Top 10 things to do in South West Turkey

A visit to South West Turkey can be a relaxing beach holiday,  a culture-vulture extravaganza, a sailing break, an adventure sports trip or a party every night, anything you want it to be basically. Here are some of the fantastic things on offer.

1. Sail Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

Gulets are traditional wooden Turkish sailing boats (as pictured above). Several operators offer gulet cruises along Turkeys beautiful Turquoise coast. Popular routes include Fethiye to Olympos and Fethiye to Marmaris. Cruises can be as short as 1 day or as long as 2 weeks and are a wonderful way to relax and take in the scenery, as well as visiting many remote spots which are hard to access from shore. Nothing beats sleeping out on deck too, unless everyone else on your cruise snores. Read more about Gulet Cruises here.

Ancient Telmessos rock tombs high above the centre of Fethiye town, Turkey

2. Fethiye and Fethiye Market

Fethiye, originally known as Telmessos, today is a modern bustling town. The oldest part of town is the paspatur, which is pedestrianised and now consists mainly of shops and restaurants. It is lovely to wander around in the cool of the evening and there is lots of shade if you brave it in the heat of the day. If you are after markets, the Tuesday market in Fethiye is one of the largest in the area. From clothing to kitchenware and herbs and spices, it is all here. There are lots of snacks and drinks on offer too. It can get very hot in the summer though, so locals tend to get there early.

3. Butterfly Valley

Butterfly valley is just beyond Oludeniz along the coast towards Faralya. It is most easily accessed by boat taxis from Oludeniz, which depart a few times a day in each direction. There is a perilous path down to the valley too, but it is not recommended, unless you have the footing of a mountain goat, which you probably don’t. Butterfly Valley is a 350m deep canyon in the coastline, which is home to the unique Jersey Tiger butterfly. Inland from the beach there is a beautiful waterfall. In terms of amenities, there is very little here other than a few treehouses and a small beach bar.

Butterfly Valley, near Oludeniz, Turkey

4. Kayakoy

Kayakoy, made famous recently by Louis De Bernieres book based here ‘Birds without wings’ is famous for its ghost village, created by a population exchange agreed by Ataturk in 1923. The exchange meant Greeks living in Turkey were sent to Greece and Turks living in Greece were sent to Turkey. The houses were abandoned as the Turks who came to Turkey chose to settle elsewhere, so the village slowly fell into disrepair. Today the village is a quiet place with a few camp sites, villas and barbecue restaurants. Access to Gemiler beach is also through Kayakoy. Read more about Kayakoy here.

Kayakoy ghost village, near Fethiye, Turkey

5. Saklikent

Saklikent gorge is only a short drive from Fethiye and is well worth a visit. It is the second largest gorge in Europe and beautiful. It has a seriously cold fresh water stream running through it and locals have set up small restaurants with seating areas above the cold stream. In summer it is a cool, shady place to hide from Turkey’s intense sun and heat.

6. Dalyan

Dalyan was known as Kaunos in Lycian times and today is a small tourist town, mostly famous for its fantastic beach Iztuzu, a loggerhead turtle breeding ground, accessible by road or riverboat. Dalyan town lies between Iztuzu beach and Lake Koycegiz whose muddy shores are popular for their mudbaths, which if you can get over the sulphurous-stink are reputed to do wonders for your skin. Read more about Dalyan here.

Ancient Kaunos rock tombs above the Dalyan River, Turkey

7. Paragliding

Oludeniz is a magnet for paragliders and who can blame them with such spectacular scenery to fly over? Babadag is the mountain that rises from the sea at Oludeniz and is also the takeoff site. From Babadag’s peak, paragliding allows you to soar over the surrounding area before touching down gently on Oludeniz beach. Even if you don’t go paragliding yourself a healthy awareness of the sport is advisable as when you walk from the bars and restaurants of Oludeniz to the sea you cross the landing area. Read more about Paragliding here.

Paragliders about to land on the beach at Oludeniz, Turkey

8. Scuba Diving

The Turkish coast is a fantastic and very safe place to learn to dive or experience diving for the first time. More experienced divers might complain that there are not many reefs but there are octopus, seahorses, eels and fish. They just don’t show off as much as their cousins elsewhere. Perhaps best to think of it as a game of hide and seek. There is some amazing underwater scenery though including caves, swim-throughs and some very deep walls.

Beautiful clear waters for scuba diving in the bays around Fethiye, Turkey

9. Turkish Bath

Hamam is another word for a Turkish bath. Hamams often have elaborate marble domed steam rooms where you sit and sweat until the staff are ready to scrub your dead skin off with a mitt (feeling pretty yet?) They then soap you down in olive oil soap. Afterwards you are often offered extras such as saunas and massages. Fethiye has both an old town hamam as well as a more modern hamam.  Only modern hamams are available in Oludeniz. Read more about the hamam experience here.

10. Daytrip to Rhodes

If visiting just one country on your holiday isn’t enough for you then you could also spend some time in Greece. During the summer months hydrofoils run between Fethiye and Marmaris and the nearby Greek island of Rhodes. Rhodes old town is a UNESCO world heritage site and lovely to wander around. If you fancy a taste of Greece during your trip to Turkey then Rhodes, being only 11 miles away is an easy day trip. Read more about Rhodes here.

Entrance to Rhodes Port, Greece

Have you been to Turkey? What were your favourite experiences?

One Comment

  • Turkey's For Life

    I somehow suspected you might have scuba diving on this list – just read your profile. 🙂 Barry’s done it with some friends but I just sat on the boat and sunbathed. Far too adventurous for my liking!

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