Patara Beach, an expanse of pristine sand and lagoons on the south east coast of Turkey is one of the finest stretches of sand in the region. With stunning Roman ruins set inland from the beach, it’s a perfect place to stop off for a couple of days before moving onto the larger resorts closer to Antalya or Fethiye. Straddling the Roman ruins, the cosy little village of Gelemis offers family run guesthouses and restaurants sourcing the freshest food from local farms.
Luckily, Patara has been spared tourism development thanks to the historic Roman ruins and the fact that the beach is a breeding ground for loggerhead turtles, who have been laying eggs here for over 40 million years. Between the steep limestone peaks of the Lycia range and the beach, fresh healthy food is harvested on small farming plots. Much of this ends up in the restaurants dotted around the village of Gelemis. Wildlife is abundant in the protected area around the dunes and lagoons along the beach, offering wonderful opportunities for birdwatchers.
The locals are proud of the protection of Patara, and while they are extremely welcoming, they are aware of the impact over-development may have on the area. The Roman ruins, which are midway between Gelmeis and the beach, have been impeccably preserved and continue to be excavated by archaeologists. Let your inner Julius Caesar escape and conquer the ruins at sunset, the perfect time as the sun reflects beautifully against the old theatre and goats graze the surrounding grasslands.
The vast beach offers little in terms of amenities. There is a small cafe, some bamboo loungers and little else. Perfect in my opinion! Your pension will offer you a sun umbrella as there is only a handful available on the beach and are quite expensive. Say yes to the offer of the umbrella as otherwise there is no shade on the beach, and dam it gets hot in summer!
As it is a protected historical site, an entry fee of 10TL per day is charged to the ruins. As you must pass through the ruins to reach the beach you must pay this regardless of whether you are viewing the ruins or not. If staying locally and plan to return, a book of 10 tickets can be purchased from the ticket office.
Sleep, Eat and Shave
Rose Pension – Turks are renowned for their hospitality, but the owners and staff at the Rose go above and beyond for their guests. It is a truly warm and welcoming guesthouse, with a lovely pool and excellent food. Located in the centre of Gelemis, the owners are a charming family who hire foreign students for the summer season, giving the place an international vibe. Traditional and European inspired food is served, brought in by local farmers daily. A particular highlight is a Wednesday afternoon, when tea and cake is served. Very posh!
Beyoglu Apart – Up the hill from the village, this is small guesthouse run by a warm elderly couple. At the time it was cheapest pension, and the cosy rooms and comfortable garden offers a chance to relax and unwind. The lady of the manor is also happy to provide endless amounts of watermelon, tea and grapes while the husband will happily drive you to the beach and provide beach umbrellas free of charge.
Ayse Pancake House – A lovely woman called Ayse serves all sorts of sweet and savoury gozleme (a Turkish pancake) in her restaurant in the centre of Gelemis. Amazingly, she rolls out the pancakes fresh in front of you – all day and all evening. With a little help from her daughters and friends, she serves up some of the tastiest pancakes on the Turkish coast. The chocolate, banana and walnut pancake is a real treat!
Next door to Ayse is a fantastic barber shop where men of all ages can indulge in a proper Turkish shave, complete with the terrifyingly sharp cut throat razor. Sit back while the barber barber works his magic. It’s a super relaxing experience until he splashes lime juice over your raw skin… and then singes you ears and nose with burning oil, yikes!!! Once done he’ll finish off with a rough yet pleasurable head and shoulder massage. A definate must for any guy visiting Patara!
How to get to Patara
Located midway between the city of Antalya and the bustling town of Fethiye, Gelemis is the closest village to Patara. As development is forbidden close to the beach, Gelemis hosts a number of pensions and restaurants. Fethiye Seyahat offer services from both Antalya and Fethiye however they do stop in Gelemis. Tickets can be bought in the bus stations and be sure to ask that the bus will definitely stop at the main junction to Patara/Gelemis. There is normally a dolmus meeting each bus arrival which costs 2TL into the village. If there is no sign of a bus, hitchhike with friendly locals or enjoy a quiet 30 minute walk along green farmland to the main street.
During the day, a number of dolmus services connect Patara beach and Gelemis directly to Kas, Kalkan and Finike and other towns along the coast. The dolmus to Kalkan is 6TL and is handy for stocking up on food etc as it is only 13km away. Even better your pension owner may be going to the bank and may offer a free ride! Whoop!
From Gelemis it is a leisurely 20 minute walk through the Roman ruins to reach the beach. But be careful in the summer and pack water as it can be a struggle in high heat and there’s no shade from the sun. Hitchhiking is very common and is a quick way of reaching of the beach. A regular shuttle for 2TL runs between the beach and the village during the summer season. I would highly recommend walking back from the beach in the evening time as the sunset over the ruins is incredibly colourful.