Hiking the Lycian Way FAQs

March 11, 2014 15 Comments »

All of your basic questions about walking the Lycian Way answered! And if you have more questions about hiking the Lycian Way that I didn’t cover – please leave them in the comments and I will add them to this list periodically.

Lycian Way hiking
One of the best long-distance hikes in the world – the Lycian Way

The Lycian Way is a 509 km (300 miles), 25-day way-marked footpath around the coast of Lycia in southern Turkey, from Fethiye to Antalya.

The Lycians were democratic but independent, warlike people, with a developed art style and a high standard of living. Their strategic position gave them unique opportunities for sea trade and (at times) for piracy. After Persian rule, the Lycians welcomed Alexander the Great and absorbed Greek culture. Later, Lycia became a province of the Roman Empire; as it crumbled, many Byzantine monasteries were founded in the Lycian hills. The Lycian’s graves and ruins abound on the peninsula and the Lycian Way passes many remote historical sites.

Where do you sleep?

You can stay at pansiyons (pension, guest house) in many of the villages. These are typically simple homes/rooms including breakfast in the cost. They rent out rooms in a home much like a guesthouse. It’s quaint but nice and they have clean showers and food. However there is not always a village to stop at within a day’s walk, and that is what makes the Lycian Way a bit of a challenge at times.  This means you either have to camp or plan ahead and ensure you can get transportation to a village with a pansiyon where you can sleep at the end of your hiking day. There are sections of the trail where it’s pretty easy to go from village to village and sleep for the night and not have to carry food and camping gear – but there are also many stretches where that’s not possible.

You can also stay in hotels or even a boat like the Selin-3 along certain parts of the trail from Kas to Demre.

But many people choose to camp.  You can carry your hiking gear and camp anywhere you can find a flat spot, but there aren’t many campgrounds with facilities.  Camping is regular ‘roughing it’ type of camping.

camping Lycian Way
Setting up our campsite on the beach. You can camp anywhere you can find a flat space normally.
Lycian Way by boat
Relaxing on the Selin-3 boat after our hike. We also slept outside under the stars on these mats!

What/Where did you eat?

When we were hiking during the day food was very simple for us. You can get bread, tomatoes, olives, cheese, and sausage in any village market and that’s mainly what we had when hiking. We’d try to eat one big meal a day in a village restaurant where we could get a hot meal prepared. However, that was dependent on our hiking that day and what the route was. Sometimes we didn’t go through a village and we had to carry simple bread and olives for a few days.

There are plenty of fruit trees along the way so it’s easy to get a lot of fruit on the trail.  Just eat whatever is in season!

At the restaurants, it was the typical Mediterranean fare – dips and small fresh plates of salad and olives. There were plenty of kebabs, grilled meat, pide (Turkish pizza), and fish options too.  Most pansiyons also included a great breakfast of fruit, egg, cheese, tomatoes, and bread.

turkish breakfast
Breakfast at one of the pansiyons.
Emin Pansiyon
Warren relaxing while our kofte (meatball) dinner is being grilled over the fire at Emin Pansiyon in Cirali.
lycian way food
Typical food/snacks along the trail. Bread, olives, and cheese.
Food lycian Way boat
Food on the Selin-3 boat – we ate like royalty!
Orange trees turkey
Orange trees in Cirali

Is it physically hard to complete?

The Lycian Way is not a long-distance walk – it’s a proper hike. Hiking boots and gear are necessary, the trail is rough and there is lots of climbing and descending along the coastline. Walking poles are very helpful. There are stretches where you are not near villages for a few days, therefore camping gear is necessary. I personally found the Lycian Way to be much more physically challenging than the Camino de Santiago and more in line with the Nepal Annapurna Circuit trek where you hike in the Himalayas. My best advice – is don’t take it lightly. (like I did!). Make sure you train as needed before you actually do this trek.

Do you need to know Turkish?

No, it’s not necessary. However, you will learn a number of phrases along the way as you meet eager locals who want to converse. In most villages, we found people who spoke English.

What hiking gear do you need?

See my Essential Hiking Gear List

Now that you’ve chosen a hike, you need to know what gear to take with you! Don’t leave on your hike without these hiking gear essentials!

Camping Gear:

  • Apex One (wo)Man Tent – easy to set up and super light for this type of hiking
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Thermarest Sleeping Mat
  • Camping towel
  • Sleep sheet
  • Hiking Gear:
  • Hiking Boots
  • KEEN sandals
  • Smartwool socks (they never get stinky!)
  • Hiking pole(s)
  • Sun Hat (very important!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Mini First Aid Kit
  • Electronics:
  • Kindle
  • Headlamp
  • iPod (strangely I only used this once)
  • Smartphone with GPS (this was my only camera)
  • Telecom Square Mifi device – essential for getting an Internet signal and being able to use my smartphone for research and GPS coordinates.
  • Used the OsmAnd app as my offline map solution on my phone – it worked pretty well and was a free app!

Specifically what kind of shoes do you need for the Lycian Way?

We all used proper hiking boots with ankle support. However, we also took a pair of sandals along for after the hiking day to relax. I used KEENs for my non-hiking shoe.  They were perfect for cooling off and having something easy and comfortable to slip into at the end of the day when I was ready to divorce my hiking boots!

Keen hiking
The three of us showing off our KEEN gear!

How did you find your way? Is it well-marked or did you use a map?

This was one of the most difficult parts of the hike. In theory, the trail is marked with a red and white ‘flag’ painted on rocks and trees along the whole trail. However, the theory doesn’t always mean reality. The trail is not marked well in areas and about once a day we were lost and couldn’t find any markings. We would all span out then and try our best to find a mark.

Find out why Lake Lucerne is the ultimate outdoor destination in Switzerland

In many of the towns, it was very easy to get lost – but at least you could ask locals where the Likya Yolu was and they normally could point you in the right direction. There was a stretch over the mountains past Demre that was particularly poorly marked.

We had a guide that provided us with some queues on where the trail was supposed to be, but the only thing that helped us find our way again normally was a lot of searching or my GPS on my smartphone. The GPS worked pretty well. I used a
Telecom Square Mifi device which was essential for getting an Internet signal and being able to use my smartphone for research and GPS coordinates. Then I utilized OsmAnd as my offline map solution on my phone.

Lycian Way waymarkers
The red and white markings along the trail
Lycian Way signs
A few signs were also on the trail at junctions. But you couldn’t really rely on these.

How much does it cost?

It is much cheaper to hike it independently than as part of a tour – but independent hiking has its own challenges as noted above. Warren and Betsy kept a very detailed list of costs that you can see here. Their final total was $1685 USD for 4 weeks of hiking for 2 people. And we certainly didn’t rough it the entire time – we splurged on more than a few things.

Do you need to plan/reserve in advance for lodging?

No. We were hiking in an off-season in November – but even in the busy season in April/May, it’s doubtful that you need to reserve ahead of time. Plus – if you are camping then there’s no reason to worry about lodging.

Can you have your bag transported?

No – there are no options for this. The trail is not as supported as other long-distance hikes. There isn’t a lot of infrastructure or businesses set up to cater to hikers on the Lycian Way. If you choose to do the hike with a tourist company – then they will likely be able to transport your bags.

Check out my hiking packing list – essential hiking gear for any hike

How do you do laundry?

All the pansiyons had options for doing laundry. It was cheap and good.

Where do you go to the bathroom on the trail?

In nature! Or when you go into a village you can always find facilities.

Is there internet access?

A few of the pansiyons had internet access. However, I was able to get access on my smartphone via cellular signals and my mobile wifi. However, there were many areas on the trail where I was unable to get a signal. Don’t count on internet access.

Can I hike it solo?

Yes – we met a few people hiking it solo, but unless you are a great hiker and like a lot of solitary time, I wouldn’t recommend it. The trail is challenging and it’s hard to find your way. The more eyes you have helping the easier it is to find the trail again. Of course, like anything this depends on your own comfort with your ability.

Lycian Way
We picked up Andreas (in red on the right) who was hiking solo. He joined us for 5 days on the trail! Here Betsy, Andreas, and I were talking to locals and having tea.
hiking the lycian way solo
Hiking along the trail. Even though I love solo travel, it was really great to do this with Warren and Betsy.

Istanbul neighborhoods – how to choose where to stay

I have limited time to plan – can someone just organize it all for me?

There are many places that will help you organize the hike or most likely portions of the hike. I don’t know if there is a company out there that will organize the complete hike for you – 300 miles.
However, there are various other options:
Self-Guided for 4 or 5 days – On Foot Holidays
You can have a portion organized by boat as your lodging that ‘travels’ with you.
Or you can find tour companies who will provide a guide and do everything but the hiking for you for a portion of the trail.

Is there a guidebook you recommend for planning?

There aren’t many English resources for the Lycian Way. There is a guidebook that we used, but it wasn’t great. However, it was better than nothing.
The Lycian Way: Turkey’s First Long Distance Walking Route By Kate Clow

However, Warren and Betsy put together a SUPER online resource of the entire hike with details on where to stay/camp, costs, and daily summaries. They meticulously kept track of all of this during our hike – so check out their website: www.HiketheLycian.com. Another useful website is the official Lycian Way website.

Lycian way book
Warren and Betsy consult the maps and books.

Do you have to do the whole thing at once?

No, you can do little portions if you only have a week. Some of the good sections I would recommend are:
Kas to Demre – about 5 or 6 days hiking
Finike to Phaselis – about 5 days of hiking
Cirali to Gelidonya Lighthouse – 3 days of hiking

(note – I did not do the first two weeks of the hike – so all of the recommended routes are the last two weeks I hiked)

What if you get sick or hurt?

You are near civilization – but there aren’t many people on the trail – so taking a good first aid kit and some knowledge of what to do in a hiking emergency would be beneficial. There is a main road that runs the length of the trail – but at times you are a day hike away from it and the terrain is not easy to cut through. There are a number of villages though where you could get communication and help. I advise to check your route carefully and have a backup plan in case of an emergency.

Can you charge your electronics?

We charged our electronics (camera batteries, phone, etc) whenever we could – normally every day we found a place to charge even if it was for a little while at a restaurant going through a village. But obviously, if you are camping, charging opportunities are difficult and you’ll want to conserve or have a backup plan.
All of the pansiyons had ways to charge electronics.

Is there water available on the trail?

The book we were using did mention water stops – but honestly, they weren’t accurate. To be safe – you always want to make sure you have enough water for the day’s hike – or multi-day hike. There are many little wells and spouts where you can get good drinking water – but their availability is not always reliable. I normally carried 3 to 4L with me a day and tried to conserve and fill up whenever I could in villages or at rural wells.

What’s the best time of year to hike?

April/spring is busy season.

The summer months are very hot and I wouldn’t recommend hiking then.

We hiked from mid-October to mid-November to try to not be in the superheat of the summer. This was a great time to hike climate-wise – however, many things closed in the fall when we went as the tourist season was finished so it was a bit harder to find places to sleep and eat. But the tradeoff was it was much cooler and that was worth it. One other thing to note about hiking in the fall is the days are short, so plan your route with that in mind.

Do you actually hike through ruins?

Yes!  There were plenty of ruins along the way – after all, it is the ancient Lycian footpath.
Myra, Olympos, and Phaselis were all right along the trail and the most impressive. In fact, the trail went through the middle of them. Plus – you see so many old ruins and sarcophagi along the trail daily.

Phaselis ruins turkey
The ruins of Phaselis
Myra tombs
Tombs built high up in the cliffs in Myra – a beautiful sight!

No matter how you decide to do the Lycian Way – independently, by tour, by boat, for a short section, or the whole 300 miles – you will enjoy the challenge and the beauty of this untouched ancient hiking trail!

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