We visited two very different destinations just south of Fethiye. One was the blue waters of Oludeniz Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Turkey. The other was Kayakoy, the empty remains of a Greek town that was forcibly abandoned almost exactly 100 years ago as a result of a conflict with Turkey. Both were worth visiting in their own right.
Considered among the top beaches in Turkey, Oludeniz Beach was just a 25 minute drive from Fethiye. It was a winding drive up a mountain and then back down again, and once you reached the town the battle for parking began. Rather than battling for a free spot along the side of the road, we chose to pay at one of the public lots as they were not expensive. Getting to the parking lot in Oludeniz town was enough of an adventure due to the narrow streets and parked cars everywhere (they even lined the approach into town), but we made it into a gated lot, paid 50 lira and walked over to the beach.
Oludeniz Beach is nicknamed the Blue Lagoon. While picturesque, it didn’t attain the same level of blue as the drone shots on the billboard.
The beach area was organized and busy as there were a few sections of sunbeds and attendants going around to collect the fees to use them. We purchased a lagoon pass for 60 lira (per person) which included umbrella and sunbeds. There was a beach restaurant nearby where food and drinks could be purchased using credit card.
While it was a nice beach, I wouldn’t put it in a top category, even for Turkey. Part of this might be due to how crowded it was because of the holiday season for locals. We prefer beaches where we can see more sand or rocks than parasols, and places it’s quieter in the water with fewer boats around.
The next day we headed over to Kayakoy, where we spent the afternoon. This place was also less than a 30 minutes drive from Fethiye. In existence since Lycian times, the town was originally called Karmylassos. When the Greeks arrived they renamed it Levissi and lived there for centuries. Things remained peaceful even after the Ottomans became rulers over the area in the 14th century.
We took the wrong way in because we followed other people who were went in from the road. By accident we didn’t have to pay because there was no ticket booth around and we just went in. We discovered this as we passed the ticket booth on the way out!
The most recent version of the town was built in the 1700s and had 20,000 inhabitants by the 20th century. However, the events of World War I and the subsequent Greco-Turkish war led to the remaining inhabitants to be exiled back to Greece during a population exchange. Now known as Kayakoy (Rock Village), about 350 decaying homes and businesses remain in the ghost town.
Kayakoy was a quiet and somber place, especially knowing the history behind the loss of its inhabitants. It’s a unique location to visit and quite easy to get to if you are in the Fethiye area.