The small port town and holiday retreat of Fethiye occupies the site of the ancient city Telmessos, and has an impressive ancient theatre and numerous Lycian rock tombs. Situated at the head of a pretty island-strewn bay, Fethiye is a popular holiday destination on the stretch of the Mediterranean known as the Turquoise Coast.
The town absorbs the tourist traffic and still retains a sense of its old-fashioned rural character, with herds of goats and sheep blocking the roads on market days and the smell of herbs and spices in the air. Around Fethiye are numerous unspoiled rocky coves and beaches, crystalline seas, offshore islands, cliffs, and pine-covered mountains affording as much holiday relaxation or activity as one chooses.
The Tuesday bazaar is the biggest in the area and is a must for bargain hunters. In the town centre there are craft shops making everything from carpets and kilims to lace and leather goods. The gold shopping presents opportunities for good deals. Visitors should be prepared to haggle, but be wary of touts who try to sell them antiques, which are illegal to export.
There is a good selection of restaurants on the harbour front and in the narrow streets of the old town, and there is an emphasis on local cuisine, though visitors will find plenty of English-style eateries as well. Cafe Genis is a great spot for people-watching. There are several good wine houses that offer a selection of local varietals.
Much of the nightlife in Fethiye is hosted by resorts and hotels. The Paspatir old town has a number of bars and clubs ranging from traditional Turkish music to live cabaret and discos, while the Belcegiz Beach promenade has a few loud clubs. There are also two cinemas in town.
Fethiye is home to several remarkable ancient sites. The most conspicuous are the Lycia rock tombs, which date from the 4th century BC and are carved in the hillside above the town. The Fethiye Museum is also highly regarded for its collections of ancient artefacts.
Beside the Fethiye Harbour is the Roman amphitheatre and the crumbling remains of a medieval castle built by the Knights of St John. Gulets (sturdy wooden yachts) can be hired in Fethiye's harbour for day trips around these coastal waters.
The beach resort of Oludeniz is just 25 minutes away by dolmus (local minibuses) and offers numerous activities, including parasailing, pedal boats, banana boating, diving, snorkelling, water-skiing, and most famously paragliding. Butterfly Valley and Kabak are nearby canyons that both feature good hiking and waterfalls.
A lack of signs in the city makes it difficult to find points of interest.