Fethiye is a coastal city famous for its beautiful beaches and relaxed small city vibes. If you are into cities that have tons to offer their visitors but still don’t look like they’re built for tourism, Fethiye is the perfect place for you. Here you can soak up some sun on the beach, hike around ancient tombs, and jump off of cliffs (with a parachute!).
Fethiye’s history goes back to ancient times. Lycians, whose name means “people of the land of light,” built a city where Fethiye is today and called it Telmessos. Telmessos was a prosperous city, the biggest one in the Lycian Kingdom. Telmessos was conquered by Persia in 545 BC and surrendered to Alexander in 333 BC. After Alexander died, the city fell under the rule of the Egyptian King Ptalomus for a while. This didn’t last long. The Roman Empire conquered the city next and renamed it Makri, which means “far-away land.” After the division of the Roman Empire, Makri became part of the Byzantine Empire. Makri was later conquered, this time by a small Turkmen principality named Menteshe Beylik in 1282.
In 1424, The Ottoman Empire took over Makri. During Ottoman rule, the citizens called Makri Beş Kaza (five boroughs), and in 1934, the city was named Fethiye after the beloved Turkish pilot Fethi Bey who was killed in a plane crash between Istanbul and Cairo in 1914.
Since the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire fell behind the European nations in terms of aviation technologies. Wanting to catch up, the Ottoman Empire came up with several projects to enhance its aviation industries and international relations. With one of these projects, Lieutenant Fethi Bey was sent to learn about aircraft engines in 1912. He became one of the first military pilots of the Ottoman Empire following his personal efforts in London.
Enver Pasha ordered the first long-range flight with two airplanes from Istanbul to Alexandria. Pilots Fethi Bey and Nuri Bey were selected for this mission. Two airplanes were to fly a total of 2515 kilometers and were to stay in the air for 25 hours in total. The plane Muavenet-i Milliye that Fethi Bey and Sadık Bey were operating took off on February 8th, 1914, and crashed on February 27th in Damascus. The plane Prens Celaleddin that Nuri and Ismail Hakkı Bey were operating crashed on March 11th in Jaffa, Israel. The plane crashes killed Fethi Bey, Sadık Bey, and Nuri Bey thus caused great sadness for the Turkish people. The flights were completed with planes bought using money that the people of the city of Edremit collected. In 1934, Atatürk changed the Muğla town Megri’s name to Fethiye to commemorate him.
Fethiye has an ideal Mediterranean climate where summers are hot and dry, and winters are warm and rainy. Temperatures in the winter range from 8 to 15 degrees. In summer months, temperatures are generally between 25 and 35 degrees. Autumn in Fethiye is usually pleasantly warm, and early autumn is still a great time to swim in the sea. The spring temperatures range between 15 and 25 degrees, and spring is often considered the best time to go on hikes around the ancient Lycian trails near the city.
Fethiye is only one hour away from Dalaman Airport. Many International Airlines have affordable direct flights to Dalaman Airport daily, mainly British and Turkish airline companies. Once you arrive at Dalaman Airport, you can find shuttle buses that go to Fethiye bus station in an hour or take a taxi for about 200-250 Turkish liras. Also, if you are already in the Mediterranean region of the country, the bus rides to Fethiye may be relatively short. In that case, you can take one of the many daily buses and arrive at the bus station in the city center.
Fethiye has a small enough center that almost anywhere you need to go is just a pleasant walk away from the city center. There are also minibusses frequently running to the main beaches. But in order to thoroughly see and enjoy the beauties around Fethiye, I recommend you rent a car. There are enough parking options in the city, and it can be much more practical and easy to hop in your car and go to nearby beaches or historical places.
Fethiye is famous for its beautiful sea and beaches, but it also has a lot of ancient history to discover and enjoy. Fethiye’s beautiful trails seem always to have a new surprise. This is the reason why a lot of expats choose Fethiye as a place to settle. Though not expats, our team also decided to settle in Fethiye after a long stint in big cities and some time abroad. For this reason, the information I’ll give on the places is entirely from experience, except for the section on paragliding.
Ölüdeniz literally means “dead sea” in Turkish, but the reason is nothing sinister. The name comes from its tranquil waters and how they are so still. Its name is the only morbid thing about Ölüdeniz since it’s known as one of the most beautiful beach locations in Turkey. Ölüdeniz’s calm turquoise water attracts visitors from May to October.
When you arrive at Ölüdeniz, you’ll see that there are two sides. The beaches on the right are part of a national park, and it costs 7 Turkish liras to enter on foot and 25 Turkish liras if you want to enter with a car. Inside you’ll see many restaurants, but you don’t need to buy anything to use the beach. I recommend going to the tip of the beach where your view is the best. Also, you can rent a lounge chair and an umbrella for less than 50 Turkish liras and relax all day.
It’s not only the sea that gathers so much attention. Ölüdeniz is also home to some of the best quality paragliding companies. Here, many people try jumping off a cliff with a parachute, well, not exactly jumping off a cliff. They take off before the land ends. But your writer is scared of heights so that I won’t be very helpful about the details of the experience. Instead, you can read our friend’s article here to learn more about the experience.
One other thing you can do in Ölüdeniz is to take a boat ride to Butterfly Valley. I’ll talk about this more in a bit.
One of the best things to do in Fethiye and my go-to option whenever a friend visit is to go on a day-long boat ride to swim at different locations in Fethiye. All these bays have crystal clear water with a brilliant turquoise color. These tours are usually named the “12 islands tours” because of the Dodecanese Islands, but in fact, they generally stop at five or six places to swim around and enjoy the sun. It is actually better than trying to squeeze in 12 stops. You can find these tour boats all around the seaside in central Fethiye and visit them to book your trip for the day.
The boats rides usually run between 9 AM and 5 PM, and they offer an open buffet or BBQ lunch. You can purchase drinks on board as well, but they are not included in the price. Some of the boats are more like party boats with DJ performances, while others are more quiet and peaceful. It is a good idea to inquire which type your boat is before buying your tickets so that it can suit your mood.
Butterfly Valley is one of the most magical locations on the Mediterranean coast, and it is the one that every Fethiye visitor should see. The name comes from the colonies of butterflies who choose this area to live in between June and October every year.
The only small hiccup about going to the Butterfly Valley is that there are no roads going to the beach. A boat ride is necessary to reach this secluded location. Luckily, you don’t need to own a boat. There are daily boat trips that take off from Ölüdeniz and stop at Butterfly Valley and another fantastic location called Blue Cave. The boat trips are usually between 9 AM and 4:30 PM. Lunch is included, and drinks are available like the 12 island tours. If you have enough time only for one boat trip, I recommend going on the Butterfly Valley trip. The unique nature of this place provides a great experience, and you can go on a hike and take beautiful photos of the view of the valley.
If you are interested in seeing Butterfly Valley, I recommend my favorite company, a professional one that makes your trip effortlessly fun. They also offer a pick-up service.
One of the many gems Fethiye offers, Amyntas rock tombs, is visible from downtown Fethiye and it is only a 20-minute hike away. The walk is steep for about 50 meters, so it is best to wear comfortable shoes. Other than that, the path itself is not difficult, but it is ruined on a steep embankment, so some caution is necessary. The entrance fee is only 7 Turkish liras, and with this ticket, you can view several ancient, 2300-year-old rock tombs that were carved into the mountains.
Saklıkent means “hidden city” in Turkish. This name is very appropriate for this place because Saklıkent is one of the most underrated places in Turkey. The second-largest gorge in Europe, Saklıkent, is a great place to explore and get close to nature. I should say that the trip requires hiking and includes getting wet at times. It’s best to wear comfortable, non-slippery shoes and bring swimsuits and extra clothes with you. Also, it’s good to put your important documents, your phone, and your wallet in plastic bags to make sure they don’t get soaked.
Saklıkent Gorge is also close to a beautiful ancient city called Tlos and some magnificent waterfalls.
When you think Fethiye can’t get any more amazing, you find out you can walk around an actual ghost town. Like many amazing places on the Mediterranean coast, the ghost town Kayaköy is also pretty unknown and underrated. When we were visiting it, we were the only people there.
Kayaköy was a Greek town with 500 houses and about 2000 people during the 19th century. Houses were about 50 m2, and they were all built on a cliff in a way they wouldn’t disrupt each other’s view and sunlight. In 1923, after a pact between Greece and Turkey, Greek people living in Turkey were traded with Turkish people living in Greece at the time. The whole village of Kayaköy was sent to Greece, and newly arrived Turkish people were moved to the now empty village. But for some reason, Turkish people didn’t find Kayaköy as homely as the previous owners. They all left the place, and nobody has lived there ever since.
Kayaköy means “rock village” in Turkish. The buildings are in bad shape, and they don’t have roofs, but they are all standing, and their form helps to create an eerie atmosphere. When you climb to the top of the village, the view of the sea on one side and the ghost town on the other is something spectacular.
You can visit Kayaköy by hopping on a dolmuş (minibus) in downtown Fethiye or Ölüdeniz. You can also make a deal with a taxi to go and come back.
Horse Riding Adventure is one of the activities in Fethiye that I found out by chance while arguing about who is better at horse riding with my friend. In this day trip, you can ride your horse through the pine forests and by the beach and get some epic pictures taken along the way. You don’t need to have any experience in horse riding either. The company has a great trainer who teaches you the basics and helps you along the way. It is a chill activity with good-mannered horses. You can even dip into the water with your horse buddy if the weather gets too hot.
Finished all the locations in and near Fethiye and tried everything Fethiye has to offer and still have some time left? No problem because one of the most romantic, vibrant Greek islands, Rhodes, is only about one hour away via ferry. Rhodes’ streets, architecture, and beaches are a great addition to any Mediterranean holiday. I just love spending time walking on the streets of Rhodes any time of the year, but avoiding it in winter might still be a good idea. With travel companies, you can take a daily trip and get back to Fethiye in the evening. Make sure to bring your passport and apply for a visa if it’s necessary for you since Greece is part of the EU, and its visa requirements are different than Turkey’s.
Fethiye is most famous for its Mediterranean cuisine and its delicious, fresh seafood. I had the most delicious types of fish that I didn’t even know existed before moving to Fethiye. The fish restaurants also have amazing mezes that are mostly made with yogurt and vegetables, so there are lots of great options for vegetarians as well. Other than that, you can find kebabs and other Turkish foods, but you’ll find they are not as common in Fethiye as in other places.
Fethiye has lots of great restaurants, and the best part is, they are mostly on the seaside, where you can enjoy your food while watching the sunset. If you are on a romantic holiday, these restaurants would happily cater to your needs to make your evening even more special with small touches. During summer months, most of the restaurants I’ll mention below are very popular, so it is a perfect idea to make sure you have a reservation.
Maybe the least romantic of all restaurants in Fethiye and not on the seaside either, bur Fish Market, Balık Hali in Turkish, is a unique experience every visitor should try. In the Fish Market, you’ll have the freshest seafood. It is so fresh that you actually buy it yourself from the stalls in the middle of the market and then bring it to one of the restaurants that are placed on the sides of the market. These restaurants only charge you a cooking fee, and it is best to discuss how much that would be. It is normal to pay somewhere between 8-12 Turkish liras per person for the cooking fee. You can also choose many delicious mezes from their display cases. Musicians walk around the tables and play your requested songs if you tip them.
Girida Port is an excellent location by the sea with fantastic seafood. Their mezes and fish are my favorites, and I’d suggest this place for any night out where you want to treat yourself. I’d recommend their delicious grouper fish and their yogurt-aubergine salad meze.
The staff at Girida Port is accommodating when you are picking your dish. Girida Port is a bit pricey. Especially if you go crazy with the mezes and have drinks, your bill can go up to 300 Turkish liras per person.
If you are craving some steak, this is the place for you. Çarıklı Restaurant is at the seaside with a beautiful view, and the staff is amiable and helpful. Their meat comes from their farm, which they say is organic. Their steaks are a bit pricey (about 80-90 Turkish liras), but they also have more budget-friendly dishes such as koftes and fajitas (30-50 Turkish liras).
Mozaic Restaurant is an excellent restaurant if you’d like to try some authentic Southeastern food on your trip. Their atmosphere is beautiful, with colorful lamps hanging on the tables. The food is very delicious, and the staff is so friendly. And this place is still a great choice if you are a vegetarian because their meze platter is filling, tasty, and it has no meat. They have the best hummus in town.
Pasha Kebab, like the Fish Market, is in the old district of Fethiye. If you’d like to try some of the Turkish classics such as döner, iskender, and other kebabs, this is the place for you.
Pasha Kebab is a very popular location for both locals and the expats with their exceptional executions of the Turkish classics and their rare and delicious mezes. I recommend you to try at least a couple of the mezes, but be careful because their portions for their main courses are quite big as well.
Kukina is a perfect spot for either a quick coffee and dessert (their desserts are delicious) or to sit down to a hearty, big-portioned meal if you’re hungry. Their beautiful decorations completely take you away from this small city’s hustle and bustle. They have live music on Wednesday evenings and in winter serve mulled wine. They also make special dinner parties during the holidays.