Things To Do in Demre, Turkey: A Comprehensive Guide
Are you looking for the top things to do in Demre? Nested along the stunning Mediterranean Coast, Demre is a town of hidden wonders, waiting to be explored.
From ancient ruins to bustling markets, to the birthplace of a beloved Christmas figure, there’s something here for everyone. Let’s dive in and explore!
Top Attractions in Demre
St. Nicholas Church
If you believe Santa Claus hails from the chilly landscapes of Lapland, it’s time to rethink your geography!
Welcome to St. Nicholas Church in Demre, a place that unveils a captivating chapter of the ‘real’ Santa Claus story.
Santa Claus: A Tale Rooted in Turkey
Before he became Santa Claus, he was St. Nicholas, born in Patara, a coastal town not too far from Demre and renowned for its own Lycian ruins and captivating beach.
Following his death, St. Nicholas was initially buried at an island close to Fethiye, known today as St Nicholas Island.
However, his final resting place is right here in Demre, the city known as Myra in his time.
The First Church of St. Nicholas
Built over St. Nicholas’s sarcophagus, the first Church of St. Nicholas stands as a tribute to this venerated figure.
While the original structure has undergone multiple restorations and the current building dates primarily from the 9th century, it still retains its historic charm and spiritual appeal.
Artistic Marvels within St. Nicholas Church
As you step inside St. Nicholas Church, you’ll find yourself captivated by the beautiful mosaic floor tiles, a characteristic feature of Byzantine art.
The patterns, colors, and artistic finesse of these mosaics are indeed a sight to behold.
The remains of wall paintings also add to the church’s artistic allure.
While these paintings may have been weathered by time, they continue to provide intriguing insights into the religious and artistic sensibilities of the era.
Plan Your Visit to St. Nicholas Church
To fully immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of St. Nicholas Church, plan your visit between 9am and 7pm.
Take your time to explore this historic edifice, trace the intricate mosaics under your feet, and let the ambiance of the church take you back to the times of St. Nicholas.
Forget about the Lapland tales, and embark on an authentic journey into the life and legacy of St. Nicholas.
By visiting his church in Demre, you’re not only stepping into a place of profound historical and religious significance but also reconnecting with the fascinating story of the real man behind the Santa Claus legend.
Myra Rock Tombs
Only a short 2km journey from the center of Demre lies Myra, a city steeped in history and laden with majestic reminders of the past.
With roots deeply entrenched in the Lycian Union, the city of Myra later emerged as the capital of Lycia during early Byzantine times, succeeding the historic city of Xanthos.
Rock Tombs: An Artistic Masterpiece
At the heart of Myra’s allure are the remarkable rock-cut tombs. These aren’t your ordinary burial sites.
The rock-cut tombs are a testament to the exceptional craftsmanship of the Lycians.
Once adorned with vibrant paint, they create a striking picture against the backdrop of the rocky landscape.
While the original colors may have faded over time, the intricate carving of the rock remains, so delicate and detailed that one could easily mistake it for woodwork at first glance. This intriguing optical illusion adds to the allure of these ancient tombs.
The exact origin of the rock tombs remains somewhat of a mystery. There’s no written record of their construction until the 1st Century BC.
However, the presence of a defensive wall from the 5th century BC within the site suggests these structures are undeniably ancient.
The Amphitheatre: A Testament to Lycian Grandeur
The site of Myra also houses a well-preserved amphitheater, one of the largest in the Lycian region.
The grandeur of the amphitheater is accentuated by the rare sight of the impressive corridors leading to it.
The theatre stands as a testament to Myra’s prosperous past and is a must-see when visiting the site.
Plan Your Visit to Myra
Myra isn’t a large site, but its enchanting beauty attracts a fair share of visitors, particularly group tours from Antalya.
Therefore, it’s recommended to plan your visit early in the morning to beat the crowds and have a more tranquil exploration of the site.
The site is open from 9am to 7pm, giving you ample time to explore these ancient wonders.
As you walk around Myra, take a moment to appreciate the rich history, artistic mastery, and the passage of time that’s evident in every stone.
In Myra, you’re not just visiting an archaeological site. You’re stepping into a time machine, journeying through centuries, and witnessing the remnants of a civilization that once was.
Myra is, without a doubt, a crucial part of any visit to Demre.
This ancient city, with its unique rock-cut tombs and magnificent amphitheater, offers a window into the rich heritage of the Lycian civilization and is certain to be a highlight of your Turkish adventure.
Andriake Ancient City
If your curiosity about the Lycian culture and civilization is piqued, then Andriake Ancient City must feature on your list of things to do in Demre.
Rich in history and artifacts, the ancient port city of Andriake (now Çayağzı) is a treasure trove of archaeological marvels that were once part and parcel of Myra.
Wandering Through Andriake’s Ruins
A journey through the ruins of Andriake is like walking through the pages of a history book.
It’s an opportunity to explore Roman baths, where citizens of ancient times would gather not just for cleanliness but also for social interaction.
Then there’s the agora, the public space that served as the heartbeat of political, commercial, and social life.
Churches stand as witnesses to the spread of Christianity in this part of the world.
One of the must-see attractions in Andriake is the reconstructed underwater cistern.
If you’ve been to Istanbul and marveled at the impressive underground cistern there, Andriake’s version will be a fascinating addition to your experience.
The Museum of Lycian Civilisations: A Journey into Antiquity
Andriake isn’t just an outdoor archaeological site. It’s also home to the indoor Museum of Lycian Civilisations, which houses over a thousand historical artifacts from the Lycian, Roman, and Byzantine empires.
The museum itself is steeped in history. Converted from what was once a Roman granary known as Hadrian’s Granary, the museum is a testament to the multi-layered history of the region.
Here, you can delve deeper into the history of Myra, as well as other notable Lycian cities such as Xanthos and Patara.
From pottery to sculptures, coins to inscriptions, every artifact holds a story waiting to be unveiled.
Embarking on Your Exploration of Andriake
Taking time to visit Andriake Ancient City is a journey back to a time when empires rose and fell, cultures evolved, and history was etched in stone.
As you traverse its ancient streets, explore its ruins, and wander through the museum, you get a sense of connection with the past that’s truly unique.
Remember, in every step you take through Andriake, you’re walking on the same grounds as the ancient Lycians, Romans, and Byzantines.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply a traveler looking for unique experiences, Andriake is a destination that promises a profound and enriching experience.
After a day exploring the ancient ruins, there’s nothing more refreshing than unwinding on the sand and soaking up the sun at Demre Beach.
Located a short 4.5km from the town center, this beach is the perfect place to kick back and immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of the Mediterranean coast.
From the Town to the Beach: A Breezy Journey
If you’re staying in town and don’t have access to a car, don’t worry! The beach is easily accessible.
Just hop into a local taxi for a quick, comfortable ride to the seaside. Being not far from the Museum of Lycian Civilisations, you can conveniently couple your historical tour with a relaxing beach trip.
The Charm of Demre Beach
Demre Beach is a splendid stretch of sandy coastline that guarantees a delightful afternoon.
Whether you’re a water baby eager to dive into the crystal-clear water or a sun worshiper wanting to bask under the warm Mediterranean sun, Demre Beach caters to all.
Bring along your favorite book and settle down on the soft sand, with the soothing sounds of the waves as your background score.
When the heat gets too much, take a refreshing dip in the turquoise water. The calm waves are ideal for leisurely swimming or simply cooling off.
A Perfect Beach Day in Demre
After a relaxing day on the beach, head back to the town. Your heart will be filled with the tranquil beauty of the ocean and your mind with the serenity that only a day at the beach can bring.
Demre Beach, with its sand, sea, and sun, is a crucial part of any Demre itinerary, offering the perfect balance of relaxation after your historical exploration of the city. Remember, a visit to Demre isn’t complete without a stop at its stunning beach!
Demre Friday Market
Demre’s vibrant heart beats loudest on Fridays, where locals and visitors flock to the Demre Friday Market.
An experience beyond mere shopping, the market pulsates with the rhythm of Turkish culture, offering a kaleidoscope of fresh produce, buzzing energy, and a fantastic opportunity to mingle with the locals.
A Traditional Gathering: More Than Just a Market
Every Friday, sellers from nearby villages gather in Demre, transforming it into a vibrant hotspot.
Initially an open-air market, it now thrives under a massive covered area, reminiscent of a bustling Russian bazaar.
Amidst the lively chatter, you’ll find temporary stalls in the main covered section, teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Explore, Sample, and Savour: A Food Lover’s Paradise
Framing the central area, fixed stalls offer a fresh selection of fish, creating a delightful corner for seafood enthusiasts.
But the market extends beyond the covered section too! Outside, you’ll find stalls offering dairy products, nuts, and pulses, truly creating a one-stop-shop for your culinary needs.
The best part about the Demre Friday Market? The sellers! Generous with samples and smiles, they’ll happily let you taste their produce and might even assist in honing your Turkish skills.
Experience Turkish Culture: A Must-Visit in Demre
If you’re in Demre on a Friday, the market is an unmissable event. Whether you’re on a quest for fresh ingredients, eager to sample local flavors, or simply want to experience Turkish culture, the Demre Friday Market offers an authentic and memorable experience.
A trip to the market is not just about the purchases but also about taking home a piece of Demre’s vibrancy and spirit!
Outdoor Activities in Demre
From kayaking to paragliding, Demre offers a plethora of outdoor activities for thrill-seekers.
Go hiking, explore the off-beaten paths, or embark on a boat trip along the captivating Mediterranean coast.
Local Cuisine in Demre
Immerse yourself in Demre’s cultural tapestry at the Greek House Cafe, a delightful establishment steeped in history and charm.
As much a museum as it is a café, the Greek House Cafe offers an enchanting glimpse into Demre’s Greek heritage.
Journey Back in Time: The Café’s Decor
Step inside the café, and you’ll be instantly transported to a bygone era. The Greek House Cafe is filled with antiques that narrate a fascinating tale of history and culture.
You could easily while away your time exploring these timeless artifacts and their intriguing stories.
The outdoor area, bathed in the iconic blue and white synonymous with Greek architecture, further reinforces the café’s cultural roots. This quaint, picturesque setting offers the perfect backdrop for a laid-back afternoon.
Unwind and Refuel: Delicious Offerings
Nestled just a couple of hundred meters down the street from Saint Nicholas’ Church, Greek House Cafe is an ideal spot to relax and refuel after your visit to the church.
Offering a varied menu of delectable drinks and satisfying meals, the café promises a delightful gastronomic experience to match its engaging ambiance.
Greek House Cafe: A Must-Visit in Demre
As you sip on a refreshing drink and enjoy a leisurely meal at the Greek House Cafe, you don’t just indulge your taste buds—you partake in a unique cultural experience.
This charming cafe, with its captivating Greek heritage and delicious fare, is undoubtedly a must-visit when in Demre.
Best Time to Visit Demre
Demre experiences a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.
The best time to visit Demre is from April to October when the weather is ideal for exploring the outdoor attractions and relaxing on the beach.
How To Get To Demre
Planning to explore the enchanting town of Demre from Fethiye? You’re in for a delightful trip! Here’s your comprehensive guide to reaching Demre, either by bus or by car.
Travel by Bus: Affordable and Convenient
If you’re looking for an economical and relaxing option, taking a bus is your best bet. The fare ranges from 65 ₺ to 140 ₺, and the journey takes approximately 3 hours and 10 minutes.
The bus service, operated by Bati Antalya Tur, departs from Demre station and arrives at Fethiye station. Services are available daily, making it incredibly convenient to plan your journey.
Travel by Car: Fast and Flexible
If time is of the essence or if you prefer the freedom to control your travel schedule, driving is the quickest way to get from Demre to Fethiye.
The journey takes approximately 2 hours and 2 minutes, with a driving distance of 149 km.
However, do note that this option comes with a higher cost, with taxi services charging between 900 ₺ – 1.100 ₺ for the journey.
From its rich history to vibrant markets, beautiful beaches, and enticing local cuisine, Demre offers an enchanting blend of attractions and activities.
So pack your bags and get ready to uncover the gems of this Turkish town on your next holiday!
Remember, this is only a glimpse of the wealth of experiences that await you in Demre. So why wait? Start planning your trip today! Check out our comprehensive guide to the Turkish Riviera for more information.
Demre is home to various attractions including St. Nicholas Church, Myra Rock Tombs, Andriake Ancient City, Demre Beach, and the Greek House Cafe. Demre also hosts a vibrant Friday Market and offers various outdoor activities.
St. Nicholas Church in Demre is the final resting place of St. Nicholas, who is believed to be the real Santa Claus. The church has beautiful Byzantine mosaic floor tiles and retains its historical charm and spiritual appeal.
Myra's rock-cut tombs, situated near Demre, showcase exceptional Lycian craftsmanship.
Though their original paint has faded, the intricate carvings, often mistaken for woodwork, remain. The site also houses one of the largest amphitheaters in the Lycian region.
The best time to visit Demre, considering its Mediterranean climate, is from April to October. During this period, the weather is ideal for exploring outdoor attractions and relaxing on the beach.
To reach Demre from Fethiye, one can take a bus which takes approximately 3 hours and 10 minutes. Alternatively, one can opt for a taxi or drive, which takes about 2 hours and 2 minutes.