Kayaköy: ghost town vs. tourist attraction

Some would call the ghost town of Kayaköy near Fethiye in Turkey, an off the beaten path destination. We won’t. It may not be on top of most tourist’s lists. Still, it has become a more popular place to visit in recent years. Especially after Russell Crowe decided that Kayaköy was the ideal location for his film The Water Diviner.

This put Kayaköy back on the map after the village had turned into a sleep mode due to the population exchange in 1923 after the Greco-Turkish war, and the severe earthquake in 1957 that destroyed most of Kayaköy’s buildings. If you ask yourself if Kayaköy is worth a visit, the answer is yes! And here’s the reason(s) why!

Overview Of Kayaköy Ghost Village From The Upper Chapel

Overview Of Kayaköy Ghost Village From The Upper Chapel

Kayaköy lets your imagination run wild

Strolling around the village after having read about its history, you can let your imagination run free. This is a place where Christians and Muslims lived in harmony until July 1923. Then, the population exchange described in the Treaty of Lausanne determined Christians living in Turkey had to be repatriated to Greece. Equally, Muslims had to move from Greece to Turkey, thus assuring one religion per country.

Admiring The Village From The Upper Church Porch

Admiring The Village From The Upper Church Porch

The whole village has a special feel to it, especially if you decide not to visit it with an organized tour, and even more so, out of season. Take your time, walk around the cobbled streets up and down the village. It won’t take long before you feel the serenity, despite its sad history. Make sure to go up to the white chapel at the top of the village. You will be rewarded with a 360° view of the valley and the sea.

One Of The Two Chapels On The Hills Above Kayaköy

One Of The Two Chapels On The Hills Above Kayaköy

Kayaköy shows the beauty of decay

Yes, there is beauty in decay. It is even tangible in Kayaköy. Maybe the explanation for why it is so easy to relate to things here is that it is a relatively young village after all. Like many other sites in Turkey, Kayaköy is now a protected area. The difference between Kayaköy and other sites is that we are talking about almost recent history.

This is not an ancient site with a theater, Greek or Roman pillars, or anything of the kind. This is an ordinary village, except it has been abandoned, and it became a ghost village. After it was deserted, it got hit by an earthquake. Fortunately, there is still enough standing to make it an attractive place to visit. Both Greek churches are currently closed for restoration. Luckily, a hole in the wall surrounding the upper church area makes it easy to have a peek anyhow.

The Painted Walls And Ceiling Must Have Been Mind Blowing

The Painted Walls And Ceiling Must Have Been Mind Blowing

A Porch With A View

A Porch With A View

The Ruined Upper Church In Kayaköy

The Ruined Upper Church In Kayaköy

Walking the streets of Kayaköy takes you past a few hundred abandoned and mostly roofless homes, a few chapels and churches, and even a school building.

The Scenic Setting Of One Of The Chapels

The Scenic Setting Of One Of The Chapels

The Lower Church In Kayaköy

The Lower Church In Kayaköy

If you’re in luck, you may even be offered the chance to have a look inside one of the better-preserved houses of the ghost village. The house was left untouched, with photographs still on the wall as a silent witness of what once was.

Inside One Of The Few Ruined Houses That Still Has A Roof

Inside One Of The Few Ruined Houses That Still Has A Roof

The Woodwork Inside The Old House Is Extraordinary

The Woodwork Inside The Old House Is Extraordinary

Kayaköy today: a charming mix of quirky shops & restaurants

As mentioned, Kayaköy has become a more popular place to visit. With that increased popularity, some tourist traps appeared, as well as the odd times where you encounter a busload enjoying their guided tour. Other than that, this grown fame gives the family businesses in the valley a good chance of survival.

You will discover most places are closed in winter. Still, a few remain open to honor the Turkish tradition of always providing for food and tea whenever visitors appear. We prefer to visit out of season to experience Kayaköy’s ghost village at its best.

During The Season, Souvenir Stalls Pop Up Everywhere

During The Season, Souvenir Stalls Pop Up Everywhere

If you do get hungry or if you would like to taste some locally produced wine, the Lebessos Wine House & Restaurant has an extensive wine cellar. And they will happily let you taste some wine. Having a gözleme at one of the many stalls is a perfect way to savor local delights.

Also, don’t forget to look out for the little shop in one of the old village houses that sells handmade leather sandals. Even if you don’t wear them, they are worth checking out, if only to admire the craftsmanship.

Beautiful Handmade Leather Sandals And Shoes

Beautiful Handmade Leather Sandals And Shoes

Rock tombs and sarcophagi near Kayaköy

On the other side of the valley, just below the Fethiye-Kayaköy road, you will find some well-preserved rock tombs and sarcophagi. They are often overlooked by visitors as they lie opposite the ghost village, but if you find the time, they are well worth visiting!

Two Sarcophagi Below The Rock Cut Tombs In Kayaköy

Two Sarcophagi Below The Rock Cut Tombs In Kayaköy

The Rock Cut Tombs Opposite The Ghost Village

The Rock Cut Tombs Opposite The Ghost Village

✔️ Have you been to Kayaköy? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the town to your bucket list.
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Kayaköy is an open-air museum and protected area. There is a small entrance fee to be paid at the booth next to the lower church. The streets of the ghost village aren’t always easy to walk on. Make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes, and consider a short walk in the lower part of the village if you’re having mobility issues.

Broaden your horizons and check out what other visitors have to say about the place on TripAdvisor. If you want to learn more about Kayaköy without the tourist setting, know that the book Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres has been based on the village. For a general Guide on Turkey, have a look at this Turkey Edition from Lonely Planet.

If you have any questions about visiting Kayaköy, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Explore the area a little further by visiting beautiful Af Kule Monastery just past Kayaköy. Drive to Gemiler beach and pop over to Saint-Nicholas Island, or head into Fethiye town for a dash of shopping, culture, and nightlife.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Are you keen on spending more time in this area? Why not stay at Beatrix Cottage or Villa Amara in Kayaköy? And while you’re here, walk a part of the Lycian Way!

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

The nearest airports are Dalaman and Antalya, both of which have easy connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here.

Kayaköy has frequent public transport connections with Fethiye. You can find the current timetable using this link. (only in Turkish, but Google translate will sort that for you!)

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Kayaköy is an open-air museum and protected area. There is a small entrance fee to be paid at the booth next to the lower church. The streets of the ghost village aren’t always easy to walk on. Make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes, and consider a short walk in the lower part of the village if you’re having mobility issues.

Broaden your horizons and check out what other visitors have to say about the place on TripAdvisor. If you want to learn more about Kayaköy without the tourist setting, know that the book Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres has been based on the village. For a general Guide on Turkey, have a look at this Turkey Edition from Lonely Planet.

If you have any questions about visiting Kayaköy, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Explore the area a little further by visiting beautiful Af Kule Monastery just past Kayaköy. Drive to Gemiler beach and pop over to Saint-Nicholas Island, or head into Fethiye town for a dash of shopping, culture, and nightlife.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Are you keen on spending more time in this area? Why not stay at Beatrix Cottage or Villa Amara in Kayaköy? And while you’re here, walk a part of the Lycian Way!

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

The nearest airports are Dalaman and Antalya, both of which have easy connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here.

Kayaköy has frequent public transport connections with Fethiye. You can find the current timetable using this link. (only in Turkish, but Google translate will sort that for you!)

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

LISTS & REVIEWS

Bookmark your favorite places, find other destinations nearby, get directions from your location, and read or leave reviews.

Our Turkey Trip Planner wad designed to do just that. You'll find all our favorite spots in one place, including scenic road stops.

Map of Turkey

Do you like to see things on a map? On our interactive tourist map of Turkey, you'll spot nearby points of interest right away. We've done the heavy lifting for you. Just click on the icons to go to each post.

Enjoy our practical and inspirational map of Turkey!

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Kayaköy: ghost town vs. tourist attraction