The Lycian Coastline

FETHIYE GULF TO ANTALYA - The Lycian CoastlineThe best coastal region for archaeology but you do need a minimum of 10 days, preferably 2 weeks, to cover all the towns, archaeological sites accessible from the coast between Fethiye down as far as Finike.

The Lycian civilization was one of several which existed some 2,500 years ago in what is now the Anatolian region of modern Turkey. Lycia is located along the south western coast of Anatolia and is dominated by massive mountain chains. Its boundaries start at Fethiye to the west and stretch down to the famous Pamphylian city of Antalya on the east. Current knowledge about the earliest Lycian settlements stems from the early Bronze age (2800-2200 B.C.). The main contribution of Lycia to the art of Anatolian civilizations is its reliefs, sculptures and most importantly its funeral architecture. Just how much of ancient Lycia you can see will depend on the length of time you can make available. We have detailed the most important cities which you can easily visit along this stretch of coastline.

FETHIYE GULF AREA – there are numerous lovely bays and coves for mooring and relaxing in this area and, from one of these, you can walk up the cliff side to Lycian tombs overlooking the inner gulf and on to the valley behind where you will find the remains of a city called Lydae. There are Roman ruins at Hamam and tombs to be found in a number of cliffs.

FETHIYE – it’s great for shopping, especially in the old original marketplace with some good examples of Lycian rock tombs in the cliffs behind the town. Most importantly, there is a wonderful tour which can be organised from here (a day on land) and highly recommended. Firstly Pinara, then across the Xanthos valley to the spectacular Saklikent Gorge where you can walk up the river bed, followed by lunch at a village house and home made boreks. After a rest here, you could go on to Tlos before returning to Fethiye.

PINARA and TLOS are both in magnificent mountainous settings. Pinara’s history goes back much further than Alexander, to Troy. It was one of the six main Lycian cities. After Alexander the Great it went on to become an important Roman town. Much of the city was destroyed by two earthquakes but there are hundreds of tombs in the cliff face, some wonderful house-type tombs along the dry river bed and a well preserved theatre. Tlos was also one of the main Lycian cities and dates back to the second millenium (5th C B.C.) There is a marvellous Roman bath house with views down the Xanthos valley, well preserved theatre, acropolis and house-type tombs to mention the most significant buildings to explore. But it is the setting for these two ancient cities which makes the journey so memorable and worth the day away from your boat.

GEMILER ISLAND – this is a popular anchorage, not least because it is extremely beautiful with the huge mountain of Ak Dag towering over it. On the island itself are fascinating Byzantine ruins. There is also an energetic walk from a spot nearby to the, now deserted, old Greek village of Kayakoy. This is worth doing for the views on the walk but you will need sturdy walking boots and plenty of energy.

KALKAN has been over-developed but at its centre is a very pretty village of old restored Greek houses with wooden balconies and masses of trailing flowers. From here you can visit the capital of Lycia, Xanthos and the religious sanctuary of Letoon. It is about 45 minutes drive from Kalkan. Very interesting but unfortunately, not too many buildings are standing. You will need your imagination here.

KAS – Like most towns on the Lycian coast, Kas lies wedged between mountains and sea. Once ancient Antiphellus, the town still exhibits a few remains of the old settlement. An ancient theatre on Kas’ long peninsula is within walking distance of the town. There is a wonderful Lycian tomb at the top of a pretty street full of old houses with wooden balconies.  Another good town for retail therapy with some quality shops.

APERLAE – ALSO KNOWN AS ASAR is a deserted, isolated inlet with the remains of a small city both above the shore-line and interesting remains of the ancient harbour below the waterline. You could snorkel over the old harbour ruins with the added possibility of some good marine life including the occasional loggerhead turtle.

KEKOVA – The name given to a whole ensemble of picturesque islands, numerous bays and ancient towns. These bays provide natural harbours in all seasons. Along the northern shore of Kekova Island, ( Apollonia), earthquakes have disturbed the land causing some of the ancient houses to sink under the clear water, creating a sunken city. (You will be able to view this extraordinary sight from the side of the boat as you motor alongside). Kalekoy Castle (ancient Simena) offers a bird’s-eye view of the bays, inlets and islands with numerous ancient sarcophagus lying in the sea and on land. Ucagiz (ancient Theimussa) is an interesting small village with more tombs and a good overnight mooring.

DEMRE (the old port of Andriake) – it is a 10 minute drive to the ancient city of Myra, with many splendidly carved rock tombs, overlooking the magnificent Roman theatre.  The recent excavations of Andriake port are the highlight of a stop here as an underground cistern has been uncovered similar, but smaller in scale, to Yerebatin in Istanbul.  The marble agora, Roman bath house, Byzantine church and the marvellous granary, which now houses a wonderful museum covering the entire Lycian area, makes this a worthwhile visit.   In the modern day town of Demre is the church of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) who was the bishop of this Mediterranean city during the fourth century, he died here in 342.

ARYKANDA is located on the road from Finike to Elmali, in a wonderful mountainous setting, with fantastic views down the valley. The drive up to the site (about 45 minutes) is very pretty with rivers flowing alongside the road. En route you can see the acropolis of Limyra, with several tombs carved in the natural rock face. Arykanda nestles beneath spectacular towering cliffs. The city’s existence has been traced back to 5th century B.C. There are some excellent ruins to explore, including a stadium, a well preserved theatre with small auditorium, Roman bath house complex, tombs and some fine examples of mosaics and sculptured reliefs. (Lunch can be taken at one of the many trout farms in the vicinity) or you might want to make a day of it and drive on to Elmali, for a wander around the old Ottoman houses (now under reconstruction and renovation).  There is also a wonderful new museum with spectacular tombs with wall paintings which have been carefully restored and recreated inside the museum.

OLYMPOS is both the site of a Lycian city and a very beautiful natural park surrounded by the huge Taurus mountains. If the sea is relatively calm it is possible to venture on from Finike and visit this area by boat, although a night stop is not possible. There is a lovely bay nearby where you can overnight – Cineviz Liman if wind conditions are OK. The entrance to the old city is covered in woodland and oleander and the ruins are separated by a river. Most of the interesting ruins are hidden in the undergrowth but that’s half the fun. By following footpaths into the woods you can find the aqueduct, a house covered in mosaics and old tombs. You can swim from the beach and take a trip by four wheel drive vehicle up to the ever lasting flame of the Chimera which is also located nearby.

PHASELIS is located further south east towards Kemer. During the main summer months it attracts numerous day trip boats from Antalya. If you venture this far by boat, however, the remains of the old city are well worth a look. Phaselis is surrounded by natural harbours and derived its existence from the sea. The city can be traced back to 7th century B.C. The most spectacular feature is the aqueduct. There is an impressive avenue laid with flat stones from which you can explore the areas which housed a bath/gymnasium complex, agora and theatre.

We recommend finishing this stretch of coastline at Finike, as there are very few safe moorings as you get closer to Antalya. We would provide private transfers from Finike to Antalya and to the airport with a visit to Phaselis en route if time permits. Antalya is also a good base for a few days on land to visit some of the spectacular sites in this area – Aspendos, Perge and Termessos – and to visit the excellent museum and shopping malls.



DayDreams Travel offers gulet holidays, both private charters and cabins only, on a diverse range of gulets from low budget to luxury and superior deluxe gulets, with numerous flexible itineraries along the Turkish coastline and Greek Dodecanese islands.

DayDreams Travel was founded by Jenny Day in 1987 following a corporate weekend to Istanbul for 100 clients from her London based PR consultancy. Using her expert organisational skills she went on to organise several  gulet charters. They were so successful the word spread and her dream of offering a special style of holiday to a wider audience become a reality.


“Our first gulet holiday.  Fantastic!  Great new friends and much laughter.  We were looked after very well by the crew.  Jenny’s local knowledge of history and especially archaeology made the holiday.  Thank you. ”  David & Wendy Gliddon from Somerset trravelled along the Lycian coast Septembere 2016.

“It’s thirteen years since we first met on Cevri Hasan III, so where else could we go to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary? Everything is as wonderful as we remembered it – and how lucky we’ve been to celebrate with such a lovely bunch of people.” Hilary & Peter Jansen from England, travelled on Cevri Hasan III in September 2012


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