The 14 best sights in and around Fethiye
Fethiye is an ideal starting point for exploring the many tourist attractions and activities along Turkey’s turquoise coastline. This port city is in an excellent position to travel both to the nearby beaches and inland to discover the dilapidated remains of the region’s ancient Lycian culture. Depending on the location, the city will provide everything.
Despite the abundance of attractions in Fethiye in Turkey, it is nonetheless a quiet place, which is exactly what you need to get back to after a busy day exploring the mighty tombs carved into the rocks and highland ruins protected by UNESCO, or enjoy sunbathing, boating, and paragliding.
Roman amphitheater. | Photo: Carole Raddato / Flickr.
When the Romans conquered Turkey, they allowed the Lycians to organize independent self-government, but that didn’t stop them from leaving their mark on the Lycian cities. The small and only partially excavated amphitheater of Fethiye, built in the II century BC, was originally designed for 6000 spectators.
Climb to the upper tier of seats, which offers a spectacular view of the city and the sea beyond. The park opposite the theater is an excellent place to relax and find shade on a hot summer day.
Address: Karagözler Mahallesi, Fethiye Antik Tiyatrosu, Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
Focusing on Lycian finds from Telmessos and the ancient settlements of Tlos and Kaunos, this small museum exhibits ceramics, jewelry, small statues and votive stones, including a grave stele and a stele of promise.
However, its most valuable possession is the so-called Trilingual Stele from Leto, dated 338 BC, which was partly used to decipher the Lycian language using Ancient Greek and Aramaic.
Address: Kesikkapı Mahallesi, Fethiye Museum, 505. Sokak, Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
View of the Blue Lagoon.
Not sure what to see in Fethiye besides the ancient ruins, head to the resort village of Oludeniz. Here, 15 kilometers from Fethiye is the most famous beach of Turkey. The calm turquoise water, with white sandy beach, protected from the sea, fringed with a dense pine forest, creates an incredible beauty. That’s why people have been flocking here for years.
To some extent, the original luster of Oludeniz has been lost in the last two decades when package tourism arrived here, but nevertheless, the lagoon area has managed to keep the ugly construction of tourist infrastructure, and the nearby village is still unobtrusive.
If you don’t want to, swim or sunbathe, you can paraglide here. During the summer months, paragliders launch from the top of Mount Babadag, which towers over the surrounding area. Even beginners can go paragliding.
Address: Ölüdeniz Mahallesi, Blue Lagoon, Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
The Crusader Castle
Crusader fortress.| Photo: Pavel Rybin / Flickr.
On the hillside above and south of Fethiye, on the road to Kayakei, you cannot miss the ruined tower of the Crusader Castle, built by the Knights of St. John in the early 15th century on an earlier, possibly Lycian, Greek or Roman foundation.
Address: Cumhuriyet Mahallesi, Castle of Fethiye, Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
The ancient city of Qayaqiye
The ancient city of Qayaqey | Photo: Jorge Franganillo / Flickr.
Up until the 1920s, Kayakei (the ancient city of Karmilassos), located eight kilometers from Fethiye, where a mixed population of Greeks and Turks lived for centuries, flourished. The so-called population exchange in 1923 changed everything; ethnic Greeks living in Turkey were forcibly sent to Greece, while the native Turks living in Greece had to leave their lives there and return to their homeland.
This exchange broke the hearts and caused much suffering to those who had to leave their home, and the sad results of this, are best seen in the example of Kayakea. The dilapidated, gloomy stone village stretching down the hillside has been left to slowly decay since the Greek owners left it. In the ruins of the Church of Kathapongagia and the Church of Taxiarches, some beautiful interior elements still remain.
Address: Kayaköy Mahallesi 48300 Fethiye/Mugla Turkey.
It is a ravine, 30 kilometers from Fethiye, deeply cut into the mountains of the Akdaǧlar range. Most visitors come to the gorge, which has wooden boardwalks, along part of the trail high above the river. The last section of the trail can be reached by wading across the rushing river and walking through a narrow crevasse to the end.
If you don’t like walking through icy water, stop at one of the tea houses studded with cushions. For the more active tourists there are canyoning and rafting tours on the river.
Address: Aklar Mahallesi, Saklıkent Milli Parkı, Kaş/Antalya, Turkey.
The ruins of the Lycian city of Pynara
Ruins of the Lycian city of Pınara.
Located in the hills southeast of Fethiye the ruins of the Lycian city of Pınara are interesting mainly because of its rugged cliffs with over 900 stone tombs and monolithic domestic tombs. The site was so inaccessible that the builders of the tombs were lowered on platforms secured with ropes.
The scenery surrounding the ruins is truly stunning, especially around Theater Square, overlooking snow-capped peaks framed by green forest. This is one of the most tranquil Lycian spots in the area, rarely occupied by tourists.
Address: Yakabağ Mahallesi, Pınara Antik Kenti, Eşen/Fethiye/Seydikemer/Mugla, Turkey.
The Tomb of Amintas
The tomb of Amintas.
The most recognizable landmark in Fethiye is the giant Tomb of Amintas whose facade was carved into the sheer cliff face in 350 BC in honor of Amintas, son of Hermagios. The tomb is located to the south of the city center and is best visited at sunset.
Address: Kesikkapı Mahallesi, Amintas Kaya Mezarları, 117. Sokak, Fethiye/Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
City of Xanf.
City of Xanth. | Photo: John Rutter / Flickr.
Xanthos was the capital of ancient Lycia, often referred to as the oldest republic in the world. This league of 20 cities was governed by a People’s Assembly and a ruler who ruled from Xanthus. Today the place is under the protection of UNESCO. Although many of the most beautiful monuments of Xanthus were taken to England in the nineteenth century, the beautiful mosaics are still there, and the amphitheater, the Agora and the Acropolis can also be seen here.
Behind the amphitheater, to the left of the road, you can see the pedestal on which once stood the Monument to Nereidus, an Ionic temple with richly sculpted decoration, now on display in the British Museum. To the right of the road are the city gates. The city walls, large sections of which are still visible, probably date back to the 3rd century BC.
Address: Kınık Mahallesi, Xanthos Harp Anıtı, Kaş/Antalya, Turkey.
The Valley of the Butterflies
View of the Valley of the Butterflies.| Photo: wikimedia.
This beautiful beach, tucked between two rocky cliffs, is home to the Jersey Tiger Butterfly. Its beauty is that it is not accessible by road. You have to go from the village of Faralia, high on the mountain, or by boat, which leaves from Oludeniz a couple of times a day in the summertime.
Excellent hiking opportunities are found in the lush wooded gorge behind the beach, although most people will be happy just to stretch out on the sand.
Address: Butterfly Valley Kelebekler Vadisi Uzunyurt Mahallesi 48300 Fethiye/Mugla Turkey.
Çalış Beach. | Photo: Tim Fields / Flickr.
About 5 km northeast of the center of Fethiye, is Çalış, a narrow stretch of gravel beach along which hotels and pubs and eateries patronized by British immigrants are concentrated. Part of the James Bond movie Skyfall was filmed here. Dolmushis, or local shuttle buses, go to Çalış every 5 to 10 minutes from the bus station next to the mosque.
Address: Foça Mahallesi, Calis Beach, 1289. Sk., Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
Tlos ruins.| Photo: Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr.
High up in the mountains framing Fethiye is Tlos, which is another ruin of an ancient Lycian city. On top of the rounded hill of the Acropolis are the ruins of an Ottoman fortress. The Lycians were not the only ones who appreciated the good location of the mountain fort, so it was actively used by local brigands during the Ottoman rule.
On the east side of the Acropolis, the remains of the Lycian and Roman city walls can still be seen today. Behind them are the chaotic ruins of houses and public buildings, which include what looks like an indoor marketplace, as well as a necropolis, the Agora and a restored amphitheater.
Address: Yakaköy Mahallesi, Tlos Ören Yeri, Saklıkent Yolu, Fethiye/Mugla, Turkey.
Patara beach.| Photo: Josh / Flickr.
Patara is the longest sandy strip in Turkey and thus the most ideal place for a beach holiday. It was also once an important city of the Lycian League, its numerous ruins are not far from the beach. The ruins of ancient Patara pass through a triple arched gate from the Roman era, next to a well-preserved amphitheater, a street with a colonnade, a bath complex and many tombs.
The town existed until the Byzantine period and a basilica can also be seen there. In addition, the town is famous for being the birthplace of St. Nicholas, bishop of the IV century, who later became “Santa Claus”.
Address: Patara Plaji, Gelemiş Mahallesi, Kaş/Antalya, Turkey.
View from Gemiler Island. | Photo: Tania & Artur / Flickr.
Gemiler is located along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, south of Fethiye and west of the sandy beach of Oludeniz. Gemiler is known as St. Nicholas Island, it is separated from the mainland by a narrow sea strait and is a tiny speck of an island, only 400 meters wide and 1000 meters long, but despite its size, is famous for its wealth of Byzantine ruins, which are over 1500 years old.
Today much of the island is covered by a chaotic pile of ruins consisting of the scattered remains of four churches, Byzantine houses, a port, waterways, tombs and cemeteries. There were once stores along the shore where merchants sold olive oil and grain to passing ships.
Gemiler has many rocky coves that provide a safe berth for yachts and guarantee excellent snorkeling along its coast. Semi-destroyed ruins can sometimes be spotted just below the surface of the sea.
Attractions in and around Fethiye – worth the trip to this part of Turkey
In the southwest of Turkey at the foot of the mountains covered in pine and pine forests lies the sunny and friendly resort town of Fethiye. This small town on the Aegean coast is very beautiful. In this article, I want to share with you what attractions to visit Fethiye, what to see and where to go in the surrounding area.
1. A brief historical insight into the city
In pre-Christian times the city was one of the main religious centers of Ancient Greece. The city was called Τελμησσός (Telmessos) and was dedicated to the golden-breasted handsome Apollo. This god not only patronized the Muses and prophesied about the future, but also healed people. In Byzantine times the town was called Anastasiopolis (Αναστασιούπολις) and later was named Μάκρη due to the elongated shape of the islet in its bay.
View of Fethiye Bay from the side of the city:
2. Attractions in the city
There are not many things to see in Fethiye, but enough time for a couple of days sightseeing. There are many monuments of the Lycian and Hellenic civilizations.
Fethiye sights on the map:
All signposts on a brown background lead to the sights (a general rule for all Turkey):
A sightseeing map will help you get to all the interesting places on your own. And the photos we made during the trip with descriptions will show and tell you about the impressions.
2.1 Lycian tombs
Tombstones of ancient Lycian kings, carved right into the rock, are the main attraction of Fethiye. They are perfectly preserved, having survived many earthquakes over the past two and a half thousand years. Sarcophagi with the remains of kings are no longer inside. But the grandeur of the structure is impressive.
One of the tombs in Fethiye:
Unfortunately, irresponsible tourists allow themselves to leave inappropriate graffiti inside. But that is human nature: the craving for rock art is in our blood. Rock architecture of antiquity and modern vandals are inseparable.
The view of the Lycian tombs from the roadside, looks rather unusual:
To view them from the inside, you have to overcome a rather steep climb. The stone steps reach half a meter in height. Do not take children with you upstairs.
The road to the Lycian tombs:
Once you’ve climbed to the top, you’ll be rewarded not only with a tour of the tombs from the inside. From there you have a stunning view of the mountains, the city at the foot of the mountains, and the expanse of sea.
View of Fethiye from the tombs:
View of the sea from the other side:
View right from the tombs:
You can read more about the Lycian tombs in this article on the website.
2.2 Fethiye Fortress
On its highest point the ancient Greeks built a fortress in times immemorial, of which only fragments of the walls, built of stone, have been preserved after several earthquakes.
From the tombs you can reach the fortress on foot in just 20-30 minutes. So you can combine visits to these sights. Just do not forget to bring plenty of water – to go on a heat a little heavy, and there will be no stores on the way.
The way to the highest point of the city – the remains of the Fethiye Fortress:
All that is left of the fortress walls:
From the top of the stone walls you can see the panorama of the city:
2.3 The Old Town
Walking through the old town of Fethiye is a pleasure in itself! It is worth going a little further away from the beach to see authentic Turkish houses, to have a look at the normal Turkish life, to go to an inexpensive cafe for locals and to taste the real Turkish food.
The Streets of Fethiye
3 The Surroundings of Fethiye
3.1 Oludeniz, Blue Lagoon and the Valley of Butterflies
There is plenty to see in the neighboring town Oludeniz. You can get there in 20-40 minutes by bus, and there you should definitely go to the valley of butterflies and look at the blue lagoon. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey!
And if you are traveling with children, do not miss the opportunity to have fun in the water park.
Beach in Oludeniz
3.2 Abandoned village Kayakey
In Fethiye we liked best the view of the city from the fortress and the mysterious village Kayakey (it is located on the site of the ancient city of Karmülessus). You can get there for 5 liras by shuttle bus and it is closer to Oludeniz than Fethiye proper.
The ticket office is at the entrance of Kayakei:
This is an abandoned place 8 kilometers south of Fethiye (toward Oludeniz). Many houses on the slopes of the mountain in the settlement are ruined. But there are preserved streets and Greek churches. Only the walls of the houses are left. Kayakei is one of the top ten scariest places, but really there is not so scary.
The entrance fee is symbolic – 5 liras. The area is quite vast – calculate the time of stay so that to get out of there before sunset (at sunset there is really creepy).
And be sure to get to the highest point of Kayakei – the view there is simply amazing!
In summer, the entrance to Kayakei is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Rules for visiting Kayakei village:
It’s easy to imagine yourself here as an archaeologist solving the mystery of the settlement’s demise or a looter of ancient tombs. Although the impression of the antiquity of this desolate village is an illusion. Buy a souvenir to remember it from the huge selection of goods at the entrance to Kayakei.
You can read more about the village in this article. There you will also find a photo and video overview of Kayakei.
It is also worth a visit to Calis Beach Bird Reserve with its interesting territory. It is home to over 200 species of birds, especially during the winter and spring months. It is very popular with visitors who love nature trips. The photos of the scenery will be unparalleled!
4. Things to do and see in Fethiye
There are water parks, a promenade (it is quite long and has beautiful installations), a market and a shopping center.
4.1 Activities in the city
What else is there to do in the city?
. A two hour visit with foam and oil massage (plus peeling) costs from 26 euros . Tea is included.
- Take a walk by the sea. Like all Turkish resorts, Fethiye has an excellent seafront promenade for strolls.
- Check out the cozy and family-friendly Lazy Turtle Cocktail Bar in Oludeniz. It has a playground and very good food. Which cafes you can eat tasty and inexpensive in Fethiye itself, we told in a separate article about prices in Fethiye.
- If you want to cook your own food or buy tasty souvenirs, you should go to the weekly market (it takes place in Fethiye on Thursdays).
4.2 Where to go
Where can I go and what can I see if I go on an excursion or explore the region on my own?
4.2.1 A boat trip to the islands
From Fethiye you can take a trip to the Aegean Islands . If you have time, go on a sea tour of 6 or 12 islands – we did not go, but the reviews are very good, especially if you choose the right tour.
Be sure to clarify in advance what ship the tour will be, whether food is included, which islands you will stay on, and which you will just see from the ship. View a detailed description of the tour and book it by clicking here.
4.2.2 Saklikent Gorge
Saklikent Gorge is an interesting destination from Fethiye. It is 50 km from Fethiye and is 18 km long.
At the bottom of the gorge there is a river, and the road along the gorge is divided into several sections, one can walk with children on mounted bridges, the other section needs to wade in the river, and the last part is suitable only for experienced climbers. Incredible nature, beauty, extreme! This is a great opportunity to see another Turkey!
4.2.3 The ancient city of Tlos
As for antiquities – in addition to the Lycian tombs you can go to the ancient city of Tlos. In Tlos you will also see the Lycian tombs, and a large amphitheater. History lovers will love it! You can combine trip with a visit to Saklikent Gorge.
4.2.4 Dalyan and the Turtle Beach
You can see turtles on an excursion to Dalyan. The excursion lasts all day and includes a cruise on the Dalyan River and a visit to Iztuzu Beach.
It is on this beach that some of the rarest turtles, the “caretta” species, appear. On the same excursion you can also try the rare blue crab (at fairly democratic prices). Read more about the tour here. There you can also make reservations for $32.
4.2.5 Paragliding over the Blue Lagoon
Paragliding is the most extreme and popular excursion in Fethiye and Oludeniz (it takes place right above the Blue Lagoon) and costs from 127$ for a person.
Enjoying a leisurely paragliding flight, gliding over the mountains and the sea is fun for the brave. But the experience of the vertiginous flight will last a lifetime. To see details of the tour and book it, click here.
4.2.6 Lycian Trail
Fethiye is on a huge trail called the Lycian Trail. If you love hiking, the Lycian Trail is the way to go! You can hike just part of the trail, go for a day hike and return to your hotel in the evening. Or you can pack your hiking gear and hike for a few days along the most picturesque parts of the coast.
Despite the name, the route has nothing to do with the ancient Lycia, and was developed relatively recently. The route has the status of an official hiking route (like the Way of Santiago in Spain), the trail is marked with red and white markings for the convenience of hikers.
4.2.7 Ephesus and Pamukkale
If you want to go farther – go to Ephesus or Pamukkale – there just incredible places! You can, by the way, combine everything in one trip, it will be more profitable.
In the territory of the ancient Ephesus
You can buy the tour for $120 and it includes a visit to both places. But an independent trip, of course, will be much more interesting, so I recommend to go by yourself!
All in all, Fethiye is a great place for a seaside holiday in Turkey. You can inexpensively rent a hotel room in Fethiye and go from there to the beaches in Oludeniz.
Also in Fethiye is simply stunning opportunities for recreation – there are bays and lagoons that can be visited, the many trails for hiking with great views, beautiful beaches. Lovers of antiquities can visit the Lycian tombs right in Fethiye, or go to the nearby ancient Tlos. For extreme entertainment go to Babadag Mountain and jump with a paraglider, and if you want less thrill, there are water parks.
Share your impressions of the resort. What did you like about Fethiye and Oludeniz? What can you advise those who are just planning a trip?
By the way, if you are going to Fethiye, but have not chosen a hotel, I advise to look at the site search engine hotellook (there you can find the best deals from 40 booking systems) or choose a hotel directly through this form:
You can also use the service airbnb and stay in an apartment – if you decide to stay in an apartment, and not a hotel, be sure to use our link – so you get a bonus (about 30 euros) and can save on your first reservation.