Destination Guide to Turkey
The Fethiye Region
The town of Fethiye occupies a site of the ancient Lycian city of Telmessos dating back to the 4th Century BC. Nowadays there is little evidence remaining of the ancient city but the Tomb of Amyntas perched high above the town and carved into the side of the cliff is a fine example of this period. There is also a fortress built on a hill overlooking Fethiye that was thought to have been built by the Knights of St John in the 15th century.
In 1934 Fethiye changed its name in honour of a local pilot and war hero ‘Fethi Bey’ who died in a plane crash. Prior to this, in Ottoman times, the town was also known as Megri meaning ‘far place’ and there are several acknowledgements of this still in the town.
Today though Fethiye is first and foremost a bustling seaside town, combining a working harbour with the surrounding agricultural communities it maintains a real sense of Turkish life.
Her Gönülde bir aslan yeter
(There lies a lion in every heart)
Kaya translated into English means ‘rock’ and was given this name because of its stone architecture. Following World War I and the Turkish War of Independence in 1923 which precipitated an exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece, the Ottoman Greek population of Kaya (then known as Levissi) were forced to abandon their homes. To this day they remain largely uninhabited and for this reason it is known as the ‘Ghost Village’.
Once a typical Turkish village, Hisaronü has developed into a fully-fledged tourist resort. It is a hive of bustling nightlife, cafes, bars, European restaurants and clubs. Without any doubt it caters essentially for mass tourism. Whatever you feel like though, you can be sure you’ll find it in Hisaronü!
Ölü Deniz means “dead sea” and derives its name from a Turkish legend.
The story goes that one day the handsome son of an old sea captain met Belcekiz, a beautiful young girl at the bay where he had stopped to fetch water. They fell in love and would meet whenever they could. One day the father and son were caught in a terrible storm at sea and the son, knowing the area well, suggested taking shelter in the calm bay that he knew of. The old captain disagreed thinking that his son might be using it as an excuse to meet Belcekiz and they had an argument that resulted in the captain pushing his son overboard.
Soon afterwards the captain came across the calm bay but by this time it was too late. Belcekiz on hearing of her lover’s death threw herself into the sea and drowned. The place where she died was called Belcekiz and the watery grave of her lover was called Ölü Deniz.
These days it is the home to one of the most photographed beaches in Turkey and the lagoon area has been a conservation area since the late 70’s.
Follow the meandering roads through the pretty villages of the Fethiye region and you will come across many genuinely unspoilt villages, untouched by mass tourism – all just waiting to be explored.
These simple traditional villages provide the perfect insight into the real Turkey, where life ambles quietly by in the slow lane. Tradition endures in these parts as much of this area remains wild and untouched.
Faralya is a small traditional village that is set in a breath-taking position overlooking one of the most picturesque bays in the area – Butterfly Valley. To get to Faralya you can either take a bus from Hisaronu or drive the 8km or so yourselves taking the windy road up behind Ölü Deniz.
There are a few lokantas here where you can stop for lunch and is a resting place for walkers following the Lycian trail. Ruins of the Perdicia settlement dating back to the 4th century BC can be seen here.
Kelebek Vadisi (Butterfly Valley)
Protected by the world heritage foundation, Butterfly valley gets its name from the large variety of butterflies that can be found here, one of the most unique being the Tiger butterfly. The best time to see the butterflies is said to be between July and September. If you want to do something other than relax on the secluded, sandy beach you can walk up the 350-400m canyon to the waterfall that comes from the top of the mountain and flows all the way into the Mediterranean. There is a camping area with tents and a restaurant. To get to the valley you can take a boat from Ölü Deniz, they go several times a day and a round trip costs approx. 10YTL or for the more adventurous you can take a bus up to Faralya from Hisaronu and follow the footpath down into the valley.
Only 30 minutes drive outside the hustle and bustle of Fethiye lies the quiet village of Uzümlü. The name means “with grape” and the area is renowned for its local grape products such as wine, grape juice and sweets but local people still also make their livings from the rich agriculture and textiles claimed from the area.
This traditional village lies in a valley and commands spectacular views of the Taurus mountains The village dates back to Ottoman times which is evident when you explore the windy, cobbled streets of the village centre. Time has stood still here and it is quite possible that you will have to stop to let the goats and sheep pass by, oblivious to anyone else.
One of the most interesting sites in the area is only 9 km from Uzumlu at Cadianda. This city is perched 400 metres above Uzumlu and 900 metres above sea level. To walk to the site can take anything from one to three hours depending on which way you attack it or you can take the easy option and drive to the start of the site.
Cadianda, known as ‘Kadawati’ in Lycian times (and spelt Kadyanda on the road signs,) is mentioned only once in ancient manuscripts, although its monuments and inscriptions at the site go back to the 5th century B.C. The ruins, of which there are also some from Roman and Byzantine periods, are scattered over the pine-clad mountains and although it is quite a trek to the top, once you are there you can really get a feel for how the city once was with its Turkish bath, stadium and theatre. The views are magnificent from up here as well, taking in the whole of Fethiye, out to sea and the 12 Islands.
This upmarket port is well known in the yachting industry not just in Turkey but all over the world and hosts an annual regatta, usually held at the end of May.
The port attracts boats of all different shapes and sizes and is a popular stop-off for the rich and famous. Daily life is centred around the pretty market square where you can spend a leisurely afternoon wandering around the antique and craft shops to pick up something slightly different to take home as a souvenir.
The waterfront is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants and an ideal spot to people-watch, you never know who you might see. You have all the usual choices of fish & seafood, international restaurants and Turkish lokantas and you even have a North Shields pub should you be craving for a bit of home. Be aware, however, that in keeping with its affluent status the prices in restaurants and bars are higher than places such as Fethiye.
Being only a 30 minute drive, Gocek is easily accessible from the Fethiye area.
Fethiye has a large variety of restaurants and tavernas offering a host of menus as diverse as traditional Turkish lokantas, Mediterranean, and much more.
Due to the bustling harbour area, however and the vibrant fish market, catches from the sea are certainly the most popular with wonderful choices far too numerous to mention. The fish market (that attracts locals and tourists alike) provides the perfect meal in which to get your personally chosen fish cooked for you while you soak up the atmosphere at one of the small restaurants located around the market. A treat certainly not to be missed during your stay.
If you need to take a breather from a day’s haggling in the markets you may like to visit one of the local ςay (tea) gardens or cafés located along the seafront where you can sample one of Turkey’s favourite drinks and escape from the heat of the day underneath the cool shade of the trees.
You can choose between the several simple rural-style restaurants serving traditional Turkish cuisine. The traditional Ottoman-style ‘kösk’ seating areas are perfect to relax, unwind and soak up those balmy summer evenings.
The typical dish on offer in Kayaköy is Mangal – a selection of meat which you may barbeque yourself if you so wish. You have the added advantage of being able to choose the meat yourself and buy by the kilo.
Alternatively we would highly recommend lamb to tempt your taste buds, known as Tandir’ (large cuts of lamb slow-cooked) which are extremely tender. The restaurants also serve a selection of mezes and you really should not miss delicious freshly cooked Gozleme – Turkish savoury pancakes.
Hisaronü is a village that caters essentially for mass tourism. There is a variety of Chinese, Indian, Italian and Mexican food on offer and, of course the inescapable hamburgers and pizzas. If you fancy a night out on the town, this is the place to come with bars and discos staying open until the early hours.
There are numerous restaurants lining the beach front, varying from Mediterranean to Turkish to fast food such as kebaps but although it has become more commercialised over the last 5 years or so, it still has a chilled out, relaxed atmosphere about it and is the place to come and sip a cocktail at one of the numerous rooftop bars and watch the most amazing sunsets out over the lagoon.
Restaurants in the Nearby Villages
As an alternative culinary experience, many of the sleepy little villages scattered in the mountains in and around Fethiye have trout farms with sumptuous fresh trout available. Typical menus on offer consist of salads, goat’s cheese, local meze (similar to Tapas), and fresh fruit.
Shopping and Markets
The local market is held on Tuesdays and produces a wonderful sight, attracting the local farmers into town with their horses, carts and old vans overflowing with colourful produce. Typical goods available include t-shirts, jeans, watches, tablecloths, household items, local produce and a whole host of weird and wonderful spices.
Shopping in Fethiye can be great fun – should you wish to buy any of the ‘designer products’ or any of the other items (traditional or otherwise) that Turkey has become known for over the past few years, there is the opportunity to haggle in the vast bazaar. The bazaar area extends roughly two blocks of either side of Carsi Caddesi.
The old town is especially good for all manner of shopping but we would suggest that you stick to the evening times in the height of summer to avoid the hot daytime temperatures. It is worth heading off the main streets to explore the many interesting outlets hidden away in the back streets, spilling their colourful wares onto the pavements.
For food shopping Fethiye offers 2 large supermarkets, one located just off the main road into Fethiye called Migros and one that is centrally located called Carrefour.
Here you will find shops selling fake designer goods, watches, CDs and cassettes to name but a few things. There is also a small market on Mondays offering clothes, souvenirs, trinkets, shoes and local produce.
There are several minimarkets in Uzumlu and it has a small local market which is held every Friday where you can buy all your fruit and vegetables.
This popular beach does get busy during peak season and we would like to point out that in recent years it has become more mainstream and commercial. Despite this, the turquoise lagoon waters and fringes of golden sand are beautiful and well worth a visit. There are two beaches, the main beach, Belcekiz Beach, is free of charge but has sun loungers and umbrellas for daily hire. The lagoon, Ölü Deniz beach, has an entrance fee of 5 YTL but with its shallow waters offers the perfect place for a family swim.
As a quieter alternative you may like to try Kidrak Beach, also known as ‘Paradise beach’, situated approx. 6 kilometres from Ölü Deniz. It is a very natural and beautiful beach lying at the edge of a pine forest. There are a handful of umbrellas and sunbeds for hire. There is a snack bar and facilities and, as it is a protected area there is an entrance fee of approx. 4YTL for a car. There is a shuttle bus from Ölü Deniz beach or you can walk the 5km in about half an hour from Ölü Deniz.
The beach at Gemiler is only a 10 minute drive from Kaya village and is a shingle beach flanked with pine forests on both sides where you can happily spend a few hours snorkelling and swimming around the rocky coves of the bay. There is an entrance fee to the beach of approximately 1.5 YTL and there are a handful of restaurants for refreshments. Please note these may not be open at the beginning and end of season. Food and drink is generally more expensive here due to the distance from Fethiye and prices are not always displayed, so do please check the prices of dishes and drinks before you order.
This attractive scalloped cove also faces the island of St Nicholas named because of the church on the island although it has not been confirmed that this is the St Nicholas otherwise known as Santa Claus.
It is easy to take a boat across and explore the islands ancient ruins which include a palace where some of the original mosaics can still be seen and also has a tunnel of about 500 metres in length leading down to the church. You can also see a quay and a warehouse that are partly submerged underwater owing to the island sinking slightly due to an earthquake many years ago.