The Lycian way in Turkey offers many adventures for those who like hiking and trekking. In 1999, the Turkish government sponsored the marking and official designation of the country's first long-distance trail, the Lycian Way. The Lycian Way is named for the Lycia peninsula, today known as the Tekke peninsula, on Turkey's southern coast on the Mediterranean Sea. The route stretches over 500 km, but shorter trails attract less-experienced hikers. Trails like the Lycian Way offer citizens, expats, and tourists, many opportunities to delve deeply into Turkey's Mediterranean landscapes and rugged terrain while following the footsteps of history. Let’s look at why you should explore the Lycian way.
About the Lycian Way in Turkey
1: Glimpse of Lycian History
The Lycian people date back to 2000-1500 BC, known as a non-Hellenistic nation of hardworking and well-off citizens with a solid attachment to tradition. Lycia was the last Mediterranean region to resist the Roman Empire. As a result, they had their language and alphabet until 300 BC, when they finally adopted the Greek system. Many works of art and architecture still stand throughout various parts of the Lycian Way. In terms of sophistication and forward thinking, this empire in history excelled in more ways than one.
2: Walking the Lycian Way
To walk the entire Lycian Way route parallel to the turquoise sea, a stunning twenty-five-day journey by foot is waiting. The 509 km route runs from the official start of Fethiye to Antalya or vice versa, primarily composed of dirt and rock-filled footpaths. The trail snakes between mountains and the coast, offering stellar views and a high likelihood of walking into infamous tortoises heavily populating the region. Complete the route in spring or autumn, and avoid walking in winter and summer when the weather is unbearably cold and hot, respectively.
Whether in Turkey for the long-term or short vacations, experiencing the country by walking along the Lycian Way route is the best way to taste Turkey's ancient times, environmental beauties, and historical monuments and directly interact with warm and fascinating local Turkish people. In addition, everyone can expect good accommodation options, amazing views, crystal clear waters, and delicious food while hiking the trail of the Lycian Federation.
3: Overnight Lodging
On a regular route schedule, you won't have problems finding nightly B&B accommodation in many small villages along the route. Similarly, there are plenty of safe wild areas near clean water sources to camp or there are official camping sites along the walking route in Kabak, Patara, Ozlen Cay, Warm Peninsula, Andriake, Olympus, Cirali, and Goynuk. Plan your day walks well, so these are your finishing destinations.
4: Hiring a Guide in Turkey
You can find online guides for walking route specifics, or hire a professional to help plan your journey along the Lycian Way. Local authorities complain that people get lost walking on the Lycian way every year, even though routes are marked with red and white stripes according to GR footpath methods. So, if you decide to walk the direct route alone, prepare, research, and tell someone where you are. Also, check out local buses and their schedules should you decide to attempt the rest at a later date. Most people visit during the hiking season of spring and autumn.
5: Famous Spots on the Route of the Lycian Way
Kayakoy Ghost Village: If you don't have much walking time, don't fret! Walk the shorter paths between the starting and finishing points, including the popular 8 km short walk between Fethiye and Kayakoy ghost town. Anatolian Greek-speaking Christians populated Kayakoy from the 1700s until about a century ago, when inhabitants participated in a government-sponsored exchange with Greece, emptying the town of 2,000 inhabitants. Since then, Kayakoy became a museum town for tourist groups and curiosity seekers as examples of Greek houses and churches in Turkey from the centuries. A lovely day can be spent hiking this portion of the Lycian Way to Kayakoy, finishing with Turkish tea or coffee and freshly made baklava.
Cirali and Olympus: Cirali and Olympus, two small beach resorts on Turkey's Turquoise coast, could not be more different if they tried. While Cirali keeps a low-key reputation and ambience, Olympos mainly caters for hiking fans and backpackers. Hotel accommodation in Cirali focuses on bed-and-breakfast or all-inclusive with comfortable rooms, hot showers, and balconies for evening drinks. However, a rustic and quirky theme promotes Olympos, with treehouses dominating the scene whether you book a lodge or shared hostel room. No matter which one you choose, enjoy hiking surrounding attractions, relaxing on the beach and beautiful landscape views. While there, also visit the ancient Lycian ruins of Olympus and Chimaera burning flames, and swim in the turquoise waters.
Kas Resort: Holidaymakers and expats purchasing second homes love the idyllic and modern town of Kas in Turkey, which promotes spectacular views. The initial lure and appeal come from a Turkish town ambience that embraced the modern world yet shunned mass tourism while outgrowing the status as a small village. Unlike so many other touristic places in Turkey, Kas has not sold-out culture and traditions to bring in beach tourism. Hiking fans can choose B&B accommodation, or self-catering apartments.
Butterfly Valley: Near a small village called Faralya on the Turquoise coast of Turkey, a broad valley formed by two rock formations is fronted by a pebbly beach. Due to butterflies breeding there, residents of Faralya Village called it Kelebek Vadesi, which translates to Butterfly Valley. In 1981 when the Anatolia Tourism Development Cooperative sensed an opportunity to make money from the beautiful beach and coast location, they signed a deal with the village inhabitants. Three years later, the cooperative opened Butterfly valley to beach and coast tourism; and hiking fans and hippie backpackers flocked to experience being at one with nature. They enjoy the bohemian vibes, sea views and life away from the rat race.
Xanthos: Located between Fethiye and Kalkan is Xanthos ancient city, on a hilltop with superb views. Part of Lycia, the city became known in 1842, when Charles Fellowes stole artworks forty years after all the marble had been taken. It took him a few months to steal and load everything onto HMS Beacon en route to London, England. The Nereid Monument and several other items in the British museum are on show today. Enough remains of the ancient ruins warrant a visit on a hiking trip.
Letoon Ancient Ruins: Letoon ancient city is situated less than 10 kilometres south of Xanthos, with Xanthos ancient city and Letoon often referred to as the same. Xanthos & Letoon are prominent archaeological cities on the Lycian coast and are registered with the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. The remains of three temples, each in memory of the three gods, are located next to each other at the centre. All were built around existing temples. Artemis and Apollo's temples were burnt, but the temple of Leto has most blocks still on show. The temple of Leto is the best-kept, built from very fine limescale. Due to the dimensions and quality of the work, this is one of Turkey's best examples of architecture.
Phaselis Ancient Ruins: As an ancient Greek and Roman city, historians have traced this ancient city back to 700 BC. Due to its prominent location between two harbour ports, it was a thriving sea trading port, attracting people to settle there. Taking advantage of lucrative wealth, unfortunately, the prominent status also attracted invading armies, including the Persians and Alexander the Great. In 1811, Captain Francis Beaufort discovered the ancient city ruins, and excavations started 20 years later. One famous person to participate in excavations was the intrepid explorer Freya Stark, who visited Turkey shortly after World War 2.
Oludeniz: To visit Oludeniz beach is to experience one of Mediterranean Turkey's most scenic landscapes. Separating into two parts, Belcekiz beach and the Blue Lagoon, tourists have flocked to Oludeniz beach in Fethiye since mainstream travel went global nearly 50 years ago. Overlooked by Babadag Mountain, Oludeniz's location, nestled into a green valley dropping down from Hisaronu or Ovacik villages, opens marvellous views of sparkling turquoise water, olive trees and white sand. While there, also take a water taxi from the beach to visit the Butterfly Valley. Oludeniz belongs to the larger Fethiye province, which also boasts spectacular Lycian tombs at the back of the main town.
Additional Notes: Other popular places on the Lycian hills include Patara beach, the national park and ancient ruins. Patara beach is the longest in Turkey, and a nearby campsite offers marvellous views of this stretch of sand. It is worth spending time visiting Simena and the nearby sunken city ruins of Kekova. If the walk is too much, catch a local boat heading there during summer. Also enjoy the Lycian rock tombs of Myra in the town of Demre. Kaputas Beach is also one of Turkey's best. Kabak Beach is a great place to stay overnight for peace or to meet other hikers. While a rarely talked about landmark on the long-distance walk is the Gelidonya lighthouse.
TIP: The official route was created by Kate Clow, a British hiker who fell in love with this part of Turkey. To know more about the long-distance walking route, check the Culture Routes in Turkey website. Not only do they have interesting information about the Lycian way trail, but they also list other popular walking trails in Turkey.
Also About Turkey
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