HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LYCIAN WAY: 10 DAYS OF HIKING THE BEST BITS.
The Lycian Way Trail in South West Turkey is a stunning hike in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The entire hike would take around one month. If you don’t have time to complete the whole thing, you may want to consider walking the highlights of the Lycian Way.
In October 2023, we did just that. We picked three sections of the Lycian Way and walked them over a period of 10 days.
Here’s our guide to walking the highlights of the Lycian Way.
Planning your Lycian Way Trip
This blog post sets out the highlights of the Lycian Way that we walked over a period of 10 days in October 2023. We hope that it helps you pick your route and get a sense of what is on offer on the Lycian Way. However, if you want to know more about planning your trip – packing, accommodation, cost of travel etc, then you can find our post ‘How to walk the Lycian Way.’
How to pick the highlights of the Lycian Way
Every walker is different and each will have their own preference for particular sections of the Lycian Way. We met somebody on our first day of the Lycian Way who told us in no uncertain terms that the walk from Fethiye to Oludeniz was “the best bit of the Lycian Way”. We loved this stretch, but what was the best bit for him may not have been for us (although it was really quite special!)
Luckily, The Lycian Way has something for everyone. Along the route, you can find:
- Coastal Walking
- Scrambling over rocks
- Climbing hills
- Nature reserves
- Mountain scenery
- Historic monuments
- Beach towns and resorts
When picking your “highlights” route, you may want to consider what type of scenery and terrain you want to encounter. As well as considering what type of accommodation you want to stay in during your trip – there are some sections on the Lycian Way where wild camping is the only option.
Getting between sections of the Lycian Way
If you choose to walk a selection of highlights of the Lycian Way, you will need to take transport to get between the different sections.
We walked three sections of the Lycian Way – Fethiye to Kabak, Kas to Demre and Cirali to Goynuk. The sections were specifically chosen because transport links between them were good.
You can find out more about transport on our other post about planning for the Lycian Way – here.
The highlights of the Lycian Way that we selected and why
With 10 days available, we chose to hike three small sections of the Lycian Way. We chose these sections for a few reasons. Firstly, our research suggested that all three sections could be hiked in the right time frame. Secondly, all three sections had sufficient accommodation and did not require camping. For a short trip, we had decided not to pack our tent. Finally, we wanted to walk mostly coastal routes, but with a little bit of mountain scenery too.
You can read more on each section and day walked below.
SECTION ONE: Fethiye to Kabak 33km
Two days of hiking, with a total of 33km. This stretch starts in Fethiye, a lovely town close to Antalya airport. It crosses inland before arriving on the coastal town of Oludeniz and following the coast to Kabak.
SECTION TWO: Kas to Demre 54km
One of the most popular sections of the Lycian Way to walk as a stand alone chunk. Three days of hiking totally 54km following the coastal, with some inland walking. Requiring either one night of camping or a night at a homestay/ guesthouse. The section from Kas to Demre passes through some historic Lycian areas of interest.
SECTION THREE: Cirali to Goynuk 74km
A section towards the end of the Lycian Way near to Antalya. This section takes four days of hiking and covers 74km. The Cirali to Goynuk trails follow the coast for two days, before tucking inland towards the mountain section of Goynuk Canyon. The first two days along the coast are an alternative route to the traditional Lycian Way which is entirely inland in mountain regions.
Lycian Way Highlights: A Map
The map below sets out the different sections that we hiked as part of our Lycian Way highlights trip.
Highlights of the Lycian Way Section One: Fethiye to Kabak
Day One: Fethiye to Oludeniz 15km/ 6 hours
The Lycian Way official start is actually Ovacik, but it is possible to walk a really interesting trail starting in Fethiye. This makes sense as you can start directly from Fethiye via a bus from Dalaman airport, it also gives you a chance to see Fethiye and some interesting cultural monuments on route.
⛰️ASCENT 655m/ DESCENT 685m
The route today is in two sections. The first part runs from Fethiye to Kayaköy for 5.5miles (8.8km). The second has two options – Kayaköy to Ovacik 3.4 miles (5.5km), which is the official route. Or, Kayaköy to Oludeniz 3.2 miles (5.1km) which is an alternative, but very popular route.
We opted for the alternative, after meeting some hikers in Fethiye who advocated strongly for us to walk that section. We were not disappointed with the choice.
Fethiye to Kayakoy 5.5miles (8.8km)
The day starts with a steep climb up roads from Fethiye as you make your way to the trail. Once you reach the trail, there is an even steeper climb – hiking poles would be welcome on this hill. Eventually you will reach a flat trail – an old Greek road. This winds around before reaching the main road again. Here you have an option to turn to Ovacik or take the main road to the ghost town of Kayakoy.
To Kayakoy, there is some initial road walking and then you take a trail which runs alongside the road and cuts a section off (not well sign posted). There’s another section after this, where after a short time on road, there’s a trail to the right that cuts off the road. You could walk down the road, but it is more pleasant on the track.
Eventually, this connects with quieter roads and then you stroll into Kayakoy. In Kayakoy, first you hit the “modern” part with cafes and fertile pomegranate trees along the road. Then if you carry on round the corner you will find the remains of the Kayakoy Ghost Town. You have to pay 60 TL to get in, even if you are just walking through.
Kayaköy town originates from the 14th century. Over the years, it has been under different rule and had a chequered history. In 1918, the town was fully abandoned by its Greek inhabitants. Today, around 500 properties remain and you can visit as a museum.
Kayakoy to Oludeniz 3.4 miles (5.5km)
Once into the ghost town and you have a choice, the left trail takes you to Ovacik and the other option (straight on) to Oludeniz. The Oludeniz route is challenging, steep ascent before some scrambling and slippery trail down.
There are absolutely stunning views out to the sea. Despite being tricky to walk it’s very difficult to get lost and we noticed a well way marked trail. You eventually come down to sea level, with a short 2km walk on flat road to reach Oludeniz.
You can take a dip in the sea, enjoy the beach bars and then from here take the Dolmus bus (every 5 minutes) to Ovacik if you are staying there or retire to your hotel in Oludeniz. The Dolmus is 30 TL.
We recommend taking breakfast in Fethiye before you start the hike. There is a cafe, Kose Kahve, just by the trail head, which is not only beautiful inside but makes an excellent and very large breakfast.
On route, the town of Kayakoy has a number of cafes and restaurants as well as a supermarket. Although you may not expect anything when you visit the “ghost town”, it is very much geared up for tourists. You’ll have a wide selection of places to choose from. From cocktail bars to local cafes. There are also numerous souvenir shops. We saw one water tap in Kayakoy but no others for the remains of the day.
There are two options for accommodation – Ovacik or Oludeniz. Both towns are close to one another with a regular Dolmus service between the two.
The official Lycian Way route goes to Ovacik, rather than Oludeniz. But, the alternate route to Olundeniz is a stunning path down to the coast from Karakoy.
If you take this route, you can stay in either Oludeniz or Ovacik (taking the bus to Ovacik from Oludeniz). Or, if you take the official way, then you would end up staying in Ovacik.
Oludeniz is a coastal town, quite built up, with bars lining the popular beach. There are numerous hotels to choose from in this area.
Ovacik is inland, also quite built up, with numerous restaurants and bars. To be honest, both towns weren’t really to our taste – a little too geared to tourists and high rise hotels. But the walk today was incredible and outweighed this for us.
BUDGET: California Apart Otel is in between Oludeniz and Ovacik, a great location for the trail head the next day.
MID-RANGE: Nokta Kaya Suit Apart is a well priced mid-range option with a swimming pool.
Day Two: Ovacik to Kabak 17.6km / 8 hours
⛰️ASCENT 1045m/ DESCENT 1090m
Our hotel was a little off the trail, so we started with around a 15 minute walk to get to the trail head. The start is marked by the Lycian Way sign – showing the official beginning. Almost from the start of the trail, you begin climbing. An initial short road of flat (a wide gravel track) and then you are climbing. Follow the red and white markings closely as you take the route up and start hugging the cliff.
On the initial climb, look out for someone selling fresh juice. Ice cold pomegranate juice, 75 TL, a little steep but so very hard to resist after the hill climb. There’s also a cistern, that is generally clean. We saw one or two other water points on the route today too.
The top of the climb offers incredible views over the sea. A quick rest before you start to descend. The route down is tricky in places, some loose gravel. You will follow the trail down all the way to Faralya, a great place to stop for lunch. From Faralya up to Kabak is a steep and tough climb. This is followed by a gentle trail down, quite narrow but enjoyable. Notice the bougainvillea brightening up the route throughout the day.
🐝There are quite a few bee hives on route today. Usually they are far back from the trail and you can walk past. At one point on this route, we had to take an alternate track to avoid the hives as honey was being harvested.
Today is a little more remote than the previous day, but there are a few facilities on route. After the shops and cafes in Ovacik, the first cafe you’ll find is called Halil, which sits in the shadow of Babadag Mountain. A welcome stop!
There’s a small village just before Faralya, Kirme, where there are a few cafes. We went to Limon Tree, right on the route, a little chaotic but an interesting and witty host. After this, Faralya has a few restaurants serving more substantial food. We took lunch at a place with an incredible sea view and a decent kofte sandwich.
You can choose to end the walk in Kabak, or take the extended route down to Kabak Beach. We loved staying in Kabak, a village with a mountain vibe but sea views out the distance. There are a few choices when it comes to accommodation in Kabak.
MID-RANGE: Shiva Camp, where we stayed. We really enjoyed our stay, although the facilities are basic and it is cash only, the view is incredible from the camp. Our hosts also kindly offered us an early breakfast to accommodate our hiking schedule.
LUXURY: Olive Garden is the place to go if you want more upmarket facilities in Kabak. It can be found just under the Shiva Camp, optimizing the sea view from the hotel. Enjoy the infinity pool as a reward at the end of your hike.
Getting from Kabak to Kas
We had hoped that it would be a direct to get from Kabak to Kas, but it did take a few transport connections. Firstly, we took a Dolmus service from Kabak to Fethiye. This was an easy and inexpensive ride, the service runs regularly. Next, we took a bus from the main station in Fethiye to Kas. This service took around one hour and was again inexpensive.
There is an alternative direct shuttle bus, but this is a private service and costs around £100 for two people. On this basis, we took public transport which was a fraction of the cost.
As this was the most complex of the transfers between sections of the Lycian Way, we chose to take a rest day in Kas. This was a wonderful town to explore – you can read about things to do in Kas here.
Highlights of the Lycian Way Section Two: Kas to Demre
Day Three: Kas to Boğazcık , 20.6km / 7.5 hours
The app we used suggests that the route today would be around 19km. In fact, we measured closer to 21km.
⛰️ASCENT 880m/ DESCENT 595m
We started with a gentle stroll out of Kas, via the beach. Following this, we continued on a wonderful shady trail (slightly overgrown with brush plants) all the way to Limanağzı Plajı.
There are two routes down to this beach, one via an easier road and another through a track. The track route (the one we took) has some complexity as there is a short section where ropes are needed as you round the cliff side tombs. We managed this section fine with backpacks, but large bags may make it more challenging. The tombs are an interesting site to see too.
This beach is OK to stop in, but there appear to be private bars taking up the space. There are two more options to enjoy the beach for a swim before you head inland. Choban Beach is one such option, but there was some trash on the beach and many boats. The beach Camlik Koyu is much more pleasant and frequented by locals on the Saturday that we walked.
After this, the path continues round the bay, some tricky footing and it’s very easy to get lost and have to scramble back up the hill. In total, there are four climbs today. The first three are manageable but the last one is a particular challenge, around a 300m climb.
On the last stretch, the track is mainly dusty up hill. Lots of red dust, making your legs and feet quite dirty. Difficult to climb but easy to navigate.
There are cafes at Limanağzı Plajı, Choban Beach and again at Camlik Koyu, but there are no other amenities after this. We stopped at Choban Beach for a cold drink – but had packed our own food for lunch. We would recommend doing this, as the cafes don’t sell much substantial food.
We stayed at Ali’s Pension in Boğazcık. It cost 900 TL including breakfast and dinner – perhaps a little overpriced, but the hospitality could not be beaten. The Pension is basic but very charming and our host Karmella served excellent home cooked food, whilst making jokes with us in Turkish. We slept soundly in a very cosy bed, with the call to prayer from the Mosque next door the only noise to punctuate the quiet night.
The same town has a campsite, Lykia Camping & Cafe, which we understand rents pitches or tents and serves food at the cafe.
Day Four: Boğazcık to Simena, Kekova 15.5k / 5 hours
⛰️ASCENT 300m/ DESCENT 600m
The route today was mainly down hill, but that did not make it quick or easy. We to had to pay close attention to the route as it was quite easy to get lost and lose your footing. We found it easier to look out for tracks with footprints or boulders covered in red dust- this indicated that others had walked this way and covered the area in dust. If we realized we were walking in a fresh track, then it normally meant we were lost.
Between Boğazcık and Üçağız you will find the Aperlai Ruins, a city dating back to the 5th Century. Some city ruins are intact whilst others are under water – you can swim amongst them or snorkel if you wish to.
After Aperlai, there is a section along the coast. At first it doesn’t really follow the coastal line but then it gets very low and close to the sea. It looks as though it will be an easy trail, but it’s not as it requires a fair bit of uneven terrain and scrambling.
Üçağız is a nice town, popular as a base to take boat trips. From there you can continue on to Simena, Kekova on a short trail. Alternatively, you can take a short boat to Simena. There isn’t a regular service, rather you need to barter with a local with a boat, or arrange this with your hotel.
Simena is another special place on the Lycian Way, home to a sunken city and a castle. We opted to take a boat round. The boat ride in felt magical and we really enjoyed our stay here.
There are a few cafes on route today, The Purple House at Aperlai is the first. We found this to be a little expensive. There is a also The Boat House at Aperlai. Later when you arrive to Üçağız, there are a few restaurants along the coast and a well stocked supermarket. Simena, Kekova also has many nice restaurants.
Simena, Kekova is a popular holiday destination but quite a small town. We recommend securing your accommodation here well in advance. Be prepared to pay a little more too as it can be pricey.
MID RANGE: We stayed at Kirazli Ev, an absolutely stunning pension run by very friendly hosts. They even brought us tea and medicine when one of us was struck down with a cold. Our terrace had a sea view and the room was very comfortable. We paid around 2000 TL (one of our most expensive hotels, but worth it.)
Day 5: Simena, Kekova to Demre 18.5km / 5.5 hours
⛰️ASCENT 250m/ DESCENT 250m
The route starts with a steep climb out of Simena, luckily you get to see the castle on the way out. You can pay to go in, it costs around 30 TL. After Simena and the initial climb, you then hit a flat bit, walking through a sort of dockyard and an abandoned village. Then you find the trail.
Whilst not flat, it isn’t too strenuous – but you have to account for the usual plants, rocks and generally watching your footing. You will see Kapakli emerging in the distance. A great place to stop for a breakfast or coffee.
After Kapakli, you initially walk down a road then onto a dusty track, which is wide and not difficult to follow. The track then gets more complex, weaving through plants and rocks. We arrived at a wonderful secluded beach, the perfect opportunity for a swim where we encountered six other hikers doing the same.
After this beach, there are two options. One is a long and mountainous route to Demre, the other is a more direct coastal route. We opted for the shorter route as we had read that it is the most popular.
The route is quite challenging, albeit direct, with some clambering over rocks even though there are no hills to climb. Eventually we reached a sandy and sweeping beach, unlike other beaches in the area. The area has an almost Caribbean vibe, with beach bars, boats and turtles bobbing around in the river.
The walk from here to Demre is on a pavement along side a road, quite boring. You can break this up with a visit to the Lycian Civilization Museum.
First was the Smugglers Inn – in a nice location but had a slightly odd downtrodden vibe, we chose not to stay for a drink.
Kapakli is a a quiet hamlet with only one or two buildings. We were worried we wouldn’t find anything but then stumbled upon a wonderful new cafe Zuhre– friendly staff, nice decor and felt like proper hospitality. Coffee was served with a giant slab of chocolate and we enjoyed omelettes and sandwiches for around 300TL in total.
Then there were some cafes at Cagillli Plaji. These had a party feel to them, I guess where boats dock on cruises. We could have stayed there all day and were very tempted. Especially seeing turtles in the river. But we walked on.
Into Demre and lots there. Pharmacies, clothing stores, supermarkets. An easy place to stock up on supplies.
Demre is an interesting town, perhaps more conservative than we have seen previously on the Lycian Way. For example, alcohol is sold in special shops not supermarkets and is very expensive in restaurants. An altogether different feel to Simena. Demre is a functional town, but has some nice bits, and some attractions to visit – St Nicolas Church and the Ancient City of Myra. The best restaurants are to be found around this square in the centre of the town.
We stayed at Santa Suites in the centre of the town. A very nicely decorated and comfortable rooms. Perfect for a one night stay and near to shops and great restaurants. It is also right on the trail or near to the bus station (should you be skipping to another stage of the Lycian Way.)
Getting from Demre to Cirali
The transfer from Demre to Cirali is relatively easy. Buses run along the coast on the motorway from Fethiye to Antalya on a regular basis, usually every 30 minutes. You can board this bus at Demre and get off right by Cirali. However, you need to take a Dolmus from the motorway at the top of town to the beach, where most accommodation is to be found. All in all, this took us around 90 minutes.
Highlights of the Lycian Way Section Three: Cirali to Goynuk Canyon
Day 6: Cirali to Tekirova 19km / 6.5 hours
⛰️ASCENT 1700m/ DESCENT 1400m
Cirali to Tekirova is the first day of the coastal variant of this section of the Lycian Way. This section is much more lush, shades of green everywhere, compared to the more arid landscapes of the first two sections we walked. Here pine trees replace olive trees and dark sandy beaches replace pebbles.
The recommended time that we had heard to walk this 19km trail was between six and nine and a half hours. In the end, it took us six and a half hours from door to door, including quite a few breaks and rests. We expect that most would complete it in around this time, or a little more, but that the nine hours estimate seems quiet a way off.
The first 6-8km contain most of the climbing, although there are a few hills towards the end too. However, it felt that the majority were dealt with early on. The first half of the route mainly involves climbing up a hill to cross to the next bay, before dropping down to a beach and then climbing again. The route starts with some narrow trails winding up the hills, but later in the day it widens out.
The route is through a protected eco reserve today, a well maintained and clearly way marked path makes things easy. A frequent path trodden my day hikers and those wishing to visit the caves from Tekirova, or watch the sunrise high above Cirali. There are ample opportunities to swim on secluded bays throughout the hike, look out for turtles in the water too.
There are two or three water fountains throughout the day. These are taps not cisterns and the water is indicated as drinkable. Nothing else lies on the route, so it’s best to prepare your food in advance in Cirali.
Tekirova is a pleasant beach town, with a range of well priced hotels.
MID-RANGE: We opted for Amore Hotel, a fairly basic option, but with some boutique touches and a nice swimming pool.
LUXURY: Guven Park Residance and Hotel is a more upscale hotel option on the outskirts of Tekirova. It has excellent reviews, with a large swimming pool and kitted out rooms.
Day 7: Tekirova to Kuzdere 18.5km/ 6 hours
⛰️ASCENT 666m/ DESCENT 623m
A pretty and pleasant route, not too challenging, which is a welcome break after yesterday.
The route starts by following the road out of a quaint part of town adorned with bougainvillea and bright flowers, before arriving to a dirt road. Eventually this dirt road leads to a beach, then you will see one lovely beach after another throughout the day.
The path reaches Phaselis Ancient City (an ancient town on the coast and a popular tourist attraction). The town is ticketed, but many people seemed to be entering for free from the back.
There are plenty of amazing places to swim, we saw one small beach with crystal clear water where only one woman was sunbathing. Perhaps the best views throughout the day are as you walk the steep path down to Cennet Koyu.
After this, the trail turns inland until you reach the small and functional town of Kuzdere.
There are shops and places for breakfast in Tekirova. After this, we saw a coffee stand on one of the beaches and a small cafe at Phaselis Ruins. Best to pack your lunch with you if you want something substantial.
You won’t find any accommodation in Kuzdere on the normal booking sites, but there are a few hotels. Green Valley is close to the trail and has the best reviews in town.
Day 8: Kuzdere to Goynuk Yayla 17.6km / 7.5 hours
⛰️ASCENT 1340m/ DESCENT 560m
From Kuzdere the route starts on road, meandering and quite easy. After crossing the Roman Bridge, you start climbing and it seems not to stop for some time. The last climb just before reaching Goynuk Yayla is absolutely savage.
It felt really magical to be in the mountains after coastal walking previously during our highlights of the Lycian Way trip. The pine trees and scenery is very special. At times, the path was quite eroded making the walk difficult.
We also got lost on one occasion, taking an accidentally 4km detour. It’s best to pay close attention to the route markings and navigation app you are using.
There are shops and an amazing bakery in Kuzdere, just note shops aren’t open early in the morning but bakery is. One cafe next to the Roman Bridge, nowhere else on route. Although a lady offered us tea at her home.
This is a very remote section and you must secure accommodation in advance, unless you are wild camping. There are three options – Gul Mountain Hotel (around 3km off the route), Doga Camping (mountain cabins)or Kamila Coskuns Guest House.
We stayed at the Doga Camping and had a wonderful evening. There are some mixed reviews of the cabins so we weren’t sure what they would be like, but we would recommend them. Facilities and dinner are basic, but the cabin was peaceful and we loved seeing stars from our balcony at night.
Day 9: Goynuk Yayla to Goynuk Town (Via the Canyon) 24.3km/ 6 hours
⛰️ASCENT 805m/ DESCENT 1570m
The route today was incredible. We expected to walk it in seven hours, but it actually took closer to five. Albeit, we didn’t take many breaks. If you stay at the campsite, the distance is actually closer to 22km today too.
An initial part of the route was downhill, a really enjoyable section as you wind down to the river. There are a few challenging crossings and some boulders/ stones to climb over. At the time of walking, October, the river was not high or fast flowing and we were able to cross fairly easily. But, it was slow moving.
After this, you start to climb. Many switch backs and very steep sections. The climb felt like it was never ending, until we were high above the treetops. Eventually, you reach the top and then start the descent, after catching your breath.
The descent at times felt so steep and we both took a few tumbles, but it is generally safe. Eventually the climb descends down to the river and you join the Canyon park. You can add an additional 1km walk on to see the Canyon. We also added 4km on to get to Goynuk Town.
There is a cafe and panoramic toilet just near to the camp, it wasn’t open when we arrived. After this, there is nothing on route apart from one water source, at the top of the hill climb. At the Goynuk Canyon Park there are cafes and on the outskirts of the canyon park too. Lots of places in Goynuk town – restaurants and supermarkets.
Pension natural next to the canyon. Places in Goynuk (but quite an expensive resort).
We didn’t want to stay in Goynuk and instead continued by bus to Antalya. An easy bus of around 45 minutes into the city. If you plan to visit Antalya, you can read more about what to do in the city here.
Written by Emma
Wine Lover. Yogi. Hiker. Writer.
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