Thinking of coming to Fethiye, Oludeniz, or Calis for the first time this summer? Do! Go on – book it! But, be warned, this area is addictive. The entire region with its fascinating blend of history, culture, and beauty will charm you. It will tan your skin and suck you in. Like 99% of others that visit, you will almost certainly return.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT FETHIYE? WHY IS IT “CHARMING”?
This isn’t your average list of things to do in Fethiye, places to go, excursions to do. Being ‘charmed’ by a place is more about the feeling you get, the things you see and experience that you take home and reminisce over saying “this time last week we were sat there” as you stare at the pictures on your cell phone. This is a list of places to discover yourself. The things that had me and my family ‘charmed’, the places and things we missed most that made us forget Spain and book Fethiye again.
Make time to do a few of the following (as well as some of your normal relaxing on the beach and fun-filled excursions), and you will surely return!
1.Talk to the locals, their hospitality is infectious! “Hi! Come in for cay”. It’s hard to go anywhere in Turkey without being offered cay (tea). Shops, restaurants, local’s you get talking to in the street, Turk’s love offering tea (either regular or apple) in their fancy little three sip glasses to all and sundry. They also smile, they are friendly and warm. It’s hard not to be charmed and somewhat overwhelmed by a Turk’s niceness. From the barman in your hotel to the little man selling trinkets in the street, you will come away from Turkey commenting on how lovely the people are and armed with numerous emails and numbers of your new found friends.
2.Enjoy a simple village pancake, a village breakfast or a traditional evening BBQ in Kayakoy ‘Ghost Town’. Did anyone read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin? Louis De Bernieres also wrote Birds Without Wings inspired by the history of Kayakoy – and what an inspiring place it is! Do make an effort to visit aside from the one organised with a market day excursion. The pretty village of Kaya lies in a deep valley between Oludeniz and Fethiye and feels a world apart from the neighbouring tourist resorts – there’s not an all-inclusive hotel, flume-filled water park or disco bar in the village! Once populated by Greeks, it was forcibly abandoned due to a population exchange in 1923. Intervening years have seen it’s pretty little stone cottages, chapels and churches fall into ruin leading it known locally as ‘the ghost town’. Head to one of the rustic village restaurants around the foot of the ruins for a cheap Turkish pancake (gozleme) lunch and watch as the local women expertly roll and heat them on special hot plates. Of an evening head to one of the many BBQ restaurants, sit in the garden and enjoy a traditional mix of meze and meat, or better still head there for a village breakfast. Breakfast is a real treat, you will never have seen so many little plates of preserves, tomato, cucumber, cheese, borek, bread, salami – a village breakfast is more like brunch and a great escape from your average tourist Full English. Head to Kaya any day but Sundays (when the locals flock to the village), and Tuesday afternoons (when the market tours hit town).
3.A sundown drink watching the paragliders land in Oludeniz. There really is nowhere else like Oludeniz so make sure you visit once during your first few days in the area – it’s likely you will want to return. One of the highlights is sitting in a seafront bar, drink in hand, and watching the paragliders land at sunset. They soar across the sky, the pilots tandem passenger strapped (normally laughing and screaming) to their front, and glide down to the beachfront. It’s a spectacular sight at sunset when they are silhouetted as the sun changes from yellow, to orange and red across the sky. Only one better way to see the sunset – book yourself a pilot and take a tandem paragliding jump yourself!
4.Top up the tan and take a boat trip. If you fancy working on that tan, do book a boat trip as nothing gives you a better sun-kissed look then a day bobbing up and down between dips in the clear turquoise sea. The coastline around Fethiye is breathtaking. Packed full of little islands with lots of hidden coves to explore. The best way to see them? You guessed it – on a boat trip. You can book daily boat trips easily via your travel rep, street agents or by walking along the harbour and talking to the touts. Normally a BBQ lunch of chicken, fish, meatballs and meze is thrown in. Do ask the capacity of the boat, and don’t just go for the cheapest option as these can be expensive on board. Most tours leave around 10 am and return by 5 pm. If there’s a few of you, hire a boat and spread the cost, there are also luxury catamarans and motor yachts available for those happy to splash a little cash on an amazing day out.
5.Enjoy a fish supper at Fethiye Fish Market. Yes, back to food and drink again! But for fishy lovers, this is a must-do! Head into the centre of Fethiye and enjoy an evening meal with the locals at the Fish Market. Buy your choice of fish from one of the central stalls, head over to a surrounding restaurant, and have it cooked up as you wish all served with a big helping of seasonal salad, fresh bread, and a few drinks. Often musicians wander around the tables playing folk music all adding to the ambiance. The result?A truly charming, tasty and very traditional night out to remember.
6.Get pampered at the Hamam. Turkish baths are fabulous and would cost a fortune back home. Head to a Hamam on your first day here to prepare your skin for tanning (does wonders for making your tan last longer!). Start the experience with a sauna, then get taken to the main room and lie on a heated marble slab where the masseuse expertly empties a pillowcase of scented bubbles over you and scrubs your skin with a mitt to remove dead cells. A dowsing of cold water and you are left feeling thoroughly clean and energised. Opt for the massage after and you come out feeling wonderful. A Turkish Bath is something any first-time visitor to Turkey should try. There’s an old Turkish bath in the centre of Fethiye’s Paspatur or many modern hotels now have Hamams.
7. Listen to live Turkish music along the seafront promenade. Fethiye comes alive at night and the new harbourside promenade running from the new town square to Calis has some great restaurants and bars. Do as the Turks do and take an evening stroll along the front. Many of the restaurants have musicians playing from around 9pm during the summer months. It’s a lovely way to walk off your dinner, stopping where you fancy to soak in the music, people watch and down a few more drinks.
8. Take an early walk along the Lycian Way and take a photo of the lagoon. Clear the cobwebs and start the day with a stroll along one of the most famous walking trails in Turkey. If you’re not brave enough to go paragliding but still want a great pic of the blue lagoon, head for a walk along the Lycian Way. The start is found off the side road taking you to Montana Pine and Garcia Resort, follow the sign near the top of the steep main road down from Hisaronu to Oludeniz. The route is fairly easy going, just head early morning if during the summer, take sturdy shoes or trainers and lots of water. It takes around 20 minutes to reach the vantage point that gives you a fabulous view of Oludeniz bay, the beach and the arm of the lagoon. A healthy start to the day!
9. Watch the sunset from Calis beach. Calis lies across the bay from Fethiye. Catch the water taxi from behind Fethiye’s central Migros and bob the thirty minute trip across the bay, or jump a dolmus (local bus) and head there late afternoon, in time for the sunset. Calis is a popular resort famed for its restaurant and bar-backed beach and glorious sunsets. Take a walk along the front, pick a suitable haunt, order a sundowner and stare across the bay. Watch as the sun sets over Fethiye’s pretty little islands. A sunset visit to Calis is a lovely way to end the day.
Hopefully, this little list will set all you first timers off on the right track – have I missed any other things to do in Fethiye worth a mention? Travelling with kids? Do take a look at the post 10 Things to do in Fethiye with kids for an idea on how to keep them entertained, and if you’re coming offseason, check out what to do in Fethiye when it’s raining. Do keep tuned to the blog for more ideas, tips, and reviews.
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