Fethiye is a resort town in Lycia on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It's very much on the international tourist circuit, although nowadays somewhat overshadowed by Ölüdeniz just south. It has ancient sarcophaguses - tombs - in its streets, rock tombs staring down from its cliffs, and an abandoned "ghost village" nearby, but plenty of facilities for the living.
In 2020 the population of Fethiye district was 167,114, although this includes outlying villages such as Ölüdeniz. The town population is about half of that, but greatly boosted in summer by visitors and seasonal workers.
This city was first recorded as Kuwalapašša by the Hitittes around 1700 BC (or to be precise, as 𒆪𒉿𒆷𒉺𒀸𒊭 in their cuneiform script). A more lasting mark was left by the Lycians, who called it 𐊗𐊁𐊍𐊁𐊂𐊁𐊛𐊆, Telebehi, from maybe 500 BC - they occupied the heights above the modern marina, fortified it as a citadel, and carved tombs into the cliff-face. From around that time, Athens led a confederation of city-states (the Delian League) including Lycia that briefly repulsed the Persians, and Telebehi became the Hellenistic city of Telmessos. Its famous school of diviners prophesied to the likes of King Croesus and Alexander the Great, although never in sufficient military detail to prevent a slew of later conquests. The Romans scooped the lot in the first century AD.
Not much else happened for almost 2000 years. The harbour escaped the silting that was the downfall of others (such as Ephesus) but lacked a hinterland: there was no great agricultural or mineral wealth, or easy inland trade or pilgrimage route. The town became known as Meğri, or Makri, and passed to the Ottomans. After the Great War carve-up of Ottoman lands, it was for a time assigned to Italy, but returned to Turkey at independence in 1923. It was re-named Fethiye in 1934 commemorating Fethi Bey, the pilot killed attempting the first flight from Istanbul to Cairo. It was air transport that changed the face of this coastline: once direct–package holiday flights from Europe became commonplace, Fethiye, along with nearby Ölüdeniz, initially had long airport transfer times, but this reduced to an hour when Dalaman airport was upgraded in 1989.
The spine of town is from the marina east along Atatürk Cd, with the rock tombs set in the cliffs just south. Bars, clubs and budget accommodation are along this strip, with resort hotels further out along the beaches north and west.
Subtropical and Mediterranean. Summers are hot and dry, averaging 30-35°C but topping 40°C on the hottest days. September-October is a good time to visit as the air temperature has dropped but the sea remains at a balmy 24°C. Winters are mostly mild but with heavy rainfall and strong winds, and many tourist facilities close down. Spring returns in March.
Get in Edit
By plane Edit
Dalaman Airport (DLM IATA) is the usual point of arrival, one hour west on D400. Most visitors are on package flights from Europe, with onward transport included. Havaş bus runs from the airport via Göcek to Fethiye, taking one hour for a fare of 80 TL. It's timed to connect with domestic flights, which are every hour or two from Istanbul.
By bus Edit
Buses from Istanbul (several terminals) take 14 hours and may also stop at Gebze, Bursa, Izmir, Muğla and Dalaman. They run hourly round the clock and in 2023 the adult single fare is 800 TL. From Ankara is 9 hours, from Izmir 5, and from Antalya 3 hr 30 min. Operators on these routes include Metroturizm, Pamukkale and Flixbus.
1 Fethiye Otogarı the bus station is off İnönü Blv, the eastern extension of Atatürk Cd, corner with Ölüdeniz Cd. (İnönü was Atatürk's successor as president.) It has ticket kiosks, snack bars, and pungent toilets. Carrefour supermarket is on its east flank.
By road Edit
From Istanbul follow O-7 and O-5 (toll) south to Izmir, D550 through Aydin and Muğla, then D400 into Fethiye.
D400 continues east, twisting and turning along the rugged coast to Antalya. A scenic alternative (which may even be quicker) is to cut inland on D350 via Korkuteli and Söğüt.
By boat Edit
Sky Marine Ferries sail Apr-Oct daily to Rhodes, taking 1 hr 45 min. Their fast cat leaves Fethiye at 08:30 and sets off back at 16:30, so a day trip from Fethiye gives you six hours in Rhodes, but no reverse day trip is possible. Foot passengers only, and in 2023 the adult fare is €40 single, €55 day-trip, €65 open return.
2 Fethiye ferry terminal is the departure / arrival point, east side of the marina.
Ferries no longer sail to other Aegean ports such as Marmaris. Private cruises explore the Lycian coastline but these are round trips not point-to-point ferries.
With your own boat, Fethiye is a Port of Entry into Turkey if you've not already cleared elsewhere.
Get around Edit
Dolmuş minibuses run throughout town; routes you might use are west to Karagözler, north to Çalış, and south to Ölüdeniz. They run frequently until around 23:00. Any later will probably involve a taxi, check the price before getting in.
- 1 Amyntas tomb, 117th Sk 3, ☏ . Daily 08:30-17:30. This is the one in all the brochures, the centrepiece of the group of tombs carved into the cliffs south side of town, the main remnants of ancient Telmessos. It was built around 350 BC for the Lycian noble Amyntas son of Hermagios (not to be confused with Amyntas of Macedon a century earlier). You can see the exterior well enough from outside the paying area, but it's worth going in. Evening has the best city views. Adult 40 TL.
- 2 Fethiye Castle straggles along the hillside west of the tombs. It was mostly built by the Knights of St John in the 15th century, but incorporating older structures including rock tombs - Telmessos citadel was probably hereabouts. It's just a few crumbling walls and the earthquakes have taken their toll. In 2023 the area is "temporarily closed", which hasn't prevented folk from using it as a trash dump.
- Lycian sarcophaguses - carved stone tombs - are seen here and there in town. One good example is on the lane from the Post Office past the governor's office to the seafront, another is at the foot of Kaya Cd the street leading up to the rock tombs.
- The Roman amphitheatre by the marina has been incompetently restored into something that neither preserves its historic structure nor works as a modern performance venue, so the gigs had better be damn good.
- Merkez Eski Cami ("downtown old mosque") is just off Çarşı Cd. It was built in 1216 AH / 1801 AD.
- Fethiye Museum mid-town on 505th Sk remains closed in 2023.
- 3 Fethiye Island, also called Knight Island (Şövalye Adası), shelters the bay. It has accommodation, a couple of restaurants and a shingle beach strip, peaceful compared to the mainland. Water taxis ply from town.
- Beach: Çalış Plajı is north end of town. It's trash-strewn and mostly shingle, though the northern strip is more sandy. The waves can get rough in the afternoon, as it's not sheltered by Fethiye Island. Most beach activities have migrated south to the calm lagoon of Ölüdeniz.
- Hiking: Fethiye is the west terminus of the Lycian Way, a 540-km marked hiking trail. The first section is 9 km to the ghost village of Kayaköy, which has accommodation for the living, or hike the extra 5 km to Ölüdeniz. The trail continues east to Faralya and Kabak, and eventually to Antalya.
- Boat trips ply daily from the marina, with over a dozen operators touting along the waterfront. The standard offering is the "Twelve islands" cruise for eight hours, with one-hour stops at four islets for swimming and snorkelling, and lunch provided; you might pay 800 TL adult, 500 TL child. Check they don't play raucous pop music the whole time - if you wanted that, you'd have gone to Bodrum instead.
- Boat hire for day trips and longer charter is available from the same operators.
- Football: Fethiyespor were promoted in 2022 and play soccer in TFF Second League, the third tier. Their home ground İlçe Stadium (capacity 8400) is mid-town off Pürşahbey Cd.
- Horse-riding: equestrian centres a few km north of town are Cavalier Ranch, Magic Forest and Desperado Ranch. See Ölüdeniz#do for those south of town.
- Lots of little convenience stores. Carrefour supermarket next to the bus station is open daily 08:00-23:00.
- Farmers Market is held Tuesday and Friday 09:00-21:00 in the square facing the football stadium on Pürşahbey Cd.
- "Antiques" such as Turkish carpets are most likely made in China. At least you hope so, because it's illegal to export genuine antiques.
- Kar Şerbeti (snow sorbet) is a refreshing local specialty, a slushy of snow and grape molasses. The snow is allegedly collected from the heights of the Taurus Mountains, and not as you might suppose from that big industrial-grade icer humming in the background.
- Keçı Coffee Roastery on 504th Sk east of the marina is an excellent coffee shop and roastery, open M-Sa 08:00-00:00, Su 10:00-23:00.
- Paşa Kebap, Çarşı Cd 42, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 13:30-23:00. Deservedly popular mid-town restaurant with good menu selection, worth the higher prices. Upstairs is cushion / floor seating, downstairs has conventional tables inside and outside.
- Fish Market (Balık Pazarı) is mid-town between 96th and 97th Sk, open daily 08:00-00:00. You buy your own fish then take it to one of the surrounding restaurants to be cooked.
- Meğri Restaurant, 40th Sk 10 (100 m east of marina), ☏ . Daily 09:00-23:30. Reliable place in the bazaar.
- Sedir, Yerguzlar Cd 69 (500 m east of beach strip), ☏ . Daily 13:00-00:30. Good choice in the north beach area.
- Ayran is a yogurt drink popular across Turkey.
- Midtown has a handful of bars, including 4Corner, Buzz Bar Downtown, Kum Saati, Deep Blue Bar, Ördek Bar and Boğa Pub.
- Camping: closest to town is Aksazlar, on Fevzi Çakmak Cd heading towards Club Letoonia (below). There's a strip of them north of town along Çalış Beach.
- Pansiyons are mostly west of the centre, straggling along the hillside in Karagözler.
- 1 Nefis Hotel City, Çarşı Cd 123, ☏ . Basic hotel near the bus station. B&B double 800 TL.
- Mara Palace is mid-town on 8th Sk. Comfy enough if you get in, but the reservation system is shambolic and they may not honour the price you booked.
- 2 Ece Saray Marina & Resort, Fevzi Çakmak Cd 1, ☏ . Very central by the marina but small rooms and tired facilities. Limited parking. B&B double 3500 TL.
- Yacht Classic Hotel, Fevzi Çakmak Cd 24 (100 m west of Club Letoonia), ☏ . Comfy hotel next to the marina, a bit tired and pricy for what you get. B&B double 3500 TL.
- 3 Club Letoonia, Fevzi Çakmak Cd 82, ☏ . Stylish spacious hotel on the headland west of town, with water taxi to the centre. B&B double 3500 TL.
- 4 Hillside Beach Club, Belen Cd 132, Kalemya Koyu, ☏ . Resort hotel in a bosky private bay, with water sports.
- 5 Tui Blue Sensatori, 226th Sk 4/1, Kargı, ☏ . Plush inclusive beach hotel, great reviews for comfort, service and dining. Full board double 9000 TL.
- 6 Club Tuana, Mezargediği Sk 61, Yanıklar, ☏ . Comfy inclusive hotel on the beach 13 km north of town. B&B double 3500 TL.
Fethiye and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of May 2023, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next Edit
- Ölüdeniz is a resort village 14 km south, with the renowned "Blue Lagoon", a tranquil sea inlet.
- Kayaköy is an abandoned but well-preserved Greek village, reached by either a 9 km hike from Fethiye or by road via Ölüdeniz.
- Saklikent Gorge is an impressive but touristy canyon on the Teke Peninsula 40 km southeast of Fethiye. Wear stout shoes.
- Faralya is a village at the foot of Butterfly Valley, and Kabak is the access to a similar canyon, both laid-back places off the beaten track.
|Routes through Fethiye|
|Marmaris ← Göcek ←||W E||→ Kınık → Antalya|
|END ←||W E||→ Kayaköy → Antalya|