Small yet inviting, Fethiye charms visitors in stages. There’s the enviable setting on a lovely natural harbor, with striking mountain scenery as a backdrop. The easily navigable town also has a wealth of history, inherited from its days as an important Lycian city in antiquity. A boat cruise in the Gulf of Fethiye, sprinkled with islands and elaborately shaped coves, is not to be missed. And then there are the beaches you simply won’t want to leave.
Day 1: History Unfolding
The legacy of ancient Telmessos, founded at least as early as the 4th century BC, is everywhere you look in modern-day Fethiye. You’ll probably pass an ancient stone sarcophagus or two as you make your way to the Fethiye Museum, which showcases sculptures, ceramics and other artifacts found here and at several other archaeological sites in the region. Then hike up to the monumental rock-cut tombs above town for a glimpse of how the Lycians honored their dead, and for fabulous views of the surrounding area.
A visit to the ghost town of Kayaköy, 8km away, sheds light on Fethiye’s more recent history. This once prospering village was abandoned in 1923, as a result of the forced Greek-Turkish population exchange that took place after Turkey won its independence. The affecting story even inspired a novel, Louis de Bernières’s Birds Without Wings.
Day 2: Hit the Beach
One of the top reasons to come to Fethiye is of course the great beaches along this stretch of Mediterranean coast. Nearby Ölüdeniz is the biggest draw, with its marvelous Blue Lagoon that offers extraordinary scenery and nearly placid waters. Thanks to Babadağ towering just behind it, Ölüdeniz is also one of Turkey’s premier paragliding destinations, and even if you don’t want to fly, it’s exciting to watch.
A bit closer to town is Çalış Beach and its less crowded sister beach, Koca Çalış, an ideal spot for wind surfing and kite surfing. Çalış Beach is also where you’ll see the best sunsets in the area.
Day 3: Excursions
A trip to Fethiye isn’t complete without a boat trip to take in the beauty of the Mediterranean. Spend the day on a “12-island cruise” around the Gulf of Fethiye, making stops at some of its uninhabited islands and sunken ruins; you’ll also have plenty of time for swimming and snorkeling off the side of the boat. Or take a day cruise from Ölüdeniz to the strikingly beautiful Butterfly Valley, where a hard-to-reach cove leads to a lush valley with a small waterfall at the end.