Our Turkey tours marry modern and medieval, maritime and mountains, myth with pure magic. They are organic, free-range Turkey too, with self-guided treks that take you into some of the country’s wildest spots. The Lycian Way, for example, covers 500km of Aegean, azurean perfection for walkers, but is also one of the most extraordinary cycling holidays in Turkey. Walking holidays in Turkey don’t always cling to the coast, however, with the St Paul Trail taking you inland through the Taurus Mountains into some of Turkey’s most remote communities.
For a very different fusion of culture, nature and a change of temperature, trek up Mount Ararat where the highest peak in Turkey (5,137m) is still ice-covered in the height of summer. As with so many places in Turkey, Ararat is important biblically, mythologically and also geographically, located by the Iran and Armenian borders. Because on our holidays, Turkey comes with all the trimmings.
Where to go
Although this 500km trail along ancient pastoral tracks and through idyllic Aegean villages has been here for centuries, it was only really put on the map in 1999 by British walker and writer, Kate Clow. Walk the whole Lycian Way in 20 days, passing through archaeological wonders like Olympos and the sunken city of Simena, as well as coastal landscapes that stop even the most hardened hiker in their tracks. Or choose between East and West sections over a week, although the Lycian will always lure you back for more.
It’s biblical in its beauty, so much so that Turkey’s highest mountain (5,137m), overlooking not only Turkey but also Armenia and Iran, is said to have been where Noah’s Ark settled after the storm. It’s a pretty heavenly spot too, as you will see on our guided small group tour to climb this much sought after summit, which is a strenuous but not technical trek. In order to acclimatise to its icy elevation, a starter menu hike up Mt Artos (3,537m), with views over Lake Van, the country’s largest body of water stretching for 119km at its widest point, is a pure Turkish delight.
St Paul Trail
St Paul sought out Turkey’s remote, inland communities when he went on his mission to spread the Christian word, taking an impressive 500km route across Anatolia and the Taurus Mountains from Perge, just east of Antalya to Yalvac, north of Lake Egirdir. Our St Paul Trail walking holiday seeks out the cream of his crusade and, in a week, takes you to highlights such as the summit of Mount Sivri (1,800m), along Roman roads, to the temple ruins of Adada and through elevated meadows where wild horses accompany you on your equally wild journey.
If you want a spring or autumn pick-me-up, our Cappadocia walking holiday is a pure tonic. It’s also literally uplifting with an option to take an air balloon ride over this UNESCO site and Göreme National Park to fully appreciate the 4th-century cave dwellings, troglodyte villages, volcanic terrain and other worldly ‘fairy chimneys’. Get up close and personal to these wonders by walking in the Rose, White Valleys and vineyard-rich Pasabag Valley. In the evenings, feast on local food and, depending on the restaurant, local Göreme wine, staying at small, locally-run hotels, including a stunning cave hotel.
Turkey’s lesser-known Carian Trail, named after the region’s ancient people who lived here, is a coastal walker and wild swimmer’s dream come true. Spend a week striding along 1000m cliffs and being beckoned by the magnificent bays of the Bozburun Peninsula such as Kumlubük or Gökova. Or Loryma Bay, where ancient city ruins are just one of many pickings for culture vultures on this fun and fascinating walking holiday.
Things to do
- Discover cycling holidays in Turkey on an eight day adventure that follows a similar route to the Lycian Way walking trail, heading from Fethiye in the west to Adrasan Bay over in the east. Less rugged than the walking route, you follow the coast along secondary roads, pootling along foothills of the Akdaglar Mountains rather than pushing yourself up to great heights. There is also an option to use an electric bike on this cycling tour, so that you have plenty of energy to enjoy treats such as a walk through Saklikent Gorge, or reaching your next bay in perfect time for a sunset swim.
- Although we don’t offer Turkey for Christmas, going in winter is an option and a great way to avoid the extreme heat of July and August. Many of our walking holidays in Turkey run as late as November and start in March, when walking temperatures are just perfect and winter blues are in need of being lifted.
- Be adventurous with fine local food on our Turkey tours. Gozleme flatbread, stuffed with spinach and cheese are regular pack lunch treats, kebabs are omnipresent for lunch and olives are always a Turkish staple. Look forward to some searingly good sea bass or bream on the Aegean coast, and classic meze dishes include lakerda or salted fish, baba ghanoush aubergine dip and, a coastal favourite, deniz börülcesi or samphire with olive oil and garlic.
Responsible travel tips
- Turkey has suffered from political instability. Although our Turkey tours take you well off the busy tourist trails, we always advise our travellers to get up to date information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before a trip.
- Carry plenty of water while hiking and always use refillable water bottles to avoid waste. The tap water isn’t always reliable, so we advise using a water bottle with a filter to stay healthy on our walking holidays in Turkey.
- Turkey is a spectacularly beautiful country but the contravention of human rights is an ongoing issue. Enjoy the country’s natural and cultural heritage but do also support organisations like Human Rights Watch who are monitoring Turkey’s wrongdoings.
- Loggerhead and green sea turtles in Turkey come back again and again to nest on the shores of Fetiye, Kazanli, Patara and Dalyan. If you are lucky enough to see them, never touch them, give them plenty of space and just look on in awe. Some waterfront restaurant owners feed them for a bit of an Instagram frenzy, but this is not a good idea and you should never encourage it. Read more at MEDASSET or Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation and donate to support their commitment to marine conservation.