Best things to do in Fethiye

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Grace Hillier

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Although Fethiye isn’t the first to come to mind if you’re thinking about Turkey, like Istanbul or Izmir, it’s still jam-packed with experiences and fun that we think you shouldn’t miss out on.

Fethiye is a small town in southwestern Turkey that is popular for its beaches and tourist attractions. It has an impressive natural harbor that makes the sea calm most of the time.  From stunning natural wonders, hikes, and ancient ruins, there’s something to do for everyone. 

10 things to do in Fethiye

Are you considering a trip to Fethiye? Here are 10 of the best things to do in this special town.

1.   Swim in turquoise waters

Beautiful beach with clear water in Fethiye

With over 20 beaches in Fethiye, it doesn’t come as a surprise that people associate it with the sea. The turquoise water makes it picture-perfect.

The most popular beach in Fethiye is Çalış Beach. Calış is about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the main town of Fethiye and is known as the beach resort area of Fethiye. The waves at Çalış Beach aren’t generally too big which make for good swimming. 

You can also get a water taxi from this beach and visit other areas of Fethiye. It runs during the summer season from April to October. Try crossing from Çalış to Fethiye or vice versa to get sunset views of the harbor.

Meanwhile, Ölüdeniz Beach is Fethiye’s most famous beach, stretching 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) south of Fethiye. The town of Ölüdeniz is about a 20-minute drive from the main town of Fethiye. Its waters have a mesmerizing turquoise color and it is sheltered from the sea which makes it a relaxing place to swim. 

At the beach, there is plenty to do, including tandem paragliding and scuba diving. Locals call it the Blue Lagoon because of its pristine waters.

See Butterfly Valley

Butterfly Valley is the ideal landscape, with a beach lying between two cliffs. Not only that, but it gets its name from the Jersey Tiger Butterfly, which you’ll find plenty of during your visit.

Keep in mind, however, that the beach isn’t reachable by road. To get there, you’ll have to trek from Faralya village or take a boat. While trekking gives you a lot of time to appreciate every detail, the boat trip is a lot of fun.

Another great beach is Iztuzu Beach which is a hidden gem in Fethiye, just over 2 hours north by car. It’s where you can find a sanctuary for sea turtles.

2. Sunbathe in a perfect climate

Fethiye is in a sheltered bay on the Mediterranean Sea. It’s backed by the Taurus Mountains, which is why it has the ideal climate.

Here, you can sunbake and swim seven months a year, from May to November.

The town gets long hours of sunlight during summer and the temperatures generally stay within 10.3°C (51 °F) to 28.25 °C (83 °F), plus there’s hardly any rain. All this means it’s the perfect climate for outdoor adventures. 

3. Explore Ancient Lycian ruins 

The Ancient Ruins of Tlos

There are plenty of Lycian city ruins around Fethiye, but Tlos Ruins has got to be the most famous because of its diversity. It’s like experiencing multiple eras at once.

Not only does Tlos have rock tombs, but there is also a Byzantine basilica, restored theater, necropolis, baths, an agora, and plenty of ruins of houses scattered around the area. 

Tlos is about 40 minutes’ drive by car from Fethiye. The entry fee here is 60 lira (as of 2023).

Amynthas Rock Tomb

Ancient Ruins in Fethiye

Fethiye currently stands on the site of one of the most important Lucian cities, Telmessos. It’s where Lycian culture originated. 

Because of this, you can visit ancient rock tombs and sarcophagi dating back from the 4th century BCE throughout the town.

While there are plenty of monuments you’ll find all over the area, the Amynthas Rock Tomb stands out. It is just a 20-minute walk from the promenade (Fethiye Kordon). The tomb is on a cliff that overlooks the city, so you’ll get an incredible view when you get there. The entrance fee in 2023 was 60 lira ($2 USD). 

You can also enjoy Kaya Caddesi as you climb the hill towards the tomb. There are plenty of Lycian sarcophagi that line the way, along with a theater in the harbor area.

Kayaköy Ruins

Greeks and Turks have lived together for centuries in Kayaköy, up until the 1920s. Then, the 1923 population exchange divided them, sending Greeks to Greece and bringing the Turks back.

You can see the result of the abandonment of Kayaköy, which has been empty and decaying ever since the Greeks left.

The ruins include two churches: Katapongagia and Taxiarchis. Despite being ruins, the two churches are worth exploring.

Fethiye Museum 

Also don’t miss the Fethiye Museum. It holds heaps of artifacts and terracotta pieces that archaeologists have found in the surrounding ruins. 

4. Go for a scenic hike

There are over 300 miles of scenic hiking trails between Fethiye and Antalya. Some are family-friendly, while others are for intermediate climbers.

Saklikent Gorge is one of the deepest canyons in Europe (one hour’s drive from Fethiye). This ravine stretches into the mountains of Akdağlar, where you’ll be surrounded by soaring cliffs.

During the summer, the water goes down enough so that you can hike and rock climb here. Just remember to bring beach shoes with some grip because you will get your feet wet. There’s a pause where you’ll ford the river and walk through a tight fissure to the waterfall at the end.

If you choose to hike the trail, you can relax in one of the teahouses beside the river, which you’ll find inside the gorge before the fissure and at the entrance, where you pay the entrance fee. 

If you’re after a laid back stroll, then just 20 minutes drive from Saklikent Gorge is Selale Yaka Park. It’s a waterfall park that also has a restaurant where you can pick your own fish from the pond and they will cook it for you. You won’t get much fresher than that! 

Bike track around Fethiye

The main promenade in Fethiye (Fethiye Kordon) also makes for a beautiful stroll. It’s lined with bars and restaurants and ice creams sellers, so you can stop for a drink or treat on the way.  

5. Visit Traditional Markets 

It’s a must to visit one of the many local markets in Fethiye to haggle for souvenirs. You can enjoy the maze-like bazaars, pavement cafés, and historical stone buildings.

Paspatur, or Old Town, is the best place to go if you want the traditional charm of Fethiye. Here, you can take photos of the colorful Umbrella Street as you shop for spices, shoes and bags.

Meanwhile, the Old Orient Carpet and Kilim Bazaar are where you can buy high-quality Turkish rugs. You can even watch locals show you how traditional rug making is done.

6. Visit the Fethiye Fish Market

The main street of the town

A Mediterranean trip isn’t complete without trying fresh seafood and Fethiye fish market is a must-visit. While you’ll find the typical staples, there are days when you’ll catch seasonal treats, such as hamsi and barbun, the red snapper of the Mediterranean.

The best part is that there are restaurants around the market where you can cook the fish of your choice and order bread, salads, and meze along with your meal. 

7. Soak in hot springs

The Dalyan mud bath is a unique experience at Fethiye. You first jump into the mud and then wash it off at the lake or showers. After this, you can enjoy the hot springs and even dip your feet in a fish spa.

These sulphur hot springs are smelly and the whole complex is a bit rustic, but it’s a lot of fun.

Tip: Most people arrive at the mud bath on an organized boat tour, so if you arrive on foot then you may have to wait at the entrance for a while untill you attract the staff’s attention. 

8. Try an extreme sport

Paragliding

Fethiye is a well-known destination for extreme sports.

You can try paragliding from Babadag Mountain or Ölüdeniz Beach. When you do, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the whole town and all its beaches. In fact, Ölüdeniz is one of the most popular places in the world for paragliding. 

Ziplining

There’s also zip lining from the Gizlikent Waterfall. It’s not just a waterfall but an activity center with off road buggies, pony trekking, river tubing and a giant swing as well as a restaurant and café.

Bike riding 

Or if you’re into more relaxing sports like us, then you may want to hire bikes and take in the Fethiye coastline that way. There are numerous bike hire stores in Fethiye to choose from, depending on what you are looking for, whether electric bikes, bikes with child seats, etc. We found that most places hire bikes for the day (rather than by the hour). Be sure to ask the staff and they will let you know where the best bike tracks are. 

If you’re riding with kids, then look out for the bright blue cycle track that starts at the promenade in Fethiye and continues uninterrupted for 6 kilometers to the water taxi office in Çalış. 

This bike path winds through Şehit Fethi Bey Parkı which is one of the best outdoor spaces in Fethiye with numerous gardens and children’s playgrounds. 

If you want to take it up a notch, then you can try mountain biking on one of the many countryside tracks in Fethiye.

9. Visit an Aquapark

Did you know that Fethiye boasts three aqua parks?

The Sultans Aqua City is a family-friendly aqua park you can visit with the kids. Or you could try the Grand Ucel Aqua Park which is one of the biggest in the area.

The Ölüdeniz Waterworld Aqua Park has over nine slides and a wave pool you may want to visit.

10. Go kayaking at St. Nicholas Island

One of the most popular sites on Fethiye would be St. Nicholas Island or Gemiler Island.

This tiny island has the ruins of five churches, and it’s where you can find the burial site of St. Nicholas (that’s Santa Claus, for those who don’t know).

But it’s not just Santa Claus that makes this island popular. Tourists take day trips here to kayak on the crystal-clear waters. The sunset kayak tour on the island is highly rated as a good activity for couples.

FAQs

What are the means of transportation available in Fethiye?

Ideally, getting around would be easiest if you rented a car to get around Fethiye and neighboring towns.

Alternatively, you can hop on a minibus, known as a dolmuş. While there are trains and buses, the most reliable form of transportation you’ll find here is the minibus.

When should I visit Fethiye? 

Helpful tip

We visited Fethiye in May, which is spring in Turkey and generally considered a little chilly for the beach. Although the water was cold, the weather was warm and sunny and perfect for bike riding and building sandcastles with our daughter. 

Peak tourist time in Fethiye is summer (June- August). A plus with visiting just before or after peak time is that it is less crowded and not as hot and it’s the perfect weather for bike riding and hiking. 

The only downside with visiting Fethiye in off peak time is that some of the restaurants and bars are shut and we noticed that some places go through renovations in preparation for the upcoming tourist season. 

So why visit this small town?

Standing in front of the big Fethiye sign

Clear waters, beach life and fun activities make Fethiye a top destination in Turkey. 

You’ll find historical sites and see ancient Lycian artifacts, as well as experience hot springs and hiking trails. We definitely recommend putting this picturesque town on your list of places to visit in Turkey. 

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