At the end of June 2020, in the middle of the Covid pandemic (yep!), I decided to travel to Turkey and embark on a 7-day Antalya-Fethiye road trip with my friend from Antalya.
This was my first trip abroad since the borders have partially opened, and I must say that I didn’t have any special itinerary as many places were still closed and I didn’t know how the situation in Turkey was. I booked a round-trip flight ticket online and went to see a friend who I met onboard a cruise ship where I worked.
7 Days in Turkey: Antalya-Fethiye Road Trip
3 Days in Antalya
Since it was my first trip to Antalya and I didn’t have any special plans, I wanted to take it easy. For the first three days, we enjoyed the city’s unique vibe with its stunning architecture, beautiful coastline with its turquoise sea, and the spectacular mountains in the background.
We spent our first three days in Antalya’s must-see places: Lara Beach, Konyaalti Beach park, and Antalya Old Town.
The first day was a relaxed one and we spent it in a great beach club called Larena Beach, located in the part of the city called Lara (there are two parts of the city: Lara and Konyaalti).
Larena beach is a part of the long stretch of beach called Lara Plaji, or simply Lara Beach, which boasts many hotel resorts, beach clubs, and a long public beach. The place where we stayed had a pebbled beach, but Lara beach does have many sandy parts so if you prefer sandy beach – Lara is the place to go.
In Larena beach we spent all day: the food we ate was delicious (with very affordable prices!) and the place itself nearly empty. It was Monday so not many people were at the beach, plus due to the Covid-19 people were generally afraid to move around a lot, so ended up having half of the place for ourselves.
Konyaalti Beach park
The next day we went to another part of the city called Konyaalti, which also has a long stretch of a pebbled beach. We spent the whole day at the beach park, a huge area featuring a long promenade, many restaurants, cafes, terraces, and filled with activities for both kids and adults. We brought our own chairs and decided to chill under the shade and refresh ourselves in the clear waters of a long public beach.
The whole area is family-friendly and easily accessible, so you’ll see people of all ages enjoying the various activities or simply taking a walk in the park.
Antalya Old Town
Antalya is famous for its hot climate, high temperatures, and a lot of humidity, so the best time to stroll the streets of the old town would probably be in the evening. And, that’s what we did!
We barely managed to find parking, which is free in this city (except for private parking lots) and started walking along the promenade offering a fabulous sea view toward the city’s old town –Kaleiçi.
The old town boasts beautiful Ottoman and Byzantine-style buildings, narrow cobblestone streets packed with cafes, restaurants, artisanal, and souvenir shops. At this time, due to the pandemic, most of these were empty but as it started to get dark, more people started filling the streets of the old town.
We wanted to avoid the crowd, so we made our way to the famous Hadrian’s Gate, an ancient, triple-gate historical structure marking the entrance to the Old Town. The gate was built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who visited the city in the year 130, and represents one of the main landmarks of the city of Antalya.
From Antalya to Fethiye
Although there were so many other things to see and do in Antalya, such as a cable car ride, Düden Waterfalls, The Land of Legends aqua park, aquarium, museums (which would take at least a few more days), we decided to visit hit the road and go to Fethiye, a beautiful city and district located in Mŭgla Province, a 3-hour drive from Antalya city.
Our ride was scenic and quite easy, so we managed to reach Ölüdeniz, a town and popular beach resort in Fethiye in less than 3 hours. My friend had a car, but if you are thinking of renting one, check out the best rent a car deals on Rentalcars.com.
Upon arrival, we managed to find a very cheap but beautiful hotel located near the center of Ölüdeniz – Yunus hotel and stayed there for two nights. Due to the coronavirus, a lot of tourist resorts, hotels, and tourist places were half-empty, so it was easy to find a good deal.
Explore hotels in Ölüdeniz (this is where we were)
In the Fethiye district, I’d like to highlight four places we visited in the two days we stayed there:
- Ölüdeniz beach resort
- Faralya viewpoint
- Kabak beach
- Mount Babadağ
Ölüdeniz is a small town and beach resort located 14 km (9 mi) south of Fethiye, near Mount Babadağ, in Muğla Province. It was late afternoon when we arrived and after buying refreshments and snacks in the supermarket, we headed straight to the beach.
The beach itself is pebbled (make sure you bring water shoes, especially for kids) and tucked in a blue lagoon boasting beautiful, turquoise and aquamarine colors. There were not many people at the beach, and restaurants along the main street were empty. It was so unusual and a bit sad to see such a popular touristic place empty in the middle of the summer season.
We took advantage of an empty beach and enjoyed its calm and beauty. Ölüdeniz is also famous for its paragliding activities, so we could see a lot of paragliders landing right at the beach. The paragliding here costs 500 TL per person and is one of the best in the world due to its amazing panoramic views, stable weather conditions, and the exceptional height of Mount Babadağ (Father Mountain) from where paragliding starts.
We waited here for the sunset and then went for a quick dinner in Durak hotel and restaurant in the center of Ölüdeniz. I tried an authentic Turkish dish named “pide”, a sort of a pastry filled with chicken and cheese (my choice).
This was our first stop the next day. Faralya is a village located 15 km (9.3 mi) south of Ölüdeniz, in the Butterfly Valley– a nature reserve of stunning beauty, situated at the foothill of Babadağ and home to diverse butterfly species. There is a road through the valley connecting villages, and several viewpoints visibly marked along its way.
If you are a photography lover, you can make some amazing shots in this natural and unique place (see cameras on Amazon).
It was incredibly hot, so we stayed here for only 15 minutes, took photos, and headed toward Kabak beach where we planned to stay for the rest of the day.
To get to this beach, you need to continue down the same road for the next 15-20 minutes. You will also need patience, a lot of water, and a relatively good car. The road starts to get rugged at some point, so if your car is not strong enough – you risk getting stuck on the road. That’s why there are minibuses (dolmuş) from Ölüdeniz to Kabak every hour or so, and if you decide to come, you can use one of these!
Once we entered the Kabak neighborhood, the first things we noticed were campers and hikers. This whole area is very famous for camping, hiking, canyoning, canoeing, and scuba diving activities, and there are many local tour agencies in Ölüdeniz offering it.
We continued to drive over the rugged road for ten more minutes and finally reached the parking where we left our car. It wasn’t nice, fancy parking, though. It’s more of a dusty, unpaved piece of land where you can leave your car for a fee (for 20 TL for a day).
We took our chairs and continued a 10-15 minute walk down to the beach through the local village full of campers.
It was pretty exhausting getting there, but once we reached the beach we realized it was absolutely worth it! There were not many people at the beach, there’s a lot of natural shade and nature around, and only one restaurant and supermarket. It is not family-friendly as it takes time to get there, but we saw some kids as well.
We found our place under the shade and stayed there for a day. There is also an option to rent an umbrella, but you can bring your own if you wish.
The beach is pebbled and the water quite cold, which was perfect for me as it was extremely hot outside.
Even the restaurant offering an amazing sea view has very reasonable prices, so we ate there in the garden of the restaurant.
The most difficult part of the day was climbing back up to the parking. We wanted to make it to Mount Babadağ for the sunset, so we needed to leave Kabak in the late afternoon. It took at least 15 minutes to climb back and approximately half an hour to reach Ölüdeniz.
This is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever seen in my entire life!
Mount Babadağ, or Father Mountain, is a mountain near Fethiye, in Mŭgla province, and one of the most impressive mountains in Turkey. Its principal summit has an elevation of 1,969 meters (6,460 ft) and that was our next stop!
The road from Fethiye to Babadağ is very well marked and it took us around 40 minutes to reach the summit. Before we set off, we didn’t actually know how long it would take us to reach the top and we didn’t even know we would be climbing TO THE VERY TOP of the mountain!
The road itself is good but very dangerous, and ride quite dramatic! As it gets higher, the road steepens and becomes narrower, so in case there is a car or a truck coming in your direction – you’ll get in trouble! In some places, it’s physically impossible for two vehicles to pass next to each other, and there are steep mountain precipices all around you!
During the high season, I heard from locals that cars cannot even use this road. Mainly it’s used for the trucks taking paragliders to the mountain top, as right there is the paragliding take-off point.
After an adrenaline-packed ride, we reached the top.
And there, I was speechless. No words can describe the beauty of the landscapes surrounding us. We stayed there for more than an hour, waiting for the sunset.
On the top, there is a huge cable car station still under construction, a wide platform for paragliding take-off, and a whole complex where a restaurant and other facilities are located. All of that was closed when we came, and there weren’t many people around as it was already getting late.
Also, there was a significant difference in weather temperature – it’s quite cold up in the mountains so make sure you bring warmer clothes with you (of course, we didn’t have it as we didn’t know).
Right after the sunset, we drove back to Fethiye where we had a delicious, traditional Turkish dinner – well deserved!
Two Days in Kaş
After two active, fun-filled days in Fethiye Ölüdeniz, the next town we visited was Kaş – a small, fishing town and a tourist resort located 168 km (105 mi) west of the city of Antalya, and 95 km (60 mi) from Ölüdeniz.
On the way to Kaş, we stopped at the beautiful Kaputaş Beach where we stayed for a couple of hours.
To get to the beach, we took 142 steps down (and later back up!) and parked our car on the top by the road.
The beach is gorgeous but doesn’t offer any activities and there’s not much to do there except for swimming in blue azure waters or just relaxing in the sun. There is no natural shade, and an umbrella is advisable – you can rent one there along with beach chairs, or you can take your own, which we did. The beauty of the beach will amaze you, and you can take some great photography shots from the top!
As it got very crowded at the beach, soon we continued our way to the beautiful Kaş. When we arrived in Kaş, we noticed it was very busy there, compared to other places we visited – there were a lot of Turkish people who came for a vacation, but also a lot of foreign tourists. We struggled for a while to find accommodation, as the prices went up high. It took us a few hours to find a hotel, but it was worth it!
One part of Kaş is located in a peninsula boasting many private mansions, villas, and houses for rent tucked in untouched nature. Normally, the prices of the accommodation in this peninsula are out of the budget for many tourists, but once again we were lucky: we found a beautiful 3-star hotel named Club Antiphellos, located 5 km from the center of Kaş.
We booked two nights here and decided to take it easy: we spent some relaxing time in Kaş, ate delicious Turkish food, wandered around the streets of Kaş, and swam in its blue azure waters.
From Kaş to Antalya
St. Nicholas Church and the Ancient City of Myra
After we checked out from our hotel, we started driving toward the city of Demre, a 1-hour drive from Kaş, on the road to Antalya, where we visited two very important historical monuments.
The first one was St. Nicholas Church, an ancient Byzantine basilica church in the ancient city of Myra, now a museum. It was built above the burial place of St. Nicholas in the 6th century AD, on the foundations of an older Christian church where St. Nicholas served as a bishop.
Today, it is a museum complex very well preserved by Turkish authorities and it is open for a visit for a fee (you don’t have to pay if you have the Museum card which covers the entrance to all Turkish museums. You can buy it for 60 TL at any museum and use it the whole year).
After a 30-minute visit to the church, we headed toward the ancient city of Myra, the metropolis of Lycia in the early Christian times, and one of the most beautiful Greco-Roman ruins of the region. It is located just a few minutes drive from St. Nicholas Church and very easy to find.
It was very hot and the visit takes place in the open, so we took two bottles of water, hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and all the other necessities to help us avoid sunstroke. The visit lasted approximately 30 minutes, and we visited Myra Roman Amphitheater and an impressive necropolis including tombs of rulers and family members of the ancient city.
Back to Antalya
We arrived in Antalya in the early evening and decided to go straight to the beach. Our choice was once again Larena Beach club, where I had the opportunity to see how a Turkish wedding looked like (up to 100 invites, due to the coronavirus limitations. Larena Beach also serves as an event place).
We finished our evening by enjoying an authentic Turkish dinner, after which we took a walk to the famous Antalya waterfalls (Düden Waterfalls – Highly recommended!).
The next day it was time for me to leave.
Overall, my vacation was absolutely great! My friend has been an amazing host and we had so much luck in booking hotels and choosing the right place to spend time at.
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