Guide to the top things do to in Oludeniz, Turkey
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Oludeniz and the rest of the Turquoise Coast of Turkey (also known as the Turkish Riviera) are famous for their exquisite weather, stunning beaches and eclectic range of hotels. As a child, I visited this region of Turkey twice with my family. Despite enjoying my time at the same resort two years in a row- a resort that quickly became my playground, I didn’t exactly experience much of Turkish culture, history and nature. This experience is probably the reason that I’ve always thought of the Southern coastline of Turkey as a great family holiday destination but not a hotspot for travellers.
However, last year I visited Oludeniz region again and these ideas were challenged. I found that there was much more to do than I originally thought. In fact, Oludeniz is not only a gorgeous area but it is full of rich history, with plenty of activities, viewpoints and places to explore.
Here are my recommendations on how best to enjoy your stay in Oludeniz:
Where to stay in Oludeniz
The kind of hotel you book in Oludeniz is dependent on what kind of holiday you’re after. If you’re a family looking for a hotel resort with plenty of activities to entertain your children, consider Liberty Hotel Lykia. Liberty Hotel has great facilities such as babysitting and childcare, multiple pools and a splash park to entertain your little ones. It boasts beautiful grounds, modern rooms and close proximity to the beach.
However, if you’re a couple, a group of friends or even a family with older children, my personal recommendation is Montana Pine Resort, a smaller all-inclusive hotel nestled in the hills of Oludeniz with immaculate grounds, amazing food and service, a free shuttle service to the beach and more.
I’ve written a full review on Montana Pine Resort if you want to read all about its splendours.
Top things to do in Oludeniz
Without further ado, here’s your list of the top 10 Oludeniz activities to keep your holiday on the Turquoise Coast exciting. Keep in mind that while some of these activities require you to venture to the nearby towns of Hirasonu and Fethiye, these are both extremely accessible by bus and taxi from Oludeniz for a minimal price. I recommend exploring the entire Fethiye region to make the most of your holiday!
Take a boat trip
Any trip to Turkey is incomplete without a boat trip, and there are a few different kinds of trips to suit your tastes, varying in size, route and overall vibe.
During my latest trip to Oludeniz, I took two boat trips and they were completely different experiences.
My first boat trip was a private trip organised by Montana Pine Resort. The trip took place on the hotel’s own luxury boat and with only 12 people in total, not including staff, it was a quiet and peaceful experience. We head out from Fethiye harbour and explored the various coves and bays in the area, stopping multiple times to swim in the ocean, do some snorkelling or take out one of the kayaks for a spin. Everybody had their own cushioned sun lounger on the desk and lying in the sun in the quiet, being cooled down by the breeze as the boat cruised along was absolute paradise. The hotel provided a delicious lunch, as well as tea, biscuits and fruit- all drinks on board were also free.
I went on the second boat trip on my last full day in Oludeniz. We booked it very last minute the previous evening, after finding out that our hotel-arranged trip the next day was cancelled. The trip was hurriedly booked through one of the local tour operators in Oludeniz, and we were relieved to find out that there were still spaces on board their boat for the next day.
This boat trip departed from Oludeniz beach and took us around various beaches and bays in the Oludeniz area, rather than Fethiye. However, the differences between our two boat trips didn’t end there. As opposed to our quiet, small luxury boat, the trip took place on a giant ship absolutely full to the brim with tourists from all over the world. The lower deck was made up of hundreds of hardwood booths that multiple families had to squeeze into to avoid being left without a seat. The top deck had no shade and was mostly empty due to the floor being too hot to stand on and there being no loungers provided. With so many people and staff flying up and down to sell drinks, snacks and picture opportunities with their inflight parrot, it was an extremely noisy and chaotic day.
However, it was a lot of fun. The boat had its own slide so you could splash your way into the ocean at each stop. At one of the stops, we were offered the chance to be dragged around by a speed boat on an inflatable chair while hanging onto dear life (I nearly broke both my legs). We were provided with a tasty lunch and most of the stops were great fun.
Explore the Oludeniz strip
Whenever we ventured down to Oludeniz from our breezy hotel up in the hills, we found that we were absolutely relieved that we weren’t staying there. Not because it isn’t a beautiful town with a stunning beach, but because it is SO HOT.
Being down at sea level with no mountain breeze and surrounded by busy shops, restaurants and vendors, wandering around Oludeniz feels like being rolled around in a frying pan. However, this is mainly because I was so used to the lush, green, peaceful, relatively cool surroundings of Montana Pine that the stark contrast shocked me.
Oludeniz beach is stunning, surrounded by mountains and speckled with bright red umbrellas. It’s the perfect place to relax for the day by the sea. However, keep in mind that Oludeniz is a public beach, meaning that you have to hire the sun loungers and umbrellas or just use your own towels on the sand.
Along Oludeniz beach, you’ll find a range of restaurants and bars where you can take a break from the sun and have a cold drink during the day or have a delicious meal watching the sun set over the beach from a roof terrace.
My main recommendation is Jade Terrace where I went with my family on my mum’s birthday. The food was absolutely exquisite and I was left virtually catatonic from the amount I ate. Also, an honourable mention goes to Bella Gusto due to its impressive range of smoothies and milkshakes.
Paraglide from Babadag Mountain
One of the most popular things to do in Oludeniz is paragliding– in fact it’s one of the world’s most well-known spots for the sport.
I had never considered paragliding as something I was especially keen to do – I’ve always been an anxious person – but when the hotel rep raved about how great an experience it was, I knew I had to do it.
The whole experience lasts around two hours, with the winding journey up Babadag mountain taking the majority of the time. The sudden twists and turns of the van as we reached the summit made me feel quite nauseous and as my nerves escalated, I began to wonder whether I would be able to actually jump off the top of a mountain after all.
It was undeniably scary being at the top of the mountain, shrouded in clouds, standing on what seemed like the world’s largest concrete ramp and waiting for my turn to jump off. I was paired with a woman instructor who attached me to her gear, which was much like a giant backpack with a seat, and we waited for our turn atop the ramp, watching other tourists run into the clouds one by one. She told me that when she said ‘go,’ that we had to keep running down the ramp and not stop running until we were in the air, even when our feet were barely touching the ground. This was the hardest part of the experience because it felt like all my instincts were telling me to stop running.
Before you know it, you’re floating in the air above the mountains, feeling absolutely weightless and for some reason, then it doesn’t feel scary at all. As you glide through the clouds and over the Oludeniz beach, the view takes your breath away, the ombré colours of the ocean and the startling shape of the land as it twists around the lagoon. I had some idle chat with my instructor throughout my flight and she made sure to check in that I was okay every so often. The whole flight takes around 40 minutes, which sounds long, but before you know it, you’re back on the beach and wishing you were flying again.
Overall, I would recommend the experience without a doubt to anyone visiting the Oludeniz area. Of course, make sure that your trip provider has fully trained, experienced instructors and safety certification before you book.
Explore the town of Hisaronu
Hirasonu is a town located next to Oludeniz and a hotspot for tourists due to its bustling market and wild nightlife scene.
Arriving at Hirasonu during the day, I felt like I’d arrived on the set of a quasi-Wild West set. The long main road has a mountain backdrop and is flanked by wooden, old western saloon style bars- with the addition of bright neon signs and Turkish vendors hanging out menus. In amongst the bars and restaurants were hundreds of shops selling Turkish souvenirs, beautiful jewellery and painted china and of course, all the Genuine Fake designer brands you can imagine.
If you’re interested in buying some Genuine Fakes during your trip to Turkey, I would consider getting them from Hirasonu rather than Fethiye market. Even though I found quite a few bags I liked in Hirasonu, I didn’t buy them as I assumed I would find more for better prices at the market. At Fethiye market, however, a lot of the merchandise can be damaged due to, I assume, the sheer amount of visitors that pass through and the hassle of being packed away and unpacked every week.
Hirasonu at night is a completely different story. As the sun goes down, the neon signs and lights covering every façade awaken. The bars also awaken, with each one offering shots, fishbowls, shisha, table-dancing, drinking games and battling out to be the loudest spot on the street. If you’re after a cheap, loud, fun night out, Hirasonu is the place to be.
Explore the Blue Lagoon at Seahorse Beach
Oludeniz is mainly famous for its stunning lagoon, named aptly Blue Lagoon. Not only does the Blue Lagoon look absolutely breathtaking from the sky, but it is a great place to spend the day. The water is extremely calm compared to Oludeniz Beach.
The beaches at the Blue Lagoon are private, however, for a small entrance price, you can spend the day at the beach and get a sun lounger and an umbrella included in the cost, as well as transfer to and from your hotel. We were recommended Seahorse Beach and loved the whole day. The food and drinks at the restaurant were amazing. We could also take a kayak out to explore the lagoon in full.
Visit Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley was the first stop on my Oludeniz boat trip, however, I have heard you can also access Butterfly Valley via the Lycian Way trail if you’re an experienced hiker.
The valley is quite striking as you approach it from the water, a beautiful beach with a bright green backdrop in between two mountains. When you alight the boat, you have the option to either stay on the beach or take the trail into the valley, which costs a small price. We decided to take the trail and so some exploring, following the signs to a supposed waterfall deep into the canyon.
The canyon itself was quite breathtaking, and I enjoyed climbing through the rocky trail (bring comfortable shoes!) however the longer we walked, the more we came to realise that the waterfall was non-existent, quite possibly due to the time of year. As I really enjoy hiking, I would have enjoyed spending a good portion of the day exploring the valley and climbing up to see the views from above, however, we only really had 40 minutes before the boat departed, so we had to be quite wary of the time.
Despite the lush greenery and abundance of wildflowers covering the valley, I only spotted one butterfly in the whole of Butterfly Valley. However, I have heard reports of people finding a great variety of butterflies, chickens and even turtles, so you never know!
Explore the town of Fethiye
One of the bigger cities in close proximity to Oludeniz is Fethiye, famous for its bustling weekly market and stunning harbour.
Fethiye market is open every Tuesday and most hotels will organise a trip to transport you to the market and back for a small price.
The market itself is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely busy and it gets very hot under that tarpaulin. However, it can be a fun, yet chaotic, experience if you can handle it. You can get pretty much everything at the market: fruit, veg, spices, handbags, pashminas, football t-shirts, watches, belts and all things in between.
If you have anything specific in mind you want to get at the market, keep in mind that you really do have to haggle with the vendors to get a decent price and they will definitely be expecting it. Usually, they’ll give you an extravagantly high price, to begin with, and you have to work them down to something you’re willing to pay. They’ll often give you a special offer if you buy more than one item.
However, there are more things to do in Fethiye than just the market. Unfortunately, some people only spend enough time to grab some food at the nearby McDonald’s. I would recommend spending some more time there and wander along the harbour over to Paspatur, Fethiye’s old town, where you’ll find a long, shaded narrow street with loads of adorable cafés, bars and restaurants.
Wandering down the street, I came across a beautiful restaurant called the Duck Pond, with an outside shady terrace overlooking a pond with little ducks in it. It was so adorable I had to take pictures. If you’ve eaten at the Duck Pond, let me know!
Visit the Ghost Village of Kayakoy
Situated between Oludeniz and Fethiye, you’ll find Kayakoy, also known as the Ghost Village.
Kayakoy was once inhabited by Greek Orthodox Christians who lived in complete harmony with the Turkish until the early 20th century when massacres of Greeks and other Christian minorities led to the town’s almost total depopulation. This compulsory evacuation forced the former habitants of Kayakoy (around 6,500 people) to travel to Greece as homeless refugees or die in Ottoman labour battalions.
Today, around 500 houses, schools and two Greek Orthodox churches remain on the site as ruins. Exploring the Ghost Village is quite a profound experience as so much of the village’s foundations remain intact, yet stand as shells, unoccupied and emptied of the people that made it home.
Watch the sunset over Fethiye
The turquoise coast is famous for its stunning sunsets so before you leave Turkey, you should try your best to find the perfect spot to take in the day’s last few sun rays.
During my trip, I embarked on Tui’s ‘Sunset safari,’ trip, where we were packed into jeeps and taken up into the hills surrounding Fethiye to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking horizon. As the sun set, the sky turned a deep orange and the sea shone as if made of molten gold.
Another good spot to watch the sunset is Calis beach, where you can relax on the beach or at one of the many restaurants and bars along the coast while you enjoy the sun’s daily farewell, unobstructed by any trees or mountains!
Go on a day trip from Fethiye
Although there are plenty of things to do in the Fethiye region to occupy you for the duration of your stay if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to venture out and explore more of what the surrounding area has to offer.
My favourite thing to do on any holiday is to embark on a couple of day trips and there are certainly some great ones on offer in the Olu Deniz / Fethiye area.
One of the main trips that caught my eye during my stay was the boat trip to Rhodes. Rhodes is a Greek island not far from Turkey’s Southwestern coast and is easily accessible by boat for a day trip. Not only does a day trip to Rhodes let you tick off two countries in one day but it also allows you to visit one of the most historically significant cities in Europe.
The Medieval City of Rhodes is one of the largest and best preserved Medieval old towns in Europe, home to the Palace of the Grand Master, a Byzantine fortress built in the 7th Century, the beautiful cobblestoned Street of Knights and more.
Back in current day Turkey, another exciting day trip is this combined 2-day tour to Ephesus and Pamukkale. Ephesus is an ancient Greek city built in the 10th Century BC where you’ll find the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
On the second day of the trip, you’ll visit Pamukkale, one of the most popular destinations in Turkey due to it’s “cotton castles.” The spectacular white terraced landscape of Pamukkale, created by the hot springs, is an absolutely surreal sight.
As you can see the Fethiye region of Turkey and Oludeniz, in particular, is an absolutely stunning place to explore as a family or a solo traveller. Although a perfect place to sit back, relax by the pool and enjoy the weather at an inclusive hotel, there’s plenty of things to do in Oludeniz and the surrounding area to make your stay a little more exciting.