LYCIAN WAY TRAIL: HOW TO HIKE THE LYCIAN WAY SELF-GUIDED.
We recently walked a selection of the highlights of the Lycian Way Trail. Although this is a popular walk, information about it is patchy. Here you can find our guide to walking the Lycian Way self-guided.
This post covers all frequently asked questions offering you as much information as possible to help you prepare for your adventure in Turkey. You can read it in conjunction with our route guide to walking the highlights of the Lycian Way (published soon.)
🏙️Be sure to check out our post on visiting Antalya too. This marks the end (or the start) of the Lycian Way, so you are likely to fly in or out of Antalya (published soon.)
The Lycian Way Trail
The Lycian Way Trail, Likya Yolu in Turkish, is a long-distance hiking trail in Turkey. Specifically it runs along the Aegean Coast to the South West of the country. This area of the coast is often called the Turquoise Coast, owing to the fantastic colour of the sea.
The trail was created in 1999 by British expat Kate Clow. Since then, the trail has become increasingly popular and it is now estimated that around 30,000 people walk a portion of the trail each year.
One of the things that the Lycian Way Trail is most known for, is that it runs through the historic region of “Lycia”. This was a flourishing state in the 14th and 15th centuries. All along the Lycian Way you will find historic settlements and ruins, including fascinating Lycian rock tombs.
Can you hike the Lycian Way Trail Self-Guided?
You can absolutely hike the Lycian Way Trail without a guide. A bit of forward planning is required however. We’ve put together this blog post to help you prepare to hike the Lycian Way without a guide.
What makes the Lycian Way Trail unique?
#1 Coastal walking – the coastal walking is some of the best we have ever experienced. Views overlooking the Turquoise coast are second to none and there are lots of opportunities to take a dip in the sea and laze in quiet coves.
#2 Mountain sections – whilst the coastal walking is incredible, the mountain sections of the Lycian Way offer something totally different. High up in the clouds, you feel far away from it all enjoying mountain air and local hospitality.
#3 Historical context – One of the things that the Lycian Way is most known for, is that it runs through the historic region of “Lycia”. This was a flourishing state in the 14th and 15th centuries. All along the Lycian Way you will find historic settlements and ruins, including fascinating Lycian rock tombs.
#4 Turkish cuisine – it’s easy to access fresh local produce and food all along the Lycian Way. We loved trying Turkish cuisine at home stays and small cafes and restaurants.
#5 Friendly animals – before walking, we were worried about encountering scary farm dogs. This couldn’t’ have been further from the truth, instead we frequently walked with friendly dogs and even cats and chickens.
#6 Unique accommodation – accommodation on the Lycian Way is varied. There are no hostels, but guest houses are cosy and inviting, hotels on the coast can be quite luxury and there are opportunities to camp. There’s something for everyone.
How long is the Lycian Way Trail?
The Lycian Way is generally said to be 540km. However, one of the unique things about the Lycian Way is that there are numerous alternative routes. On most days there are optional short cuts or extra paths you can take. Plus, there’s a section from Cirali to Goynuk that you can walk inland or as a coastal path. Therefore the actual distance walked by each hiker is likely to be different.
How difficult is the Lycian Way Trail?
The Lycian Way is not an easy walk. We would describe it as an intermediate hiking trail. The Lycian Way is a series of trails, many are ancient goat tracks. It takes you along the coast and into the mountains, with varied terrain throughout.
Lycian Way Trail Challenges
The main challenges associated with the Lycian Way are as follows:
#1 Backpack weight
Ideally you don’t want to carry more than 10 to 15% of your body weight in a backpack during a multi-day hike. If you plan to walk the entire Lycian Way, this is not going to be possible and you will need to carry more. There are some sections that require camping, therefore your backpack is going to weigh at least 10kg with a tent and camping supplies. We did not walk the entire route, choosing to stick to sections with accommodation – meaning our backpacks weighed around 4 to 6kg each. A much more manageable weight on this terrain.
There are a few sections of the route that are only accessible if you carry your own tent and wild camp.
#3 Food & Water
Food and water is fairly easy to manage, but it does require some forward planning. Budget food is readily accessible in most areas. In more remote areas, you may need to carry some food. See more detail below on water access, but note that you can expect to carry at least a few litres of water each day (more on some days.)
No two days on the Lycian Way are the same. The terrain is constantly changing. You can expect rocky surfaces, canyons, boulders that require scrambling, sand and gravel surfaces too.
The Lycian Way is an undulating route. There is rarely a moment when you can enjoy a flat walking surface. The highest point of the trail is a whopping 2,300m at the top of Mount Olympos. But even if you stick to the coastal sections, you can still expect to climb well above 1,000m on a daily basis. If you’re not going up, you’re going down!
When planning your daily hikes, do keep in mind that the terrain and steep hills can mean that you cover the distances fairly slowly. For example, some days we walked 17km and it took around 9 hours. On flat terrain, we would expect to walk this in a third of the time!
Training for the Lycian Way Trail
As the trail is quite challenging, training before is recommended. We are regular hikers and had just completed the Camino Frances prior to the Lycian Way, so felt sufficiently trained!
We would suggest a training plan for the Lycian Way to include the following:
- Walking – increasing distances and incorporating hills
- Carrying a weighted backpack – checking how much you can carry and preparing your legs/ back for the extra weight while walking
- Strength training – we’ve got some suggestions about strength training for hiking here
- Yoga – an excellent way to improve strength and mobility for hiking. Find out more about why yoga is an amazing part of any hiking training plan here.
Lycian Way Trail Map
The map above shows an overview of the Lycian Way trail, highlighting some of the major tourist attractions on the route. This map shows the coastal route around Cirali rather than the mountain route which is an alternative.
For a more detailed route map, try the Trekopedia App ‘Trail Smart.’ We recommend this app for navigating the Lycian Way too (see more on that below).
Lycian Way Trail Highlights
It is estimated that walking the entire Lycian Way would take around 27 or 28 days. Whether you’re short on time, unsure about committing to the entire route, or not keen to camp – you could consider walking sections of the Lycian Way.
One of the great things about the Lycian Way trail is that it is possible to pick sections of the route and move between them using public transport. This way, you can choose between coastal trails, mountain sections and historical highlights.
We’ve written about our highlights on the Lycian Way in a separate post here (published soon.)
Lycian Way Trail Transport
One of the concerns we had before walking sections of the Lycian Way, was how we would transfer from one section to another using public transport. This turned out to be of the most pleasant surprises on the Lycian Way, the transport worked like a dream. Transport was always straightforward and easy to find, as well as running regularly and on time.
The main challenge when it comes to transport along the Lycian Way, is finding information online. Bus and Dolmus timetables are not published and available to find online. Google Maps does not provide accurate information on bus routes or timetables. The best way to find out about up to date times and bus routes is to ask your accommodation hosts or locals in the area. Alternatively, in larger towns you can often find a “bus station” where you can buy tickets and find information.
Types of transport on the Lycian Way Trail
There are two types of public transport that you will find along the Lycian Way Trail:
- Buses – buses run along the motorway from Fetihye to Antalya, calling at coastal towns along the route. The bus service is frequent (every 30 mins at time of writing) and is helpful in getting between sections of the Lycian Way along the coast.
- Dolmus – the Dolmus service is a mini-bus service which travels between smaller towns and villages on the route. For example, from Oludeniz to Ovacik. These are more informal and tend to run once they are full, rather than to a timetable.
Buying tickets for the bus and Dolmus
If you board the bus at a main station, for example in Fetihye, you can buy a ticket at the bus station. Otherwise, if you board at a bus stop, expect to pay the driver. For a Dolmus service, you can board and pay the driver. Normally there are set rates for the journey, so you can expect to pay a set fare. You normally don’t get given an actual ticket. Buses and Dolmus services are inexpensive, expect to pay as little as 30 Lira for a short trip and less than 100 for a longer journey.
How to get to the start of the Lycian Way Trail
The Lycian Way can be walked East to West or West to East. If you walk East to West, the nearest airport to the start is Antalya. If you walk from West to East, then Dalaman is the best airport to arrive to. We walked West to East. Both options are good and seem to be equally as popular.
Walking East to West
The route from East to West starts near to Antalya in Geyikbayırı. This is a village that you can get to from Antalya on either a bus or with a taxi. The distance is around 27km between them.
If you’re walking East to West, you will finish in either Ovacik or Fetihye (see below.)
Walking West to East
Most people walking West to East will start in Fetihye. This is a beach town around 45 minutes from Dalaman airport. There are regular buses direct from the airport to Fetihye running late into the night. The exact start point of the Lycian Way in Fetihye is around here (coordinates of a wonderful cafe at the start!)
Do note, the “official” start of the Lycian Way is actually in Ovacik – one day of walking from Fetihye. Personally, we opted for a day of walking from Fetihye as it is a beautiful place (see more on our highlights post) and easier to get to from the airport. But there is an option to start from Ovacik. The exact start point of the Lycian Way in Ovacik is here.
If you’re walking West to East you will finish in Geyikbayırı, near to Antalya (see above.) Another popular choice is to finish in Goynuk, a coastal town that is well connected to Antalya.
How to navigate on the Lycian Way Trail
Navigating on the Lycian Way is done using a combination of trail markers and either a map or a phone map app. We used the latter.
The Lycian Way is generally marked by “trail markers” or “trail blazes”. These tend to be red and white, with two stripes (as shown below). You will also find a “red cross” marking used frequently to demark the incorrect route. Red and white arrows are also used along the Lycian Way.
As the Lycian Way is numerous trails joined together to create a long-distance path, there are other trail markings found too. For example, yellow markers are found on some sections.
How good are the way markers on the Lycian Way Trail?
The way markings are sometimes very good and sometimes very bad! It really depends on the section that you’re on. For example, the first couple of days (from the west side) around Ovacik are great. Frequent and clear markings can be found and it is difficult to get lost. But, the day prior to this from Fetihye to Ovacik is very badly marked.
Throughout our time hiking we got lost multiple times. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to find our way back (although we took a 4km detour around Goynuk!) The most difficult paths to navigate tend to be some of the coastal ones, a slight wrong turn and you can find yourself scrambling up and down rocks hanging over the sea.
In general, it is quite easy to see the correct path. Trails were not overgrown and a number of hikers walk them each day. Therefore the “well worn” trail with no plants overhanging is often the right one.
Which app to use to navigate the Lycian Way Trail?
There are a couple of apps available to help you navigate the Lycian Way.
We used Trail Smart. This is an app hosted by the website “Trekopedia”. The app is available on Android and Apple phones. There is a free and a paid for version. At first, we tried to use the free version but it did not have sufficient detail and didn’t work offline. Subsequently we both purchased the $7.99 version and this was an absolute life-saver on the Lycian Way.
The app has GPS features, which work offline. We found this to be fairly accurate. There is a live map, with built in detail to help you locate water points, accommodation and food supplies. Plus, there’s instructional and contextual information on there. It was particularly helpful at flagging up any dangerous or tricky paths ahead.
What is accommodation like on the Lycian Way Trail?
There are broadly five different types of accommodation that can be found on the Lycian Way. These are described in the table below.
|Type of accommodation||Description||Average cost (Turkish Lira)|
|Hotels||Hotels ranging from basic 2/3* to all luxury 4/5* hotels in some areas.||700 to 1300 per room (based on two people sharing)|
|Pensions/ Home stays||You will find a few pensions in small towns & villages, particularly inland. These are normally family run and feel more like “home stays” than formal hotels. A really lovely experience on the Lycian Way.||700 to 1000 (per person including dinner & breakfast)|
|Commerical Camp Grounds||There are a large number of commercial camp grounds on the Lycian Way. For an example, see Lykia Camping and Cafe. Some will offer bungalows/ chalets, others will provide tents. Whilst some will offer only a pitch. Many have cafes and good facilities, but some are basic.||150 to 500 per night|
|Chalets/ Cabins/ Huts||There are a handful of camp grounds which have chalet/ mountain hut style accommodation. These tend to be inland, but we stayed in one on the coast too. Basic accommodation is offered and sometimes dinner/ breakfast is included in the rate.||700 to 1000 (per person including dinner & breakfast)|
|Wild Camping||There is some conflicting information about the legality of wild camping in Turkey, but the “Go Turkey” website suggests that it is legal. Walkers frequently camp along the Lycian Way and there are plenty of places to pitch your tent.||Free|
🏨Find out more about where we stayed on he Lycian Way in our post about walking the highlights of the route here (published soon.)
Do you need to book accommodation on the Lycian Way?
Our approach to walking the Lycian Way was to book the majority of our accommodation in advance. Because the hiking is quite challenging, we wanted to ensure that we had guaranteed accommodation and a clear plan for walking so that we could focus purely on the hiking and enjoying our trip.
In general, accommodation along the coast in towns is quite plentiful but we recommend booking ahead, especially during peak holiday season. You can book on booking.com, or other sites, ahead of time. Often, free cancellation is possible which helps to keep plans flexible. However, there are some areas of the Lycian Way that may have only one hotel or guest house – we recommend booking this in advance. Normally you will have to get in touch via email or Whatsapp to arrange this accommodation.
We rely heavily on booking.com for most of our accommodation – one thing to note is that booking.com does allow you to book accommodation in Turkey, whilst you are in Turkey. According to our research, this is a legal restriction. You can however book accommodation on booking.com prior to arriving in Turkey.
What to pack for the Lycian Way
Here is a suggested packing list for the Lycian Way.
|Sturdy backpack||If you are camping, a 65 litre would be ideal. Otherwise, a smaller 30-40 litre would suffice.|
|Hiking clothing||Shorts, a couple of quick dry hiking tops, sports bra (ladies), quick dry underwear and a few pairs of socks (note, socks get very mucky on the Lycian Way due to the sandy trails so we suggest packing a few extra pairs). |
Trousers are not necessary nor are hiking layers if you’re walking from April to November. But you may want layers for the evening (see below).
|Sunglasses and hat||Sun protection is vital on the Lycian Way. We suggest packing a sun hat and sunglasses.|
|Sturdy footwear||See note below on footwear for the Lycian Way. We suggest hiking boots or trail shoes.|
|Sandals/ Flip Flops||We like to pack sandals or flip flops to slip on in the afternoon once we’ve finished hiking. Useful for the beach along the Lycian Way too.|
|Clothing for the evening/ exploring||The Lycian Way goes through beach towns and mountain villages. We packed a few lightweight evening outfits suitable for both environments. For ladies, a lightweight dress or jumpsuit is ideal. For men, shorts and a linen shirt or t-shirt. |
You can find more about what to wear in Turkey in a separate blog post.
|Swimwear||Swimwear to enjoy a dip along the way or laze on the beach in the afternoon|
|Layers for cooler weather||In April/May and October/ November, the evenings can be cool in the mountains. A lightweight jacket and trousers would suffice. If you’re walking in the winter months, you may need more than this. In the summer, you will not need warm layers.|
|Toiletries||If staying in hotels, you may not need much. Pack small travel size versions of your personal toiletries. Bug spray can be handy on the Lycian Way. All in one soap is a great space saver and can do your laundry too.|
|Trek Towel||If you’re staying in hotels and guesthouses, then towels will be supplied. But, a trek towel comes in handy for swimming and on the beach.|
|Sunscreen and SPF lip balm||Strong sunscreen and an SPF lip balm for sun protection on the Lycian Way.|
|Electronics||Your mobile phone with a Turkish SIM card and a navigation app, battery pack, mobile phone charger (including a type C plug)|
|Playing cards or a small game||We always travel with a game, like Deep Sea Adventure (which packs up small) or a pack of playing cards.|
|A small first aid kit||Pharmacies can be infrequent. We suggest a basic first aid kit – blister care, allergy medication, anti-diarrhea tablets and painkillers.|
|Hiking poles||See note below – we recommend hiking poles for the Lycian Way|
|Camping gear||See note below on recommended camping gear for the Lycian Way|
|Cash and debit card||Turkish Lira is required and we recommend packing your debit card and cash (more on this below).|
|Rain covers||If it rains on the Lycian Way, it can be quite treacherous. We recommend a rain cover for your bag and a rain coat for you.|
|A small dry bag||If you are crossing the Goynuk canyon at certain times of the year, wading is required. You may wish to pack a small dry bag to protect any valuables.|
|Packing cubes||I always use packing cubes for backpacking trips – separate clothing from toiletries and miscellaneous items.|
What to pack for camping on the Lycian Way?
Although a few commercial camp grounds offer tents, many do not. If you plan to walk the entire route, it is preferable to pack your own camping kit.
We suggest the following items and have included links to some of the camping kit that we use regularly:
- Lightweight tent
- Lightweight sleeping bag – adjusted for the weather
- Sleeping pad
- Cooking stove, gas and lighter
- Cooking pots (we prefer these to a kettle)
- Coffee or Tea and a cup or mug
- Utensils (a spork is the best option)
- Swiss-army knife or multi-tool
- A head torch
Do you need hiking poles for the Lycian Way?
We do not tend to use hiking/ trekking poles and have deliberately avoided using them on all long-distance hikes we’ve done previously. That said, we did regret not having them for the Lycian Way. If we went back, we would pack hiking poles.
The route is very undulating and there are quite often steep climbs and steep descents. Most people we met had poles and found them useful for the hills. However, they may not always be helpful (especially when scrambling), so we suggest packing foldable ones.
What kind of footwear to wear on the Lycian Way
There are a few options for footwear on the Lycian Way. We suggest either trail shoes or hiking boots.
Trainers/ Trail Shoes
Trail shoes with a decent grip area ideal for the Lycian Way. Especially if you’re looking for lightweight and breathable shoes in the warm weather. Trainers without decent grip are not going to be suitable for the Lycian Way.
We opted to wear our Hoka shoes. John had a pair of trail shoes (Speed Goat 5), whereas I wore Clifton’s which are not as suitable to trails. Decent trail shoes, such as the Hoka Speed Goats are brilliant for the Lycian Way.
Lightweight and breathable hiking boots would be suitable for the Lycian Way, especially if you plan to walk the entire route. Many hikers opted for boots and I would argue that they are probably the most suitable thing for the terrain on the Lycian Way, with boulders to scramble over and regular uneven surfaces.
We wear the Aramadillo Hiking Boot from Nortiv 8. These are a really great modern hiking boot – breathable, flexible and nicely cushioned. I wish I had packed mine for the Lycian Way!
Mobile reception and WiFi on the Lycian Way Trail
If you’re planning to use your mobile phone to navigate, we recommend getting a SIM card that gives you access to Turkish mobile networks.
There are some areas of the Lycian Way that do not have mobile signal, in particular some areas around Goynuk canyon (in the latter stages towards Antalya.)
We use Airalo eSIM cards when we travel – a great solution to get mobile data quickly and without removing your current SIM card.
The majority of hotels we stayed in on the Lycian Way had internet, but guesthouses/ pensions did not. You are also not likely to find WiFi at campsites. WiFi can be found in some bars and cafes too but you may have to ask for the password.
The cost of hiking the Lycian Way Trail
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira and it is subject to inflation that often means the value fluctuates. How much money to budget for the Lycian Way will largely depend on when you travel.
At time of writing (October 2023), £1 is worth around 30 Turkish Lira. Our average spend per day on the Lycian Way was around 2000 Lira, of around £60 for two people. We did not camp, so this budget included hotels (average around 3*) and dinner out with a few drinks every evening.
The average costs that we encountered along the Lycian Way are listed below:
|Item||Average Cost (Turkish Lira)|
|Accommodation – 3* Hotel, Pension, Mountain Cabins||700 to 1200 (with mountain cabins and pensions often including breakfast and dinner)|
|Basic supermarket items – bread & baked goods (similar prices in bakeries)||30-50|
|Bottle of water (1.5 litre)||15-20|
|Coffee or Tea||15-25|
|Wine, Beer or Cocktail||Wine 120 to 250, Beer 100, Cocktails 150 to 250|
|Dinner in a restaurant (one main course)||Ranging from 150 to 300 at most restaurants|
Do you need cash on the Lycian Way?
You do need to carry some cash on the Lycian Way. Although many restaurants and hotels in large towns and on the coast will take credit or debit card, most facilities inland and in the mountain regions will not.
In our experience, Turkish Lira is the easiest cash to carry and use on the Lycian Way. You will find that cafes and restaurants in remote areas will not accept Euros, although some places in large coastal towns will accept Euros (and sometimes US dollars.) Turkish Lira is accepted everywhere in Turkey and is therefore the easiest currency to carry.
Where to get cash on the Lycian Way?
ATMs are fairly easy to find on the Lycian Way. However, do note that you are mostly going to find them in large towns. It is prudent to get out a chunk of cash to last you if you are heading into more remote areas or the mountain regions of the Lycian Way.
We found that many ATMs charged significant transaction fees on the Lycian Way. This can be anything from 5 to 10% of the amount you withdraw. The best ATMs to choose if you want to avoid these fees are Halk Bank and PTT (the Turkish post office.)
Food, Drink & Supplies on the Lycian Way
Food on the Lycian Way
The food on the Lycian Way was one of the highlights of the trip for us. We love Turkish food and were so excited to try local specialities along the route. Along the way, we sampled Pide (Turkish flat bread), Kofte, Kebabs (of all varieties), Manti (dumplings), fresh fish, delicious salads, soup, ice cream, Baclava and numerous incredible Turkish breakfasts.
Finding food on the Lycian Way is generally quite easy. The daily stages tend to start or finish in a town with restaurants, cafes or a supermarket. Where this is not the case, you will most likely stay in a pension/ home stay where you will be provided with a delicious home cooked dinner and breakfast. Some will also offer a packed lunch, should you want it.
Food does require a little planning however. There are some days when you may not pass anywhere to get food during the day and therefore you need to pack a lunch and snacks with you.
You can find out more about some of the best restaurants and cafes that we visited on our highlights of the Lycian Way post (published soon.)
Water on the Lycian Way
According to our research, the tap water in Turkey is drinkable. But, it may take a few times to get used to it if you’re travelling from outside Turkey.
On the Lycian Way, there is a mix of water cisterns (water wells) and water taps. The cisterns range from clean-ish to frankly filthy and full of rubbish. The water taps are fairly frequent in some areas, for example we saw three during one day. But, there are many days with no water taps or cisterns.
To walk the Lycian Way, you have a few options when it comes to water supplies. You can rely on cisterns and taps along the way on the Lycian Way, topping up water bottles in hotels in the evening. If you want to be sure that is is safe, you should use water purification tablets and/or a filter, like this. Do note, that in the summer springs and cisterns could be dry.
The other option is to stick to mineral water and avoid the cisterns/ taps. It is very easy to buy enough water along the Lycian Way and it is inexpensive. The only down side is that it results in a using a lot of plastic and there are few recycling points along the way. We chose this option and tended to carry between 1.5 and 4 litres each per day, depending on the amenities along the way.
Supplies on the Lycian Way
For other supplies, such as medication or clothing, there are some options to stock up on the Lycian Way. But, do keep in mind that large towns are likely to be the best places to buy supplies. If for example you need medication, you may have to wait a few days to arrive in a town with a pharmacy.
Nightlife on the Lycian Way
The Lycian Way goes mainly through beach resorts, seaside villages and mountain towns and villages.
In terms of nightlife, you will find that resorts by the sea tend to have a few restaurants and bars which predominately cater to holiday makers. This means that there is always some nightlife to access when you walk the Lycian Way. Perhaps some of the best nightlife we found was along the coast in towns like Kabak, Oludeniz and Simena.
The mountain towns and villages tend to be much quieter. Especially if you stay in a home stay/ pension inland on the Lycian Way, it’s likely you’re in for a quiet night.
You can find out more about the nightlife we enjoyed on our highlights of the Lycian way post (coming soon.)
Lycian Way Best Time to Go
The most popular times to walk the Lycian Way are April to May or September to November. The summer months are simply too hot to walk in Turkey, you can expect highs of 30 to 35 degrees centigrade during the day on the South West coast.
We walked from mid to late October and found the temperatures on route to be perfect. Although days were warm, it was rarely too hot to walk, especially early in the morning. It was also plenty warm enough to enjoy swimming in the sea or lazing by a pool in the afternoons after hiking. The evenings had also started to cool which would make camping more of a pleasant experience.
One thing to keep in mind if you walk in April or November, is that the further East you go along the Lycian Way (towards Antalya), the colder it can get. Therefore if you walk in April, it is best to walk West to East. If you walk the Lycian Way in November, it can be more sensible to walk East to West.
Written by Emma
Wine Lover. Yogi. Hiker. Writer.
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