What would be the first thing that came to mind if we asked what your ideal holiday to Turkey might entail? For us, it’s eating lahmacun from a traditional bakery, getting a sugar rush from indulging in too much baklava, and swimming in the azure waters of the Aegean sea (once those lamachans have been fully digested, of course).
If it’s the latter that enters your mind when fantasising about your next holiday to Turkey, then you’re in luck; today we’re here to explore the wonders of the Lycian shore.
Commonly known as the ‘Turquoise Coast’, the Lycia Shore is a captivating stretch of coastline that showcases Turkey’s fascinating blend of stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Nestled between the aqua-blue waters of Southern Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean seas and the towering peaks of the Taurus Mountains, it’s a striking region where vast expanses of sea meet verdant mountains dotted with the remnants of ancient civilisations.
Sounds pretty idyllic to us. If you’re feeling the same, and your finger is already hovering over the ‘book holiday’ button, then here are some top tips for immersing yourself in the enchanting Lycia Shore.
Hike Along The Lycian Way
Ideal for nature lovers and hikers…
The Lycian Way is one of the world’s greatest long-distance trekking routes. Stretching over 540 kilometres from Fethiye to Antalya, it offers stunning coastal views, ancient ruins, and a taste of rural life in Turkey. Indeed, the main draw of this hiking destination is its contrasts; it boasts a mix of scenic burial monuments and Mediterranean views that could enrapture even the coldest soul.
Along The Lycian Way, you’ll find small hotels and local guest houses offering typical Turkish cuisine to give you fuel for your hike. Most will provide a typical Turkish breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and olives, alongside local honey and jams, oranges, pomegranates or whatever else in season, all served with fresh bread. Of course, there’s also going to be Turkish tea or Turkish coffee, the latter of which will certainly give you that all important caffeine-boost ahead of a day’s walking.
If you’re to tackle the whole thing, do earmark at least a month in your calendar! Otherwise, you can choose shorter sections that match your schedule and fitness level.
The Blue Voyage: Embrace The Gulet Cruise Experience
Ideal for seeing the Lycia Shore from a whole new vantage point…
A quintessential part of visiting the Lycia Shore is sailing on the traditional wooden gulets that the region is famous for. A Blue Voyage, also known as a Blue Cruise or ‘’Mavi Yolculuk” in Turkish, usually involves a one or two-week trip on a gulet, and is a unique and oh-so relaxing way to explore the Lycian shore.
Our friends at Peter Sommer Travels tell us that the word ‘’gulet’’ (aka gulette or gullet) is said to derive from the French goulette, or schooner. These two-masted wooden vessels, usually made from local pine, were long used for transport and fishing along the southern coasts of Turkey. Today, these handcrafted wooden vessels have been refurbished with modern amenities with tourism in mind.
When booking your cruise, consider an option that offers both the serenity of secluded bays for swimming and snorkelling and the excitement of docking at bustling harbour towns. An all-inclusive package can ensure a hassle-free vacation with meals, accommodation and visits to the must-see destinations along the Lycian Shore included.
Wine & Dine In Kas
Ideal for snacking on grilled bits and shopping for trinkets…
One of our favourite places in Turkey is the charming town of Kas. With its cobblestone streets, bohemian atmosphere and lovely harbour, it’s a great place for dining alfresco and enjoying the Shisha bars, coffee shops and charcoal grills that line the alleyways here.
There’s a wealth of artisanal shops and markets in this small seaside town and it’s hard not to come back with a suitcase full of hand-crafted hammam towels, hand-woven textiles and, of course, the ubiquitous painted evil eyes.
While it may not have the finest beaches in the south of the country, the stretches of sand and, more often, fine pebble have a mellow charm about them that is eminently easy to fall in love with and impossible to forget.
Explore The Underwater City Of Kekova
Ideal for a deep (or rather, shallow) dive into ancient history…
Kekova presents a unique adventure – a sunken city visible just beneath the sea’s surface that’s begging to be explored. The primary allure of Kekova is the partially submerged ruins of the ancient Lycian town of Simena, which sank into the sea due to an earthquake in the 2nd century AD. These captivating underwater ruins, inclusive of staircases, houses, and walls, are distinctly visible through the pristine sea, creating a mesmerising sight for visitors.
However, the charm of Kekova doesn’t end there. The area is also home to the stunning Kekova Island and the commanding Byzantine Kaleköy Castle that overlooks the village, offering panoramic views of the encompassing bay and sunken city.
When it comes to exploring these ancient treasures, Kekova offers a variety of experiences. Those aforementioned Blue Cruises are a common way to voyage along the sunken city, offering not only a glimpse of the ruins from a distance but also opportunities for swimming and snorkelling in the surrounding waters.
For a closer interaction with the ruins, sea kayaking is a popular choice. It gives visitors an opportunity to intimately explore the ruins while being eco-friendly. Some tour operators even offer guided kayak tours that provide fascinating insights into the history and formation of the ruins. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity while exploring the Lycian Shore.
Discover The Rock Tombs Of Myra
Ideal for seeing a true feat of sculptural wonder…
Keep diving deeper into the Lycian Shore’s history at the ancient town of Myra, near Kale (Demre), which is famous for its rock-cut tombs and impressive amphitheatre. The tombs are a sight to behold, carved into the cliffs in various elaborate styles. While here, don’t miss St. Nicholas Church, where the legendary Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) once served as bishop.
Relax On Patara Beach
Ideal for reclining on the beach (responsibly) with Turkey’s loggerhead turtles…
Patara Beach, located near the ancient ruins of Patara, is one of the longest stretches of sand in the Mediterranean. In our humble opinion, it’s one of the best beaches in Turkey and we’re not alone in thinking so. Not to worry; since the beach is about eight miles long, its golden sands are often uncrowded, which means no sunbathing space invaders or having to listen to someone else’s bad music.
With the backdrop of sand dunes and the warm Mediterranean sunsets in front, the surroundings of Patara offer unparalleled beauty. The beach also serves as a nesting area for loggerhead turtles, a testament to its unspoiled natural beauty – just be sure to follow some steps to ensure you’re not disturbing these magnificent creatures:
- Follow signage and rules: Always respect the beach rules which are there to protect the turtles. Follow any signage, especially those directing you to stay away from marked nesting areas.
- Avoid beach at night: Turtles typically nest in the dark, so try to avoid the beach at night during the nesting and hatching seasons (May to October).
- No flash photography: Bright lights can scare or confuse the turtles. So, avoid flash photography, particularly at night.
- No littering: Litter, especially plastic, can be mistaken for food by turtles and can also entangle them. Always take your rubbish away with you.
- No fires or camping: Campfires can deter turtles from nesting and can also confuse hatchlings trying to find their way to the water.
- Watch from a distance: If you come across a turtle, maintain a safe distance. Do not touch or disturb it.
- Do not disturb the nests: The nests are often marked by local conservation groups. Do not touch, move, or tamper with the nests or eggs.
- Report incidents: If you see anyone disturbing the nests or turtles, report it to the local authorities or a local conservation group.
Visit The Ancient Ruins Of Xanthos
Ideal for those interested in archaeology and architecture…
To say that the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Xanthos, once the capital of Lycia, is an archaeological gem is something of an understatement. If you’re a history buff, Lycia is an archaeologist’s dream come true.
Explore its haunting ruins, including an amphitheatre, tombs, and the UNESCO-protected Nereid Monument. The blend of Lycian and Hellenic architectural styles tells a fascinating story about the history of the region and its past empires – and it’s one you need to immerse yourself in to truly feel its spirit.
Frighten Yourself Silly In The Ghost Town Of Kaya Köyü
Ideal for historically accurate ghost seekers…
An eerie, yet profoundly moving place, Kaya Köyü was abandoned in the 1920s following the Greco-Turkish War. Hiking trails through the derelict stone village provide breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and the nearby coastline, making a stark contrast to the lively beach resorts nearby. Visit the old hilltop church, Saint Nicholas, where you can appreciate intricate frescoes and the panoramic sight of this historical ghost town.
The place is also known for its local restaurants, where you can savour traditional Turkish cuisine. Close to Kaya Köyü, you’ll find spots for paragliding and boating excursions, if you’re keen to raise the adrenaline further.
Swim In The Blue Lagoon At Ölüdeniz
Ideal for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing…
Known for its turquoise waters and beautiful sandy beach, Ölüdeniz is a natural paradise for beach-lovers. Its famous Blue Lagoon is a must-visit, offering tranquil, shallow waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Or, you know, just lolling about in the gentle tide, if that’s more your thing. Too laid back for you? You can also try paragliding here for a thrilling bird’s eye view of the coastline.
The Bottom Line
The Lycian Shore offers an intoxicating blend of culture, history, and natural beauty, making it a perfect destination for any adventurous traveller. Whether you’re a history buff, a beach lover, a nature enthusiast or a foodie, you’ll find something to enthral you along this scenic coastline.