Last updated on March 22, 2023 by Wandering our World
Turkey’s Anatolian Peninsula, which is bounded to the west by the Aegean Sea and to the south by the Mediterranean, is home to many of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, including both Antalya and Fethiye.
However despite being so close together, these two destinations are actually a lot more different than many people realise.
For example, Antalya is the fifth-most populous city in Turkey and is known for its turquoise waters, beaches, and rich history.
It’s seen as the “capital of tourism” in Turkey. The city’s Turkish-Islamic character is evident in the number of mosques, masjids, and Turkish baths, while its beautiful beaches are known for their fine sand and gin-clear waters.
Fethiye is a port city and district located on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, nestled against the Mediterranean Sea.
Famed for its picturesque views, natural wonders, and lively atmosphere, Fethiye boasts an array of varied beaches, from lively and water sports friendly to quieter, chill-with-a-good-book secluded options.
So, if you’re planning on sampling some Turkish delights on your next European adventure, read on as we compare and contrast the tourist towns of Antalya and Fethiye to help you decide which one is best for you.
We’ll look at which location has the best beaches, nightlife, which is best for culture, families and lots more!
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Best For Culture?
- Which Is Best For Families?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife & Dining Out?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is More Expensive?
- What Time Of Year Is Best?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Which Is Easier To Get To?
Antalya and Fethiye are two very popular tourist destinations within Turkey that are separated by around 200 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline.
Luckily both locations are served by nearby local airports, and you should have no major concerns reaching either destination.
To reach Antalya, the more eastern of the two locations, you can source a flight to Antalya Airport (AYT), which is served by several major airlines from a slew of major European cities and the Middle East. There are also a few flight options from cities in northern Africa.
Fethiye, to the west of Anatalya, can be reached by air via Dalaman Airport (DLM), which is approximately an hour’s drive away, to the west of the city.
The airport receives flights from many airlines, with direct flights from a few major European cities.
Antalya, the larger of the two destinations, has the busier of the two airports, and you may find it easier to find direct flights which suit your proposed travel dates.
The smaller Dalaman Airport has fewer direct flight options but is well served, especially from northern Europe.
As a result, Antalya may be a more convenient option for international travelers, depending on their point of origin.
Alternatively, for those traveling from farther afield, you could also source a flight into Turkey’s capital city, Istanbul, and then transfer down to the coast via a domestic flight. The flight time to Antalya or Fethiye from Istanbul is a little over an hour.
Once there, both Antalya and Fethiye are relatively easy to get around, with a couple of transportation options available to help you move about the city and see its sights.
In Antalya, there are numerous bus and tram lines that connect various parts of the city, and taxis are also readily available. Similarly, Fethiye also has a bus network and plenty of taxis available, but no trams.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
While both Antalya and Fethiye are blessed with stunning beaches, their characteristics can be slightly different.
In general, Antalya’s beaches are ideal for those who prefer a more developed and tourist-orientated beach experience, with a range of amenities and a lively atmosphere.
Fethiye’s beaches, on the other hand, are ideal for those who prefer a more secluded and natural beach experience, away from the madding crowds.
So if you’re looking for convenience and facilities at the beach, then Antalya will be perfect. But if you’re looking for more peace and quiet, then try Fethiye.
To help you work out which city you would prefer for beaches, here’s a run down of the popular beaches in each location!
Antalya: The Best Beaches
Lara Beach is the closest beach to the airport and is a popular choice for families. Its convenient and central location is a big plus, as are the calmness and clarity of the water.
The eastern end of the beach is dominated by large resorts, while the western section is a little quieter and open to the public.
Suluada is a picture-perfect location which is accessible by boat from Adrasan, a short drive south from Antalya’s center.
This small islet is surrounded by stunning turquoise waters, and its beautiful bays and soft, white sand make it a must-see when in Antalya. Bring some snorkeling gear to take advantage of the gin-clear water.
Konyaaltı Beach is situated a short distance to the west of Antalya’s old town. A coastal road separates the one-kilometer-long sand and pebble beach from the resorts on the other side, keeping the beach open and spacious.
There are a few attractions nearby to this beach—Aktur Park, the Antalya Aquarium, the Tünektepe Cable Car, and Aqua Land Water Park—and, due to a few beach clubs directly on the sand, it is also considered a great spot for an end-of-the-day beer, and a place to party once the sun has set.
Fethiye: The Best Beaches
Ölüdeniz Beach, or Blue Lagoon Beach, as it’s also known, boasts dramatic scenery and a stunning lagoon behind the main stretch of sand.
The gentle arc of golden sand is surrounded by lush greenery and soaring mountains, and for the best views, head out on a paragliding trip.
This public beach is free to use, but if you plan to hire sunbeds, peddle boats, or organize boat trips from the restaurants, you will need to take your wallet with you.
Kelebekler Vadisi, which is Turkish for ‘Butterfly Valley,’ is a little out of town but well worth the fifty-minute drive south. The beach got its name due to the proliferation of various butterfly species in the area.
This beach is located in a secluded bay at the bottom of an imposing cliff, so accessing the sand will require a bit of effort, but it’s definitely worth it.
There are some excellent hiking trails in the area too, and if you fancy staying the night, there are a couple of beach huts available.
Closer to home, in the center of Fethiye, is the charming Çalış Beach. While the beach is not sandy, it’s great for swimming and sunbathing on the available loungers.
The four-kilometer-long beach faces west, making it a great spot for a sundowner, and there are a few watersport options available too. With its central location, there are also plenty of shops and restaurants along the promenade selling refreshments and snacks.
Which Is Best For Culture?
Turkey, in general, has a rich cultural history, with influences from ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans.
Luckily, Antalya and Fethiye both offer visitors the chance to delve into this rich history by visiting their cultural attractions.
In Antalya, you can wander around the Old Town (Kaleici), which dates back to the Roman era and has a beautiful harbor, ancient city walls, and numerous historical landmarks.
The Antalya Archaeology Museum is a must-visit attraction too, showcasing the region’s diverse history, and other ancient historic sites, including Hadrian’s Gate, the Hidirlik Tower, the Clock Tower, and the nearby Aspendos Theater (one of the world’s largest intact Roman amphitheaters), are also well worth checking out.
Fethiye also has several historical sites, such as the rock tombs, an ancient theater, and sarcophagi, all dating back to the Lycian civilization.
The impressive Lycian Rock Tombs, carved into the rock face, are definitely worth a visit. The Fethiye Museum is a small but interesting museum displaying various artifacts from the Lycian, Hellenistic, Roman, and Ottoman periods.
Antalya and Fethiye both offer visitors a unique cultural experience, but the nature of the offerings differs slightly.
Antalya is more focused on ancient ruins and museums, while Fethiye offers more outdoor cultural experiences, such as the Lycian Rock Tombs and Butterfly Valley.
Which Is Best For Families?
Both Antalya and Fethiye are great destinations for family vacations, with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.
In Antalya, families can enjoy spending time meandering around the Old Town (Kaleici), which features narrow streets and beautiful architecture, or the impressive Antalya Aquarium, which is one of the largest aquariums in the world.
The city also has a superb water park, Aqualand, which is a great place for kids to have fun splashing around and enjoying the water slides.
The Düden Waterfalls and Kursunlu Waterfall are also great places to explore and to get close to nature, away from the city’s heat.
Antalya’s stunning beaches are also a great place for a family day, with swimming and snorkeling always an option and a few watersports on hand too.
Fethiye also offers a range of family-friendly activities, including swimming and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters at the beautiful Oludeniz Beach.
The town also offers various boat tours, with the day trip to the Twelve Islands being very popular. The trip lasts all day, and there are five stops where you can snorkel and swim in the picture-perfect turquoise waters.
While Antalya and Fethiye both offer a variety of family-friendly attractions and amenities, they do differ in some ways.
Antalya, as the bigger, more contemporary city, has more modern amenities to offer, such as large shopping malls and a wider range of restaurants, and is a great destination for families who want a balance of city life and outdoor activities.
Fethiye, on the other hand, has fewer modern amenities but more opportunities to explore the surrounding nature and learn about traditional Turkish culture. It’s ideal for families who want to explore its Mediterranean nature and experience the local culture.
Which Is Better For Nightlife & Dining Out?
When the sun has set and it’s time to venture out in the evening, both Antalya and Fethiye have plenty of options for both food and fun.
Antalya boasts a wide variety of bars and restaurants, ranging from trendy cocktail lounges and rooftop bars to traditional Turkish restaurants and seafood eateries.
Some of the most popular nightlife spots in Antalya include the Old Town area, Lara Beach, and the Konyaalti Beach district.
In Fethiye, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, particularly around the marina and the promenade. Many of the bars in Fethiye offer live music and entertainment, and there are also several beachfront bars that provide a more relaxed atmosphere.
When it comes to drinking, as the bigger city, Antalya has a larger selection of bars than Fethiye, with more variety in terms of style and atmosphere.
There are many upscale bars in the city, particularly in the Lara Beach area, which offer stunning ocean views and high-end cocktails.
In Fethiye, the bars tend to be more low-key, with a focus on live music and local beers. However, Hisaronu’s Bar Street, on the road to Kayaköy, turns into a pedestrian market in the evenings, and the streets are lined with restaurants and boisterous bars.
You can rest assured that you will not go hungry in either location, either. Both Antalya and Fethiye offer a wide range of dining options, from traditional Turkish cuisine to fine-dining international dishes.
In Antalya, there are many fine dining restaurants, particularly in the Old Town area, that offer a more upscale dining experience.
In Fethiye, the restaurants tend to be more casual, with fewer high-end options and a focus on fresh seafood and grilled meats.
And if some serious partying is on your vacation agenda, you’ll be pleased to know both destinations have a few options for dancing the night away.
Antalya, in particular, has a thriving nightclub scene, with many popular venues offering a range of music and entertainment. Some of the top nightclubs in Antalya include Aura Club, Club Inferno, and Club 29.
In Fethiye, the nightlife is more laid-back, with fewer nightclubs and more bars and restaurants that offer live music and entertainment.
Check out Revolution on Hisaronu Bar Street for a fun-filled evening, or head to Time Out Club, which is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Adalya Port Hotel overlooks Antalya’s Old Harbour, and is set on an old cobbled street, so you’ll get a real taste of Turkey when staying here, but still with modern amenities. The panoramic rooftop bar and restaurant with stunning views is, of course, the real highlight. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Lara Barut Collection-Ultra is one of the most luxurious resorts in Turkey, but it’s still not one of the most expensive. The resort sits right on the beach, has gorgeous outdoor pools, 6 restaurants and even a Turkish spa. It’s the ultimate Turkish Rivera experience. See photos and rates!
Luxury: The gorgeous, adults-only Ada Dreams History is one of the most photogenic stays throughout Fethiye. The villas, views, garden, and outdoor pool all make this a place to remember. See photos and rates!
Which Is More Expensive?
Antalya and Fethiye are both affordable destinations compared to many other popular holiday spots.
As neighboring Turkish tourist destinations, many things will be similarly priced in each location; however, there are some differences in terms of cost too.
For example, the cost of living in Antalya is generally lower than in Fethiye.
As the larger of the two cities with more choices, accommodation, food, and transportation are all relatively inexpensive in Antalya, making it a great option for budget-conscious travelers. With fewer options, Fethiye can be slightly more expensive, especially during the peak of the high season.
In terms of food, both Antalya and Fethiye offer a range of options to suit all budgets. Local restaurants and street food stalls can be found with reasonable prices in both destinations.
However, Fethiye is renowned for its freshly-caught seafood, which can make things marginally more expensive when eating out in Antalya.
Activities such as day trips, water sports, and cultural tours are available in both Antalya and Fethiye. Prices for these activities can vary depending on the season and location.
In general, Antalya offers more affordable options for activities and tours, while Fethiye offers more bespoke experiences.
Antalya’s affordability is definitely one of its biggest advantages. Travelers can enjoy a great holiday without breaking the bank. Accommodations, food, and activities are all reasonably priced, which makes Antalya an excellent option for budget-conscious travelers.
Fethiye, on the other hand, can be slightly more expensive than Antalya, especially during the high season. While you can still enjoy Fethiye on a budget, it offers a greater range of more luxurious experiences.
What Time Of Year Is Best?
Antalya and Fethiye are both located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and enjoy a similar climate.
The summer months, between June and August, are hot and dry, with temperatures regularly reaching up to 35°C (95°F), while the winter months,
December through February, are mild, with temperatures averaging around 15°C (59°F).
Spring and autumn, in between these months, are the best times to visit if you prefer slightly cooler temperatures and smaller crowds.
Antalya is a very popular tourist destination, and its peak season is from June to August. The beaches are busy, and prices are higher during this time.
If you prefer smaller crowds on your vacation, visiting during the shoulder seasons, such as April and May or September and November, may be ideal for you.
During the shoulder months, the weather is still more than warm enough to enjoy the beaches, and both hotel and flight prices will be lower than during peak season.
Fethiye, being just a couple of hundred kilometers along the coast, experiences the same weather patterns as neighboring Antalya.
However, the town is smaller and quieter than Antalya and has a more relaxed vibe throughout the year. The shoulder months are also great times to visit Fethiye, which will also see a discount on prices and smaller crowds at the beach.
While the peak season can be crowded in both locations, making it slightly more difficult to find accommodation and making popular attractions busier, there are more events and activities available, and the nightlife is more vibrant.
While the best time to visit Antalya or Fethiye will depend on your preference for crowds, weather, and available activities, if you want to experience the full liveliness and vibrancy of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, visiting during the peak season may be your best bet.
Antalya vs Fethiye: Which Is The Better Choice?
While both of these stunning destinations on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast are fantastic locations for a memorable vacation, which one will be best suited to you will depend on what you are looking for.
As neighboring cities on the Turkish south coast, there are plenty of similarities, with both cities being great for shopping and beach-lovers.
Yet there are a few subtle differences too: Fethiye has a more laid-back attitude, and for many travelers, it is a great choice for families and travelers seeking a less hectic vacation. Whereas, as the bigger destination, Antalya has more culture, history, and nightlife to choose from.
But if you are still struggling to come to a decision, bear in mind that these two Turkish cities are a short distance from each other—a couple of hours driving—and you could easily enjoy the best of both worlds by splitting your time between the two…