This busy port city is a good base for exploring the ruins of ancient Lycia in the mountains that rise to the east. Fethiye was known in antiquity as Telmessus (not to be confused with Termessos, near Antalya) and was the principal port of Lycia from the Roman period onward. In front of the town hall is one of the finest of several tombs found throughout the city: it represents a two-story Lycian house, with reliefs of warriors on both sides of its lid.
The small original town was called Mekri and populated mainly by Greeks before the 1923 Greek-Turkish population exchange. It was renamed in 1934 for Fethi Bey, a famous Ottoman pilot. He was killed on the eve of the First World War when he crashed in the mountains of Lebanon while attempting a historic flight that was to link all the Middle Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Today's town is quite modern, having been substantially rebuilt after a 1957 earthquake. Strolling along the seafront promenade is pleasant, and scuba enthusiasts can choose between half a dozen dive boats that collect in the harbor. The harbor also has many yachts available for Blue Cruising. Fethiye is most fun on Tuesdays, when village folk flock in for the weekly market.