Ölüdeniz is a small village in southwestern Turkey, at the meeting-point of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. This location made the region important in the past, positioning it well for coastal trade, and even sometimes piracy. Before the Greek conquest under Alexander the Great, the area was home to the Lycian League: a mysterious and warlike people, who nonetheless formed what has sometimes been called the world’s first democracy. This fascinating history, along with the challenging but manageable terrain, has made the region particularly popular among hikers, leading to the naming and establishment of the world-famous Lycian Way. Ölüdeniz is the starting-point of this illustrious route, and a great place to visit to begin your journey, even if you just want to do a small portion of the hike.
Opened by experienced hiker Kate Clow in 1999, the Lycian Way is a 509km trek around the coast, from Fethiye to Antalya. Clow, who lived in Turkey from 1989 and turned to hiking in 1992, researched and walked the way for years before officially opening it, and it has fast become one of the world’s best long-distance walks, known especially for its natural beauty.
The total trip takes around 25 days. There are plenty of hotels along the way, though these thin out as your journey continues, and all travellers should expect to spend nights in pansiyons (village guesthouses) and camping out under the stars. It’s well worth the journey, but going the whole way is definitely not for the inexperienced. Thankfully, there’s no need to commit to doing the whole thing, and many adventurous families get good holidays out of short, three or four-day stretches.
As a coastal path, the Lycian Way goes over some rocky and uneven terrain, ascending and descending as it curves towards and away from the sea. Sections are graded from medium to hard in terms of difficulty, and the trek takes you over footpaths, mule trailsand hard, flinty limestone. It’s A Proper Hike, then – not something you can get away with in trainers! Even if you’re just doing a small part of the way,make sure you kit yourself out with proper hiking gear.
Kate Clow wrote a guidebook, The Lycian Way: Turkey’s First Long Distance Walking Route (2005), which comes recommended. At the same time, the internet has a lot of information available on both hiking in general and this area in particular, and you should absolutely read up before planning your trip. Note also that there are many hikers’ forums, with members all too happy to answer any questions you might have, no matter how basic. In fact, the friendliness of the hiking community is one of the best parts about the experience, with many travellers along the way overjoyed to share some time on the trail with you.
At around 300 miles long, the routehas an absolutely staggering amount to offer travellers at any of its stretches. We’ve already mentioned the natural beauty in passing, though this stunning part of Turkey really must be seen to be believed. The walk takes you under a paragliding flightpath along the sloping Baba Dagi, for instance, and features a spectacular walk down through Butterfly Valley into Faralya. And that’s without even mentioning the sights of Goynuk Canyon or the 2,388m high Mount Olympos.
In addition to all this, the journey also takes you past some wonderful historical sites, A Lycian burial mound is an early highlight, while later sections see a castle, sunken ruins, imposing churches and more. Many of the villages you’ll pass through are also noteworthy, with locals living in small old-fashioned houses always willing to tell you more about the area.
How to Get to Ölüdeniz
The nearest airport to Ölüdeniz, Dalaman Airport, is well served with most major air-travel operators offering flights from the UK. Still, you should be wary of layovers: Dalaman is a less popular travel destination than the capital city Istanbul or even the smaller Antalya, and so many airlines won’t fly direct. Be careful when booking, and arrange a Shuttle Direct transfer from the airport to the town to keep journey times and stress down.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of the most well regarded airport transfer operator in Europe and North Africa. Our great team of friendly, experienced, local drivers is guaranteed to get you where you need to go by the safest and speediest route available, and they are always happy to chat about any tips for your destination while they drive. What’s more, our flexible, intuitive online booking system makes it easy for you to get everything set up for your airport transfer well in advance and within your budget.