The Ghost Village of Kayaköy, Türkiye

Kayaköy is an abandoned village located in southwest Turkey, very close to the city of Fethiye. The village is easily accessible and a short distance from Fethiye by taxi, car, or bus, and is a great place for a day trip from any of the neighbouring cities or beach towns (such as Oludeniz Beach, Kelebekler Vadisi, Kidrak Beach).

History of Kayaköy

Kayaköy has been completely abandoned since 1923 and often is an entirely missed stop on a trip itinerary when visiting Turkey. I found this village to feel entirely out of this world. It was beautiful, unique, and so fascinating.

Once known as Levissi, the village was home to over 10,000 people. The village was forcefully abandoned at the end of the Greco-Turkish War when a population exchange happened which meant that Muslims and Christians were exchanged between the countries of Greece and Turkey. The reason for this was so each country could claim one major religion.

When more than 6,000 Christians suddenly left the village, they left behind beautiful stone homes and churches. When the newly arrived Muslims came from Greece, they decided against making Kayaköy their home because of its location being too remote for them.

In 1957, a large earthquake took a toll on this beautiful village, which of course, caused it to become damaged. The village remained unhabituated and abandoned for decades, making the once beautiful village crumble and disintegrate under the natural elements.

Visiting Kayaköy

When I visited Turkey back in the spring, we stayed within walking distance of the village. Of course, over the years, there have been some hotels, restaurants, and homes built at the base of the abandoned village and towers over the “new” town. I should caveat, that there isn’t a ton to do when staying this close to the abandoned village, however, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. The main thing to do is, of course, visit the abandoned village itself. You’ll find a ticket desk at the foot of the hill where you’ll be asked to pay a small entry fee (about 10 Lira), and you are free to explore the manly trails and building ruins of the village.

View from the Lycian Way

Another thing you can do nearby is hike the Lycian Way. This is a long-distance trail that is approximately 520km long. Of course, the average person isn’t going to take on the entire trail, but there are many shorter parts of the trail you can hike that have fantastic views (and require less commitment). I hiked the Lycian Way from Kayaköy (there is a starting point at the top of the village) to Oludeniz. It took about 2ish hours and was moderately hard. You need to wear proper footwear and be in decent shape as the rocks are slippery and are a lot up and downhill.

Here is a complete guide to the Lycian Way if you’re interested in doing more hiking along the route

There are several cute restaurants in the Kayaköy area, so despite it being a small area in comparison to the more touristy Olundeniz, and Fethiye, you won’t go hungry. One of my favs that we visited multiple times in the few days we were there was Antik. They were so hospitable, the restaurant was surrounded by cute, local shops, and you felt like you were eating in a garden.

Olundeniz Beach

Day trips from Kayaköy

Olundeniz: There are also a lot of nearby spots worth checking out from Kayaköy. We were only there for 2 days, so one day was spent doing the above, and the other day, we spent in Olundeniz. This beach is a tourist hub. It has a much different vibe than Kayaköy (and also more expensive) but the beautiful beaches make it a great spot for some R&R on the beach. There are also a ton of beachside bars and restaurants, and it’s a key spot for boat cruises and paragliding. You can rent a beach chair and umbrella for the day at any of the beachside restaurants, and kick back and enjoy the turquoise water.

Fethiye: Fethiye is the take-off point for most things to do in this area and is often where people will base themselves and then take day trips from here. Things to do in the city itself are the local fish market that’s open every day and the farmers market on Tuesdays. You can also visit the Fethiye Museum, shop at the local shops, get scrubbed at a local Turkish bath, explore the Old Town, visit the local waterparks, and more. If you don’t have access to a car, this could be the best place to base yourself. However, it can also make a great day trip from Kayaköy too.

Turtle Beach (Iztuku Beach): Located about a one-hour drive from Fethiye, Iztuku Beach, also known as Turtle Beach, is a great day trip option. This beach is one of the Mediterranean nesting sites for the loggerhead turtle, and they actively work to protect that so it’s only open to the public during the day until 8 p.m. (from May to September). You’ll be able to see the protected nesting sites when you visit, and you can access the beach from Daylan via boat or minibus.

Boat Cruise: Basically from any of the nearby beaches you can sign up for a boat cruise that’ll take you through the beautiful turquoise waters. This can be a great way to see the beautiful Turkish coast from a different viewpoint.

FAQ & Expert Tips:

What is the best time of year to visit Kayaköy? Summers are scorching hot, so if you visit then, prepare to be on the beach or by a pool all day. Spring and fall are the best months because the weather is still hot and warm, but more bearable for exploring.

What time does Kayaköy open? From April to October the site is open from 9 am-7 pm, from November to March it’s open 8 am-5 pm. You don’t have to buy tickets in advance.

Why was Kayaköy abandoned? During the population exchange in 1923 between Greece and Turkey, many Christians in the area vacated to Greece, The Muslims who arrived in Turkey found this area to be too remote, so it was left abandoned.

How do you get around Kayaköy? Taxis and buses service the area to make it easy to get to and from any of the nearby towns or beaches.

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