Turkey’s Turquoise Coast: A Magical Weekend In Fethiye & Olüdeniz
It’s not a secret that I’m a sucker for clear turquoise waters and waves hitting the shore (see: this and this). And ever since I first saw photos of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast on Pinterest, I knew that visiting the area was inevitable. As soon as I started planning my epic 35th birthday trip to Turkey, I narrowed in on the area around Fethiye and Olüdeniz.
The Mediterranean coast of Turkey is well-known to many Europeans, but probably a little less so to many Americans. It’s absolutely gorgeous, affordable, has great food, the people are lovely…basically, why haven’t you already booked your ticket?!
How to get to Fethiye
Flying is definitely the way to go, as distances in Turkey are massive (though there are overnight buses or you can do long road trips if you prefer). Dalaman airport is the closest to Fethiye (and Göcek where I was sailing). Bodrum and Antalya are two other airport options, depending on how the rest of your itinerary is shaping up, or if you’re visiting other parts of the coast.
I pre-booked an airport transfer from the airport to my hotel through my hotel. It was about €50 if I remember correctly, and the car was super nice. On the way back, from Göcek to Dalaman, I just got a cab. Be warned, they drive like they’re in a Fast & Furious movie 🙂
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Where to stay in Fethiye
One of the great things about Turkey is how affordable it is, and you can get super nice housing for very reasonable costs. However, I was definitely going for “epic” on this trip. I stayed at a beautiful little boutique hotel called Hotel Unique, and got a deluxe double room with sea view and a hot tub, and it was a little over €200 a night.
That’s one of their bigger, fancier rooms but I was wanting to splurge for my epic birthday trip. My room was amazing—I could have lived here! It was large, open, and airy, with two separate balconies and gorgeous views of the water. There’s a beautiful pool and a lovely multi-level open-air restaurant and bar area that overlooks it. The hotel staff was very helpful and service was great. Highly recommend!
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What to see & do in Fethiye
Once known as the ancient city of Telmessos, Fethiye was a key city in the Lycian civilization. It was famous for its school of diviners, visited by people like Alexander the Great (who conquered the city in 334 BC). Y’all, the Lycians are FASCINATING…I don’t have a prayer of doing them justice here, so I recommend you read this brief article on their civilization and what we do (and don’t) know.
Unless you’re just lounging by the pool, you only really need a day or two in Fethiye itself, but you could easily spend 3-4 days to a week if you’re using it as a base to explore more of the coast via day trips.
Tomb of Amyntas
One of the coolest things to do along the coast is seek out various Lycian rock tombs. There are many around, but the Tomb of Amyntas is right there at the edge of town in Fethiye so it’s a must-visit. It wasn’t a bad walk from my hotel, about 20-25 minutes and I was able to walk along the promenade and see the Paspatur street on my way. It is an uphill hike—but the views are worth it!
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The Tomb of Amyntas sits at the top of Fethiye overlooking the city. It was built into the side of the mountain in 350 BC, carved into the cliff face. You can view them from afar, but it’s only 5 TL (a little over a dollar) to enter and climb right up to the main tomb.
I highly recommend watching the sunset from up here!
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There’s not much to direct you there, so I’d recommend using Google Maps or a similar mapping app to get there. Once you’re there, there is a button to call a taxi just outside the ticket office if you don’t feel like walking back. I ended up using this option because I wanted to get back to see the sunset at my hotel (I’d booked an early dinner reservation).
Watch the sunset
Sunset in Fethiye (and along much of the Turquoise Coast) is AN EVENT, and there are many amazing places you can view it. My hotel balconies were so great that I wanted to at least spend my first night there, and I’d booked a dinner reservation at the open-air restaurant overlooking the pool as well.
I could just sit here forever and watch the colors change.
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Take a day trip to Olüdeniz
About 20 minutes down the coast is the beautiful resort town of Olüdeniz, famous for its Blue Lagoon, its beaches, world-class paragliding, active nightlife, and more. I wanted a more chill experience so stayed in Fethiye, but definitely made sure to spend some time here as well.
You can take the local bus (dolmus) between Fethiye and Olüdeniz, take a cab, or if you’ve booked a paragliding or other experience they’ll generally provide transportation (this is what I did).
There are restaurants and bars all along the beachfront, where you can chill and watch the paragliders come in and enjoy the gorgeous weather. I stopped at Oyster restaurant and had some pide and a lovely glass of rosé.
One of the reasons I wanted to visit Olüdeniz was to go paragliding. It’s considered one of the best places in the world to go paragliding, and I was dying to try it. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience…not an adrenaline rush, but like floating. I felt like a bird coasting on wind currents, staring at the intense blue coastline and bright turquoise Blue Lagoon below. You can read more about my paragliding experience if you’re interested!
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One of the other big reasons to visit Olüdeniz is its famous beaches.
It’s known for the Blue Lagoon, which is beautiful but I found to be crowded and had TONS of small children. My guess is that families like that area because it’s a little safer and calmer than the regular ocean beaches. To visit the Blue Lagoon area (separate from the main beach), you’ll pay 7 TL to enter on foot or 25 TL if you’re parking.
I went in there to see it, but (while still inside the Blue Lagoon gated area) went over to the ocean side and that’s where these pics are taken. It’s pebble beaches so not as comfy, but absolutely idyllic turquoise waters, and you can watch the paragliders float above.
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That was my favorite part of the beach overall, though I explored all up and down Olüdeniz Beach. I enjoyed a drink here and there, some ice cream, and lots of water (stay hydrated!).
Don’t sleep on sunrise in Fethiye
Haha, see what I did there?? Sunset gets all the hype, but sunrise is equally gorgeous. I loved getting up early while it was still mostly dark, making coffee, and getting some work done while watching the sky change colors. It was a little cool and SO quiet, and very much my kind of time.
What to skip: Paspatur Street
Eh. I was excited to see an umbrella street, but because it’s all inside it felt very cheesy and cheap. I really did not like this little shopping area at all. Mostly I’d steer clear and stick to walking along the promenade on the water, though I did have a nice meal at Kukina Caferia along Paspatur (recommend!).
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Besides the Tomb of Amyntas, there are many great places to get nice views over the city and over the water. A taxi driver or your hotel can help you find them, or you can just walk and wander yourself.
It was oddly hard to find a good coffee place near me (nothing opens early enough) but I did manage to snag this interesting pastry on my last morning, right by my hotel. I swear it had peanut butter in it, but maybe it was just punchy tahini??
Other things near Fethiye
I had a very short time in the Fethiye area due to my 2-day boat trip, so here are a few other things I wanted to see and would recommend if you have the time!
- Butterfly Valley: beautiful beach accessed by boat, or viewed from above via hiking
- Tlos or Kaunos: ruins of two different dominant ancient Lycian cities, including an acropolis, tombs, and more
- Kaya Koyu: the ghost town with a fascinating history (more here)
Take a sailing day trip (or longer!)
I spent two amazing days on a boat out of Göcek (about 25 minutes from Fethiye), but regardless of how much time you have I cannot recommend a boat trip enough! You can do day trips out of Göcek or many other places along the coast, or even the famous 4-7 day gulet boat trips.
So have I convinced you to visit Fethiye and Olüdeniz?? I absolutely fell in love with the Turquoise Coast and would love to spend more time exploring the whole coastal region of Turkey (and quite frankly, just more of Turkey in general). If you’ve visited here and have more tips on other towns, great restaurants, or anything else, hit me up in the comments!
Other gorgeous seaside towns you’ll love:
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- Rovinj, A Perfect Base for Northern Croatia
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