Inaugurated in 2000, the Lycian Way is a long-distance trail that runs parallel to much of the Turquoise Coast, In theory, it takes five weeks to complete the entire trail, but most walkers sample it in stages rather than tackling it all in one go.
Starting above Ölüdeniz and ending just shy of Antalya, the trail takes in choice mountain landscapes and seascapes en route, with many optional detours to Roman or Byzantine ruins not found in conventional guidebooks. Some of the wildest sections lie between Kabak and Gavurağili, above the Yediburun coast, and between Kaş and Üçağız. Elevation en route varies from sea level to 1800m on the saddle of Tahtalı Dağ. The best walking seasons along most of the way are October (pleasantly warm) or April and May (when water is plentiful and the days long); except in the highest mountain stages, summer is out of the question.
The route itself ranges from rough boulder-strewn trails to brief stretches of asphalt, by way of forested paths, cobbled or revetted Byzantine/Ottoman roads and tractor tracks. While the entire distance is marked with the conventional red-and-white blazes used in Europe, plus occasional metal signs giving distances to the next key destination, waymarks can be absent when you need them most. Continual bulldozing of existing footpath stretches into jeep tracks is such a major problem that the notional initial section between Hisarönü and Kirme has now ceased to exist, with most hikers starting at Faralya, while periodic maintenance (and where necessary re-routing) barely keeps pace with fast-growing scrub and rockfalls.
An unofficial “add-on” route, the Likya Yolları, runs from Hisarönü to Fethiye via Kaya, while loop side trails and alternative routes are being marked in different colour schemes. Kate Clow, who marked the original Lycian Way, adapted the Turkish military’s ordnance survey 1:50,000 maps for her The Lycian Way, a guide-booklet-with-map, which indicates points for water, camping and (often obsoletely) overnighting indoors. The English-language version is sold at select bookshops, newsstands and travel agencies all along the coast as well as from online book retailers. Hard-wearing and waterproof, the map often saves the day, as trail descriptions can be frustratingly vague. It’s also important to be aware that timings in The Lycian Way apply to those carrying a full pack; deduct about a quarter when doing sections as day-hikes.
A website, wlycianway.com, offers updates on route conditions and a user forum.