HIKING THE LYCIAN WAY: A Practical Guide to Turkey’s Best Long Distance Walk
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Since its creation in 1999, many people have tried to walk the challenging Lycian Way in Turkey. Whatever you are attempting to hike the entire path or simply enjoying day walks, you’re bound to see and experience something amazing along your way.
Use this practical guide to discover the best spots, the best times to visit, and everything you need to know before hiking the Lycian Way.
Hiking the Lycian Way: What to expect
This isn’t Turkey’s only long-distance walk, but it definitely one of the most original and unique!
This 300-mile walk is a combination of independent footpaths first established in the Roman period. Throughout your journey, you’ll see mountain peaks, luscious forests, ancient ruins, peaceful beaches, and much more.
Best time to hike the Lycian Way in Turkey
Across the four seasons, temperatures and weather conditions can vary a lot.
In the summer months, temperatures get uncomfortably high. On the contrary, winter has very low temperatures – too cold to hike comfortably.
Therefore, the best time to be hiking the Lycian Way is during the shoulder seasons. In Spring – March to May – and Autumn – September to October – the days are sunny and warm with a fresh breeze.
Quick and Essential tips for hiking the Lycian Way
Duration: It usually takes between 20 and 40 days to complete.
Getting there: Two cities at either end are Fethiye and Antalya, where you can find inter-city buses connecting them to most cities in the country.
Fees and permits: None at all! No fees or permits are required.
Direction: The most popular is from West (Fethiye) to East (Antalya.)
Camping vs Accommodation
One great thing about hiking the Lycian Way is that there are so many options when it comes to accommodation.
If you have a low budget, or are particularly adventurous and enjoy the outdoors, camping is a great option! This will allow you a lot more freedom in choosing when and where to stop. However, it means you will have to carry a lot more equipment, challenging on a long-distance walk. For tips and recommendations on how to pack like a pro click here
There are some traditional hotels and pensions along the way. Here you can enjoy true Turkish hospitality and even home-cooked food from friendly locals. These communities have greatly benefited from travelers hiking the Lycian Way and will be delighted to have you stay.
Food and water
Fortunately, there are several mini markets and small restaurants across the trail. They’re all very affordable. There will be daily options for fresh fruit, bread, and cheese. However, it is recommended you carry some food and water with you as this is not an extremely popular destination. Be sure to refill in villages, shops, and fountains, all indicated on TrailSmart app.
Lycian way highlights: west to east
There are no bad or underwhelming sections of the Lycian Way! The entire walk will be jaw-dropping and mesmerizing.
Blue Lagoon, Oludeniz
This is a world-known hot spot for its aquamarine waters (Extremely snap-friendly). You can relax and observe fellow swimmers and the paragliders above, have a barefoot walk, or swim in these idyllic turquoise waters. The lagoon is peaceful as no boats are allowed, but you can hire a canoe or paddle-boat to explore the shores.
The village of Faralya is just 12km away from Ölüdeniz. Beneath this is the legendary Butterfly Valley, home to around 100 species of butterflies. In 1987 the Turkish government named it a preservation area to protect the local flora and butterflies.
You’re likely to see this spot in every guide to hiking the Lycian Way; it’s one of the most picturesque and beautiful places in Turkey. At the end of the valley is a breathtaking waterfall, complete with a stream leading to the Mediterranean. Be careful on your walk from Faralya village to the valley, as it’s known to be dangerous – some fatalities have occurred, so you’ll see several warning signs discouraging you to hike down. Instead, there’s a shuttle boat that can safely sail you there.
Just 45km away from Fethiye is this gorgeous ancient city. It’s filled with countless hidden treasures, all as photogenic as the last. You’ll fill your camera snapping up these ruins, tombs, and free-standing sarcophagi.
Baths, theatres, and other structures are still standing after several earthquakes throughout the years. Walkthrough these beautiful ruins and indulge in the unique scents of wildflowers, ancient olive trees, thyme-scented breezes, and fragrant pines.
As you enter this city you’ll be greeted by huge monumental graves and massive ornamental columns. The ancient temples dedicated to Lycian gods and rock tombs will be an impressive highlight of your trip.
A charming village called Dodurga has since been built among the remains, utilizing the pillars and remnants from villager’s homes.
This used to be classed as a city, containing the biggest administration center in Lycia. Unfortunately, now no significant building remains due to many wars the city has been host to. It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list, with sarcophagus tombs, a church, and a theatre that have scraped survival throughout the turbulent years.
From what remains of this antique city, we can see that Pydnai probably used to be a small naval and military base fortress. However, due to many earthquakes, most of the buildings here could not survive. But whilst you hike over the small hill you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the surrounding land.
This ancient city has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988. It’s been abandoned since then, keeping its rare structures of old monuments locked into history. Its remains consist of some old monuments and buildings, arising from water. You can see the Hellenistic Revolutionary theatre poking out of the lush vegetation. In addition, there are remains of three temples, sitting side by side. The biggest and best-preserved one is the temple of Leo.
Turkey’s longest beach is one of the many beautiful things you’ll see whilst hiking the Lycian Way. It stretches for 11 miles!
About a mile inland is a small village called Gelemi, nestled in a shallow valley. It didn’t exist until the fifties, so there are only a couple of restaurants with delicious locally produced food, bars, and shops. Everything is independent and family-run. Therefore, this also means there are zero tour companies.
Across the Patara beach, you can see the remains of a sand-swept theatre, a cemetery with Lycian tombs, a public bath, and a basilica amongst many more treasures.
This is an unmissable town along the Lycian Way, a perfect spot to rest along your hike. It used to be a small fishing village. However, in the last few decades, it has transformed. Here you can relax on the picturesque beaches, find a treat in the independent shops and taste some delicious local food. Its laid-back atmosphere has a charming character. If you’re hiking the Lycian Way and also enjoy a bit of diving, this is a great spot for underwater exploring. Furthermore, ocean-lovers can get a boat trip or explore by kayaking.
Next up along your journey hiking the Lycian Way is this stunning city. It also used to be a fishing village, but an earthquake hit, flooded, and destroyed many buildings. Now, you can see a combination of medieval, ancient, and modern history. Tombs poke out of the water, and you can hike around old churches and houses built on the hills-turned-islands. There are underwater rock tombs and foundations of buildings, protected by the ban on snorkeling and swimming.
This town was discovered by Charles Fellows in 1840. He claims the tombs were painted blue, red, and yellow when he found them. However, today they appear plain.
You can still see the large theatre that once sat 13,000 people – the largest in Lycia. You can find the tombs at the top of the hills, where villagers believed the dead could be transported to another world more easily.
There’s also St. Nicholas’ Church, where Turkish archaeologists claim to have found a tomb they attribute to St. Nicholas, the real man behind the Christmas icon Santa Claus.
Olympos has both Roman and Byzantine works for you to marvel at. There’s the harbor basilica, necropolis church, a theatre, a temple gate, and many more historical ruins.
The area is under protection, so there are no hotels or resorts. A big highlight whilst hiking the Lycian Way is Yanartas, a fascinating natural phenomenon. These are several small fires that constantly keep themselves lit! It looks magical, especially at night.
National Park Mount Olympus is the highest point you’ll reach when hiking the Lycian Way, at 2,366m high. It’s a very popular tourist destination for all travelers when visiting Turkey, attracting thousands of visitors every year. In the winter people love skiing and snowboarding. Meanwhile, in summer, the outdoor-lovers flock to enjoy the stunning scenery – especially from the top of the mountain. Photographers will also love the snapping opportunities of abundant wildlife and a vast range of constantly changing flora and fauna.
Goynuk town and canyon
And last but by no means least is Göynük town, an increasingly popular spot for visitors who want to escape to nature. Highlights include a 4.5km long canyon! Which is a significant part of hiking the Lycian Way. Here you can be mesmerized by hidden waterfalls and ponds, tucked inside the canyon.
This practical guide to hiking the Lycian way just touches on some of the fascinating historical and natural sights that attract thousands of visitors each year. It’s the perfect long-distance trail for those wanting to mix the perks of pleasant seaside holiday towns with challenging hikes across a network of interesting paths.
Rocky coastlines along the Mediterranean sea and stretches of fascinating ancient ruins, you’ll be wowed throughout every step of your unforgettable hike.