Located on the coast of western Antalya Province, Patara was once one of the principal naval and trading ports of ancient Lycia. It lies to the south of modern-day Gelemis at the mouth of the mighty Xanthos River and is an easy road trip from nearby resort towns along the stunning Mediterranean coast.
Today, the ancient city of Patara is the perfect place for travellers to relax on the beach and go to ruins hopping in the exact outing. The people of Patara are of nomadic origin and are incredibly proud of their traditional roots, reflected in foods, festivals, music, and dancing.
There is something here to suit everyone, whether you are a culture vulture, a sun seeker, or an adrenaline seeker. Patara is a gem in the natural crown of the Turkish Lycian Way.
Explore Patara Ancient City
Thousands of years of history are packed into this little corner of Turkey. Much of Patara remains undiscovered, buried in the shifting sand, including the famous Temple of Apollo. However, Patara has been undergoing extensive excavations and restorations over the past few decades.
Patarus, a son of Apollo, founded Patara and the Temple of Patara rivalled that of the Temple of Delphi. Because of the layered history, there are architectural remnants, including Lycian sarcophagi, baths, and basilicas from the Byzantines to explore and Roman boulevards to stroll down.
There are always new ruins to explore, including possibly the oldest lighthouse in the world, Patara Lighthouse, built in 60 AD. History truly comes alive here.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Striking mountains surround the Xanthos Valley creating spectacular views. The beach and the surrounding forest are part of the protected Patara National Park – a key biodiversity area rich in birdlife. Hiking here takes you through magnificent pine forests and rolling dunes, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The Lycian Way passes through Patara, and several sections of the long-distance footpath are easily accessible, with rewards of stunning mountain and coastal views waiting for you. Wear sturdy footwear and pack plenty of fluids and light snacks if you attempt part of the Lycian Way under the warm Turkish sun.
Relax and Recuperate
The longest beach in the Mediterranean is right on your doorstep. Voted one of the best beaches worldwide, the 18km long beach is a sight to behold and is roughly 17km west of Kalkan by road on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Remarkably, the area is known as the birthplace of St. Nicholas, otherwise known as Santa Clause!
The beach is never crowded, and the ruins of ancient Patara are just inland from the coast, with no large hotel developments being built within the archaeological zone. Patara beach is an important nesting ground for the endangered loggerhead turtle nesting here between May and September, so the beach is only open 8 am – 8 pm daily.
There are few trees and little shade, so be prepared for a day of sun. A small café with sun loungers, snacks, and drinks is available at one end of the beach. If you’d prefer peace and quiet, stroll along the beach until you find that perfect spot.
Getting to Patara
The ruins and Patara beach are located approximately 10 km west of the modern Turkish town of Kalkan in Antalya.
Most people visit this attraction from nearby Kalkan or Kas via car hire and take the D400 coastal road to Antalya, but there are also direct buses from Fethiye. Buses will drop you on the Fethiye–Kaş highway at Ovaköy, after which it’s a 3.5 km taxi ride to the village that’s officially named Gelemiş – otherwise known as Patara.
Patara Top Tips
- The entrance fee for the ruins is 30 TL per person or free for Museum Card holders.
- The beach has no water sports policy so take advantage of the peaceful waves.
- Don’t miss the stunning Saklikent Gorge on the outskirts of Patara.
- Visit the must-see sand dunes when you stay in Patara, where you can see the entire length of Patara beach stretched before you.
- Try horse riding over the sand dunes at sunset for lifelong memories.
- Hire a canoe and enjoy the natural wonders of one of the most unspoilt areas in Turkey.
- Quadbike along the magnificent long sandy beach and the banks of the Esen River.
Where to Next?
- Head Underwater in Kaş
- Explore the Sunken City in Kekova
- Get Active in Köprülü Canyon
- Best Places to Visit in Antalya