In May 2022 we went for a week’s holiday in Turkey, our first trip abroad for three years, thanks to Covid.
We were based in Fethiye on the ‘Turkish Riviera’, also known as the Turquoise Coast, and every day we visited places of interest on this beautiful stretch of Mediterranean coastline. Here are some of the highlights.
Calis Beach lies at the northern end of Fethiye. It is a shingle beach with sun beds and umbrellas for hire. There are restaurants, bars and shops all along the beach front.
Fethiye Rock Tombs
Fethiye appears to be a modern city but it has some very ancient roots, being built on the site of Telmessos, the largest city of the Lycian civilisation.
Carved into a hillside on the southern edge of Fethiye are a number of Lycian rock tombs, including this one thought to have been built around 350 BC as a tomb for ‘Amyntas, son of Hermagios’.
Xanthos & Letoon
Xanthos and Letoon are two neighbouring archaeological sites about an hour’s drive from Fethiye. Xanthos was the ancient capital of Lycia and the ruins include tombs, pillar-mounted sarcophagi, Roman-style amphitheatres, temples and a nymphaeum.
The Harpy Monument is a well preserved example of a Lycian pillar tomb, believed to be the grave of Kybernis who died in the battle of Salamis in 479 BC. The marble carvings at the top are copies since the originals were spirited away to the British Museum in the 1840s. Isn’t it time western museums returned all their foreign treasures to their countries of origin? The British Museum could concentrate on British treasures instead – there are plenty of those.
Kalkan is a pretty fishing town and tourist destination with steep, cobbled streets, lined with restaurants, bars and shops. Definitely worth the 75 minute drive from Fethiye.
Eating & Shopping
Talking of restaurants, we found the food to be excellent everywhere we went and very good value thanks to the weak Turkish Lira at present. The Turks are friendly and hospitable so what’s not to like? We didn’t do much shopping, mostly food, but shoes are a widely sold item and good value.
We saw fake goods on sale and even this whole supermarket looks fake with a logo that looks suspiciously like Lidl.
Babadag Cable Car
On the road between Fethiye and Oludeniz is Babadag Teleferik, a cable car attraction which opened in 2021 to transport tourists to the peak of Babadag mountain (1969m). Unfortunately only the first leg was open during our visit which terminates at 1200 m but that was still high enough to give fantastic views of Blue Lagoon, and the surrounding coastline.
We enjoyed a cup of Turkish tea and a snack in the restaurant at this level. If you wish, you can strap yourself to a paragliding pilot and jump off the mountain here to gently glide down to a (hopefully) soft landing on Oludeniz Beach. It’s a very popular thing to do.
This is a lovely sandy/shingle beach in a beautiful setting at the foot of the mountain with full facilities provided (sunbeds, umbrellas, showers, changing rooms, restaurants etc.) The beach has a lagoon on the inland side (Blue Lagoon) where you can also swim. It gets busy but it’s huge so doesn’t feel too crowded.
A view of Oludeniz Beach. You can see why it is called the Turquoise Coast. Did you know that the word turquoise derives from the French word for Turkish?
Continuing south, the coastline becomes more rugged, concealing beaches like this one, Kelebekler Vadisi, accessible only by boat.
Just 30 minutes drive west of Fethiye is the chic resort of Gocek with its up-market marina, posh waterfront properties and fashionable boutiques.
Gocek Marina. So this is where the oligarchs are parking their mega yachts! This one is called I Dynasty and registered in the Cayman Islands. According to Wikipedia it is owned by a Kazakh billionaire.
Tlos is another major archaeological site. Four civilisations have left their mark here with Lycian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman remains scattered around the complex. In mythology, Tlos is said to be the home of Pegasus, the winged horse.
Saklikent canyon is a striking natural feature 300 m deep and 18 km long. Tourists can walk along the river bed for part of this distance during the drier season.
If you don’t want to get your feet wet there is an elevated boardwalk for the first 500 metres or so.
Patara Beach was probably the best beach that we visited with endless soft sand (18 km long). It is protected from development due to loggerhead turtles nesting here and its proximity to Patara ancient city (yes, more ruins!). Saint Nicholas (of Father Christmas fame) was born at Patara in 270 AD.
Dalyan has a different feel. It is a small riverside town near the mouth of the River Dalyan. Fishing and tour boats are parked at the river bank offering tours down to Turtle Beach (Iztuzu Plaji). Along the way you can see more ancient rock tombs, a river delta lined with tall reeds and another archaeological site. Or you could try out a therapeutic mud bath.
We managed to cram in a lot of sights in our week’s visit to Fethiye but there’s still much more to see on the Turkish Riviera. We will have to return.