1. It’s home to one of the most beautiful Turkish beaches
What’s not to love about Oludeniz? Its long sandy beach juts out into the blue Mediterranean Sea, creating a peaceful lagoon where kids can splash about in safety. It’s a protected area, which means it will never be built up and will be left as natural as possible for future generations.
2. You can go from skisuit to shorts in one day
Although most think of Fethiye as a sun-filled destination, just a short drive - during winter months, of course - takes you deep within snowy mountains. These pictures, taken by Aykut in our Fethiye office on a family day out, show his young son, Altay, playing in the snow. A couple of hours later, the family decided to head down to the shore and have lunch on Oludeniz Beach.
3. Its ancestors watch over the town
The Lycians buried their dead in these intriguing rock tombs, thinking that the spirits of their ancestors would watch over the living below. Today, the rock tombs are a constant visual reminder of the incredible history of this part of Turkey, which was once a powerful Lycian kingdom.
4. You can walk among ghosts in Kayakoy
Almost 100 years ago Kayakoy’s Greek population left Turkey’s shores and returned to Greece as part of the population exchange. The Turks who were meant to move in never did, and Kayakoy's homes and buildings were abandoned to the elements. Today it’s an atmospheric ghost village and UNESCO heritage site. Explore the old buildings and peer into the church and school.
5. The fish market is the town’s social centre
Fethiye’s bustling fish market truly is the place to be at the weekend. The lively, colourful market is not only the perfect place to pick up some fresh fish, it’s also a focal meeting place and a prime people-watching spot. Best of all, you can pick out seafood to be cooked there and then, and enjoy a beer and slap-up supper while listening to live music and watching the world go by.
6. Winters look like this
It never really gets that cold in Fethiye. While nights can be cool and there is the odd bout of rain, when the sun’s out it can reach about 20 degrees. So while it’s not the Sahara by a long shot, those of us hailing from northern Europe will agree it’s positively balmy.
7. Beaches look like this
Although the famous Oludeniz Blue Lagoon is the go-to for thousands of tourists each year, there are actually a few secret spots that most visitors don’t discover. Hop on a dolmus and discover a few hidden gems: Aksazlar Bay, Kuleli, Boncuklu and Samanlik.
8. The markets are amazing
The Calis Sunday market is a favourite with locals, who head over to to stock up on dried fruits and nuts, produce of all varieties, honey and weird and wonderful cosmetic items. The Fethiye market is held on a Tuesday, and as well as all the above you can take an opportunity to stock up on fake designer gear. You can also combine a market visit with a boat trip: boats leave in on Sunday mornings for Gocek’s market, a much quieter affair than the hustle and bustle of Calis market.
9. It has its own “environmentalist Imam”
Retired Imam Ismail Baloglu is so incensed about damage done to his beloved town that he’s launched a one-man crusade to get people to pick up after themselves. The 65-year-old is driving around the region picking rubbish up, and trying to educate others to do the same. Baloglu sees the Fethiye region - and the wider world - as a gift for all people to enjoy and that we should take care of it for future generations. Who can argue with that?
10. Government officials make tree houses so birds don’t get cold
Town officials were so concerned this winter about birds catching a chill they erected 10 bird houses in trees all around town. The uniquely designed bird hotels not only provide shelter for the unique species found around Fethiye, but also food and water.
11. People are passionate about sea turtles
The caretta-caretta turtle, which nests in the Fethiye region, is one of the oldest animals on the planet - it’s been around for 100 million years or so. It’s also endangered. Fortunately, dedicated Fethiye volunteers are helping to improve turtles’ chances of survival: cleaning up beaches, making sure visitors are informed about hatching areas and educating a next generation about the importance of preserving this beautiful sea creature.
12. The expat community gets stuff done
Fethiye has a large expat community, at some estimates one in 10 residents are from outside Turkey. The best thing about this community is that they like to get things done: they open charity shops, they hold craft fairs and car boot sales, they organise Christmas get-togethers and murder mystery nights, they rescue stray dogs and they generally like to be involved in the community.
13. There’s a cool story behind the town’s name
In 1934 Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk declared the town formerly known as Makri would be renamed Fethiye, after the daring Ottoman Air Force pilot Captain Fethi Bey. Fethi was one of the force’s first pilots, but was killed when he crashed down over Damascus. The pioneering pilot is remembered in the town with a statue.
14. You can visit a hidden valley full of butterflies
You can only get to this destination by boat but it’s so worth it. This incredible valley with its beautiful beach is home to a number of butterfly species. The dizzying array of butterflies wheel around your head in a riot of colour as you explore the lush terrain. Nature lovers and trekkers will find themselves in paradise.
15. You can escape to the ultimate island getaway
Sovalye Island is just a short water taxi ride away from Fethiye centre, but it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of holiday crowds. There are few homes and no roads, just a quiet track that criss-crosses through carob and pine trees. You can kayak around the island, looking out for sunken Lycian ruins, swim and eat at one of two restaurants on the island. It’s totally peaceful and idyllic.
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