Lycia (Turkish: Likya) is the westernmost section of Mediterranean Turkey. Lycia is also popularly known as the Turquoise Coast, and forms a substantial part of the Turkish Riviera. With clear waters and beautiful Mediterranean coastline, the region is great for divers, swimmers and yachting.
- 1 Beldibi — a seaside resort town south of Antalya
- 2 Dalaman — the region's airport and an accidentally built train station are here
- 3 Demre — near the Lycian ruins of Myra, this is the town where St Nicholas, who might be better known as Santa Claus to many, lived
- 4 Elmali — a town high in the western Taurus mountains, great as a starting place for hikes onto Mt Kızlarsivrisi, the highest peak in the area
- 5 Fethiye — the primary city of the region is surrounded by verdant mountains, Lycian ruins, and a turquoise sea, and is the gateway to Ölüdeniz, the Blue Lagoon
- 6 Finike — the ancient Phoenicus is a popular tourist destination, quite famous for its oranges
- 7 Göcek — a yachter's mecca at the head of a bay with lots of secluded coves and islands, all covered with pine forests
- 8 Kalkan — a coastal town with whitewashed Mediterranean architecture
- 9 Kaş — a coastal town with some well-preserved traditional architecture
- 10 Kemer — a coastal resort city
- 11 Kınık — the hub for visiting nearby Xanthos and Letoon, the political and religious capitals of ancient Lycia respectively, both on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- 12 Korkuteli — a town up on the Taurus Mountains
- 13 Marmaris — another relatively big town; a little touristy, but a nice resort serving as one of the gateways for the "Blue Voyage"
- 1 Butterfly Valley (Faralya) — a deep seaside canyon with some rare butterflies species: the only access from the sea or a hard climb down
- 2 Dalyan — miles of channels meandering around marshlands, the beach where endangered Caretta caretta green sea turtles lay eggs, and nearby rock tombs engraved on hillsides
- 3 Kabak Canyon — a coastal canyon similar to Butterfly Valley, but remoter, although accessible overland
- 4 Kayaköy — an abandoned village with hundreds of partially ruined houses south of Fethiye
- 5 Kızkumu — a sandbar inundated by an ankle-deep water, enclosing a cove on the shore of the Bozburun Peninsula just south of Marmaris
- 6 Kekova — the island and nearby villages of Kaleköy and Üçağız are the sites of the ancient towns of Simena, Aperlae, Dolchiste and Teimioussa. Kaleköy, which is dominated by a hilltop Byzantine castle, is only reachable via a path running from Üçağız or by sea
- 7 Ölüdeniz — the "Blue Lagoon"
- 8 Olympos — a backpacker destination full of wooden tree-houses with a rich nightlife
- 9 Patara — a dreamlike beach with a great archaeological site in the middle of a dune landscape
- 10 Saklıkent — a stunning inland gorge, great for a leisurely hike
Rugged and forested, pine-clad mountains in Lycia descent right to the coastline heavily indented with gulfs and coves, making the region the top yachting area in the country.
Geographically, Lycia occupies the Teke Peninsula, a large U-shaped expanse of land between the Gulf of Fethiye to the west and the Gulf of Antalya to the east, in the southwestern corner of the country. In modern political terms, Lycia forms the southern half of Muğla Province and the western third of Antalya Province, which divide Lycia into roughly equal halves along the Eşen Çayı, or the ancient Xanthos River, which flows to the south.
Ancient Lycia was a democratic federation of city states, which is thought to have influenced the United States constitution. Today, most towns in the region have some remnants from the ancient Lycian civilization, in the form of sarcophagi, distinctive rock tombs, or city ruins.
Unlike its neighbour to the east, Pamphylia, which welcomes its visitors in large all-inclusive resorts, Lycia is more of an independent traveller destination, and tourism in the region revolves around small guesthouses and fairly pleasant coastal towns, some of which such as Olympos still preserve a hippy-like atmosphere. However, some large resorts—not up to the 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 local topography permits.
The local dialect of Turkish is highly divergent from the official standard (which is based on the 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. the "Muğla language", instead of the usual term of Muğla şivesi, i.e. the "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.
Dalaman Airport (DLM IATA), with its international connections, is the sole airport of the region, and makes a convenient hub into the region. The international 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.
There are ferries between some towns in Lycia and the nearest Greek islands.
Towns in the region are connected to each other with frequent minibus (dolmuş) services.
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.
The 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 the regional boundary to Pamphylia in the east, towards Antalya.
- 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.
Free cold water dispensers, or sebils as they are locally known, are abundant in the region, more so than in the rest of Mediterranean Turkey.
- Pamphylia to the east, though it has much in common with Lycia due to also being on the Mediterranean, has a fairly different character as far as travellers are concerned, due to mass tourism and package tourists there.
- In the Southern Aegean to the north, Greek ruins substitute for Lycian ruins, and olive groves replace pine forests.
- Rhodes and some other smaller islands in the Dodecanese group lie just off the Lycian coast, to the southwest and south, with ferry connections from the nearest Turkish harbour towns.