Walking the Lycian Way
Set within the heart of the ancient region of Lycia on the Turquoise Coast in Turkey is the celebrated Lycian Way. A true walker's paradise, the trail boasts over 500 km of unspoilt pathways and became Turkey's first long-distance walking route in 1999.
The Lycian Way was designed and created by Kate Clow, with the aim of identifying and preserving some of Turkey's oldest roads, as well as opening up more of this beautiful and historic region to visitors. You can choose to complete large sections of the route in one go, or take a day trip from your base in Kaş or Kalkan. The sense of isolation and remoteness along certain stretches is incomparable, and this is a perfect opportunity to discover parts Turkey that most visitors never get close to experiencing.
Temples and theatres
The route is scattered with historical remains, from forts and medieval towns to some of the most significant archaeological sites in the region. There's an abundance of Byzantine and classical architecture: temples, theatres and towns constructed in the classical style can all be seen along the way. The rich bio-diversity of the area is remarkable, and if you're quiet and sharp-eyed you might spot tortoises, deer, porcupines, chameleons and even lynx in the forests along the way.
The trail – a historic trade route used for the transportation of merchandise from one settlement to another – winds along the coastline, offering spectacular views of the glistening waters below. On occasion the path dips inland to let you visit the most celebrated sites. One such diversion leads walkers to the ancient and mythical city of Olympos, the ruins of which are located under the highest mountain in the area, Mt. Tahtali, near to the town of Çirali. With visitors heading more frequently to the archaeological site of Ephesus, Olympos is surprisingly free of tourists and it is this relative emptiness that makes it so atmospheric.
Birds and butterflies
Nearer to the Fethiye section of the walk is Butterfly Valley and the blue lagoon of Ölüdeniz. The latter is an area of unarguable splendour, however it has faced an increased amount of tourism in recent years. Butterfly Valley is, by comparison, remarkably unspoilt. Named for its range (and quantity) of species of butterflies, it's also home to a substantial amount of wildlife. Waterfalls cascade down into the valley, creating a striking backdrop to the tranquil environment–well worth the detour. If you're keen on birdlife there's plenty to see here too, with beautifully coloured bee-eaters visible in April, May and August around the marshy areas of Patara. You may also encounter the local nomadic people, Yürüks, who move to higher ground for the warmer summer months.
The Lycian Way is a real highlight of this region, and the local hospitality is something you won’t quickly forget–it is not at all unusual for locals to offer tea or even meals to walkers in their area. We recommend spring and autumn as the best months to walk the trail, and as with any exploration off the beaten track, the route should not be tackled alone. Go prepared (reasonable fitness, proper walking boots, food, water and a map) and prepare to be enthralled!