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Elmalı is a town in the Lycia region of Mediterranean Turkey. It's 110 km west of Antalya and 35 km from the coast, at an altitude of 1100 m in the Taurus Mountains. It sees little tourism, but it's a starting point for hikes into the mountains. It's the chief town of Elmali district, which had a population of 40,000 in 2022; the town is not separately numerated but has about 15,000.

Understand

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Elmalı stands on a route through the Taurus mountains, but there are better routes, so it never acquired the bastions and fortifications of more strategic cities, and no great battle was fought here. The valley here widens into a triangular plateau, with good soil and with plenty of water running off the mountains, so the area is agricultural. The upland climate is a mite cold for tomatoes, grapes or olives, but orchards do well, and Elmalı means "of apples" - 10% of Turkey's apple crop is grown hereabouts.

Get in

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Bus EA01 runs from Antalya every 30-60 min, taking two hours via Korkuteli.

1 Yeni Otogar is the new bus station opened in 2021 on the main road 3 km from town centre. Your inter-city ticket may include the dolmuş ride downtown, enquire when booking.

2 Eski Otogar the old downtown bus station has been demolished, but this is where a dolmuş will bring you from the new station.

Get around

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Elmali is small enough to cover on foot. From Eski Otogar head north up the slope to come into the main part of town.

See

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  • Archaeology Museum, Hükümet Cd (opposite Tuba Otel), +90 242 618 4442. Daily 08:30-20:00. Small but informative archaeology museum. Exhibits include the Elmali treasure (hazinesi), some 1900 Lycian and other ancient coins looted from the area in 1984 and smuggled to the west, but returned to Turkey thanks to detective and legal work in the 1990s.
  • Green Mosque (Yeşil Cami) 100 m south of the museum was built in 1963 in traditional Ottoman style.
  • Ömer Paşa Mosque, Hükümet Cd (100 m south of Otel Arzu). Closed. Fine mosque and medrese built in 1602 AD, but it's been closed for restoration for years, with no completion in sight.
  • Kesik Minaret is older, from the Seljuk era. It's now free-standing across the street from Ömer Paşa Mosque.
  • Muhammed Hamdi Yazır Museum, Şakir Akça Sk 2 (behind Şakir Akça Vakfı Konukevi). Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır (1877–1942) was a cleric, scholar and politician whose Turkish translation of the Koran is still a standard version. This mansion has been converted into an exhibition of his life and work; he never lived in this building.
  • 1 Tomb of Vahab-i Ümmi is on the hill at the north edge of town. He was a 16th century Sufi poet and preacher.
  • Chained Rock 200 m further up is a viewpoint. This came crashing down the slopes but in legend was halted here, just before squishing the Sufis below, by command from Vahab-i Ümmi.
  • Gilevgi Kalesi was a Lycian castle on a hill 15 km north of Elmali above the village of Çobanisa. Good luck finding anything of it in the undergrowth.

Do

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Kizlar Sivrisi summit is freezing even in summer
  • Turkish baths: Bey Hamamı are just north of Ömer Paşa Mosque, open daily 07:00-22:00. They're probably 400 years old like the mosque, and the towels and attendants look every bit that old.
  • Oil-wrestling: (Yağlı Güreşleri) the annual contest was founded in 1352 AD and is still held mid-September.
  • Kizlar Sivrisi at 3086 m / 10,125 ft is the highest peak of the Western Taurus range. One access route is from the village of Söğle ("Serlay") 10 km km east of Elmalı: reckon a three day round-trip with two nights bivouac on the mountain. The route up to 2200 m follows dirt tracks used by tractors: shepherds' dogs snarl as you cross their territory so wield a stout stick and be prepared to throw stones. After 12 km you emerge above the treeline into high mountain pastures.
You need a bottle / bucket and at least 10 m of cord to draw from the wells along the route, and they dry up in late summer.
Wildlife (including wolves, wild horses and eagles) avoids humans for fear of hunters, but watch your step for snakes and scorpions.
A large house below the steep final section (visible on Google Earth) is run by the local mountain climbers association. It's locked when not in use, though the covered porch could provide emergency shelter.
The final stage passes north of the summit, curves around from a comma-shaped valley (clearly visible on Google Earth), follows a footpath over a southbound pass, then breaks off to ascend the eastern ridge. This part is difficult talus and scree. Immediately below the summit ridge is a small valley, and a stone circle here acts as an unroofed emergency shelter. At this altitude, night temperatures are below freezing even in summer.

Buy

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  • Lots of small shops along the main street, typically open daily to 21:00, and almost as many ATMs.

Eat

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Street in Elmalı
  • Over a dozen inexpensive cafe / restaurants line the main street, typically open daily to 21:00, no stand-out.

Drink

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Sleep

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  • 1 Tuba Otel, Hükümet Cd 62, +90 242 618 5500. Simple but clean friendly place.
  • 2 Şakir Akça Vakfı Konukevi, Şakir Akça Cd 62, +90 242 618 1070. More like a hostel but clean and comfy. Don't follow map directions to Akça Otel near the bus station - both have disappeared.
  • 3 Otel Arzu, Bülbüller Gç, +90 242 618 6604. Small rooms but clean.

Connect

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Elmali and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As at June 2024, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next

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  • The highway north leads to the junction of E87 at Korkuteli. Turn east for the big bustling resort of Antalya.
  • Turn west on E87 for Denizli and the travertine pools of Pamukkale.
  • The highway south reaches the coast at the small resort of Finike.



This city travel guide to Elmali is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.