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Fethiye and the Lycian coast in general, is a good place to base yourself. Around Fethiye there is stunning scenery with crystal clear, blue waters, a beautiful harbor, snow capped mountains, and ancient rock tombs overlooking the city all add to the allure. The harbor area features lots of restaurants, easy access to water sports and beach activities including diving, yachting, charter services for “gullet” trips, dinner cruises and day trips on boats. (You can also get to Rhodes (Greece) from here on the ferry).
If you want to parasail, in nearby Oludeniz the mountains provide a great opportunity to parasail out over the water, landing on the beach. The hiking in the area is good and plentiful with something to suit all fitness levels. The trails are marked and there are maps at the beginning of the trailhead. Some that are not used as often are a bit tough to follow, and we found ourselves searching for the trail markers at times.
The hiking trails passed right by the front door of our accommodation in Kayakoy. So there is more information on both hiking and Kayakoy here. Fethiye is also the start of the Lycian Way, a long distance trail running 324 miles along the coast between Fethiye and Antalya.
Fethiye is the commercial center and a large town (about 150,000 in population) so all of the basics are available. It has a number of smaller villages nearby,(Oludeniz, KayaKoy, Faralya are a few excellent options) which provides a variety of accommodation to enable you to find something you like. As it is not a large city, it is relatively easy to drive around and car rental is therefore an option with a lot of local providers (which are much cheaper than the international brands). Car rental includes full insurance as well. There is a longer post which contains more details about car rental and trip planning resources for Turkey.
The local market, or pazar, is held three times a week: Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. There is a much longer post about shopping in Fethiye, which is representative of shopping in Turkey in general.
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You can also have a cheap, fresh meal at the market. A freshly squeezed juice at the market is the cheapest we had anywhere, a pomegranate and orange juice was 4 TL a glass (less than $2 USD).
The area is a huge agricultural area for Turkey and produces large amounts of tomatoes, pomegranates, and peppers which are both sent throughout Turkey and exported. As you drive through the area you see A LOT of commercial greenhouses producing vegetables.
Civilization in this area dates back to the 14th century B.C.! The Lycian Civilization covers the time period 14th century to 1st century BC when it was overtaken by the Hitites and later the Greeks and the Romans. Influences from all of the cultures which occupied this area can be seen in the ancient remains of the principle Lycian cities: Xanthos, Pinara, Patara, Tlos, Myra, Phaselis, and Olympos. Letoon was the ancient capital city. Xanthos and Letoon are UNESCO sites. Antalya is closer and provides easier access to Phaselis and Olympos.
Patara is a large site, very well preserved (and signed) and the beach there is amazing. Just look at the picture. Of all the beaches we saw in Turkey this was the best beach. (Your ticket to Patara is good for access to the beach and you can return anytime within a week). The Lycian Way passes through several of these ancient cities (providing opportunities to day hike).
The rock tombs in the mountains overlooking Fethiye are also remnants from Lycian culture.
At Xanthos (about 45 kilometers from Fethiye), the findings from excavations, indicate there has been settlement here since the 8th Century BC. This area has had a long string of rulers including the usual suspects- the Lycians, the Persians, the Egyptians, and the Romans. The legacy of the Romans is still evident including the agora and part of the acropolis. We found Patara to be better preserved and more extensive.
Accommodation Options outside of Fethiye
If you choose to stay outside of Fethiye, a car might be a wise option although during peak season there is a system of dolmus (little vans that run preset routes) that run fairly frequently. Taxis are also available but between villages the fares are quite high. Many restaurants offer pick-up and drop-off service. So it is possible to manage without a car.
This is not an exhaustive list and like anything, do your own research. But for what it’s worth:
We stayed here and loved it. It is a quiet village, sleepy even (we were there in off season mind you). The views were stunning and most days the only real noise we heard were the local goat and sheep herders and the pleasant ringing of the bells on the animals as they passed by. The views are village views (not water views).
There is more information about KayaKoy in the hiking post as several hikes leave or end in KayaKoy.
There are a number of good restaurants in the area- Levessi Gardens, Yalcin BBQ, and Cin-Bal. Cin-Bal and Yalcin are traditional BBQ’s and you can grill your own meal over the BBQ, and worthy of more explanation.
We enjoyed a most pleasant Sunday afternoon lunch at Cin-Bal. It is a great place to see what the local Turkish people do with their families on a nice day.
There is no menu, in what is common in many restaurants, you select your food from the counter. Our meal started with a selection of mezes (which you choose at the counter) and then a selection of meat (which again you choose at the counter), and vegetables which we cooked table side. Bread and salad were also served.
We chose a bottle of Turkish red wine, and finished the meal with a cup of Turkish coffee. Raki is also available and we noticed this was the drink of choice for most of the locals.
The atmosphere is lively, friendly and very family oriented. There is a playground for the kids. We ate outside but there is a large pleasant area inside for cool evenings or inclement weather.
It is a family business which takes pride in serving high-quality products. They raise and slaughter the meat, grow some of the vegetables and produce the mezes there at the restaurant.
We thought it good value and our meal, which had a lot of meat, and a bottle of wine was about $50 USD.
Yalcin BBQ is a similar cook-your-own BBQ experience (slightly more expensive) so we have not provided a separate review but it is also recommended. The tandir lamb (usually available on weekends) is slow cooked lamb in a clay oven. It is tender and delicious and if they have it during your visit- that would be my first choice.
Oludeniz and Hisaronu
Oludeniz Is down by the beach and it is close to Hisaronu, the town further up the hill. Oludeniz is known as the “Blue Lagoon”, and features on many of Turkey’s postcards and travel promotions. Both of these are tourist towns (as opposed to traditional villages) and the local atmosphere reflects this. There are restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance of your accommodation. There is accommodation variety to suit every budget.
The scenery is nice in Oludeniz, for a view you need to be further up on a hill.
Paragliding and boat trips to some destinations are available from Oludeniz. Most tours will pick you up from your accommodation if you do not have transport.
As these areas are more built up they are a bit noisier and busy but there is also less need for a car. It you take a day tour it will usually include pick-up and return from these towns.
Faralya and Kabak
This area was a little gem. It is located next to great hiking, and has some unique family run lodging. We spent several days hiking near this village. The scenery was some of the best. The village is high up on the mountain overlooking the blue waters.
There are a number of options for every price point- some lodging caters specifically to hikers (and also provides camping) and some are boutique hotels.
There is a variety of places to eat.
If you stay here a car might be helpful, especially in the off season. The dolmus runs to Fethiye and Oludeniz frequently during high season.
If you want to experience something Turkish, try one of the villages- KayaKoy, Faralya or Kabak. (Note most day tours will not pick-up in these smaller villages).
You said the magic word for me: UNESCO. Did not know that so much of Lycia still exists…we enjoy exploring ruins like that.
Also I want to thank you for sharing some of the lesser visited towns. We get tired of being treated like tourists constantly. It’s nice to feel anonymous sometimes. Did you have any challenges with the language?
To be honest most of the Turkish we learned was food! Other than that, the basics are relatively easy- thank you, hello etc. Most places you go someone speaks english. They are also very resourceful- if they can’t work out what you want- they call a friend that speaks english on their mobile- you speak with the friend in english, then they will translate. They are very friendly. At the market and places like that you can get by, or someone will translate for you if they see you need some help. We talk about going to the market without being able to speak turkish in https://www.compassandfork.com/food-shopping-fethiye/ The alphabet is Roman characters and that helps a lot!