiye ends mostly on the coast and has some of the lightest and most valuable stretches.

If you’re feeling fit, you can hike from the resort to Butterfly Valley and then follow the dramatic descent to Faralya.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Fethiye, Turkey
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