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Hiking the Lycian Way: A Complete Guide


 
Taking in coastal cliffs, sunny mountains and ancient ruins overlooking turquoise bays and half-moon beaches of white sand, the Lycian Way is Turkey's contribution to the global pantheon of great long-distance coastal walks. Running 320 miles along the coast of the ancient state of Lycia (now modern-day Turkey's Mediterranean Coast or the Turquoise Coast), the direct route follows the same path as a Lycian trade route.

Today, it's an unforgettable setting for a long-distance hike. Passing through 25 historical interest spots, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites and ancient cities, with epic coastal views of southwestern Turkey every step of the way. Best of all, after long days of walking, you can cool off with a refreshing dip in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and relax in peaceful coastal towns.

This complete guide has everything you need to know about this historic route-turned-waymarked long-distance trail.

 

How long is the Lycian Way long-distance trail?

Extending from Fethiye to Antalya along Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast, the Lycian Way stretches 320 miles along the Tekke Peninsula. The route consists of hiking trails, mule trails and ancient Roman roads.
 

How long does it take to hike the complete Lycian Way?

Completing the Lycian Way trail in its entirety would take between 30-45 days (3-4 weeks). But since it's divided into different sections and runs through coastal towns and cities, many travelers choose to do day hikes or smaller sections of the trail.

How difficult is the Lycian Way?

With its frequent ascents and descents up and down coastal mountains and hills, the Lycian Way requires a good level of fitness. Depending on which section you're on, difficulty can range from moderate to more challenging. Not only can the rocky route itself be difficult to navigate, but endurance is another factor to consider.

Covering hundreds of miles and taking several ways to complete in its entirety, you need to have good stamina for the long days of hiking and walking. For inexperienced hikers, it's recommended that you do some training to get ready for your trip and ensure you get the most from it.

Bringing the right gear is also important, which we've outlined below in our Lycian Way gear guide.

What's the best time of year to hike the Lycian Way?

Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are prime times to undertake the Lycian Trail. The weather in spring and fall is milder, making it easier to endure long days of walking and hiking.

Summer (July to August) can be scorching, with high temperatures and intense sun, making hiking challenging. You'll also be more likely to encounter more hikers on the trail during the busy summer months.

So if you'd prefer quieter, less-trafficked trails that allow you to peacefully experience the rich history and landscapes of the route, spring and fall are the times to do so.
It's also possible to hike the trail during the winter, although you run the risk of getting rained on during December and January. Temperatures are generally mild but can get chilly as well.

Highlights of Turkey's Lycian Way

Along with its sweeping views of rocky coastal cliffs, lush forests of olive trees, fragrant pine and dazzling blue bays, the chief attraction of the Lycian Way is its cultural heritage and historical sites.

The route was mapped out by avid history buff, Kate Clow, and ‘launched’ in 1999. Following the Lycian Way, it takes you directly to a wealth of ancient ruins and archaeological sites, spanning multiple empires and civilizations from the Lycians to the Greeks to the Roman Empire.

If you can't do the full route in its entirety, here are some must-do highlights along the trail, from day hikes to historic sites.

Butterfly Valley


One of the best day hikes along the Lycian Way is the hike to Butterfly Valley near Fethiye. The short day hike heads through a desert canyon, where scientists have recorded some 105 species of butterflies residing. The route leads to a secluded beach hemmed in and hidden from the world by high, rocky cliffs and mountains.
The only way to reach this secret beach is by hiking in or taking a boat, making it a magical place to discover. Hike the short 3-mile trail through the canyon surrounded by butterflies and spend the day swimming in the hidden waters of the protected lagoon, savoring the spectacular views.

 

The ancient city of Xanthos


Even though you're in Turkey, you'll find yourself face-to-face with Greek culture and history time and time again while traversing the Lycian Way trail. The ancient city of Xanthos is arguably the historical highlight of the route. Located in the Antalya province near the village of Kınık, this ancient stone city was once one of the crown jewels of the Lycians, hailing as their oldest and largest city along the coast. Exploring the ruins, you'll get to see the remains of the Lycian Acropolis, with Roman amphitheaters and sarcophagi.

 

Olympos


Situated near the town of Çıralı, the ancient city of Olympos is among the most spectacular historic sites along the route. Dating back to the 2nd century BCE, all that remains today of this once great city are massive stone ruins. Explore the grounds and visit key sites like the temple gate, ancient temples and theaters.
 

Kayakoy


Dating back to the 14th century, Kakakoy is an abandoned ghost town along the Lycian Way. Once home to 10,000 people of different religious backgrounds who lived in harmony, today it's an eerie landscape of stone homes slowly being reclaimed by nature.

 

Patara Beach

 

Encompassing a naturally-protected area, Patara Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on this stretch of Turkish coastline. With its limestone cliffs and rolling sand dunes, it is a highlight of the Lycian Way. The broad, sandy beach is great for horseback riding and walking, and you can also visit the nearby ruins of Patara, an ancient city that was once the capital of Lycia.

 

Oludeniz (The Blue Lagoon)

 

Located near the western end of the Lycian Way at Fethiye, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular destinations along the Turquoise Coast. A gorgeous, crescent beach of pure white sand faces a still lagoon of dazzling blue water, where you can swim, snorkel, and even scuba dive.
The surrounding mountains make for great paragliding as well. If you're just starting on your Lycian Way trek, it's worth pausing for an afternoon (or longer) at this beautiful beach. If you're nearing the end of the trek coming from the opposite direction, relaxing for an afternoon soaking up the sun and enjoying the beach is a well-earned reward.


 

What to pack for hiking the Lycian Way

As a long-distance route, packing the right gear is essential to your comfort and safety on the Lycian Way. Here's a basic list of what you should pack:
 
  • Sturdy and comfortable hiking boots
  • Trekking/hiking poles
  • Lightweight clothing (moisture-wicking, breathable)
  • Layers (warm jacket, hat, gloves, etc.) for chilly nights and mornings
  • Waterproof jacket and rain gear
  • Sun protection (sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses)
  • Swimsuit
  • Comfortable backpack (size depends on whether you're mostly doing day trips or hiking the entire Lycian Way)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Paper map
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • First-aid kit

Even if you plan on spending the majority of your nights in the village "pansiyons" or guest houses, some nights you may need to camp. In this case, you'll also need to pack proper camping gear like a tent, a sleeping bag, cooking equipment and a water filter.

The Lycian Way: Know Before You Go

Here are some other helpful tips for hiking the Lycian Way:
  • Internet: While some villages may have internet access, the majority of the Lycian Way route goes through rural areas where a connection is weak or non-existent. Plan accordingly for downloading or using digital maps.
  • Accommodations: Along with camping, Lycian Way hikers typically spend nights in affordable "pansiyon" guest houses or boarding houses in villages along the way. These are simple but comfortable accommodations, with the hosts sometimes offering breakfast in the morning.
  • Safety: With its warm hospitality, welcoming locals and low crime, Turkey ranks high on solo travelers' lists for safe destinations. Thru-hikers or day-hikers can feel safe and secure exploring the Lycian Way and the Turquoise Coast on their own, but it's still a good idea to undertake the route with a companion in case an accident happens and you need help.
  • Infrastructure: Apart from path markers, the Lycian Way is a largely undeveloped trail with no bathrooms or trail structures.
  • Water: There are water spouts and wells located along the route (mainly close to villages) so you'll want to stock up on water whenever you get the chance. Take a refillable bottle with you – we’d recommend one with a strong filter so you can drink (fresh) water wherever you go.
  • Cost: You don't need to pay any fees or permits to hike the Lycian Way, so costs will vary depending on how much you want to "rough it". A night in a guesthouse will typically cost around $20, and meals cost between $10-$12.

Hike the Lycian Way solo or with a small-group tour

Ready to explore the Lycian Way?

Join our small-group Lycian Way hiking tour, with friends or solo. We’ll help take care of logistics like accommodations, transportation and meals, giving you more time and energy to just enjoy the experience.

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