Fethiye is the perfect launching pad to explore the many tourist attractions and things to do along Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. This harborside town is in a prime position for heading out to the surrounding beaches or going inland to discover the crumbling remnants of this region’s ancient Lycian culture.

If it’s all about location, Fethiye provides it all. The town itself is a prosperous but laid-back kind of place; just what you need to return to after a day’s hectic sightseeing of mighty rock-cut tombs and mountain-top, UNESCO-protected ruins or sunbathing bliss, boating, and paragliding action. Plan your trip with our list of the top things to do in Fethiye.

Amyntas Rock Tombs

The Lycians ruled over his stretch of Turkey’s coast from 200 BC, and Fethiye stands on the site of the important Lycian city of Telmessos.

There are plenty of monuments scattered throughout the city, but the most famous is the rock-cut Tomb of Amyntas in the south of Fethiye. On Kaya Caddesi, as you walk up the hill towards the tomb, you can see Lycian sarcophagi along the way. More Lycian sarcophagi are also by the town hall in the city center.

Amyntas Rock Tombs Map

Roman Theater

When the Romans conquered Turkey, they allowed the independently minded Lycians self-rule, but that didn’t stop them making their own mark on the Lycian cities. Fethiye’s small and only partially excavated theater was built in the 2nd century BC, when Telmessos had become part of Rome’s Asia Minor dominion. It would have originally seated 6,000 spectators.

Climb up to the top tier of seating for great views across town and over the sea beyond. The park opposite the theater is a good place to relax and seek some shade on a summer’s day.

Roman Theater in Fethiye

Fethiye Museum

It may be small, but Fethiye Museum is an excellent place to get a grip on Lycian history, especially if you’re planning to head on to attractions such as Tlos and Letoön. Brilliant information panels clearly explain Lycian culture, and the exhibits of pottery, jewelry, and stele are beautifully displayed.

The museum’s pride and joy is the Trilingual Stele (inscribed with Lycian, ancient Greek, and Aramaic) found while excavating Letoön. This stone helped archaeologists to finally crack the Lycian language.

Fethiye Museum

Kayakoy

Up until the 1920s, Kayaköy (ancient Karmylassos), eight kilometers from Fethiye, had a thriving mixed population of Greeks and Turks who had lived together for centuries. The 1923 Population Exchange changed all of that, uprooting ethnic Greeks across Turkey and sending them to live in Greece and making ethnic Turks who lived in Greece abandon their lives there. The exchange created heartbreak and much trauma among those who were made to leave, and the somber results of this are no better seen than in Kayaköy.

The dilapidated, eerie stone village that snakes across the hillside here has been left to slowly decay since its Greek owners said goodbye. Among the ruins is the Katapongagia Church and Taxiarchis Church, which both still have some beautiful interior decoration.

Kaya Koy - Greek Village

Pinara

In the hills southeast of Fethiye, the ruins of the Lycian city of Pinara are chiefly interesting for their honeycombed cliff of more than 900 rock tombs and monolithic house tombs. The site was so inaccessible that the tomb-builders had to be lowered on stages secured with ropes. The beautiful scenery that surrounds the ruins is lushly stunning, especially around the theater area overlooked by snow-topped peaks and rimmed by verdant forest.

This is one of the quieter Lycian sites in the area and rarely gets busy with tourists.

Pinara Antique City

Latoon

This UNESCO-protected ruin was an important Lycian religious center dedicated to the Greek goddess Leto who, according to local mythology, was banished to Lycia by Zeus’ jealous wife Hera after an affair with the great Greek god. The three temples here are dedicated to Leto and her twin children by Zeus, Apollo and Artemis.

The site is incredibly atmospheric and a wonderful accompaniment to a visit to Xanthos, the ancient capital of Lycia. In particular, check out the well-preserved mosaic in the floor of the Apollo temple.

Letoon

Xanthos

Xanthos was the capital of ancient Lycia, sometimes called “the oldest republic in the world.” This league of 20 cities was governed by a popular assembly and a president who ruled from Xanthos. The site is now protected by UNESCO. Although many of Xanthos’ most beautiful monuments were taken to England in the 19th century, some fine mosaics are still in situ, and the theater, agora, and acropolis can still be seen.

Beyond the Roman theater, to the left of the road, is the plinth that once held the Nereid Monument, an ionic temple with rich sculptural decoration (now displayed in the British Museum). To the right of the road is the Hellenistic city gate. The city walls, considerable stretches of which are still visible, probably date from the 3rd century BC.

Xanthos, Lycia Capital

Tlos

High up in the hills that surround Fethiye, Tlos is another Lycian city ruin. Crowning the rounded acropolis hill are the remnants of an Ottoman fortress. The Lycians weren’t the only ones to appreciate a good mountain stronghold position, and this fortress was used by various local brigands during Ottoman rule.

On the east side of the acropolis, the remains of the Lycian and Roman city walls can still be seen. Beyond lie the scattered ruins of houses and public buildings, including a hall-like edifice (possibly an indoor market), an agora, necropolis, and a restored theater.

Tlos, Ancient City