Turkey’s Turquoise Coast: 11 Unmissable Things to Do in Fethiye
The underrated Turquoise Coast in Turkey has it all: from a spectacular aquamarine coastline to ancient ruins and cities. Read on for the best things to do in Fethiye and Oludeniz!
It’s taken me a while to write this guide to Fethiye in Turkey, and I’m convinced that it’s because I just want to keep the memories to myself – just for a little longer. When you think of Turkey, most people think of Istanbul and Cappadocia, Pamukkale and maybe, just maybe, Izmir and Antalya. However, sometimes our best travel experiences are from destinations we hadn’t heard much about in the past, and places where we don’t already have a rigid set of expectations.
I have to be honest – I didn’t know what to expect from Fethiye and Oludeniz. Sure, I had seen photos of paragliders soaring above the Blue Lagoon, but what else did the region had to offer? When we were putting together our 2 week Turkey itinerary, we decided that we needed some time by the ocean after time in the landlocked region of Cappadocia and ancient city of Ephesus.
I had heard that Bodrum was a crowd-favorite and full of your typical resorts (and you know how I feel about crowds), so headed further south to explore Fethiye and Oludeniz away from the hordes of people. Wandering what to do in Fethiye and what places to visit in Fethiye? Read on for everything you need to know to discover Fethiye in 3 days!
First-time visitor to Turkey? Read this article on Turkey travel mistakes to avoid or head on over here for even more Turkey travel tips and guides!
Where is Fethiye in Turkey?
Fethiye was once known as the ancient city of “Telmessos”, one of the most important cities of the Lycian civilization. Telmessos was a culturally rich and flourishing city, and home to several monuments that still stand to this day. It is located in the Aegeon region in southwest Turkey, about 4 hours south from Izmir and 3 hours west from Antalya.
How to get to Fethiye
The closest airport to Fethiye is in Dalaman (airport code: DLM), and the drive from Dalaman to Fethiye will take you approximately 45 minutes. You can also fly into Izmir or Antalya and drive to Fethiye. We drove over from Ephesus and it took us just under 5 hours with plenty of stops. We rented a Hyundai i20 car from Alamo and they were extremely helpful – it cost us only US$110/100 Euros for 8 days and tolls are virtually non-existent in Turkey.
Looking for the best prices for rental cars around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
Istanbul to Fethiye: If you prefer to fly into Istanbul you can take a domestic flight to Dalaman easily – there are several direct flights each day from both airports in Istanbul. The flight time is just over an hour.
How to get around Fethiye
The best way to get around Fethiye is by rental car. There is parking (paid and free) at most places and it gives you the flexibility to travel further along the coast and explore places that are off the beaten track – essentially, you will be better equipped to make the most of your Fethiye itinerary. Alternatively, you can take a local bus (dolmus) to travel between Fethiye and Oludeniz. It is also easy to around on foot if you’re staying within Fethiye or within Oludeniz.
Essential Fethiye travel tips
- The currency is the Turkish Lira or TL and the exchange rate is approximately US$1: 12-15 TL or 1 Euro: 17-19 TL. When we visited in 2018 it was closer to $1:5-6 TL.
- As Fethiye is a popular vacation destination for British holiday goers, most people in Fethiye and Oludeniz speak fairly fluent English. We didn’t find the language barrier to be a major issue in Fethiye.
- There are several places in town to buy a local Turkish SIM card. We went to the Vodafone store in downtown Fethiye and bought a local SIM card which included 6 GB of data and plenty of calling minutes. You can also opt to download maps via hotel wifi for offline use. Read more on how to do that here.
- The Museum Pass Aegean is a great card to purchase if you are staying in the region for a few days. It is accepted at Ephesus Archaeological Site, Ephesus Museum, St. Jean Monument, Akropol Ruins, Asklepion Ruins, Bazilika Ruins, Bergama Museum, Agora Ruins, Çeşme Museum, İzmir History and Art Museum, İzmir Archeology Museum, Klaros Ruins, Aphrodisias Ruins, Didim Ruins, Miletus Ruins, Milet’s Museum, Aydin Museum, Priene Ruins, Bodrum Underwater Archeology Museum, Mausoleion Ruins, Zeki Muren Art House, Beçin Castle and Ruins, Marmaris Museum, Sedir Island, Knidos Ruins, Kaunos Ruins, Kayaköy Ruins, Tlos Archaeological Site, Letoon Ruins and Xanthos Ruins. The pass can be purchased at any of the sites listed above that accept it. If you are traveling to other places in Turkey including Istanbul or Cappadocia, you might want to purchase the Museum Pass Turkey. The Museum Pass allows you to skip-the-queue and simply scan the bar code to enter through the turnstiles.
- The best time to visit Fethiye: We visited in September, and the weather was perfect – warm and sunny, but not humid and oppressive. Many English tourists had also left for the season so Fethiye and Oludeniz were uncrowded. If you are headed to Fethiye I recommend visiting outside of the peak season from June to August, but know that certain boat and ferry services may not run outside of the high season.
Where to stay in Fethiye
We stayed for 3 days in Fethiye, and would have gladly stayed another few nights to take in the beautiful sights and stunning weather. If you are visiting Fethiye, please do yourself a favor and book yourself into Yacht Boheme Hotel, an adults-only beach chic hotel steps away from the marina. The decor is beautiful and very bohemian, the rooms are extremely spacious and the breakfast spread is amazing and fresh. For dinner and spa services, head to its sister hotel up the road – Yacht Classic Hotel in Fethiye.
Though we didn’t end up spending any time at the pool (too busy swimming in the blue bays of Fethiye!), it has lots of sun beds and cute little pool cabanas for guests to use. It’s definitely slightly pricier than some of the other accommodation options in Fethiye, but it was 100% worth it.
The hotel is just a 5 minute stroll away from the “downtown” area of Fethiye with restaurants and shops, and there is also free parking – the staff even provides valet services at no extra cost. If you love jazz they occasionally put on live jazz performances with a local band. Click here to check current rates at Yacht Boheme Hotel (Adults Only) in Fethiye or head on over here to see some other highly rated hotel options in Fethiye and Oludeniz.
Important information about hotel booking in Turkey: You can not book hotels in Turkey using Booking.com when you are already in Turkey, as it has been blocked by the Turkish government (so has Wikipedia, for that matter, and they’re looking to extend the ban to other websites including AirBnB and Expedia). Instead, make sure you book hotels for your stay in Turkey before your trip, or use Hotels.com or HotelsCombined for any last-minute hotel bookings that you need to make when you are already in the country.
11 top things to do in Fethiye
Fethiye is surrounded by outrageously cool heritage sites, archaeological wonders, pristine beaches and lagoons and towering mountains. Fethiye old town is also a charming neighborhood to wander through if you want to enjoy a slower pace on your holiday.
You have to see the otherworldly landscape with your own eyes to believe that places like this still exist in the world. Wandering what to do in Fethiye? Here are 11 must-visit places and things to do if you’re visiting Fethiye, Turkey!
1. See the Kaunos Rock Tombs
The Kaunos Rock Tombs are located in Dalyan, about 1 hour away from Fethiye. The Ancient City of Kaunos is on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List, and dates back over 3,000 years with rock tombs, a theater and temple. The port city once held a position of strategic importance especially for merchant ships traveling between the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. It’s one of the best places to visit near Fethiye if you are interested in the region’s history.
The rock-cut tombs with temple-like facades on cliff edges are only seen in Kaunos, and are framed by the beautiful flowing Dalyan river. Today, you can drive to the Dalyan waterfront across from the rock tombs to take a quick look at them from the ground, or go on a boat ride for a half-day trip that includes a mud bath and visiting Iztuzu Beach.
There are plenty of boat operators along the waterfront so you don’t necessarily need to book in advance. To explore the rest of the ancient city of Kaunos you’ll need to set aside half a day – if you’re fine with a glimpse, a quick stop by the waterfront is fine.
2. Visit Iztuzu Beach
Iztuzu Beach is also located in Dalyan, and is known as a nesting site for sea turtles. Although the 5 kilometre-long beach is open during the day, it is closed from 8 PM to 8 AM during nesting season. Many people leave this off their Fethiye itinerary because there are other beaches in Fethiye that are closer to town (Calis, Oludeniz and Patara beaches), but Iztuzu is a fantastic beach to check out if you want a change of scenery.
It is also home to The Sea Turtle Rescue Center (DEKAMER) on the backside of the beach, where you can learn about sea turtles and learn about the center’s conservation efforts. There are several injured turtles that are rehabilitated onsite, as well as a handful of newly hatched turtles that will be released – there is no entrance fee, no touching and no feeding of the turtles. You can leave a donation to help support their conservation and research projects.
3. Swim in the Ölüdeniz Blue Lagoon
Ölüdeniz is also known as Turkey’s “Blue Lagoon” because of the pristine turquoise waters. It is located near the foothills of Mount Babadağ, around 20 minutes by car from downtown Fethiye. Visiting the blue lagoon is one of the best things to do in Oludeniz.
In order to enter the Blue Lagoon area, which is separate from the main beach, you need to pay 25 TL for parking or 7 TL to enter on foot. Inside, you’ll find several small restaurants, shops, changing rooms and bathrooms, and you can rent a sun lounger for a small fee.
4. Check out Butterfly Valley
Fethiye’s Kelebekler Vadisi, or Butterfly Valley in English, is a remote beach only accessible by boat. Some say that it can also be reached on foot, but I wouldn’t recommend hiking unless you are an extremely experienced hiker as the trail is unmarked.
Butterfly Valley is south of Oludeniz and is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. You can get there by taking the shuttle boat from Oludeniz Main Beach for 30 TL both ways – the boats depart from Oludeniz at 11 AM, 12:30, 2 and 3 PM, and return from Butterfly Valley at 1, 2:30 and 5 PM.
Unfortunately, we missed the last boat going to Butterfly Valley from Oludeniz, so opted to take a private speedboat to take us over. The trip cost us 250 TL for 1 hour (including driving and waiting time), or you can stay a little longer – 350 TL for 2 hours. Prices may have gone up over the past few years. The speedboat makes a short stop at a small “Blue Grotto” called the Mavi Magara – somewhat similar to the ones you can find around Capri Island in Italy.
To see Butterfly Valley from above, there is a rocky roadside lookout point where you can catch a bird’s eye view of Kelebekler Vadisi. You can only get there by rental car – it is not an official viewing platform area, so park carefully and watch your step!
5. Soar above Mount Babadağ
Paragliding in Fethiye is one of the most popular activities in the region. Head to the top of Mount Babadağ and try your hand at paragliding – it is one of the best places in the world to take to the skies!
However, if you’re like me and could think of nothing worse than to jump off a mountain, grab yourself a couple of drinks at Zirve bar & restaurant right next to the take-off area and watch the paragliders do their thing. Because it is such a popular destination for paragliders, one person takes off every minute or so – it’s insane. We also ended up staying for dinner and the food was fantastic and very reasonably priced.
Mount Babadağ also happens to be the absolute best place to watch the sunset in Fethiye. Bring a warm coat – at this altitude, the air becomes freezing as soon as the sun goes down. With views like this, it’s not hard to see why paragliding is one of the top things to do in Fethiye.
6. Swim in Fethiye Bay
Trust me when I say that this was hands down one of the best days of my life. Though there are lots of options when it comes to Fethiye boat trips, we booked to go on a day trip around Fethiye’s “Ultra Blue Bays” with Sugar after tons of research. Sugar is a lovely Turkish man who has operated boat trips for more than 2 decades.
For approximately 20 British Pounds per person, we sailed to 4 different aquamarine bays, went snorkeling, ate incredible homemade food and lounged on the roof of the boat. The bays were uncrowded and the water was warm and crystal clear – I’ve never seen water that translucent, not even in Croatia or Greece.
The full day boat trip was everything we needed to recharge the batteries and soak up the Turkish sunshine. Please, please please set aside 1 day in Fethiye to go on a boat trip with Sugar – you won’t regret it!
Prices have been adjusted since our visited but remain extremely reasonable – approximately 30 British pounds or just under US$40 for a full day tour.
He’s very responsive over e-mail and Whatsapp if you have any questions. Other readers have gone on his boat trip and agree that it’s one of the best things to do in Fethiye!
7. Visit the Amyntas Rock Tomb
One of the most popular downtown Fethiye attractions, the Tomb of Amyntas overlooks Fethiye and was built into the side of a towering mountain in 350 B.C. The rock tomb, much like the ones Dalyan, are carved into the cliff face.
This is one of the best places to visit in Fethiye itself – you can walk up a set of steps to view the tomb from up close for 15 TL (the Museum Card was not accepted when we visited, but this may have changed since. The entry price may continue to increase over the years), though there are also a smaller set of rock tombs to the left which can be viewed from the roadside.
8. Wander through the ghost town of Kayaköy
Kayaköy is a short drive away from Fethiye, and is an abandoned village that was once home to nearly 20,000 Greek Orthodox residents. These residents were forcibly “removed” in a population exchange with Greece in 1923 which was meant to ensure that each country had only one main religion.
Today, the town of Kayaköy is entirely deserted and dilapidated – buildings are in ruins and hundreds of houses, schools, shops and churches are in crumbles.
Walking through the ghost city is an eerie experience, yet you can imagine how lively it once must have been before its residents were ejected.
There is limited parking near the ticket office, and entry currently costs 15 TL per person (ticket price subject to change) or simply show your Museum Card. If you’re looking for things to do near Fethiye then add visiting Kayaköy to your list!
9. Walk through Saklikent Gorge
Saklikent National Park is located about 50 kilometres from Fethiye. The canyon is one of the deepest in the world at nearly 300 metres deep and 18 kilometres long. Visiting Saklikent Gorge is one of the most popular day trips from Fethiye. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to visit Saklikent, but would have checked it out if we had more than 3 days in Fethiye.
10. See Fethiye from above
Abdi İpekçi Cd. is a winding road above Fethiye that offers unparalleled views of the city and bay from above. It merges with Kaya Cd. which eventually takes you to the Amyntas Rock Tomb, and there are plenty of places for a quick stop to check out the panoramic view. From this road you can also see the crumbling ruins of the Fethiye Ancient Theatre.
11. Explore Tlos
The ancient city of Tlos is located 1 hour from Fethiye. Tlos is believed to be one of the most important religious Lycian sites dating back more than 4,000 years. The ruins include a theatre, stadium, agora, rock tombs and fortress.
It’s believed that the hero Bellerophon, the son of Poseidon, once resided in Tlos. Bellerophon was credited with slaying the dreaded Chimera, a monster with a lion’s head, goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. His companion was the winged horse Pegasus, and it is thought that the tomb in Tlos is dedicated to Bellerophon though it appears that it can no longer be accessed. Nevertheless, you can catch a glimpse of it from the road.
Entry currently costs 15 TL per person, or you can use your Museum Card. You’ll need to bring a bottle of water and a hat for Tlos as there is no shade at all and can get sweltering hot. Opening hours may change so visit the official Turkey Museums website for more details ahead of your trip.
If you have more than 3 days in Fethiye, you might also want to explore more of the province of Muğla and visit the ancient cities of Patara and Xanthos-Letoon, catch a ferry to the Greek island of Rhodes, go on more boat trips from Fethiye (often marketed by tour companies as a “12 Island Boat Trip” or “Butterfly Valley Boat Trip”), or hike portions of the Lycian Way.
I hope this Fethiye travel guide gets you inspired for your sojourn along the Turkish coast. Ready to unwind and relax in Fethiye, Turkey? Click here to check current rates at Yacht Boheme Hotel (Adults Only) in Fethiye or head on over here to see the best hotels in Fethiye and Oludeniz.
Need some help planning your Turkey itinerary? You might also find these articles helpful:
- First time visitor to Turkey? Read on for what not to do in Turkey and essential travel tips
- Spending some time in Istanbul? Here is my guide to spending 3 days in Istanbul
- Head on over here for an easy 2 week Turkey itinerary for first time visitors
- Or check out all of my Turkey travel tips and guides here
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Do you happen to have a sample itinerary? I’d like to spend 4 days there and I’d love to do most of what you said here, but I’m having a hard time figuring out which of these things could go together in one day. There’s just so much even just in this list. Any tips would be most welcome.
Hi Valeria, this is how I’d group them:
– Kaunos, Iztuzu, Amyntas, Fethiye viewpoint
– Blue Lagoon, Butterfly Valley, Mount Babadag for sunset
– Boat trip with Sugar OR Saklkikent
– Tlos + Kayakoy in 1 day
Hope this helps!
Wow… that sounds amazing already. I am in Istanbul and wondering wherelse to go, this helped a lot. But, can we do this in 3 days with out car and only using public transport!
Please let me know!
Hi Amar, I think you will find it difficult to travel extensively in 3 days around the turquoise coast without a car. There are shared shuttles (dolmus) but unfortunately I’m unsure how frequently they run. The drive time from Istanbul down to Fethiye is very long, so if you are looking for a 3-day getaway from Istanbul I would reconsider and look closer unless you are willing to take a short domestic flight. Best of luck!
most of the sites are outside fethiye, is there any things else to see around the town area beside the rock tomb ?
There is also an amphitheatre that you can visit. The Ultra Blue Bays boat trip that I mention in the article also begins and ends in Fethiye.
Thanks for your post. It’s really interesting and has got me wanting to visit lots of the places you have written about.
I’m currently on holiday in Fethyie and wondered if Sugars boat trip is suitable for kids (3 & 5 year olds)?
It sounds amazing but I wondered if it would be too long a trip for them. Be great to hear what you think.
Hi Katie, I would say so but I don’t have any personal experience traveling with kids 🙂 The boat itself has plenty of seating – if your kids are not confident swimmers you might want to consider bringing some floaties for them. If I recall correctly, Sugar also offers shorter tours – half day and 2-hour ones if you’re concerned about the trip being too long. You can always shoot Sugar an e-mail or Whatsapp and ask if he often gets families with young children on board!
I’m not sure how I stumbled on to your blog/website, but I’m very happy that I did.
I recently had 5 days in Fethiye, Turkey and I booked a trip with Sugar and I loved it sooo much that I booked another while I was there! The trip is fantastic. I just couldn’t get enough of the clear blue/blue-green/turquoise waters! Nice sized group, great food and of course, Sugar himself!
Thank you for the wonderful suggestion!
Hi Laura, I am SO SO SO thrilled to hear that you had a great time with Sugar and his crew! They are just so friendly and welcoming, and really know how to show people the best time. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment here to let me know that this article helped you plan your travels – it means the world.
All the best,
So glad I came across this post! We’ve been trying to decide which coastal spot to visit on our upcoming trip to Turkey and this ticks all the boxes. Thanks for all the helpful tips!
Hi Laura, I’m SO happy to hear that you found this helpful! Enjoy your trip, this part of Turkey is so incredibly picturesque, I hope you have a blast 🙂
Wow, this looks absolutely stunning! I hope to have the opportunity to visit Turkey one day. It looks spectacular.
Turkey blew my mind – I didn’t really know what to expect, but wow. The people are so hospitable, the history is incredible and the landscape is breathtaking!