Visiting Patara, Turkey’s longest beach with its own ancient site!

Patara is Turkey’s longest beach. You can stroll along this sandy beach for a whopping 12km enjoying the lovely dunes as a backdrop. (Yes, we’ve measured it on Google Maps!) Patara beach is a delight for people who like walking or horseriding on the shore and for sunbathers and swimmers on the lookout for a natural beach, without the crowds, even in high season. You would think that this alone would be reason enough to visit Patara, but that’s not doing justice to the ancient city you cross to reach the beach. In fact, that is where Patara beach got its name, from Patara ancient city.

Arch Of Mettius Modestus And Sarcophagus

Arch Of Mettius Modestus And Sarcophagus

The most literal form of beach culture!

This phrase fits Patara like a glove. In all honesty, it is hard to tell which is the most impressive, the unspoiled beach, or the ruins adjacent to it. There is a good reason this beach is so pristine: it is a protected area. Twice! The whole beach is protected because of the resident (and protected) Loggerhead Turtles, and also because it is a category one archeological site. Furthermore, the village behind Patara beach, Gelemiş, has not caught the eye of any tour operators yet. The whole atmosphere is low key, with local and family-run businesses offering charming places to stay and locally produced food. The only human-made thing you will find on the beach is a small wooden cafe, run by the Belediye (local government). Apart from that, you’re all set for 12km of untouched beach.

Patara Beach In All Its Glory

Patara Beach In All Its Glory

That's One Glorious Beach!

That’s One Glorious Beach!

Patara

The beauty of archeology: ancient Patara

Why not get a culture shot while getting a tan? Have a walk around the ruins of Patara. You can’t miss them, as you have to drive past them to access the beach. The setting is phenomenal, dunes on one side, the mountains at the back, and a lagoon with wildlife somewhere in between. You’ll instantly understand that Patara used to be an influential city during Roman times. And the partly restored remains have a fascinating story to tell. Patara is home to a Theatre, several Temple Tombs, a Council Chamber or Bouleuterion, and a Colonnaded Street, among other things. Most visitors don’t make it past the Main Street and Bouleuterion area, which is a shame. You’ll see in this post that venturing a bit further afield holds some jaw-dropping rewards.

Next To The Spring Church And Its Cemetery

Next To The Spring Church And Its Cemetery

Patara in history

Fun fact: Patara was also where St. Nicholas was born. You may know him as Santa Claus. He later moved to Demre, where you can still visit his church.
As one of the six major cities of Lycia, Patara had a flourishing trade business and was very wealthy. Its interesting location and prosperity also caught the eye of Alexander the Great, who conquered it and established a significant naval base at the far end of the city. The Roman Governor made Patara his administrative office, and, also during the Roman Era, the city became the capital of all Lycian and Pamphylian provinces.
View Towards The Arch Of Mettius Modestus From The Theatre

View Towards The Arch Of Mettius Modestus From The Theatre

The downfall started somewhere in the Late Roman Era. Over the centuries, Patara kept shrinking both in size and importance. When finally the harbor silted up, it meant the end of Patara was near. The glorious buildings fell into disrepair and eventually ended up buried in the sand. Fortunately, excavations at Patara have revealed several of its magnificent buildings and structures, some of which have been meticulously restored. Have a walk around with us in what follows below.

View Of The Bouleuterion During The Kurşunlu Tepe Hill Descent

View Of The Bouleuterion During The Kurşunlu Tepe Hill Descent

Arch of Mettius Modestus

One of the first landmarks you will notice upon your arrival at Patara is the Arch of Mettius Modestus. This triple-vaulted triumphal Arch has become the symbol of Patara. The Arch is a massive, 10m high structure of three arches built by the people of Patara in honor of Mettius Modestus, who was the governor-general of Lycia and Pamphylia. Near the Arch, you’ll notice a Necropolis with mostly Lycian Sarcophagi. At about 50m south of the Arch are the remains of an Octagonal Pool, which was used from the 1st to the 4th century AD.

Arch Of Mettius Modestus With Sarcophagus In The Foreground

Arch Of Mettius Modestus With Sarcophagus In The Foreground

Arch Of Mettius Modestus And The Octagonal Pool In Front Of It

Arch Of Mettius Modestus And The Octagonal Pool In Front Of It

The Theatre

Patara’s Theatre was built in the 2nd or 1st century BC on the northern slope of Kurşunlutepe Hill. It has a semi-circular seating area with a diameter of 80m, and a seating capacity of 6.000 people divided over 38 rows. On the top row of the Theatre is a Temple dedicated to the Imperial Cult.

The Theatre Is Fairly Well Preserved And Offers Great Views

The Theatre Is Fairly Well Preserved And Offers Great Views

On Top Of The Theatre, The Views Are Spectacular!

On Top Of The Theatre, The Views Are Spectacular!

The impressive Stage Building or Skene is 41,50 m long and 6,50 m high. A monumental inscription on the northwest side of the skene wall indicates that Quintus Velius Titianus financed the construction of the entire skene. He also paid for the 11th row of seats (and perhaps the eleventh cercis) in the upper part of the cavea (suma cavea), as well as of a tent (velum) over the cavea and perhaps of other drapes. The inscription also reads that his daughter Velia Procla completed the renovation and adorned the theatre with sculptures and marble inlays dedicated to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and a few Gods. Read more about that in this paper.

Monumental Inscription Explaining That Quintus Velius Titianus Funded The Construction

Monumental Inscription Explaining That Quintus Velius Titianus Funded The Construction

Goat Explores Theatre

Goat Explores Theatre

Kurşunlutepe and its Temple Tomb

If you head upwards after visiting the Theatre, you can walk to the top of Kurşunlutepe Hill from where you have a magnificent view of the area. Also on top of that hill are the remains of a Temple Tomb dated to the Early Roman Imperial period. While it is in a very ruined state, its position suggests that this was the burial place for a very prominent citizen.

All That Remains From This Temple Tomb Are Its Arches

All That Remains From This Temple Tomb Are Its Arches

Some Temple Tombs Are Difficult To Reach

Some Temple Tombs Are Difficult To Reach

The Bouleuterion

The Bouleuterion or Assembly Hall of the Lycian League was constructed in the early years of the 1st century BC. With time, several alterations were made to the original construction. During the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius or Emperor Nero, the cavea or seating area was extended.

The Impressive Bouleuterion

The Impressive Bouleuterion

Checking Out The Scenery From One Of The Bouleuterion's Windows

Checking Out The Scenery From One Of The Bouleuterion’s Windows

Later, after a major earthquake, a Stoa was added, as well as a stage building inside. After that, the building was also used as a concert hall. The Bouleuterion has a seating capacity for up to 1.400 people on 21 rows. The Governors had a dedicated seating area in the center, known as tribunalia. The restored building is definitely one of Patara’s eye-catchers!

Vip Seats In The Bouleuterion

Vip Seats In The Bouleuterion

Bouleuterion Arch With Main Street In The Background

Bouleuterion Arch With Main Street In The Background

The Collonaded Main Street

The Collonaded Main Street connected the inner-harbor to the Agora in front of the Bouleuterion. One side of the street is adorned with granite columns, while the other side has marble columns. The absence of wheel marks indicates that this street was probably for pedestrian use only. After the street collapsed as a result of consecutive earthquakes, it was completely flooded. Even nowadays, large parts of the 100 m that have been unearthed are usually flooded.

The Collonaded Main Street

The Collonaded Main Street

Main Street With Nero Vespasianus Bath In The Background

Main Street With Nero Vespasianus Bath In The Background

On one side of the street you can still see the ruined remains of the shops. On the other side, are the ruins of the Central Baths and the Nero-Vespasianus Baths, both of which are inaccessible due to excavation works.

The Central Bath, Next To The Main Street

The Central Bath, Next To The Main Street

Central Bath And Nero Vespasianus Bath

Central Bath And Nero Vespasianus Bath

The Lighthouse

As an important harbor city, Patara also had a lighthouse. it is believed to be the oldest one in the world, as it is approximately 2.000 years old. Built around 60 AD, it is estimated that the lighthouse must have been around 16 to 20 m high. Researchers support the theory that the lighthouse was destroyed in a tsunami. The fact that the stones of the lighthouse were all found on the same side, supports that theory. An earthquake, scientists say, would cause the stone to be scattered all over the place. Today, not a lot of the lighthouse is still standing, but there are plans to restore it. And even as it is, it is a fascinating structure.

Inside The Partly Restored Lighthouse At Patara

Inside The Partly Restored Lighthouse At Patara

Spectacular Pieces Of Patara's Lighthouse

Spectacular Pieces Of Patara’s Lighthouse

Prostylos Temple & Seljuk Bath

In between the bushes of Patara stands a truly magnificent and well-preserved temple. The Prostylos Temple is supposed to be the best-preserved temple of its kind in Lycia. Raised on a 1,5 m podium, the temple measures 12,8 x 9,7 m. You enter the cult room via a sumptuous 6,6 m high gate, now supported by scaffolding. The temple dates back to the 2nd century AD, and it is unknown to whom it was dedicated. Next to the Prostylos Temple, you’ll find the ruins of a Seljuk Bath.

Prostylos Temple At Patara

Prostylos Temple At Patara

The Impressive Door Of The Prostylos Temple Needs Support

The Impressive Door Of The Prostylos Temple Needs Support

More interesting ruins in Patara

Patara is very stretched out, and there seem to be ruins in every corner of the former city. You will also see a rather large building, which was the former Granary. Next to it is another Temple Tomb, the Pseudoperipteral Temple Tomb. And even before you enter the actual site, you’re met with several Necropolises, Temple Tombs, the Ceramic Ovens, or the Harbor Baths, just to name a few.

Patara's Only Temple Tomb With Its Original Vault Preserved

Patara’s Only Temple Tomb With Its Original Vault Preserved

Spring Church Cemetery

Spring Church Cemetery

Next to the Harbor Baths is the Palm Grove of Leto. An oasis of lush green palm trees, and the story that comes with them. Legend states that the God Apollo was the son of Leto and Zeus. Leto had to search for a place to give birth to Apollo and Artemis after Hera in a jealous rage, spelled all lands to avoid her. When she eventually found an island unattached to the ocean floor, the pain of birth hit her. Leto cast her arms around a palm tree and kneeled on the soft meadow while the earth laughed for joy beneath. That’s when Apollo was born. Ancient sources mention Delos as a location. Still, modern literature today accepts that rocky Delos doesn’t fit the description, while the palm grove at Patara ticks all the boxes.

Palm Grove Of Leto

Palm Grove Of Leto

Patara is one of the few places in Turkey to combine the most idyllic beach life, with an impressive ancient site. It is a glorious place, in every sense of the word. Of course, Phaselis or Teos are also beaches with ancient sites. Still, the size of both the beach and the ancient city at Patara are beyond comparison. For more practical information on how to prepare your visit to Patara, head to the tabs below.

Do you want to add Patara to your bucket list? Or have you been there and would you like to leave a review? Head over to our Turkey Trip Planner!

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Would you like to read what visitors have to say before you go? Read these reviews of Patara to get an even better picture. If you are looking for a reliable guide for the area, we can recommend this paperback that also covers this part of Turkey.

The beach is closed after sunset until 8:30 am. You will be charged a small entrance fee for the beach and the ancient site. For frequent visitors, a beach and site pass is available.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

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! 😉

Why don’t you consider visiting nearby Pınara if you feel like changing the beach for an enchanted forest? Or walk a part of the Lycian Way? If you’re after checking off a few more UNESCO sites off your list, Xanthos and Letoon are just around the corner. For a more mundane environment, take a look at Kalkan or Kaş!

For an organized tour by a reputable operator, have a look at this day trip to Xanthos, Saklıkent and Patara.

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? The Dardanos Hotel or Guesthouse Camelion are charming places to stay.

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.

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.

How to get to Patara?

Patara lies just behind the village of Gelemiş, off the main road connecting Fethiye with Kalkan. Access by car is easy, and well signposted. If you rely on public transport, a dolmuş will take your right up to the beach’s parking lot. After that, it’s just a short walk to either the site or the beach. You’ll find the current timetables here. The website is in Turkish only, but Google translate should do the trick.

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! 😉

Would you like to read what visitors have to say before you go? Read these reviews of Patara to get an even better picture. If you are looking for a reliable guide for the area, we can recommend this paperback that also covers this part of Turkey.

The beach is closed after sunset until 8:30 am. You will be charged a small entrance fee for the beach and the ancient site. For frequent visitors, a beach and site pass is available.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

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! 😉

Why don’t you consider visiting nearby Pınara if you feel like changing the beach for an enchanted forest? Or walk a part of the Lycian Way? If you’re after checking off a few more UNESCO sites off your list, Xanthos and Letoon are just around the corner. For a more mundane environment, take a look at Kalkan or Kaş!

For an organized tour by a reputable operator, have a look at this day trip to Xanthos, Saklıkent and Patara.

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? The Dardanos Hotel or Guesthouse Camelion are charming places to stay.

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.

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.

How to get to Patara?

Patara lies just behind the village of Gelemiş, off the main road connecting Fethiye with Kalkan. Access by car is easy, and well signposted. If you rely on public transport, a dolmuş will take your right up to the beach’s parking lot. After that, it’s just a short walk to either the site or the beach. You’ll find the current timetables here. The website is in Turkish only, but Google translate should do the trick.

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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Keloğlan Cave is like a frozen stalactite forest. It is perfect in size, a great stop when traveling with kids in Turkey, and a cool spot in summer!

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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.

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Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

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

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Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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#Turkey \'s longest #beach #Patara has its own #ancient site! Check it out here. Even if you\'ve visited, you probably missed out!