You will find here useful information and tips to prepare your trek on the Lycian Way, either in full or in part.
WHEN TO GO
Turkey is hot, especially in the south. For that reason, most people hike the Lycian Way in spring or fall, which I highly recommend. I walked from late May to mid-June, which is already the beginning of summer in this region, and I was almost alone on the trails. Having the trail all for myself was great, but at a cost: every morning, I was drenched with sweat from my first steps… Keep in mind:
- The months of April and May are the most pleasant and the most beautiful, but also the busiest.
IN WHOLE OR IN PART
If you don’t have the 3 or 4 weeks usually necessary to do the whole Way, it is very easy to choose one (or several) part(s) of it. Multiple villages along the trail are connected by efficient local transportation. My favorite sections:
- The mountainous area near Antalya (between Göynük and Aşağıkuzdere), both for the landscapes and the challenging hike;
- The coastal region between Gedelme and Olympos for the sceneries, the village of Olympos and the Chimaera Hills;
- The mountainous section in complete autonomy (between Finike and Demre) passing by the stunning ruins of Belos and ending with those in Myra, including the church of St. Nicolas.
- Other interesting parts: the ruins of Kekova, the lighthouse at Cape Gelidonia, sleeping on the cliff of Kaş, Patara Beach and Butterfly Valley.
WHERE SHOULD I START?
The Lycian Way was traced from West to East (from Fethiye to Antalya), and the majority of the hikers follow this direction. The only book written about the trail gives all its indications for a trekker coming from the West, and the red and white marks on the trail are also more visible/useful arriving from Fethiye. Bottom line:
- I recommend walking it in the expected direction (from Fethiye to Antalya). Not for the scenery, but to enjoy the book’s indications and painted markings.
- Still, it is possible to hike the route in both directions (I walked it in the opposite direction).
- One way or another, you might very well get lost. More than once. Carry a lot of water, know the name (and the pronunciation) of the village where you want to go and explore: the region is gorgeous!
Bonus tip: the red and white marks can be really far from each other. They mostly indicate the route: two straight lines (= shaped) tell you to go straight, while a curved sign like the picture above (shaped like )) or ») tells about the curve to follow. While in a village, 90 degrees signs will therefore highlight on what streets to turn. However, a particularly sharp sign (in the form of a very sharp ») may be pointing at the trail to take when on a crossroad. Both uses are contradictory, I know! You have been warned…
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Kate Clow’s book divides the Lycian Way in less than 30 sections (or days), each requesting between 4 and 9 hours walk, with an average of about 6:45. Physically fit and often following the same steps as the book, I generally needed 60% to 75% of the expected time to hike the different sections (an 8 hours day taking me between 5 and 6 hours, depending on the terrain). Keep in mind:
- The terrain changes throughout the Way, with a mountainous section in the middle and one near Antalya. It takes time (2 days for each part, independently, with drinking water sources usually scarce).
- The hiking time on the trail is one thing, hiking time off the trail because you are lost is another. Trekking in the “wrong” direction without a compass or accurate map, I got lost every single day, between one and two hours a day. Sometimes more.
- Still, two short days (4 to 6 hours walking according to the book) may easily be merged into one. I took less than 7 hours to walk what was to be two days, adding up to 13/14 hours!
WHERE TO SLEEP
I slept in my tent most of the time, which I highly recommend to all those who feel like carrying one, a sleeping bag, a ground mat and food. It allows you to stop at any time and find a cool spot to sleep with amazing views. If you prefer walking light packed, there are pensions, guesthouses and other small inns in almost every village. Allow between 20 and 40 Lira for the most affordable bed of the village, and don’t hesitate to negotiate in remote locations. Keep in mind:
- The two sections that require at least two days of autonomy are easy to avoid by taking local minibuses if you don’t have a tent;
- If you choose camping, watch out for scorpions and “camel spiders” that come out at night and tend to like hiding in your boots.
- In the end, camping on the Lycian Way is definitely one of the highlights of my trip around the world… Give it a shot!
Bonus tip: under the Roman bridge between Aşağıkuzdere and Gedelme (halfway between Çıralı and Göynük), a family runs a small restaurant/cafe/bar by the river. With the purchase of a meal (delicious), the owner will let you sleep in your sleeping bag on the platforms above the water. Unforgettable!
THE WATER ON THE TRAIL
My first mistake – a rookie mistake – on the Lycian Way was to pack just over 2L of water. You will sweat. Depending on the time of year you’re going, carry 3L to 4L and purifications pills or a light filter to fill up your bottles. There are usually water sources along the trail, but they are often wells, many of which will be completely dried up. Keep in mind:
- Water sources on the maps can be dry, filled with waste, you might not find them, etc.
- Better to start with too much water and adjust yourself down the road, than the opposite. Especially in Turkey.
The shops are all alike from one village to another and you should not expect to find varied food outside larger towns and cities like Fethiye, Kalkan, Kaş, Demre, Finike, etc. Each community has a small shop selling sweets, cakes, drinks, some basic few canned food, bread and sometimes a limited assortment of fruits and vegetables. It is possible to eat cheaply, but expect your meals to be redundant if you prefer to cook yourself every time. Outside the main towns, I was feeding almost exclusively on cucumbers, tomatoes, bread and canned tuna. Keep in mind that:
- Turkish cuisine is absolutely delicious. While avoiding touristy and expensive places, try to eat in small restaurants or an inn from time to time. Food is a huge part of the Turkish culture you can’t ignore!
The Lycian Way it is a fairly simple trek. It’s hot, it’s sunny and you will meet villages every day to wash your clothes. I used an average of 3 pieces of each garment (underwear, shorts and t-shirt). It’s only about how much weight you want to carry and how many times you are comfortable wearing each sweat drenched outfit.
- At least one walking stick is essential! You can easily find one on the way if you start with the mountains near Antalya, but bringing your own is always better.
- A hat, a scarf or a bandana for your head.
- Flip-flops to rest your feet at night and on the hidden beaches encountered along the way!
- Depending on the time of year, at least one set of pants and long-sleeved shirt for cool nights in your tent.
- Some wet or antibacterial wipes, to have some kind of hygiene in the tent. Especially if you hike through the heat in May/June.
- Bandages for blisters and medical tape to hold them in place.
- Water purification pills: save the environment (don’t buy plastic bottles) and yourself!
TRANSPORTATION AND PERMITS
Fortunately, you don’t need any permit to hike the Lycian Way. The only tolls you might encounters are for entering some of the historical sites, which are sometimes difficult to avoid, but not expensive and usually worth it.
The transportation is also pretty easy to deal with: the Turkish minibuses (called dolmuş) run between every town and village, just like the normal (and comfortable) buses connect very efficiently every major city, like Fethiye and Antalya. You can expect to find dolmuş in almost any village, but don’t expect them follow any schedule as they usually leave when they’re full.
If you find yourself stranded, lost on a road or in an emergency, hitchhiking is extremely easy in Turkey as the people are extremely welcoming and helpful, especially toward foreigners. Still, except for main cities like Istanbul and Ankara, women should keep in mind that a significant part of the population is still very conservative and religious.
Therefore, hitchhiking is not recommanded for solo women who have never hitchhiked before.
HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION
There is of course Kate Clow’s book about the Way with a lot of relevant information both about the trail and the historic ruins encountered day after day. I also found that the Wikitravel page helped a lot and I would advise to print or write down the different distances between villages or landmarks, something the book does not really mention. Keep in mind that:
- The book is mostly relevant to: the number of hiking hours estimated between villages (it’s rather conservative).
- The map included with the book is mostly relevant for: information about the villages you will meet (where can you find accommodation, food, transportation, etc.).
- The Wikitravel page is particularly relevant for: the distance between important locations (villages, ruins, etc.), a larger amount of data and sometimes more accurate and practical info than the book.
To get an idea of the weather, go to wunderground.com, enter the name of the city (try with Antalya and Fethiye) and then choose to view the schedule for the desired period.
To purchase detailed maps of the area and trails, it’s here.
To download the free iPhone application from the map of the route (by Kate Clow) it’s here.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments section!