Overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, but undeservedly so, Fethiye is the launch point for the most stunning stretch of the Turquoise Coast. Some of the scenery in this area is so beautiful that it will make you gasp at first sight, from the almost impossible blueness of the sea to the lushness of the pine forests along the coast. You can take your recommendation from the ancient Greeks, who settled this area in the 5th century BC, building the city of Telmessos, which was later captured by Alexander the Great.
Some of the scenery is so beautiful that it will make you gasp at first sight
More recently the modern town has been colonised by Brits who fell so deeply in love that they decided to move here permanently. But don’t worry, you’re not going to find a garish package-resort vibe here. The town centre is small and quaint, having been saved from over-development by its proximity to an active fault line. The buildings are all low-rise and there is a village-like feel in the centre, with a farmers’ market on Sundays and plenty of independent shops.
What to do
There are few better places to sunbathe and swim than the beaches around Fethiye, from the golden sands and shallow warm waters of Oludeniz or Blue Lagoon, to the hidden pebble cove of Kidrak, where the water is choppy and invigorating. However, if you’re itching for activity in Fethiye, this is your place too. Fethiye is the best spot in Turkey to try paragliding*, with the 2,000-metre mountain Babadag providing the perfect stage from which to launch yourself over a glut of gorgeous views. This is also the start (or end) point of the Lycian Way*, a 300-mile coastal hiking trail considered one of the most beautiful in the world. One of the most scenic stretches is right here: Butterfly Valley, a cliff walk above a bay where, as its name suggests, you will see hundreds of species of butterflies. Don’t miss the history bit either; the 4th-century BC rock tombs in Amyntas, carved into a sheer face looming over the town, are well worth the tough walk up. If you don’t fancy the climb in the heat of high season, head for the ancient amphitheatre and other relics scattered around the centre of town.
Where to stay
Fethiye old town, also known as Paspatur, is the best base if you want to soak up an authentic local atmosphere. Tucked away and warren-like, it is full of stone houses and shaded alleyways that make it wonderfully cool in the height of summer. It’s also got a wealth of bars and restaurants. If you prefer to spend more of your holiday on the beach, head out of town. To the north is Calis*, a ten-minute drive from the centre, which boasts a 3.5 mile-long beach that is sandy in some spots, pebbly in others. This is the best choice for families, since the promenade is closed to traffic and there are plenty of places for water sports. Meanwhile, south of Fethiye is where you’ll find the real gems of the Turkish riviera in the area around the Blue Lagoon. There are plenty of beach resorts here, ranging from luxury to mass-market package, as well as a lively nightlife. It’s also a hotspot for diving schools, which cater to all levels of experience.
You’ll find the real gems of the Turkish riviera in the area around the Blue Lagoon
Food and drink
Like most towns along the Mediterranean coast, Fethiye’s fish restaurants are first class. For guaranteed freshness and a great local buzz, go to the fish market in the town centre, where you choose your dinner from the ice and it’s cooked up for you. If you’re after more of a romantic, scenic evening, go to one of the many restaurants along the harbour — competitiveness keeps overall standards high. For a Sunday breakfast, head to the farmers’ market and try gozleme, a dish of different fillings between thin sheets of pastry, or pide; a hot flatbread that either comes plain or with a choice of toppings.
If, unbelievably, you fancy a night off Turkish cuisine then you’re in luck — there’s a good selection of cosmopolitan eateries catering to Fethiye’s international residents. This is one of the few places in Turkey where you can get a decent curry, particularly in the Hisaronu and Ovacik districts, which are popular with Britons. You will find Chinese and English restaurants here too.
This part of Turkey is packed with Greek heritage, modern as well as ancient. The ghost village of Kayakoy, close to Oludeniz, is a haunting reminder of the latter. It was abandoned a century ago during the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey that followed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Once home to 10,000 people, both Muslims and Christians, it is now an echoing maze of ruins, complete with two crumbling churches. If you are talking with locals, remember to be sensitive — many have ancestors who were caught up in the exchanges, and it can still be a painful subject