By Justin Mays:
Known as the “Likya Yolu” by the Turkish, it’s a 540 kilometers long trail stretching between Fethiye and Antalya. Passing through 25 historical places, its route takes 29 days to complete. Surrounded by huge mountains and trees moving with the wind, it offers an abundance of sun, sea, and sand. This world-famous hiking trail is on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The entire route is marked in red and white stripes for the hikers and meets international hiking standards. This blog is like a little guide to the Lycian Way. Let’s begin with some background information!
The Lycian Way takes its name from the Lycian civilization and is located in the southern Teke peninsula. Also called the ‘land of lights, it is surrounded by Burdur-Gohisar in the North, Antalya in the east, and Mugla-Koycegiz in the west. The Lycian civilization changed has made some valuable contributions to the region’s culture by fighting alongside the Trojans under Sarpedon’s leadership.
The Lycians were democratic, independent, and warlike people with high standards of living. Their strategic position advantaged them with special opportunities for sea trade and even piracy. After the Persian rule, The Lycian people embraced Alexander and the Greek culture and became a part of the Roman empire. The Romans brought paved roads, theatres, baths, temples, ceremonial gates, and other developments to the cities. It was the 4th century when the Roman empire crumbled, Christianity took over and Lycian hills were founded.
In 1999, a British ex-pat Kate Clow researched the Lycian route with the help of Garanti Bank and Turkey’s Ministry of Culture. The way connects numerous mountains and villages and is a series of ancient paths, caravan trails, a forest, and rural roads. Some trekkers do the trail in one go and others prefer in sections. The small sections are perfect for daily walks. The route is almost litter-free except for the Lycia Marathon areas.
Hiking the Lycian Way
As discussed, the 540 kilometers long Lycian Way is a mix of hills, rocky tracks, ancient footways, and coastal paths. Countless trekkers have experienced this wonderful route along ancient ruins, tombs, towns, and glorious natural beauty. Those who love nature can take a walk on the Lycian road but the steep slopes on the stretch make walking a little difficult. However, you can reach the harbors via forest areas, roads, and even beaches from a commutable distance
In case you wish to complete the entire road in one go, it will take 25-40 days (depending on the weather and your stamina). Don't worry about getting lost on your way. The road is marked by a Grande Randonnee (GR) system with yellow routing signs at junction points. For those who want to walk, the route is open for 11 months of the year offering the passenger different views as per the current season.
Also, there are many affordable guesthouses and restaurants along the way and the people are very hospitable. Popular destinations like Kalkan, Kas, Demre, and Kemer are also accessible for resorts. Being close to the tourist centers is what attracts vacationers the most. If you are not into hiking, don’t be disappointed. The Lycian Way is great for a day trip full of sightseeing, and adventurous activities by the beach.
Populer route options
Official route: Ovacik to Hisarcandir (405 km and 27 stages)
Fethiye to Hisarcandir (417 kms and 28+ stages)
Fethiye to Kas (ideal for up to 2 weeks)
Best of the West (a nice mini-trek)
Transport and the Lycian Way
The Antalya airport is only 12km E of the city with both international and domestic terminals from where you can take a taxi. The buses run all night but get infrequent after midnight. They accept only Liras for payment. There will always be a sign outside the domestic terminal directing you to the buses and an info desk for queries. A new tram also runs from opposite the main terminals to the city center between about 7 am and 10 pm but you need a ticket before boarding.
Dalaman too has an international airport. Havas has services from the airport to Fethiye and back several times daily or just take a taxi to Dalaman bus station (Otogar). Many buses run from Dalaman to Fethiye Otogar every day and Oludeniz minibusses from outside Fethiye Otogar pass the start of the route.
Turkish Airlines/Anadolu Jet (THY): International flights from many cities to Istanbul or Ankara.
Pegasus Airlines: International flights from European and Russian destinations Antalya.
Sun Express: International flights from Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria (all year around), Norway, Sweden to Antalya.
Atlas Global: International flights from Istanbul to London, Manchester, and Balkan and Middle East destinations.
Easyjet: UK Gatwick to Antalya; Bristol, Manchester, Gatwick, Stansted to Dalaman; Freiburg/Basle to Antalya. Corendon: Amsterdam to Antalya and Dalaman. Other Dutch, German and Belgian airports to Antalya.
The clean and well-serviced buses run all day and overnight intercity and are affordable. Antalya bus terminal is 5km N of the city. Small shops sell tickets and offer a shuttle bus service. You can also book online and take the tram. The buses are overbooked on public holidays and in peak season. The buses stop every 4 hours at stations from where you can buy food. Light refreshments and water are served on the bus itself.
Buses on the main coastal route run approximately every 30 mins during the day with one or two late-evening buses in summer. They drive from one bus garage to the other, but also stop on the Konyaaltı road out of Antalya. The bus timetables are in Turkish, so use google translate if you get stuck!
Bati Antalya Tur: Coastal and inland route from Antalya to Fethiye
Fethiye Seyahat: Fethiye to Antalya and Kaş
Cicek Tur: Antalya to Olympos, Adrasan, Finike
Real estate in the Lycian Way (accommodation)
The Lycian Way meets you with a truly stunning Turkey that takes you back in time. One moment you come across a Lycian sarcophagus and the next moment you are in an ox-plowed field discovering local village communities.
The accommodation in the area is offered by hand-picked and regularly monitored hotels and comfortable guesthouses. You can stay in places in lovely villages surrounded by trees and mountains. These feel-good properties are run by warm and gracious people who will make you feel like part of the family and the local community.
The tourists usually lodge in hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts (B&B) that suit every budget in different locations within the stretch. Natural camping sites and facilities are also available on the route. The recommended campsites are in Kabak Bay, Patara, Ozlen Cay, Warm Peninsula, Andriake, Olympos, Cıralı, and Goynuk.
Prominent places on the Lycian Way
The Lycian route is famous for its long hiking, mind-blowing scenery, secret coves, and stunning views of mother nature. Explore more about the history, cuisines, and regional traditions of Turkey.
Letoon: The top places on the trail include Letoon in Xanthos (ex-Lycian capital). The place has three temples dedicated to the chief deities of Lycia
Kekova Sunken: This archeological site with ancient ruins mostly sits underwater and has incredible scenery. It’s popular for boat trips and Blue cruises.
Myra: It’s another interesting place known for its rocks and tombs and the largest Lycian theatre ever. You can also visit the St. Nicholas church.
Patara ancient city: Turkey’s most picturesque beach has the world’s oldest lighthouse. This large city has many buildings and many ancient structures.
Mediterranean area: This area is filled with local information. Discover the Taurus mountain range and sail through the Turkish Riviera. Hire a Blue cruise or a private yacht to explore the Butterfly Valley, Oludeniz, and other stunning views.
When is the best period to hike the Lycian way?
The best periods are spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) because summers are too hot to hike and it can snow in winter. The weather is usually sunny and it rains a little here.
Is the Lycian Way safe to visit?
It’s generally safe in terms of the route, people, food, and water but it’s recommended that you don’t hike alone since it’s a challenging trek.
Where to stay in the Lycian way?
The famous Lycian Way is a great place for camping. Pitching your tent is also face and easy. The private local houses are also comfortable and common.
What is the best way to cover the route?
With the uneven sections and narrow trails, it would be easy to bicycle along the general route of the Lycian Way using nearby rural roads. You'll enjoy the same excellent sights along the way.
How difficult is the Lycian way
The route is graded medium to hard. It’s a challenging route that takes almost 142 hours to complete and hiking boots and gears are necessary.
How long is the Lycian way and where to start?
The total route is around 540 km and it can’t be done in one go. It is suggested to start from Fethiye instead of Antalya.
Like this blog? You might also be interested in reading about the history of Galata Tower.