Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast is dotted with ancient ruins and sleepy seaside towns, many of which are reachable by the standard methods of dolmuş and bus transport. But for anybody seeking a more personal and intense encounter with all that the region has to offer, the 500-odd kilometer Lycian Way presents the ideal experience for taking it all in.
Stretching from Fethiye to Antalya, the Lycian Way (Likya Yolu in Turkish) is a winding and mountainous walking path primarily following the coastline. Kate Clow, who spearheaded the project to construct the trail in the late 1990s, intentionally designed the route to hit as many major archaeological sites as possible. Yet the real allure of the trek is found in the less-known and less-appreciated elements along the way: chatting with villagers while goats mill around unchecked, listening to the sounds of nature while gazing down into a lush and untouched valley, coming across a thousand year old Lycian tomb covered in moss.
If you don’t have the time or energy to tackle the entire route, you can pick and choose smaller sections to walk and pick up the trail from other towns along the way. If you plan to attempt the full hike, allow a month to 45 days and be sure to pick up Kate Clow’s original and highly detailed guide entitled, unsurprisingly, The Lycian Way. The entire path is waymarked with distinctive red and white markers found on rocks and trees, but at times they can be hard to spot and you should stay safe by never taking shortcuts or deviating from the path if possible.
Anybody with a penchant for trekking and a love of history should make the Lycian Way (or at least parts of it!) a priority in a visit to the southern coast. Wandering the trail is the surest way of feeling instantly miles away from the rush and frenzy of İstanbul or Antalya and experiencing first-hand the slow pace and irresistible allure of rural Turkey.