Things to do in Fethiye: Exploring abandoned Saint Nicholas Island, Turkey

We may have mentioned it before; there are plenty of things to do in Fethiye, Turkey. One of our favorite places to visit must be Saint Nicholas Island. It’s a little, abandoned island just off the coast of Gemile beach, past Kayaköy. It is picture perfect and will appeal to culture freaks, history lovers, beach babes, and anyone who fancies 360° stunning nature views. And we might as well confess to it, anything that involves a boat trip, even a short one like this one, grabs our attention. We love to slow travel after all. 🙂

Saint Nicholas Island Turkey

Saint Nicholas Island

Things to do in Fethiye: visit enchanting Gemiler Adası

Indeed, Saint Nicholas Island is a name used by foreigners; locals use its Turkish name: Gemiler Adası. The name Saint Nicholas island didn’t come falling from the sky. It has everything to do with the history of the island, which is said to have been used as a refuge by Saint Nicholas and his followers to escape the Roman persecution in the 4th Century. They founded and built a monastic retreat on the island, including several churches and plenty of other buildings and corridors.

It is widely accepted that the island was also the original burial place of Saint Nicholas, but that his bones were removed and taken to Myra after people abandoned the island in the 7th century, due to threats by the Arab fleet. The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism manages Saint Nicholas Island, but apart from a few signs and warnings to stay on the (naturally created) paths, you will pretty much feel like an explorer discovering its mystery. In fact, during our out of season visit, we were the only people there. The only company we had was a ginger cat and some goats.

Saint Nicholas Island

Saint Nicholas Island

Saint Nicholas Island

Stunning beauty all around Saint Nicholas Island!

Saint Nicholas Island is about one kilometer long and a couple of hundred meters wide. As soon as you get in the taxi boat from Gemile beach, you will be struck by the beauty that surrounds you. Nothing but pretty turquoise bays, rocky coasts, and pine-clad mountains. Layers and layers of islands, sea, and forests. This scenery is your habitat during your entire visit. No matter where you look, you see majestic beauty!

Saint Nicholas Island

There is something very relaxing about exploring Saint Nicholas Island. The silence, the scenery, but also the mystery. You can’t help but wonder how people managed to build these incredible structures on this tiny island at a time were Fethiye (then Telmessos) didn’t even exist. The view from Saint Nicholas Island towards Dalaman is just as stunning as the one towards Ölüdeniz with the snow-capped mountains in the back. The rectangle shapes in the rocks are graves.

Saint Nicholas Island

Mysterious ruins in an awe-inspiring setting

With a setting like this one, you would think you won’t care about the ruins on the island any longer. You might not, especially if you have a general dislike for anything ancient, but we expect you to be wowed. These are not your average ruins. Especially the tunnel or corridor and the remains of the three-arched church are bound to charm even the most skeptical visitors.

Saint Nicholas Island

Most of the tunnel’s roof collapsed after an earthquake, still, even in its current state, the long corridor is intriguing, to say the least. You will find a surprising perspective behind each corner or at the end of each passage. The island is an accumulation of surprises and wow-moments and hidden corners. Surely you want to know what’s behind? And the good part is: you get to discover it! Astonishing views and charming details are all part of the deal. They are what Saint Nicholas Island is all about.

Saint Nicholas Island

If you are wondering about fun things to do in Fethiye, do consider spending a day on Saint Nicholas Island. And if you want our advice, just take a taxi boat from Gemile beach or even from Ölüdeniz instead of joining one the packed island cruises on offer. The best time to visit Gemiler Adası may be out of season when there are hardly any tourists around. But rest assured that a beautiful island like this one will still charm the hell out of you if you have to share the experience with others.

Practical information about Fethiye, Turkey

Keen on coming and checking out for yourself? Check out things to do in Fethiye on TripAdvisor and have a look at their hotels and vacation rentals if you want a charming place to stay in Fethiye.

✔️ Have you been to Saint Nicholas Island? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the island to your bucket list.

The nearest airport is Dalaman which has smooth connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here.

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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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Things to do in Fethiye: Exploring abandoned Saint Nicholas Island, Turkey