Surprisingly delightful pebble beaches, and surprisingly delightful ochre-pink sunsets: those are my takeaway memories of Fethiye, Turkey.
I say surprisingly delightful pebble beaches as my opinion of this type of beach was pretty low prior to arriving in Fethiye. In general I found them to be uncomfortable to walk on, uncomfortable to lie on, and not all that pretty to look at.
But the pebbles at Fethiye are different; they seem to be of just the right size and shape and make and mix to walk over and lie on in comfort, and while they look completely mundane when dry, they take on a variety of pleasing, marble-like sheens when slicked down by the surf; there are some with hints of yellow and purple, others with sparkly mica flecks, others with translucent veins of quartz. It’s like lying on a buried treasure, run your hand through the pile and you’re bound to come up with one or two gems.
And if you recline with your novel and towel right down by the waterline – which is my recommendation – then all day long you are treated to the soporific melody of rolling, popping, tapping pebbles as they wash up and down the shore.
As for the sunsets, I say I found them surprisingly pretty because for some reason, when I first looked at this section of coastline, I wasn’t all that impressed. It’s not that the coastline is unsightly, but there is quite a bit of development around, and that took the shine off it for me.
But I changed my mind when the sun set, the sea haze obscured the horizon, the little islands offshore became silhouetted against the softly glowing sky, and the still water of the bay began to glisten like liquid mercury.
The pink sky and the blue islands make for one painterly and surreally pretty sunset. And it can be enjoyed night after night after night.
Callis Beach, Fethiye
Stroll along the promenade at Callis Beach, Fethiye, and you’ll find yourself passing no end of cafes, restaurants, and bars. Many will be advertising dishes including: blood pudding, bangers and mash, Sunday roast, and full English breakfasts. Many will let you pay in British Pounds.
Fethiye, as you may have guessed, is a popular haunt for British tourists (it’s also a popular retirement destination for British pensioners).
If you’re after an authentic Turkish cultural experience, then this is probably not the place to do it.
A 30 minute public bus ride from the centre of Fethiye is the beach town of Ölüdeniz.
The water is especially clear at Ölüdeniz, and the pebbles equally amenable as those at Callis Beach. Not a bad way to pass a day.
Twelve Islands Day Cruise
Every tour company in town sells tickets to the much-hyped Twelve Islands Day Cruise.
Speaking for myself, I found the cruise somewhat underwhelming. The scenery is okay, though it’s mostly just sailing through a wide bay, occasionally passing a small, not-all-that-remarkable island. The swimming spots are also just okay, and some not all that enticing. At several of the stops I didn’t bother to get in the water (which is unusual for me).
The thing is, the Twelve Islands Day Cruise is more of a drunken party boat than a cruise, so your enjoyment of it is going to depend who you are on the boat with, and what sort of mood you are in.
If you want to get drunk on a boat with a bunch of British tourists, then the cruise does the job perfectly well.
If you only have time for one day trip while you’re in Fethiye, and your options are the Twelve Islands Day Cruise and a visit to the Greek isle of Rhodes, then I would definitely recommend the latter. It’s a ninety-minute ferry trip from Fethiye to Rhodes. You can get an early morning ferry across, and a late afternoon ferry back, and spend the bulk of the day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage listed Old City.
If you’re expecting to eyeball the Colossus of Rhodes while you’re on the island, then prepare to be disappointed. The Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – was destroyed in 226 BCE.
Lycian Tombs, Fethiye
The main reason I wanted to come to Fethiye wasn’t to sit on the pebble beaches, nor to gorge on the blood pudding and bangers and mash. I wanted to see the Lycian tombs.
Who were the Lycians?
They were the people of southern Anatolia (Turkey). They spoke Luwian, an early Indo-European language (now extinct), they had two written languages (a cuneiform script and a hieroglyphic script), and they even had their own coins. But in 546 BCE they were aggressively annexed by the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and they never really regained their autonomy. Their lands passed between various empires over the centuries, and Lycian culture was diluted and thinned and dispersed till it faded from view altogether.
If you wish to visit the tombs then an enjoyable way to do so is to combine it with dinner at neighbouring King’s Garden Restaurant (if you eat at the restaurant you are allowed into the archaeological site for free). You can even pop over to examine the ruins between your entrée and your main. It’s a peculiar way to appreciate an archaeological site, but it’s fun; give it a try.
Like rock-cut architecture (I do 🙂 ) Check out my favourite rock-cut architecture page.