Kayaköy: Ghost Town becomes 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 list, but it has become a more favorable place to visit in recent years 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 at the conclusion of 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!


Kayaköy stimulates your imagination

Strolling around the village after having read about its history lets your imagination run free. The whole village has a special feel to it, especially if you decide not to visit it with an organized tour. Take your time, walk around the cobbled streets and stairs of 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.


Kayaköy shows the beauty of decay

Yes, there is beauty in decay. It is even tangible in Kayaköy. Maybe the reason 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 being that we are talking about recent history. You are walking around in a village that looks like something we know, no amphitheaters, Greek or Roman pillars or anything like that. Just a ghost village. Abandoned, then destroyed by an earthquake but with enough still standing to make it an attractive place to visit. Both churches are currently closed for restoration. Still, don’t let this keep you from visiting Kayaköy when in the area. To make up for it, @girlastray was kind enough to let use a picture she took while visiting Kayaköy a while back.


Kayaköy today

As mentioned, Kayaköy has become a more popular place to visit. With that may have come some tourist traps and the odd times where you encounter a busload enjoying their guided tour. Other than that, this increased popularity gives the family businesses in the valley a good chance of survival. You will discover most places are shut down in Winter, but a few remain open keeping the Turkish tradition alive of always providing for food and tea when visitors appear. 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 from which they will happily let you taste some wine. A perfect way to savor local delights. ? 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.



Practical information

Broaden your horizons and check out what Kayaköy 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 Guide on Turkey in general, have a look at this Turkey Edition from Lonely Planet.


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!

Do you prefer a beachside location? Ölüdeniz has become a buzzing tourist hub, still, Beyaz Yunus Hotel and Jade Residence offer the peace and quiet you may be looking for.

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 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.

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All pictures, except the inside of the church © @Aegean.Images

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