Best Hikes in Turkey
1. MT KACKAR CIRCUIT
Yukari Kavron – Soganli – Dilberduzu – Lanetleme – Yukari Kavron 45 km
This three day hike circles the peak of Mt. Kackar, the highest point of the Kackar range on Turkey’s northeastern coast. With clouds of humidity and mist rising from the Black Sea, this region receives more rain than anywhere else in the country; these high levels of precipitation lead to dense, mystical forests that blanket the mountain’s lower slopes and impossibly green, wildflower-filled pastures above the tree-line. For millennia, local residents have made the best of the rugged terrain by migrating up the mountainside to let their animals graze in these high-altitude meadows once the deep layer of winter snow recedes, heading back down to their forested villages before harsh weather makes the mountains impassable. Many of the paths comprising this hike are the same historic trails used by these hardy locals as they drive their herds to the best grazing possible. Full of mountain lakes, views of rocky peaks, traditional highland settlements, fields of wild berries and a kaleidoscope of flowers, the Kackar region is a testament to the insane diversity of Turkey and definitely not to be missed.
2. Latmos Mountains Loop
Kapikiri – Karahayit – Sakarkaya – Bagarcik – Kapikiri 54 km
The Latmos Mountains, sitting just inland from Turkey’s Aegean coast, are home to some of the most underrated and unexplored places in the country. Towering up from Lake Bafa, a rich saltwater lake separated from the Aegean by the silt of the mighty Menderes River, these mountains form a striking landscape of rounded boulders and otherworldly rock formations, stacked atop one another, higher and higher up to the imposing peak of Mt. Latmos at 1350m. Throughout history, mankind has found safety or seclusion in this mysterious landscape. The oldest traces of human influence in the region are found in 8000 year old wall paintings hidden on the underside of hollowed boulders. Settlement continued throughout the Carian, Hellenistic, and Roman civilizations, each leaving their mark with stone temples and structures until years later when the region became important in the spiritual journey of early Christian hermits, their monasteries, hermitages, and frescoes still dotting the landscape. A journey full of history and an unforgettably unique landscape awaits visitors to the mystical Latmos Mountains.
For tours featuring Labranda, please click the links below.
3. Trans Aladaglar (Anti-Taurus Mountains)
Emli Valley – Sokullu Pinari – Yedigoller – Hacer Bogazi – Soguk Pinar – Kapuzbasi Waterfall 59 km
This 4 day trek passes through the Aladaglar National Park, also known as the Anti-Taurus Range. This mountain range is the birthplace of mountaineering in Turkey and offers over 60 peaks above 3000m and endless options for hiking, sport climbing, big wall climbing, and winter mountaineering. The region’s vast landscape is rugged and rocky; the bright green foliage and snow-capped peaks of early June soon turn into a stretch of barren, almost lunar rock by August as the grasses dry and many lakes evaporate. Locals here eke out a tough living herding sheep and goats through the mountains, supplemented by the variety of fruit that grow in the lower-elevation villages. This trek, especially if hiked between mid-June and mid-July, offers views of endless rows of peaks towering over pristine mountain lakes, unforgettable campsites and passes, and the chance to experience the unique comradery formed between mountaineers, fully equipped with the latest gear, and local shepherds, who travel the same trails day after day with little more than some dry bread in their pocket and a walking stick in their hand.
For tours featuring Aladaglar, please click the link below.
4. Saranda / Cumhuriyet
While in our opinion the entire Bozburun Peninsula is worth exploring, one of our favorite places there is Cumhuriyet, a district of the village of Sogut. The water on this pebble coastline is crystal clear and perfect for swimming, but what really makes this place special is the view. All of the ins and outs, capes and bays, of the winding coastline make for a magical panorama that just gets better and better as the sun sets. Enjoy it while partaking in a drink or dinner at one of the delicious and authentic seafood restaurants that line the coast; this hidden destination is quiet enough that you’ll feel like a local yourself. One of our favorite hikes on the Carian Trail runs from Bahceli to the sleepy farming village of Taslica before descending down to Cumhuriyet across from that unforgettable view, making it one of the best ways to experience the region.
For tours featuring Saranda, please click the link below.
Just far away enough from Marmaris to have escaped the expansion of mass tourism, Kumlubuk remains mostly unknown and is all the better for it. Known just as much for its calm waters and beautiful view than its history, this beautiful stretch of pebble beach is also just below the hilltop ruins of Amos. While the ruins themselves are far from extensive, the stunningly scenic location of Amos and its vicinity to the beach make it a must-see. In addition to the ancient city, all you’ll find here are a few beach-going locals, some quaint hotels, and the calming sound of the waves against the coast. The best thing to do in Kumlubuk is just relax, swim, and soak up the sun. However, there are also several nearby hikes for those who like to earn their afternoon swims. Kumlubuk is the perfect place for an active, or relaxing holiday.
For tours featuring Kumlubuk, please click the links below.
6. Sarsala Bay
Near the bustling yacht hub of Gocek, Sarsala is one of many picturesque beaches that make this area so popular among sailors. Best visited during the week as many local families come down to enjoy the warm waters and picnic on weekends, Sarsala still remains relatively unknown among foreign visitors. In addition to its stunning location, Sarsala is in close proximity to many other beaches accessible only on foot or by boat. A short hike proves that the bays in this area are both unbelievably beautiful and veritably undiscovered. Possibly the best thing about Sarsala Bay, other than the turquoise water and lack of crowds, is its proximity to so many quaint and lively towns. You can spend the day on the beach, or exploring the nearby forests and coves, and still make it to Gocek, Dalyan, or Fethiye for dinner.
Overshadowed by its popular neighbors of Patara, Letoon, and Xanthos, the ancient city of Pinara is under-visited and underrated. Located just off the highway between Fethiye and Kas, which is traveled by many a tourist, this secret site sits on a scenic hillside covered in classic Mediterranean vegetation. Little is known about this small, unexcavated settlement, other than its role in the Lycian League. Today, the area seems more like a magical forest peppered with undiscovered ruins than a well-planned ancient tourist attraction, making it that much more exciting to explore. With its close proximity to so many popular holiday towns, the quiet ruins of Pinara offer a welcome break to vacationers looking to escape and experience something new and off the beaten path.
Perched high in the mountains which tower over the plains of Finike, Arykanda’s remote location means that the ruins in this impressive ancient city are even better preserved than most. Said to be a place of gambling, drinking, and a party-loving population, Arykanda’s location helped keep its happenings a secret even back in ancient times. Today, those structures still lie in wait to delight the few who hear about the city. In addition to its massive marble stadium, theatre, and other buildings, Arykanda is home to wildlife like deer and mountain goats, free to roam without too much disturbance from crowds of tourists. I’m sure the local wildlife enjoys the stunning mountain views as much as visitors to the city do. After a good wander through the ruins and lots of pictures, be sure to stop at the market stall right near the entrance to indulge in some fresh fruit or other simple local products.
While further inland than the other destinations on this list, the city of Elmali is worth the 1.5 drive from the coast. It’s situated between stunning forested hills deep in the Taurus Mountains. But in addition to its natural beauty, the town is the most culturally interesting destination on this list. Its beautiful stone architecture and historic houses and monuments make walking through its narrow streets irresistible. Strolling along its newly renovated market street, you’ll be enticed into buying local products like the roasted tahini and dried fruits the area is known for. In addition to their dried version, grapes also play an important role in the economy, both historically and today, in the form of wine. No trip to Elmali is complete without a visit to the local vineyard for some wine tasting in the most scenic of settings. Not only will your taste buds thank you, you’ll learn a lot about local culture after a trip to Elmali, not to mention escape the heat and crowds of the coast in summer.
The only protected area to make our list, Termessos is actually located within a small national park, just a 40 minute drive from Antalya. As is common with many remote, mountain cities, the ancient ruins of Termessos are incredibly well-preserved. The city is also surprisingly under-visited, all the better for you! The quiet sound of the cool breeze rushing through the pines adds to the mystical atmosphere of the already mysterious ruins. Perched in a high mountain valley, Termessos’ theatre in particular is located in an especially scenic area; that being said, the entire city is in quite good condition with easy to follow paths connecting most of the ruins. The national park where Termessos is located is also ripe with canyons and mountains; there’s just so much to explore! Located in such close proximity to Antalya, Termessos deserves a place as a must-see coastal destination.