Fethiye, 200 km/124 miles (3 hours) west of Antalya, and 131 km/81 miles (2 hours) east of Marmaris, rests on a broad Mediterranean bay (map) boasting some of Turkey’s best beaches and yachting. Plenty of hotels provide a place to stay, and Dalaman Airport makes access fairly easy.
The wide swath of Çalış Beach, several kilometers long, is only 5 km (3 miles) northeast of Fethiye. Ölüdeniz, perhaps Turkey’s most beautifully-situated beach, is 8.5 km (5.3 miles) south of Fethiye, over the hills.
Besides the beach, visitors like the ruins of ancient Telmessos scattered through the city, and the day-long 12-Island yacht cruise of the bay, especially the stop at Gemile Island, covered in unrestored Byzantine ruins. Boats depart on the cruise every day in the warm months from Fethiye’s busy harbor.
Fethiye is a favorite getaway for British travelers. You may hear English spoken in the streets, shops and markets.
Some 2400 years ago, Fethiye (FET-hee-yeh) was the prominent town of Telmessos, but earthquakes have left only a few Lycian stone sarcophagi from the old town, along with the dramatic Tomb of Amyntas carved into the sheer rock cliff high above the town.
Fethiye is the starting point of the Lycian Way, a 500-km (311-mile) footpath through the rugged mountains of the Tekke Peninsula to Antalya.
THE STILL WATERS OF FETHIYE
You may not realize it at first, but walking on the promenade (kordon) at the waterside is a soothing experience. Yes, it sounds plain, but you have to experience it to know how relaxing it truly is, particularly out of season. The reason is obvious: Fethiye has a natural harbor, protected by a long bay, a forested peninsula and a pretty little island called Şövalye Adası. Hence, most of the time, your seaside walks are of an unequaled serenity. The peaceful feeling sneaks in, and before you know it, you are hooked!
Also, this is a low-key working city, with fishermen mending their nets next to gület owners waiting to take you on a boat trip. The kordon is a happy mixture of waterside cafes and restaurants and a few marinas, all enjoying the gorgeous backdrop of pine-clad mountains, tiny islands, and the glittering sea. It is the perfect spot for a walk at any time of the day or week. The promenade is where you go for a long and typically Turkish breakfast with sea view, but also for a stroll and a çay (Turkish tea) amongst the locals at the Belediye çay bahçesi (the town council tea house).
THE RICH HISTORY OF FETHIYE
When traveling, never cease to be amazed. It is a beautiful quote that will be easy to live by here. Turkey has a rich historical heritage, and Fethiye is no exception to that. Here, ancient remains are part of daily life. The town emerged on Lycian soil, and one of its famous landmarks, the tomb of Amynthas is still overlooking the bay. The tomb dates back to the 4th century BC and from its location, you’ll have a stunning view of the city below.
Now tell us, how often will you encounter a Lycian sarcophagus as a roundabout? Probably not that often. But you will in Fethiye, and just like it did with us, it will put a smile on your face. As will discovering people putting up their laundry on the fence of a Lycian graveyard.
And since not all historical artifacts can be left where they were found, Fethiye Müze has become home to some amazing pieces that have been recovered from the many ancient sites in the area. In the museum, you will find statues, ceramics, coins, jewelry, and other archaeological finds from the sites of Letoon, Xanthos, and Tlos among others.
THE NATURAL SURROUNDINGS OF FETHIYE
Honestly, you will be amazed at the natural surroundings. You won’t find any high-rise buildings, and apart from the city center, you’ll see that it is still nature all around. In wintertime, snow and the beach are only 15 minutes apart. And the lovely bays in the whole area are virtually deserted. The area is perfect for hikers of all sorts, from a modest hike in the forests to one or all legs of the Lycian Way, which has its starting point in Ölüdeniz.
The ideal place to suck in the views is Babadağ’s summit. Up there, you get a genuine feel of how pristine the surroundings really are. That view is probably one of the main reasons this is such a popular spot for paragliders.
THE AUTHENTICITY OF FETHIYE
Yes, this is – on top of all the previous things – probably one of the most important reasons why people love Fethiye. It is authentic. Even though it welcomes many tourists each year, and it’s home to many ex-pats, it is genuine. Being here is being immersed in what Turkey is all about. The small streets of the old town, Paşpatur, turn more silent in winter, but the town is never deserted. Local markets and the fish market are buzzing with activity all year, and the destination is equally popular with Turks as it is with foreigners. Trust us when we say you will be made welcome!