Stretching over 500km along with southwestern Turkey, the Lycian Way is a trail steeped in history. Named after the ancient Lycian civilisation, here you can experience some of the best landscapes Turkey has to offer embedded within the region’s rich history. Trekking along Roman roads, mule trails and antiquated footpaths allows you to immerse yourself in a journey back in time. From exploring ancient Lycian ruins that are thousands of years old to taking in awe-inspiring mountainous views and heavenly beaches, you can experience it all along the Lycian Way.
This historic trail is Turkey’s first long-distance walking route and is the most popular too. It was founded by Kate Chow, a writer and pioneer of sustainable tourism in Turkey, who was passionate about preserving the country’s rich historical heritage and unique natural beauty. From the small coastal town of Ölüdeniz (near Fethiye) to Geyikbayırı (west of Antalya), the trail meanders along the turquoise blue coastline. It never veers further than 15 kilometres from the Mediterranean. Traditionally it is walked from west to east, but it is up to the hikers’ discretion which direction they take.
Trekking the Lycian Way takes most hikers roughly four weeks to complete the entire trail, but they can choose to hike only a section if there is limited time. Fethiye to Kas is a popular shorter route that touches on the main sites. Walking between 10-18km each day is typical, so hikers should anticipate they’ll be on their feet for approximately 7 hours or so a day. There is a variety of accommodation along the route walkers can choose from, with a selection of guesthouses or campsites on offer to rest their tired legs after a long day exploring.
Lycian Way Highlights
- Kick off the Lycian Way by exploring the coastal city of Fethiye with sweeping views of the Mediterranean and rugged coastline
- Reminiscent of Petra in Jordan, the Tomb of Amyntas is carved within the cliff and is a magnificent sight not to be missed
- Explore the Ghost Village of Kayakoy, filled with roughly 1500 abandoned houses and two Greek Orthodox Churches; the site is listed as a World Friendship and Peace Village by UNESCO
- Climb down the picture-perfect Butterfly Valley – named around after 100 or so butterfly species found here – into a sandy cove and ocean oasis
- Head back in time to the capital of the ancient Lycian civilisation of Patara, which has recently been excavated and is the only city that Alexander the Great never conquered
- Sea kayak over the sunken Lycian ruins of Simena around the island of Kekova with a bird’s eye view of the city below
- Gain an adrenaline rush by biking through the mountainous terrain of Kas or opt to soak in the views instead with a leisurely stroll around the quaint waterfront
- Witness unrivalled views of the Mediterranean at the highest point of the Lycian Way on Mount Olympus by either hiking the summit or taking the cable car
- Take in the cinematic views at the Cape Gelidonia lighthouse with luscious green mountains and contrasting blue seas
- Stop off at well-preserved Lycian ruin sites like Phaselis – one of the best excavations of the ancient Lycian civilisation
- Soak up the sun, the sea, and the sand along the tranquil beaches of Kemer
- End the Lycian Way in the lively city of Antalya – the second most visited city in Turkey after Istanbul
Lycian Way Top Tips
- Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are the best months to hike the Lycian Way
- Reasonable fitness levels are recommended for trekking the trail. The paths are generally easy-going, but occasionally they can be strenuous either due to the weather conditions or the incline and terrain.
- Wear sturdy walking boots with a firm grip and strong ankle support for the long treks
- Don’t forget to frequently apply sun cream and to head for the shade to recover from the strong sun whenever possible
- Take the opportunity to sample the best of Turkish cuisine in local tavernas throughout the trail
- Drinking water is typically available across the route, but remember to pack extra as, during the summer months, water availability becomes scarcer
- Outside major towns and cities, English is not widely spoken, so it is advisable to learn a few Turkish words and to carry a device with translation abilities
- There are no trekking fees or permits on the Lycian, but hikers may want to pay small fees to enter attractions along the way, so carry some Turkish lira in cash
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