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Lycia

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Europe : Turkey : Mediterranean Turkey : Lycia
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Lycian rock tombs at Fethiye, typical of many you'll see around while in Lycia.

Lycia (Turkish: Likya) is the westernmost section of Mediterranean Turkey. Lycia is also popularly known as Turquoise Coast, and forms a substantial part of Turkish Riviera. With clear waters and beautiful Mediterranean coastline, the region is great for divers, swimmers and yachting.

Regions

Cities

  • Beldibi — seaside resort town south of Antalya
  • Dalaman — region's airport is located here, as well as an accidentally built train station
  • Demre — town where St Nicholas, better known as Santa Claus, lived
  • Fethiye — primary city of the region; surrounded by verdant mountains, Lycian ruins, and turqouise sea; gateway to Ölüdeniz–the Blue Lagoon
  • Göcek — yachter's mecca on the tip of a bay with lots of secluded coves and islands, all covered with pine forests
  • Kalkan — coastal town with whitewashed Mediterranean architecture
  • Kaş — coastal town with some well-preserved traditional architecture
  • Kemer — a coastal resort city
  • Kınık — hub for visiting Xanthos and Letoon, political and religious capitals of ancient Lycia, both on the UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Korkuteli — a town up on the Taurus Mountains
  • Marmaris — another relatively big town; a little touristy, but nice resort serving as one of the gateways for "Blue Voyage"
  • Simena (a.k.a. Kaleköy) — last town yet to be connected to national highway system; this coastal town dominated by a hilltop Byzantine citadel is hub for visiting Lycian ruins of "sunken city" on nearby Kekova Island

Other destinations

  • Butterfly Valley (Faralya) — a deep canyon with sea on one side and some rare butterflies with the only access from the sea or a hard climb down via a narrow path
  • Dalyan — miles of channels meandering around marshlands, beach where endangered caretta caretta turtles lay eggs, and nearby rock tombs engraved on hillsides
  • Kayaköy — an abandoned village with hundreds of partially ruined houses south of Fethiye
  • Kızkumu — a sandbar lying just a few centimetres/inches underwater, enclosing a cove on the shore of Bozburun Peninsula just south of Marmaris
  • The ancient Lycian town of Myra, now Demre
  • Ölüdeniz — the "Blue Lagoon"
  • Olympos — backpacker destination full of wooden tree-houses and rich nightlife

Understand

Rugged and forested, pine-clad mountains in Lycia descent right to the coastline heavily indentated with gulfs and coves, making the region top yachting area in the country.

Most towns in the region have some remnants from the ancient Lycian civilization, whether they be sacrophagii, rock tombs, or city ruins.

Geographically, Lycia occupies Teke Peninsula, a large U-shaped expanse of land between Gulf of Fethiye in the west and Gulf of Antalya in the east. In modern political terms, Lycia forms southern half of Muğla Province and western third of Antalya Province, which divide Lycia into roughly equal halves along north-south flowing Eşen Çayı, or Xanthos River as it was known in ancient times.

Unlike its neighbour to east, Pamphylia which welcomes its visitors in large all-inclusive resorts, Lycia is more of an independent traveller destination and tourism in the region evolves around small guesthouses and fairly pleasant coastal towns, some of which such as Olympos still preserve their hippy-ish atmosphere. However, some large resorts—not up to scale that is found in Pamphylia, though—are present here too, in the western (around Marmaris, and Fethiye) and eastern (around Kemer) ends of the region, as long as geography permits.

Talk

Local dialect of Turkish is highly different from the official standard (which is based on Istanbul dialect), and with much of its vocabulary being totally incomprehensible to even non-local Turks, it can even be objectively regarded as a language on its own (some half-jokingly prefer to call it Muğlaca, i.e. "Muğla language", instead of the usual term of Muğla şivesi, i.e. "Muğla dialect"). However, all people in the region, except perhaps older ones living in remote villages, can speak standard Turkish (albeit with a slight accent usually), and, thanks to heavy tourism in the region, if you don't intend to hike between mountain hamlets, English will likely be sufficient to communicate anyway.

Get in

By air

Dalaman Airport (IATA: DLM), with its international connections, is the sole airport of the region, and makes a convenient hub into the region. The internatinal airport in Antalya is closer to the towns at the easternmost reaches of the region (such as Kemer, and Olympos), though. Kaş lies somewhere around the midway, being equally (and considerably) distant to both, with 180 km to Dalaman and 192 km to Antalya, so a good rule of thumb is, if your destination is west of Kaş, pick Dalaman, and for destinations east of Kaş, fly into Antalya.

By bus

Most towns in the region have direct bus connections to the major cities of the country, such as Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara.

By car

Highway D400 connects the region with Pampylia in the east along the coast, with a connection to D330 in Gökova towards north (Muğla, Kuşadası, Izmir).

By boat

There are ferries between some towns in Lycia and nearest Greek islands.

Get around

Towns in the region are connected to each other with frequent minibus (dolmuş) services.

By thumb

Hitchhiking, while possible if you don't mind waiting for a lift up to two hours, is not really an easy way to travel around the region. Hitching from around Olympos in the east is definitely better, though.

On foot

Lycian Way (Turkish: Likya Yolu), a marked hiking trail which is a collection of ancient paths and forest trails, starts from south of Fethiye and connects most of coastal towns and villages in the region, and extends beyond regional boundary to Pamphylia in the east, towards Antalya.

See

Itineraries

Do

  • Hiking — Hiking is a great option to get more in touch with the history and nature of the area. There are lots of waymarked hiking trails (most of which does not exceed 10 km in length) with varying levels of hardness in the region, in addition to the grand Lycian Way. One place surrounded by a dense (relatively speaking) marked trail network is Kayaköy.
  • Cruising — Lycian coasts are some of the most spectacular and rightly popular sections along a Blue Cruise.

Eat

Drink

Free cold water dispensers, or sebils as they are locally known, are abundant in the region, more so than the rest of Mediterranean Turkey.

Stay safe

Get out

  • Pamphylia to east, while has much in common with Lycia due to both being on the Mediterranean, has a fairly different character as far as travellers are concered, due to mass tourism and package tourists there.
  • In Southern Aegean to north, Greek ruins substitute Lycian ruins, and olive grooves replace pine forests.



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