8 Days on the Lycian Way

In March 2016 I walked for 8 days along the Lycian Way.  It was my first self organised walk in Turkey and I was impressed.

The Lycian Way extends for 540km along Turkey's south coast between the cities of Fethiye and Antalya.  It's a beautiful and interesting landscape.  Most of the walk is coastal although because the countryside is mountainous inland excursions quickly reach an altitude of over 1800m. It's also packed with historical sites (Lycia was semi-independent state co-existing with both the Greek and Roman empires) many of which are open and informal.

Aquaduct at Phaselis
Mural at the St Nicholas Church Demre 
The ancient port of Andriake
The walk has been developed by Kate Clow and the Culture Routes Society and I used her guide 'The Lycian Way' to plan my trip.  She is a Turkish walking hero. Putting together the Lycian Way is a huge achievement and the walk now attracts tour companies and independent walkers from all over the world.
A well established route
So what's special about the Lycian Way

Firstly, there are long stretches of beautiful coastal walking, empty for much of the year and with lots of swimming opportunities.

Secondly, like Rota Vincentina, which I walked last year, and providing you avoid the high mountain stretches, this is an early season destination - you can visit it when other classic European destinations are snowed in.

Thirdly, from a historical perspective, there is loads to see with places likes Phaselis, Olympus, Myra, Andriake and Aperlae providing rich pickings for any amateur classicist.

Fourthly, it's great value benefiting from a big and well organised tourist infrastructure which sadly is particularly under-utilised at the moment.

Fifthly its good walking with well defined and reasonably well waymarked paths.

Finally the locals are welcoming, friendly and interested in hikers.
Fresh snow in March on the Tahtalid
Amazing coastal scenery
Generous Turkish breakfast
To do the whole walk you need more than the 8 days I was able to slot in and Kate recommends 30-33 days.  Because of the way my flights worked I also walked from east to west, the opposite direction to the route in the guide.  Using Kate's guide book to put my itinerary together, it was clear that some sections, where the route crossed a wide estuary, were flat and involved road walking, and some sections were seriously mountainous, remote and needed a tent.  If you really want to do the whole walk I suspect the weather window is narrow.  There was snow in mountains in March but Germans I met who had walked the flat bits complained it was already getting too hot!  I think adjusting your itinerary to according to the time of year makes sense.

I started my trip in Göynuk - a coastal resort about 40 kms to the southwest of Antalya.  I then headed up a huge gorge to 'hotel' near Ovacik - a lovely walk but tough.  Next day I went back to coast and stayed at Tekirova.  This was far to far, took me 12 hours and meant visiting the ancient port of Phaselis in semi-darkness. More sensible days followed with semi-coastal walks to Cirali, Adrasan and then Karaöz.  I then missed out a huge chunk, the first part of which was flat and boring and the second half mountainous and without accommodation and went all the way to Demre.  I stayed there for a day to visit the Myra ruins and the St Nicholas church (as in Father Christmas).  I then went to Purple House near the ruins at Aperlae and from there, next day to Kas.  The last 2 days of walking were fantastic and with hindsite I should have spent another day doing them.  I could have spent just a couple of hours in Demre, then stayed at Ûçagiz and then Bogazcik before going to Kas.  I stayed in Kas for a night and then got the bus back to Antalya next day - there is a bus every 15 minutes!
Campers on the Lycian Way

I was walking in March, the tourist season doesn't start to April and apart from a few hikers, everywhere was empty.  The resorts along this stretch of coast are not large and I suspect that it doesn't get that much busier in April/May.  Accommodation was cheap and plentiful and the food excellent.  Most of the other hikers I met (they were all travelling in the opposite direction) were carrying camping gear and wild camping is clearly tolerated.
Friendly locals!

I have been to Turkey before and have always found people there welcoming, friendly and very polite.  In the deep countryside people are particularly kind and even with the language barrier keen to engage and help in any way they can.  I probably played it just a little safe to begin with but as the trip wore on increasing found myself getting to know the locals.

The route is fairly well defined, but I would recommend a GPS loaded with the route.  Kate Clow has published an iPhone app which includes the trail, but an Android version has yet to appear.  I managed to download a GPX file from hiking.waymarkedtrails.org and although this might have been out-of-date in a few places it did the job.  Although Kate's guide helpful for planning it wasn't really a navigation tool and the maps in particular were hard to use.  It's worth noting that the route in the mountains does get hit by landslides and has to be changed accordingly.

With Syria on its doorstep and its own internal troubles, Turkish tourism is having a terrible time at the moment and indeed some usually intrepid hikers might think twice before going there.   Based on my experience - and the wonderful welcome I got there - they are definitely missing out.

If you want to download my route go to my page on Viewranger by following this link


If you want to read what it felt like day-by-day then read my daily trip diary by following the links below:

Lycian Way Day 1
Lycian Way Day 2
Lycian Way Day 3
Lycian Way Day 4
Lycian Way Day 5
Lycian Way Day 6
Lycian Way Day 7
Lycian Way Day 8


1 comment:

  1. Cherry picking the best areas is quite acceptable! It is so nice away from the huge touristed areas and the Turks are great people.

    ReplyDelete