Walk this way: hiking through Turkey
Turkey is home to some marvellous natural scenery. From the gloriously golden beaches and tranquil natural harbours that stretch along the coastline, to the magnificent mountains and cascading waterfalls further inland, few countries offer the same variety and abundance of stunning landscapes.
One of the best and most accessible ways to experience this gorgeous scenery is hiking along one of the the many hiking trails across the country. Turkey is a hiker’s paradise, with various terrains, heights and depths to explore, each paired with spectacular vistas to admire along the way. Because each trail is so different from the next, you’re bound to find a route that’s perfect for you, whatever your ability or whichever type of walk takes your fancy.
If you’re considering a hiking trip somewhere in Turkey, read up on some of our favourite trails. Find out more about the routes and what to expect along the way.
When to go: The punishing heat of July and August mean hikers should avoid these months. The best time to head to Turkey is in the spring, March to May, when temperatures are warm enough to enjoy outdoor fun but cool enough to not risk heatstroke with each step.
Walking in Turkey
The Lycian Way
Stretching across 500 kilometres of Turkish coastline, the Lycian Way is a firm favourite amongst ramblers visiting Turkey. Known for being the very first long-distance trail in Turkey, the Lycian Way certainly has plenty to offer its trekkers.
Setting off close to the port town of Fethiye, on Turkey’s southwest coast, you’ll be treated to plenty of woodland scenery along the route, paired with stunning sea views as you look over the coast. After many days well spent strolling along this unique route, you’ll eventually reach the resort city of Antalya, in the southern Mediterranean region of Turkey.
There’s a number of historic sites along the way, offering an insight into the history of the Lycians and their way of living over the years. Try to spare some time to stop off and take a look around some of these 25 sites along the way - just make sure you have enough time for a dip in the water where possible, as well!
The walk itself is fairly easy, though there are a number of steep hikes to tackle and the terrain is rather stony. That, along with the length of the route as well, suggests that only more advance hikers tackle the Lycian way in its entirety. There are some shorter trails on offer along the Lycian Way, for those who aren’t quite ready to tackle the whole distance, that allow you to soak up some of what’s on offer along this epic hiking path.
Spring and autumn are the best times of year to take on the Lycian way, with the weather being mild enough for walking. You’ll find plenty of accommodation available along the route during these seasons, as well as some wild camping spots for the more daring trekkers. If you find yourself wanting to cut the walk short, not to worry, as public transport is on offer close by along the majority of the route.
The St Paul Trail
This is the second longest hiking trail available in Turkey, spanning 500km and taking around 27 days to complete. Starting from the ancient city of Perge (not far from Antalya) and finishing in Yalvac, ramblers are taken along Roman roads and woodland paths, and through the Taurus Mountains, not unlike the route St Paul would have taken during his journey to preach Christianity.
Along the route, you’ll be treated to some truly unique views. From deep canyons and interesting historic sites and villages, to lush woodland and beautiful wildlife. Starting at sea level and reaching heights of over 2000m, you can expect all sorts of scenery during your trip.
Although historic, the route is relatively new to the hikers of today. Opened just 10 years ago, it remains remote, with only a few places offering supplies or accommodation. There are some villages along the way, where you will be able to stay in one of the small houses for the night, but there are also long distances where camping will be required. With this in mind, along with the rather difficult terrain, it’s recommended that only the more advanced hikers take on the St Paul Trail.
As with the Lycian Way, the best time of year to make your way across the St Paul Trail is during spring and autumn. The weather is too hot for walking in summer and the nights will be too cold to camp during winter.
The Kackar Trails
Whether you’re looking for a long-distance trek or somewhere to spend the day rambling, the Kackar Trails has it all. This network of fantastic routes has lengthy routes which take between 3-6 days each to complete, as well as shorter paths which offer a day well spent in the outdoors.
You’ll find the Kackar Trails in between the small town of Camlihemsin and the town and district of Yusufeli in northeast Turkey. From the panoramic views atop of mountain peaks, to the historic villages and woodland wildlife at lower levels, there’s so much scenery to take in along the many routes that make up the Kackar Trails.
Due to the many routes on offer in this area, walkers of all abilities should be able to enjoy at least one of the Kackar Trails. Whilst the more advanced hikers might fancy a trip up the great mountain heights, others will thoroughly enjoy wandering the paths through the forests and by the lakes.
Fit in your trip to the Kackar Trails during spring or autumn, when the temperatures aren’t soaring and when the mountain treks are safe enough to tackle. You’ll find some accommodation in the villages close by, but there are also plenty of spots for some wild camping, for those who like to being as close to nature as possible.
The Yenice Forest Trails
Similarly to the Kackar Trails in northeast Turkey, the Yenice Forest Trails provide a variety of routes for walkers of all abilities, with whatever time they have to spare. So whether you’re an avid hiker looking for a 6-day trek, or a beginner who fancies a day trip in the beautiful Turkish outdoors, you can be sure to find something for you at the Yenice Forest Trails.
The Yenice Forest is situated in the Karabuk Province, a north central part of Turkey. As one of the nine hotspots of European forests in Turkey (as named by the World Wildlife Fund), you can expect truly incredible woodland scenery on a trip along one or more of the trails. From the lush, towering trees to the tranquil lakes, this peaceful setting really makes the perfect setting for a relaxing wander.
Unlike many of the other trails we’ve discussed here, the majority of the paths that lead through the Yenice Forest are also suitable for a spot of bike riding or horse riding. So if you have a fair amount of time to spend in this gorgeous part of Turkey, you can mix it up a little, with some rambling one day, followed by a horse or bike ride the next.
Accommodation is available in the nearby towns and cities, including Yenice and Safranbolu Town - public transport and private hire services are regularly available to take you to and from the Yenice Forest Trails. There’s also some permitted camping spots throughout the forest and its surrounding areas. The best time to visit is between April and November, although the longer treks aren’t recommended during the summer.
The Evliya Celebi Way
Named after the Turkish adventurer from the Ottoman Empire, the Evliya Celebi Way is a celebration of Evliya Celebi’s stories, travels and wanderings across Turkey and other areas of the globe. Stretching from Istanbul to Kutahya, the route is perfect for anyone who craves some adventure mixed with relaxation, all whilst being able to admire some truly beautiful landscapes.
What’s more, the Evliya Celebi Way is the very first long-distance route in Turkey that’s suitable for horse riding as well as walking and bike riding. The path follows Roman and Ottoman roads, along with forest paths, passing rivers in picturesque settings, as well as remote villages and some great historic towns and cities - it’s a truly unique route offering an eclectic mix of landscapes to entertain you along the way.
The terrain is extremely easy-going and can be travelled by almost anyone looking for an enjoyable walk across Turkey. For horse riders and cyclists, there’s a specific route that crosses 650km and takes around 25 days to finish, unless you add a few sightseeing stops and rest days. The walking route, on the other hand, stretches around 330km and takes around three weeks to trek, with the option to add on a few days for sightseeing or recuperation.
The spring and autumn months are the best times of year to set off along the Evliya Celebi Way, when temperatures are perfect for walking in - although you should probably expect a little bit of rain along the way. As the way passes through a number of large towns and cities, you don’t have to worry about a lack of accommodation - there are numerous hotels, guest rooms and homestays available as well as apartments in Istanbul.
With an immense amount of natural scenery, historic sites and gorgeous settings to take in on a trek across Turkey, these unmissable routes should take a spot on any hiker’s bucket list for the future ahead. If you’re planning a long-distance route sometime soon, don’t forget to consider one of these spectacular hiking trails in Turkey.