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Hiking the Lycian Way (Part I) – One of the World’s Great Walks

For over a decade I have contemplated hiking Turkey’s Lycian Way – truly one of the world’s great walks. Years ago, well before the internet when you looked at books for inspiration, I bought one called The Top Treks of the World. I remember being in awe of the landscape on the Lycian Way and thinking this is one hike I really want to do.

Antalya harbour is a beautiful spot

Antalya harbour is a beautiful spot; spend the night in Antalya before starting the Lycian Way

Fast forward to late October 2015 and I can now say that I’ve had a taste of the Lycian Way. Our group of four spent six days hiking it – starting at Gul Mountain Hotel, 30 kilometres south of Antalya and finishing at Melanippe Beach near the Gelidonya Lighthouse. It is an outstanding trek – truly world-class but make no mistake – it’s a challenge.

Starting the Lycian Way means getting out of Antalya

We were happy to leave the big city of Antalya behind

The full Lycian Way is 530 kilometres long.

It starts just south of Fethiye and finishes in Hisarçandir, just outside of Antalya; you can hike it in either direction. Few people actually backpack the whole trail. (We only met three people in total; mind you we met a lot of Ukrainians and perhaps some of them planned to as well but with no Ukrainian we had no way of knowing.) It’s very challenging with daily ascents and descents in the range of 700 – 1,000 metres. The landscape is rugged and mountainous even though you’re often in sight of the Mediterranean. Finding a campsite can be difficult as can water, especially for cooking in the evening. You need to resupply at villages along the way and be prepared for some route-finding challenges along the more remote sections of the trail. Allow 30 days to do the whole of the Lycian Way. Check out this website for lots of useful information.

Our Lycian Way Experience

We didn’t have the time – or the inclination to do the whole trail. With a recommendation from an old friend who did the same trip, we decided to sign up with On Foot Holidays out of Britain. They booked accommodation, moved our bags every day so we only had to carry a day-pack, provided detailed trip notes and organized taxis at the beginning and end of the trip. They also have an English speaking travel agent on the ground in Antalya who was very helpful with other aspects of our Turkey trip.

We followed the road in the photo to get to the Gul Mountain Hotel

We followed the road in the photo to get to the hotel

The view of the Mediterranean by Gul Mountain Hotel - where we started hiking the Lycian Way

The view of the Mediterranean by the hotel

Our trip began with an incredibly scenic 90 minute taxi ride through the mountains from Antalya. The actual starting point of our hike was Gul Mountain Hotel – a big sprawling place in the middle of nowhere with so-so rooms but amazing food (and lots of it) and lovely people. It has a great location – just 50 metres off the Lycian Way. Bring warm clothes if you hike in late October. Rooms at several places – including this one – were chilly and it was usually frosty in the morning – especially when staying at altitude. (By 10 am most days we were in t-shirts.) At the hotel we spent most of our time in the dining room where they had a big fire going.

Gul Mountain Hotel - and where we started the Lycian Way

Gul Mountain Hotel – and where we started the Lycian Way

Last minute training the night before we start hiking the Lycian Way

Last minute training the night before we start

If the Lycian Way is a trail you’d consider, plan to hike it in the spring or fall. Summers would be brutally hot (along the coast temperatures will be 40°C) and in the winter it can be snowy up high and most of the hotels will be closed. In fact, we were the last guests of the season at three hotels along the route. In November it can be rainy but we had ideal hiking weather the entire time with sunny days and cool nights. Spring would be amazing for wildflowers.

Over the next few weeks I’ll have three or four more blog posts on the Lycian Way – showcasing the route and the magnificent scenery.

Have you ever thought of hiking the Lycian Way?

Other posts you might enjoy related to the Lycian Way:

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 25 Comments

  • budget jan says:

    Well I have thought of it Leigh, but I don’t think I could hack those 1000m ascents. I do love that part of Turkey though and can’t wait to see more of your hike. Is there one portion of the section you did that didn’t have big ascents and descents?

    • @Jan I just heard from Julia who runs the blog Turkeys for Life. I have the sense that the area closer to Feyithe is a little less hilly. We had sections everyday that were fine – but I think the smallest ascent/descent was 250 m – and most were around 750 meters. Beach sections were easy but the minute we headed for the hills we were into elevation. The reward though is the amazing view!

  • I followed your journey thru Instagram. I am happy to get all the details thru the posts!

  • Turkey's For Life says:

    We’ve heard much about the ascents and descents around the Antalya area sections of the Lycian Way and I think I would have to get much fitter to tackle them. We’ve hiked different sections (especially around Fethiye) just as day walks and yeah, the views are stunning. Great to have one of the top routes in the world so close to us. :)
    Julia

    • @Julia I was blown away every day on the hike – partly because each day was so different even though geographically we hadn’t moved more than 15 kms on a daily basis – and the scenery was outstanding. It surpassed all our expectations.

  • Fethiye Holidays says:

    Next time start your journey from Fethiye enjoying amazing views of Oludeniz Blue Lagoon

  • Valen-Travel Scamming says:

    I love hiking when I travel .This looks like a great one, and I love that the hotel has good food for after the hike!

  • Meg Jerrard says:

    I think I would probably opt for a shorter trip and just cover a portion of it too. 30 days is a long time! Though it looks like a spectacular area, will be looking forward to your next few posts from your journey :)

    • @Meg You have to be very committed to want to hike for 30 days. If you had the time I think the scenery would reward day after day – and then there would be plenty of opportunities to swim in the Mediterranean.

  • Candice says:

    Sold! Wish I could take advantage of that deal now!

  • The views look spectacular! We’ll have to put in on our list of things to do once the kids are finished school and we no longer have to travel during school vacations.

  • Agata says:

    This sounds marvellous! I’ve never heard about this hike before but the pictures you posted are simply breathtaking! I would never consider Turkey a hike destination but there you are! I would avoid summer, by all means, so spring would work for me. You don’t mention any mountain huts along the trail. Were there any? How about the crowds? Was it crowded?

    • @Agata I don’t think there are mountain huts. People seem to either tent or stay in B&B’s/hotels. Parts of the trail are really very rugged and I think tenting is the only way to properly access it.
      No crowds to speak of. On a couple of occasions we saw a few people – and a couple of groups of Ukrainians one day.

      I highly recommend it. I think you’d love it.

  • Miranda says:

    Isn’t it great when you’re able to finally tackle a bucket list item Leigh? Looks like a beautiful part of the world, especially the fireplace inside the dining area of the Gul Mountain Hotel.

    • @Miranda I feel like a lot of things say near the top of my wish list and others keep coming up and bumping it off. No more. I just booked a 2 week trip to Iceland – a place I’ve been trying to get to her over a decade as well.

  • jodyR says:

    Your photos look so beautiful. I can’t believe the trek is that long! I bet it was a real treat having a tour company move your bags for you every night.

    • @Jody Some people have put a lot of effort into the Lycian Way. On this occasion I was really happy that I wasn’t doing a hard-core trek and that my bags were moved. But there’s always another time!

  • I definitely need to explore Turkey more. I spent a 20 hour layover in Istanbul, and it was beautiful. The Lycian Way seems the perfect place to start.

    • @Ted You would love the Lycian Way. I’ve barely scratched the surface with my blog. I have to say I was more than impressed with the beauty and the mountains and of course the people and the food.

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