Along the Lycian Coast – Dalyan, Xanthos, Fetiye and Saklikent Gorge

We visit this site on our 2024 small group tour

The Lycian Coast, also known as the Lycian Way,

refers to a stunning stretch of coastline along the southern part of Turkey, in the region historically known as Lycia. Lycia was an ancient civilization that existed in this region, and the Lycian Coast is renowned for its natural beauty, historical sites, and hiking opportunities.

Key features of the Lycian Coast include:

Scenic Landscapes: The coastline is characterized by its rugged beauty, with turquoise waters, rocky cliffs, lush forests, and pristine beaches.

The Lycian Way: is Turkey’s first long-distance hiking trail that spans approximately 540 kilometers (335 miles) along the Lycian Coast. It offers hikers the chance to explore ancient ruins, charming villages, and breathtaking viewpoints.

Historical Sites: The Lycian Coast is dotted with numerous ancient ruins and historical sites, including Lycian rock-cut tombs, amphitheaters, and ruins of ancient cities like Xanthos, Patara, and Olympos. These sites provide insight into the rich history of the region.

Charming Villages: The coastal villages along the Lycian Coast offer a glimpse into traditional Turkish life. Many of these villages have retained their authentic charm and are known for their hospitality, local cuisine, and friendly inhabitants.

Turquoise Coast: The Lycian Coast is sometimes referred to as the “Turquoise Coast” due to the mesmerizing shades of blue in the Mediterranean Sea that line its shores.

Water Activities: The clear waters of the Mediterranean are perfect for water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, and even sea kayaking.

Cultural Heritage: The region has a rich cultural heritage that fuses elements from various civilizations that have influenced the area over the centuries.

Overall, the Lycian Coast is a popular destination for both nature lovers and history enthusiasts, offering a unique blend of stunning landscapes, ancient history, and local culture. It’s a place where travelers can explore hiking trails, relax on beautiful beaches, and immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of the Mediterranean’s past and present.

Dalyan is located on the southwestern coast of Turkey,

known for its stunning natural beauty and historical significance. The area has a rich history dating back thousands of years. In ancient times, it was known as Caunos and was a prominent city within the Lycian League. Caunos had a strategic location due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and its navigable river, which allowed for trade and communication with other cities. The city was known for its rock-cut tombs and other archaeological remains.

Today, Dalyan is famous for its picturesque river delta, mud baths, and the nearby İztuzu Beach, which is a nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles. The ancient ruins of Caunos, including its theater, acropolis, and various temples, continue to attract tourists interested in history and archaeology.

Xanthos was an ancient Lycian city

situated near the modern village of Kınık, in present-day Turkey. It was the capital of the Lycian League, an ancient federation of Lycian cities. Xanthos has a complex history, having been under the rule of various empires including the Persian, Greek, and Roman.

Truly ancient, some of its inhabitants reportedly fought for the Trojans in 1200 BCE.  Xanthos was known for its resistance against various conquerors, including the Persians. In 546 BCE, it was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus the Great during his campaigns to expand the Achaemenid Empire. The people of Xanthos fought fiercely against Persian rule and even resorted to mass suicide to avoid surrendering to the Persians. Alexander ‘visited’ Xanthos in 334 BCE. In 42 BCE Brutus, the assassin of Julius Caesar, came to Lycia to extort funds for his campaigns against Augustus and Antony. When the Lycian League refused to contribute, Brutus besieged Xanthos and  when the city refused to surrender, the same gruesome history  repeated and only 150 Xanthian men survived. It was finally abandoned after Arab  raids in the 7th century CE.

Today the Lycian Way trail from Cavdir follows the old Roman aqueduct towards its source in a pretty mountain valley.  It climbs through pine forest, then continues downhill to Uzumlu. The archaeological site of Xanthos/Kınık includes well-preserved ruins including an amphitheater. n particular, the Xanthos Tombs are a collection of rock-cut tombs that date back to various periods, including the Lycian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods. These tombs are notable for their intricate and decorative facades, which often feature reliefs, sculptures, and architectural details. They provide valuable insights into the funerary practices, art, and culture of the ancient Lycian people.

The old city, with many tombs honeycombed in the jutting rock, with gymnasium and a hundred yards of market arcade still standing, and theatre behind high-built walls with seats of polished limestone carved with lion claws – all spoke of centuries of ease.  A Lycian stele, among the myrtles and oleanders of the valley, represent with undeciphered letters the earlier age to which the Lycian inscriptions and some of the tombs belong.  “ – Freya Stark

Some of the most famous tombs at Xanthos include:

Harpy Tomb: This tomb is known for its distinctive facade featuring reliefs of winged creatures known as harpies. It’s a prime example of Lycian tomb architecture.

Nereid Monument: This monument is believed to have been built in honor of a Lycian ruler and is adorned with sculptures of Nereids (sea nymphs) and other mythological figures.

Ptolemaic Tomb: Named after its Egyptian-style design elements, this tomb showcases the influence of different cultures on Lycian art.

Roman Sarcophagi: In addition to rock-cut tombs, Xanthos also features Roman-style sarcophagi that were used for burials during the Roman period.

From our journal

About 2 hours to Caykoy village.   Met 2 women baking yufku (thin, round  breads, 2’ in diameter).  Took pictures, and met the husband, who’s the local imam.  Then back in the van to find a picnic spot.  Lutfi had left the chicken at the market, so we were forced to get by on tomatoes, cucumbers, splendid cheeses (a dry sheep cheese, and a mozzarella clone), bread, grilled peppers and lamb chops. Lamb especially good;  cooked on a small hibachi, using a wood & charcoal fire while the group settles down to picking thistles and brambles from their socks.


Next day: After several discussions at breakfast, including a conclave of 3 waiters with advice about local conditions, we took off on a hike towards Kirme, about 4 hrs according to the Lycian Way guidebook and 10 km. Nicely marked trail, ascending steadily to get around several headlands. Beautiful views back to Oludeniz, and down the beaches. Several tortoises on the trail, but not much other activity  

Left at 9:10, reached cisterns at 10:10-10:30 (listed as 2 hrs),  then trail leveled out at Kozagaciz, beautiful flowers. We took it easier, working our way around several more headlands & gullies, reaching the 8 km sign at 12:30, and 2 km further into Kirme about 12:50. (Elapsed time, 3:40 vs guidebook of 4:45). Lunch of fruit and snacks, then drop steeply down a canyon to the road that hugs the coast. The dirt road drops sharply, with spectacular views of azure coves and isolated beaches accessible only from the sea. Can see the route all the way back to Oludeniz, long, shadeless dirt & asphalt road

Xanthos photo gallery & more tales from our journals

Fethiye is a popular coastal town

located in the Muğla Province of southwestern Turkey. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, historical sites, and vibrant tourism industry. Fethiye is situated along the Mediterranean coast and is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including turquoise waters, lush mountains, and charming beaches.

The Lycian Way, Turkey’s first long-distance hiking trail passes through Fethiye and offers breathtaking views of the coastline, ancient ruins, and rural landscapes.

The main attraction of Saklıkent

is the Saklıkent Gorge, which is one of the deepest and longest canyons in Turkey. The gorge was formed by the erosion of the Büyükçay River over millions of years, resulting in steep walls that reach heights of up to 300 meters (980 feet) and a length of about 18 kilometers (11 miles). The gorge is a popular spot and visitors engage in hiking, exploring the gorge, and wading through the icy waters that flow along its bottom. The water in the canyon comes from melting snow and ice on the Taurus Mountains, making it quite cold even during the hot summer months.

Additionally, there are facilities in the area that provide equipment like rubber shoes and walking sticks to help visitors traverse the rocky and watery terrain safely. Along the way, there are also restaurants and cafes where visitors can take a break and enjoy traditional Turkish food.

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By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us