This is where the mountains meet the turquoise Mediterranean Sea. Here the coastline is highly diverse, with a lot of bays, promontories, peninsulas, and small islands. And if you follow this coast, you can find a beautiful gem- a lagoon, separated by a spit, under a high mountain. This gem is called Blue Lagoon, best known as Ölüdeniz. Let’s go to see and enjoy it. And let’s prepare for the things to do in Ölüdeniz!
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Basic facts about Ölüdeniz
This is where the Aegean Sea mixes with the eastern Mediterranean Sea- at the Turquoise Coast of Turkey. And here is Ölüdeniz, one in the chain of spectacular gems, making this part of Turkey so popular. But what’s so special about Ölüdeniz?
Ölüdeniz literally means “dead sea”. But don’t think about the well-known Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan- this one is not extremely saline and not “dead” (without life). It is called “dead” because even on windy and stormy days, its water remains calm.
Ölüdeniz is also called the Blue Lagoon. And yes, it is a lagoon, joined with the sea by a narrow strait between a spit and the hilly coast on the other side. This spit is a 2 km beach made of pebbles instead of sand.
The sea here is crystal clear and turquoise, and all of this lies at the foot of a spectacular mountain. This is Mount Babadağ (1969 m), rising almost 2 km above the Blue Lagoon. The result is a fantastic landscape, attracting visitors from all over the world, with a lot of things to do.
Ölüdeniz is about 14 km south of Fethiye- a famous Turkish city resort with a lot of history, culture, and opportunities for various activities. Thus, in fact, Ölüdeniz is considered the main landmark of Fethiye. There is also a town on the way to the Blue Lagoon with the same name- Ölüdeniz. And all of this is located in an incredibly beautiful natural area. But there is more.
The area of Ölüdeniz is located in the ancient Lycia- a kingdom that existed during the Bronze Age, more than 3000 years ago. During the following centuries, it passed through the Dark Ages, the era of Phrygia and Lydia, then it was a part of the Persian Empire, the Hellenistic kingdoms, and the Roman Empire.
During medieval times it has been in the Byzantine Empire, then gradually conquered by the Turks and a part of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.
Again, that’s more than 3000 years of history, without counting the earlier pre-historic times. And it left a lot of remains around Ölüdeniz- ancient cities, tombs, and even a ghost village. Among the ancient cities, we can mention Tlos, Xanthos, Pinara, and Patara.
And the Lycian tombs are also interesting- some of them cut into the rocks, and some are just erected from the ground.
Finally- the ghost village. It is called Kayaköy. The village existed since ancient times, but in 1923, due to the war between Greece and Turkey, it was abandoned, and now turned into an open-air museum.
And all of this is today garnished with the modern colorful Turkish culture that can be best felt in the local markets and restaurants with delicious Turkish food. That’s why Ölüdeniz has become a famous tourist destination but lets us as travelers dive a bit deeper into the things Ölüdeniz can offer.
Our journey to Ölüdeniz
So, we didn’t hesitate to include Ölüdeniz in our Western Turkey itinerary. We came from Dalyan, another fantastic gem with an amazing river canal, a lagoon with a beach, and the most spectacular Lycian (Carian) tombs in the area. We traveled to Fethiye, but Ölüdeniz was more attractive to us, so when we came from the west, we skipped the city and went straight to the Blue Lagoon.
Here we enjoyed the beach inside the fantastic landscape around us, then back to Fethiye where we spent three nights. Yes, we didn’t try everything that you can do in Ölüdeniz, but let’s see the things we did and what we would do if we had more time.
Things to do in Ölüdeniz
The Blue Lagoon is not a large place, but even only there you can do some exciting things. And there are more things to do around Ölüdeniz too- in the area that includes the nearby coastline, the city of Fethiye, and the mountains. We would recommend staying there for at least 4-5 days to taste it best.
Things to do at the Blue Lagoon
Only the Blue Lagoon itself is like a paradise, and the main reason you would visit this part of Turkey. So, you reach (by car or by bus) the town of Ölüdeniz and descend to the seacoast. What would you do there?
Enjoy the scenery of Ölüdeniz
Again, the scenery of Ölüdeniz is fantastic. Due to the turquoise-aquamarine color of the Mediterranean sea here, the whole landscape has a specific reflection. Even if you don’t do anything else but only walk around, it is still a pleasure. The pebble beach is almost 2 km long.
You can walk along the beach to the tip of the spit, then start walking around the lagoon. If you are more adventurous, you can go to the hills on the other side of the lagoon and enjoy the views of the whole scenery from there.
Relax at the pebble beach
This includes just enjoying the beach- relaxing on the pebbles, swimming in the water, or playing beach volleyball. Swimming is possible most of the year- from late April to November (unless you have a stronger body and can endure cold).
Have in mind that the bottom quickly gets deep- only about 7-8 m into the water and you can’t touch the bottom. So, the coastal waves usually don’t crush until they reach the land.
However, sometimes winds form higher and larger waves. And they can crush before they reach the land. For those who play in the water, this can be dangerous, but for surfers it is great. There are lifeguards, yes, but anyway, follow their instructions. They may not allow you to enter the water, but you can still swim at the tip of the spit, where the lagoon joins the sea- the water is calm there.
Walking on pebbles barefoot could be difficult for some people, but there are wooden trails, so taking a walk can be comfortable for everyone. Ölüdeniz Beach is awarded with Blue Flag certificate.
Do some watersports
Such a beautiful place would certainly attract you to taste it more, to enjoy the water of the lagoon and the sea in depth. And you have this opportunity, even if you don’t bring your own gear. Just go to the lagoon coast next to the beach, they offer various watersport toys. Here are the prices for one hour:
- Sup stand up- 100 TL
- Dolphin pedals (water wheel)- 200 TL
- Slide pedals (water wheel)- 250 TL
- Car pedals (water wheel)- 250 TL
- Double canoe- 100 TL
- Single canoe- 60 TL
- Fins for rent (for the whole day)- 30 TL
- Snorkel for rent (for the whole day)- 30 TL
In addition, you can go surfing if the waves allow it.
Have dinner and party at the seacoast
Right before you arrive at the Blue Lagoon, you can see a lot of restaurants, bars, clubs, and cafes on the left side of the road. And when the evening comes, this area becomes full of life. Here you not only can taste some of the best delicious Turkish meals, but also you can join some disco, live performances, and other party events, just beside the pebble beach.
This is what you can do only in this spot- the Blue Lagoon and the beach. But there is much more around it.
Things to do around Ölüdeniz
Look at the sea and the mountain rising over the Blue Lagoon! You would most likely think: “What is the view from the top of the mountain”? Or “What is the sea behind the bay, what is underwater?” Let’s see, you would not regret it!
Explore Mount Babadağ
Let’s look at the mountain. It belongs to the Taurus Mountain Range and rises spectacularly over the Blue Lagoon. If the view of the mountain from the beach is spectacular, what would it be the opposite view, from the top to the beach?
The cable car
The cable car of Babadağ is a new attraction (in Turkish: Babadağ Teleferik), built in 2021, and offers a great opportunity for everybody to reach the top of Mt Babadağ and enjoy the fantastic panoramic views from above.
The lower station of the cable car is located right beside the road between the town of Ölüdeniz and the beach. There is a parking lot in from of the station. You buy a ticket and enjoy ascending to the top:
Ticket price: 170 TL (free for children under 8 years old)
Working hours: It varies from 10:00 to 19:00 in winter to 8:00 to 21:30 in summer.
The cable car has three stations. The low station is at 230 m altitude, the middle station is at 1200 m, and the upper station is at 1700 m. Have in mind that in winter, the cable car works only to the middle station.
The whole trip is about 16 min. When you arrive at the upper station, there is a chair lift that can bring you to 1800 m altitude. There are restaurants with panoramic terraces at the upper station, the stations of the chairlift, and the top. Have in mind that it is much cooler at the top than at the beach!
Hiking to the top of Mt Babadağ
Ölüdeniz is the western starting point of the famous Lycian Way. It starts from the southern end of the town of Ölüdeniz, from the road to the beach. Its main route doesn’t ascend to the top but just follows the slope. However, there is another trail that leaves the main route and leads you to the top.
You can also hike to the peak directly from the beach. A shortcut starts from the southeastern end of the beach and reaches the main route of the Lycian Way before the trail to the top.
Have in mind that that’s a 1900 m elevation difference. The trail is steep and in general, this hike is a high level of difficulty. From the start to the top is around 13 km and 13 more km back. It is a long hike that takes a whole day, from early morning to complete, unless you take the cable car to descend.
No matter how you will reach the peak of Babadağ, you will almost certainly see the paragliders there, depending on the weather. If the weather is good, there are flights from the top, and the experience is fantastic!
But how can you go paragliding? There are two ways- you can do it with an instructor. The price for a flight is 350 TL from the top and 300 TL from 1000 m. They offer the gear and flying with an instructor if the weather allows.
And the other way is to do it alone. Of course, if you have your own gear and bring it to the top, you can do it for free. Otherwise, there are paragliding courses (the price is between 800 and 1200 USD).
It may look a bit expensive, but if you have an opportunity, try it! It is one of the most fantastic experiences in Turkey!
Let’s see what other things you can do around Ölüdeniz.
Exploring the sea
The turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea and its diverse coastline are another attraction. And you can explore all of this on the surface and underwater. On the surface, you can do it by a boat cruise tour, and underwater- by a scuba diving tour or a liveaboard tour.
Boat cruise tour
The boat cruise tours in the area of Ölüdeniz and Fethiye lead you along the nearby coastline to the most beautiful spots.
There are two starting points- the wharves of Fethiye and Ölüdeniz. Some of those that start from Fethiye go westward to Dalyan and Marmaris, and others go in the opposite direction- to Ölüdeniz and further east along the Lycian Coast. And those that start from Ölüdeniz lead you only to the nearby places.
Here are the six most beautiful places around Ölüdeniz coast that you can visit by boat trip:
- Blue Cave. An amazing coastline cove. You can swim in the water inside the cave, the feeling is otherworldly.
- Butterfly Valley. A stunning beach at the end of a mountain gorge located southeast of the
- Blue Lagoon. This gorge is called Butterfly Valley due to the great variety of butterflies that can be seen there. Here the boats stop and give you an opportunity to swim on the beach or to hike nearby.
- Cold Water Bay. A small picturesque bay, west of the Blue Lagoon, surrounded by mountains. Here the water is a bit cooler due to the numerous cold mountain streams that reach the sea. There is also an ancient water reservoir that can be seen.
- Camel Beach. This is a small beach on the coast in front of Cold Water Bay. Its name comes from a rock formation that forms a silhouette of a camel in the moonlight. So, you can see it in the full moon at night, but it is still beautiful during the day.
- St. Nicolas Island– Gemiler in Turkish. This is a small island, not far from Cold Water Bay. Besides the spectacular views of the seacoast around, it is famous for its church ruins dated from between the 4th and the 6th centuries AD. It is considered that here is the tomb of St. Nicholas.
- Aquarium Bay. A small stony beach further west on the coast, with stunning reefs and views.
There are several boats that depart from Ölüdeniz and make a 7-8 hours tour to all of these spots. And the most attractive of them is the tour with the pirate-style Dragon Boat- it is not just a tour, but a party tour, with music, foam games, fun, and other attractions. The price is 35 EUR per person, including lunch.
And how about underwater?
If you want to dive into the underwater world around Ölüdeniz, you can do it on a scuba diving tour. It is a boat tour that provides scuba diving but leads you to other points- the best diving spots in the area.
Normally, they offer a full-day (10-11 hours) scuba diving tour with two dives during the day, and the prices are usually between 30 and 40 EUR. The spots include underwater caves, tunnels, rock formations, and more. You can see lace corals, schools of groupers, morays, eels, octopuses, turtles, and a lot of other marine creatures. And you can also find ancient amphoras.
These tours are arranged by the local diving centers. All of them are PADI certified, and also offer PADI scuba diving courses. If you look for the cheapest tour, have in mind that its quality is usually lower and it is less safe.
This part of Turkey is the main area for liveaboard tours and Fethiye is the traditional starting point. They offer 6-7 day tours and include not only the area around Fethiye but the whole seacoast from Bodrum to Antalya. And the area around Ölüdeniz is one of the main highlights.
Explore the mountains and the ancient sites around the Lycian Way
Let’s look at the landscape around the Blue Lagoon again. What is behind the surrounding hills? And what is beyond Mount Babadağ?
The ghost village of Kayaköy
There is a mountain (much lower than Babadağ) north-northwest of the Blue Lagoon. And there is an interesting place behind it- a ghost village, called Kayaköy. Its houses, built on the mountain slope stay in ruins, with missing roofs, empty and silent. What happened to them?
Kayaköy is a very old village, probably existed from medieval, even from ancient times. Its inhabitants were Orthodox Greeks. But during the war between Greece and Turkey at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, there was a treaty of population exchange. All the Greeks from Turkey had to leave for Greece, and all the Turks from Greece had to leave for Turkey.
So, the Greeks of Kayaköy left the village, not without violence and massacre. But when the Turks from Greece came, they were afraid to settle in the abandoned houses, they thought that the ghosts of the dead Greeks were still there. Thus, the village remained abandoned.
Today, it turned into an open-air museum. It is only 5 km west of Ölüdeniz town, and 8 km from the Blue Lagoon. But the most exciting way to visit it is by hiking. There is a 7 km trail from the beach to the village- about a 1 hour and a half hike, with stunning views along the way.
On the Lycian Way
The Lycian Way is an ancient trade route, more than 700 km long. It connects the area of today’s Ölüdeniz and Fethiye with Antalya, following the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The route has been used for many centuries and later was abandoned. But today it is revived again as a trekking route.
It includes the main route with many additional detours to some nearby points of interest. The top of Mount Babadağ is one of these points, as well as various beaches along the way. But there is another interesting place full of mystery. This is the ancient city of Pinara, located about 27 km east of Ölüdeniz- that’s about a 7-8 to 10 hours hike (depending on your speed).
Pinara has been a Lycian city and probably existed since the Bronze Age. Like all the other cities in the area, it passes through the same historical period, but around the 9th century, AD has been completely abandoned. Today we can see its ruins- classical ruins with ancient theater, agora, and everything else that can be seen in the other ancient cities.
But there is something more- Lycian tombs. And they make Pinara different. They make the whole place more mysterious than the other ancient cities.
The hiking detour from the Lycian Way to Pinara ends here and you can back to the main route or proceed further on a paved road to the valley of Xanthos River- to more ancient cities like Tlos, Letoon, Xanthos, and Patara.
Or, if you back to the main route, you can enjoy fantastic landscapes and views all along the way, one after another. However, this already requires a multiday trek.
Finally, let’s take a look at Fethiye- the main city in the area.
Ölüdeniz is a brilliant pearl, but you should not skip Fethiye, the main city in the area. It is the local cultural center, and adding some sense of the local culture would greatly enrich your experience in this part of Turkey. So, what can you do in Fethiye?
Explore the city center
Fethiye is a city full of life. It has modern and old parts. So, here are the things you can do here:
Visit the local markets. There are two open-air markets with fruits, vegetables, spices, even some souvenirs, products for daily use, clothes, and more. Even if you don’t like shopping too much, just visiting them to feel the local life is worth it. Alani Market at Purşahbey Cd is constantly open, while the other market- Sunday Bazaar (located at Yerguzlar Cd and 965 Sk.) is open only on Sundays.
Walk at the Kordon– the seaside alley along the seacoast and the Marina. Here you can enjoy fresh views of the Bay of Fethiye. And maybe you can find a nice boat for a cruise- there are a lot of choices.
Enjoy the local food and the nightlife. This experience can be found in the southern, more central part of the city. There are plenty of restaurants with local food, as well as some bar clubs for the local nightlife. Have in mind that the nightlife in Turkey is a bit different, with local modernized folk parties and dances.
Enjoy Calıs Beach
The coastline of Fethiye consists mostly of beaches. Of them, Calıs Beach is the best. Unlike most of the beaches around, this one is a sandy beach. It is not exactly in the central part of the city, not so urban, and also offers stunning views of the sea and the coastline behind the sea.
Calıs Beach is a resort area, with hotels, bungalows, campsites, restaurants, and nightclubs. It was our “base camp” for exploring Ölüdeniz and other destinations southeast of Fethiye, and we can assure you this place is like a paradise!
History in Turkey is everywhere, in every larger city. Fethiye is not an exception. So, here you have an opportunity to travel back in time- to thousands of years ago. And the best way to do it is to start at the Archaeological Museum.
- Archaeological Museum (Fethiye Arkeoloji Muzesi). This is a relatively small museum, presenting artifacts from the area around Fethiye, from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine times. Entrance fee: free.
- Fethiye Castle. After visiting the museum turn to the hills south of the city. Here you can visit Fethiye Castle (it is very near to the museum, only a 15 min walk). The castle was built in the 11th century and now is in ruins.
- Amintas Tombs. Just a 7-8 min walk from the castle are the Amintas Tombs- the main historical landmark of Fethiye. They are built in typical Lycian style- cut in the rocks. The tombs are easily accessible, right beside the road, with excellent panoramic views of the city.
Finally, Fethiye is a famous center for boat cruises, scuba diving tours, and liveaboards. So, you can start such adventures from Fethiye instead of Ölüdeniz, and you can still visit most of the spots that Ölüdeniz tours would guide you.
Let’s take a look at some useful tips- how to get to Ölüdeniz, where to stay, and what is the best season to go there.
How to get to Ölüdeniz
The “gate” to Ölüdeniz is the city of Fethiye. If you want to reach Fethiye by air, the nearest airport is Dalaman, located strategically between Fethiye and Marmaris. It has international flights to some cities in Europe and within Turkey.
Fethiye is a well-developed tourist place so it is well-connected by roads to the rest of Turkey. And there are buses from most of the big cities in Turkey to Fethiye, including Izmir and Istanbul.
But a better option is to rent a car from some of the big cities and arrangebuses from most of the big cities in Turkey to Fethiye a self-driving journey that includes Fethiye (with Ölüdeniz) and the other great destinations on the southwestern coast of Turkey.
Fethiye is also accessible by ferry from Rhodes Island in Greece, but only during the high season (summer). The other ways to reach the city are by organized tours and cruises. They would normally include Ölüdeniz too.
Once you arrive in Fethiye, you can easily reach Ölüdeniz. There are regular small buses (dolmus) traveling between Fethiye and Ölüdeniz. You can get one from the PO station near Fethiye Otogar.
Reaching Ölüdeniz by tours
Many tours around Turkey include Fethiye. Some start from Istanbul or Kuşadası, while others are more local.
- Ionia to Pamphylia Tour. This is a 7-day tour that starts from Kuşadası and ends in Antalya. On the way, you will also visit some famous destinations like Ephesus, Pamukkale, Bodrum, Dalyan, and more.
- Turkey Treasures Tour. This is a 10-day tour from Istanbul to Antalya. Its route follows most of the western coast of Turkey and includes the most popular destinations on the way- Istanbul, Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Dalyan, Fethiye, and Antalya.
- Turkey Undiscovered Tour. This is a 12-day tour, again focused on the main destinations in Western Turkey, but extended further east, to Konya and Cappadocia- one of the most famous gems of Turkey. Fethiye is included as one of the destinations on the route.
- Western Treasures Tour. This is an 8-day tour, a bit shortened version of the “Turkey Treasures Tour”, for those whose time is a bit limited. So, it starts from Istanbul, takes you to the same most popular destinations, but ends in Fethiye.
- Flying Carpet Tour. This is probably one of the most perfect ways to explore Turkey quickly. It is a 15-day circle route, from Istanbul to Istanbul, mostly following the same destinations as the “Turkey Undiscovered Tour”, including Fethiye and Cappadocia, as well as the capital Ankara.
What if you already arrived in Fethiye independently, by bus, or by plane? You can join a local tour focusing on the destinations around Fethiye. But it would be different and more adventurous- by boat, by bicycle, or on foot (hiking).
- Sail Turkey. This is an 8-day cruise along the Lycian coast, focusing on the most beautiful spots on the coastline, including Ölüdeniz. It guides you southeast of Fethiye, reaching the farthest point- Demre, then returning to Fethiye. Sailing is on a traditional gullet boat.
- Walk the Highlights of the Lycian Way. This is mainly a trekking tour. It is 8 days long, starts from Antalya (so, if you are already in Fethiye, you can take a bus to Antalya to start the tour), and follows the famous Lycian Way. And it is not just a trek, but includes visiting many ancient cities and enjoying the best beaches on the way.
- Lycian Coast Cycle- Fethiye to Adrasan. This is a 9-day cycling tour. It starts from Fethiye and follows the Lycian Coast to Adrasan, again visiting most of the best destinations on the way. When you arrive in Adrasan, they will transport you to Antalya, or you can back to Fethiye.
- Family Turkey Coastal Active Adventure And Cruise. This one is the best way to quickly explore the area around Fethiye. It literally makes you to be not limited by transportation means, combining cruise, hiking, and traveling by bus. It is 15 days long and brings you to the best destinations not only east, but also west of Fethiye.
Finally, if you want to join a longer tour around the whole (or at least most) of Turkey, except its extreme eastern parts, and if you want to start from Fethiye, there is one:
- Anatolian Crossroad Tour. Actually, this is a shortened version of “Turkey Undiscovered Tour”, without the section that is before Fethiye. It includes places like Cappadocia and the capital Ankara and finally ends in Istanbul.
What if you visit Fethiye and Ölüdeniz independently? Along with other elements of the itinerary, you have to think about the accommodation.
Needless to say, there are plenty of options for staying at night in Fethiye and Ölüdeniz. It is full of hotels- from splurge to budget, not only in Fethiye and Ölüdeniz but even in Kayaköy or just in nature, far from the urban areas. Depending on your time, transportation, budget, and preferences, you can make your choice on Booking or Agoda, having also in mind the convenient location.
A unique way to spend the night is by staying in an Airbnb property. Usually, it is a bit cheaper than a hotel, and you could have a better opportunity to get close to the local people. Airbnb properties can be found again in the same areas- Fethiye, Ölüdeniz, and Kayaköy.
For those who are more adventurous, there are campsites. They are not in the urban areas, and not exactly at the Blue Lagoon, but are in the natural areas, or at some beaches. And this is their charm- you have an exciting “base camp” for exploring Ölüdeniz from there. They offer not only a place for your own tent but also their tents and caravans.
That’s what we did- our accommodation was in a caravan, in a campsite at Calis Beach, northwest of the urban part of Fethiye, as I mentioned above.
Finally, you can go wild camping. But again- avoid the urban and resort areas, and stay far from crowds, nightclubs, and other places with many people. In general, it is safe. However, don’t make a fire, it is not allowed in the area!
Like all of the other destinations in this part of Turkey, Ölüdeniz has a Mediterranean, subtropical climate. The high season is from April to November- this is the season when you can not only explore the points of interest but also swim in the sea.
Summer is hot and humid but generally rainless. However, if you want to reach the top of Mt Babadağ, bring a jacket, it can be quite cool there! Spring and fall (March-May, and October-November) are not so hot, but in spring the sea water is still too cool, usually around or below 20°C.
And winter is the low season. It is mild and pleasant most of the time, but you can’t swim, the water is too cold. Also, winter is the rainiest season due to the passing Mediterranean cyclones. Snowfall at the seacoast is extremely rare, but the higher slopes of Mt Babadağ are regularly covered with snow.
This is Ölüdeniz. It becomes more and more attractive and it is not without reason- it is a world-class natural destination, enriched also by history and colorful local culture. We departed from there, proceeding further eastward along the Lycian Way- to places like Patara and Kaş, but the Blue Lagoon left great impressions on our life.
Take a look at this video for more impressions from Ölüdeniz:
Check some travel books about Turkey:
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.