Fethiye, on Turkey’s South West coast, is a fabulous place to take a family holiday. Just a 4-hour flight from the UK and a 45-minute onward transfer from Dalaman Airport, it’s a sun-drenched destination jam packed full of interesting things to do and beaches to laze on. The areas crystal clear waters are ideal for a dip and, due to exchange rates, your money stretches far further.
But what is there to do for the kids? If you have young ones (under 5’s) much of your time is spent entertaining them or at least finding things for them to do that you can enjoy too. Here are a few ideas to keep you and the little ones occupied:
Top 10 things to do in Fethiye with kids:
- Laze on the shores of the blue lagoon. Fethiye is blessed with wonderful beaches. From hidden coves and bays to long stretches of beach backed by bars and restaurants, there’s a stretch of beach to suit. If you’re entertaining young kids the sea can be a worry – especially if they can’t yet swim. Many of the public beaches do have waves and in some cases, steep drops and fairly strong currents so you do need to be careful and check it out for yourself first. Do take arm-bands, buoyancy vests, rings etc and make sure they wear them at all times in case they decide to sprint off. But good news! Fethiye is also home to Turkey’s most famous beach, the Blue Lagoon of Oludeniz – and whats even better is that its shallow waters are ideal for the little ones. This famous sand bank, Turkey’s well-known beach pic, lies to one side of Oludeniz resort at the end of the main Belchekiz public beach. This sheltered lagoon has lured travelers to Turkey since the sixties. The main arm of the lagoon is a national park. Here they charge a few lira entry for the day plus a few more for the hire of a sunbed and brolly. There are a few cafes serving drinks and snacks tucked into the trees in the centre. A little further around from the National Park, at the side of the inner lagoon, are a number of private beaches. These range in size but are generally small and quieter. Sugar Beach, Billys, Seahorse and Golden Sands are perhaps the most popular with many of them running free pickup and drop off services from private properties and hotels in the area (ring the night before to arrange). All the beaches around the inner lagoon are ideal for young children. The waters are clear and shallow, so much so that in some places it can almost appear as if you are walking on water! From mid-July the water in the lagoon can feel a little like a bath it’s so warm, it’s also an idea to get to your beach early during peak season if you want a front sunlounger. Go on – head along for a look, I will be surprised if you don’t fall for the lagoons charms and return!
- Get Some ‘Help!’ Talking of beaches, you really must try Help Beach and Yacht Club tucked into a lovely sandy cove (Kucuk Boncuklu) the other side of Fethiye central peninsula. Opened in 2017, it’s a great place to chill a day away eating great food in their trendy beach side restaurant, enjoying an ice-cold beer or a fancy cocktail as the kids chow down on a big-belly burger and ice-cream milkshake. The owner, well known locally for his previous ventures in Oludeniz, is very creative and has done wonders with the bay. It has been transformed from simply a stretch of sand with trees at the rear to a trendy hippy beach you could well liken to those in the Caribbean. There’s bean bags, hammocks, seating platforms, luxurious sun-loungers and a kids play area. Help Beach also runs party nights, events, live music, BBQ’s and sunset entertainment on a regular basis. The sea here is calm and clear (but does get deep). Access to the beach is via car, taxi or you can catch the free boat service that runs from Fethiye central harbour a couple of times a day during high season. Help is not the cheapest private beach but certainly worth the little extra as it really is lovely, clean and not overly busy. See Help Beach website for more details.
Say ‘Hello’ to the Fish in Fethiye. Here’s a budget option you can fit into your Tuesday Market Day trip or days shopping around Fethiye. Just up from McDonald’s, at the start of the harbour front promenade, is a little cafe called ‘Hello Bufe’. A mass of rickety wooden tables and little chairs stuck out on a platform over the sea. It’s not a fancy place, you could call it cheap and cheerful. It simply serves Turkish tea, coffee, cold beer and grilled toasties, but head over to the kiosk, buy a loaf of stale bread for a lira and watch the kids faces as they throw a chunk into the water and watch the hundreds of fish squabble over taking a bite. Throw a little in the air and the seagulls swoop down and catch it. It’s not worth a day trip specifically to do this, but it’s a popular local pastime or an easy midday break from the heat and shopping. See our review here.
- Bob about on a boat. There are hundreds of daily boat trips available around Fethiye. Most start from the main Fethiye harbour front or from Oludeniz Beach. From Fethiye, the day is spent lazily exploring the areas wonderful 12 islands, stopping off at coves and hidden beaches for a dip. From Oludeniz, you get to see Cold Water Bay (lives up to its name!) and Butterfly Valley plus a few other little places inaccessible by car. Boat trips range in price from the very cheap (c£8 per head) – but do keep in mind that the cheap ones seem a bargain but the drinks on board are normally expensive and they don’t like you taking your own. Most seasoned boat trippers spend a few pounds on a smaller boat or one that doesn’t follow the crowd meaning a more peaceful and enjoyable day. The majority of trips include a BBQ lunch of fish, chicken and meatballs served up with meze, salad and bread. It’s also possible to hire a private skippered boat for 8-10 people or more which can work out great if you split the cost. You can book via road side agents, activity shops or simply by walking along the harbour and talking to the touts (most speak English). Trips normally leave around 10 am and return about 5 pm so it is a long day for the very young ones, but you do stop off at lots of bays for a swim and it’s a great way to see the coastline and top up the tan.
- Calis Taxi Boat. My boys love boats, simply going on a boat is enough no matter how short the ride. The few full day boat trips I have taken them on was fairly stressful when they were toddlers if I’m honest. Although they may be proficient doggy paddlers, they couldn’t swim properly so were dressed to the nines in buoyancy vests and armbands. I wouldn’t let them roam freely so they got bored quickly. It was hard to relax. This is why we became regulars on the Calis Water Taxi. Leaving from central Fethiye harbourside (at the back of Migros) or Calis Central Bridge, it’s just 7TL (young kids free) and takes half an hour to chug across the bay, more than enough time for them to stare into the water at the fish, spot birds or try and find a sea turtle. The taxi-boat is well worth the chug and a far nicer way of getting from A to B than cramming yourself on the local dolmus (bus).
- Explore the Fethiye Old Town, Duck Pond and Fish Market (Paspatur). At some point during your holiday, you will head into Fethiye for a potter around. The centre is a great place to explore, especially of an evening when it really comes to life. With the kids, I tend to make a visit to Fethiye a little adventure. We head into the Old Town and look at all the lanterns and spice stalls, take in the smells, stare at the carpets and enjoy a fresh juice in a bar around the duck pond. We then have a walk along the harbour then head up to the fish market and admire the days catch and the stray cats all trying to steal a prize. Of an evening there are often musicians wandering around the tables playing gypsy music and trying to make a few pennies – all makes for great people watching. We may buy some fish or shrimp from the stall and take it to one of the surrounding restaurants to have it cooked up for a few lira – the kids love picking at my plate and especially like the puffy pide bread that comes with it. Fethiye is full of smells and interesting things to see. If the kids do get bored, there’s a play-park with swings and climbing frames on the seafront behind the central Migros. There’s also a number of small parks as you walk along the seafront promenade towards Calis.
- Spend the day at an aqua park. There are a number of aqua parks around Fethiye. Sultans in central Calis is a good size, it’s one of the oldest and offers some great slides, a cafe and bar. Gran Ucel Hotel in Ovacik also has a couple of big slides at the back if you’re staying locally. There’s a smaller water park hidden behind Fez and London bars in central Hisaronu, but by far the most impressive is Oludeniz Waterworld. Although the name is misleading, it is not in Oludeniz but tucked away at the back of Ovacik, if you like a little water action, this is the place to head. It has slides, pools, and activities suiting kids of all ages and plenty of sun loungers for the adults. There’s a cafe, snack-bar, ice-cream tents, traditional bar and lockers to keep all your valuables. It’s well thought out, clean and organised (for Turkey!). For the bubbas the young kid’s pool is great. Bigger kids tend to gravitate towards the slides and wave pool. It’s a place everyone can enjoy and should suitably knacker the kids out so they sleep well and give you a little peace after!
- Shopping at Erasta Mall. Fethiye has one shopping mall, Erasta AVM. Don’t get excited, it’s hardly the Bull Ring or Bluewater, but it does have a reasonable selection of clothing, shoe and accessory shops, a few good coffee houses (including Starbucks), a modern cinema, and a food hall with the likes of Burger King and KFC. It’s air-conditioned and undercover so a place to head on the rare occasion we see rain, or if the heat gets’s too much. But, most importantly there’s Playland – a bowling, amusement and kids soft play centre. You buy tokens and can leave your kids age 3+ in the soft play area for up to 30-minutes whilst you shop. They call you if there’s a problem. There’s a ball pit, trampolines, zip lines and various other climbing apparatus. It’s supervised by one or two staff.
Go Ape at Fethiye Adventure Park. Fethiye Macera Park (Adventure Park) opened in 2016 and can be found built into the forest on the roadside between Oludeniz to Fethiye. A trip here is my boy’s number one thing to do in Fethiye. I was reluctant to consider the park at first as the idea of my duo swinging through trees like monkeys and walking rope bridges begged a question of safety for me who is cynical about all things health and safety related in Turkey. But, having heard how great it was by a couple of other mums, I decided to go and check it out. What a place! I was surprised. The owner of the park spent time in Belgium and took the idea from there. The park was built by Arbre Et Adventure who have a number of parks worldwide. There are 5 tracks in total ranging in difficulty and catering for different levels of fitness and age. The kit they use is top grade and from France and Belgium. They have undergone rigorous safety checks and have internationally recognised certificates available to view. For adults and those over 12 there are long, high tree walks and zip lines, for 6 to 12-year-olds there’s a moderate course and for 3 to 6-year-olds there’s a track near the ground allowing parents to walk at their side. The kids are kitted out in a harness, a standard carabina and a larger carabina that is continuously attached to the safety line that runs along the entire course with them (continuous belay system). They are given a safety briefing and are then attached to the line. The 3-6-year-olds course is around a meter off the ground. It includes rope walks, tree and rock navigation, obstacles and a small zip line. It challenges the kids motor skills, balance, and dexterity. My boys quickly got into the swing of it wanting to thread the caribina around the trees and along the safety line themselves and you could see the concentration on their faces as they tried to balance on the rope bridge and around the big rock. It empowered them as they solved the problems and it challenged them physically and mentally – great stuff! Unal and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them and if we tried to help we were given the glare and batted away, “I can do Mommy, go away!”. It was great to see and I totally recommend it for the little ones. Plus, if there’s a few of you, the adult track looks fun too (very high though!). There’s also a cafe on site, a few rabbits, hens and chickens, and even a peacock in a pen at the back. See full review here.
Eat Turkish Pancakes. Turkish pancakes or ‘gozleme’ as it’s known locally, are cheap and tasty and loved by the kids. Traditionally they are savoury and filled with a choice of cheese, herbs, mincemeat or spinach and potato but most places do now offer sweet alternatives like chocolate spread, sugar and lemon or fruit and honey to better appeal to the foreigners. Don’t picture fluffy American pancakes or French crepes here, gozleme is made out of a simple dough of flour and water that is rolled very thinly, filled and then grilled until crispy on a special circular hot plate. There’s a real art to making Turkish pancakes and it’s an interesting thing to watch. Head along to the Tuesday market, or one of the roadside cafes in Kayakoy and see the ladies expertly roll out the thin dough and toss it on the griddle. It makes for a cheap, tasty and interesting lunch your family is sure to enjoy.
I hope you liked this little run down of things to do in Fethiye with kids – it may have to be done in two parts as I can think of many more that I’ve missed – tickling fish in Yaka Park, Village breakfast with a clown in Kayakoy, horse riding, Fethiye Museum to name but a few! Can you think of any more your under 5’s have enjoyed? Please do comment and let us know.
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