Turkey has the good fortune of being located in a prime part of the world for natural beauty. While some is distinctly Mediterranean, with beautiful oceanic coastlines and rocky cliffs, other areas boast mountains that rival even some of Europe’s most famous peaks.
From snow-capped mountains to arid desert and lush olive groves, you can find the hike you’re looking for no matter what your preference. We know it’s hard to choose, especially when this country is still a bit off the beaten track, so we’ve offered up 15 of the best hikes in Turkey to help make your decision easier.
The Best Hikes in Turkey
Evliya Çelebi Way
We’re starting off the list of best hikes in Turkey with a pretty long route. The Evliya Çelebi Way is a 600km-long hike that spans the distance from Hersek to Istanbul.
This follows the pilgrim route that the hike’s eponymous adventurer Evliya Çelebi took when he traveled through the country in the 17th century. The route passes through several towns, though modern urbanization has prevented it from directly leading into the capital city.
This hike can be done on foot, by bike, or even on horseback. Since it passes through so much history, you will see some of the oldest recorded regions in the country.
Hersek to Istanbul
Check the weather in advance, as you will want to undertake this hike in agreeable conditions.
Skip this hike if you’re visiting in winter—it will be too snowy. In warm weather though, the 2150m climb is definitely worth it because this is the site of what is assumed to be an ancient royal tomb. The summit is scattered with rock statues and carvings dating back to the 1st century BC. Walking amongst them is a pretty awe-inspiring feeling.
It’s in quite a remote area, Adıyaman city is 74 km away, and many visitors will opt to travel to the mountain via helicopter – though travel companies offer minibusses to ferry travelers to and from the base of the mountain. Some will go even higher up the slopes, dropping visitors only a 20-minute walk from the top.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit since the ancient terraces were designed to catch the sun at these times.
It wouldn’t be a list of best hikes in Turkey if we didn’t touch on this famous location. Cappadocia makes for a beautiful hiking spot for its unusual landscape and historical rock formations. Because of this, it also makes for great photos (you’ve probably seen many—every sunrise the sky becomes dotted with hundreds of hot air balloons!).
Famous for its arid, rocky landscape, ‘fairy chimneys,’ and Bronze Age-era rock carvings left by cave dwellers, this is definitely a bucket list place. Because this region is vast, there are options for different hikes. The Red Valley glows a vibrant rouge due to its uniquely-colored rock formations, while Rose Valley is tinted blush pink. Nearly all will offer incredible carvings and vistas.
The dryness means sandy and rocky areas can be slippery.
The Carian Trail is an 820km long trail divided into multiple parts. It’s relatively new, having only officially opened in 2013, and ventures into some southwestern regions of Turkey that are not often explored. Named for the Carian people – the Turkish indigenous – the route passes through landscapes important to the region’s economy, such as olive and almond groves.
Some areas you can experience along the route include peninsulas that feel like tropical islands, gulfs, mountains, and beautiful valleys. Wild foxes can be found in the region, so be wary of hiking after dark.
Muğla and Aydın Provinces
Streams are potable, and you can fill up your water bottle at any you see.
The hike up the formidable Mount Olympos is part of the Lyrican Way – Turkey’s first distance hiking trail. Once you reach the top, the views from the peak are pretty astounding—the Mediterranean Sea on one side and an endless stretch of verdant forest on the other.
It’s around 15km and moderate hiking experience is recommended. The trail is well marked: it starts from nearby Beycik and winds up the mountain from there. Though well-marked, it can be very steep in areas, so this is not for beginners. There is snow even in warmer months, which can make more treacherous zones especially dangerous.
There is a cable car if you’d rather take the express route to the top, or bypass iffy areas.
Yenice Forest Trail
As the name would suggest, this trail winds through the Yenice Forest. It isn’t a particularly well-known path, so you’re less likely to have to share the route with crowds. It comprises 21 trails that link back to the main trail spanning 210km. Many of these 21 trails can be considered day trips deviating from the main route.
The area is lush and verdant, and you’ll pass through a beautiful array of flora, down into valleys, rocky mountains, and a forest of immensely tall trees. This is an excellent area for mountain biking since the rocky dirt roads have ranges in elevation and terrain.
Take a day trip to nearby Safranbolu, famous for its preserved Ottoman Empire-era architecture.
This full hiking trail is over 50km long, so it’s a multi-day affair (around three or so). The trailhead starts from a suburb of nearby Bursa (worth a visit in and of itself) called Kestel. You will continue upwards, passing through Saitabat, a village at the foot of the mountains. Uludağ Mountain is a popular place to go skiing but is a lesser-known hiking haven in the warmer months—though it will still be a quiet journey.
This alpine hike takes you through ridges, forest, and drier rocky areas, with views all the way out to sea. Bring layers, as temperatures can drop as low at 10°, even in the summer!
Location: Bursa Province
Insider Tip: If you’re looking for firewood, dried shrub roots work well if you can’t find branches.
What used to be an ancient oxcart road from İnebolu to Kastamonu is now a beautiful hiking trail that hits several wonders of nature along the 92-kilometer route, such as gorges, mountain passes, and towering peaks. The route is named as such because it marks the path that liberation officials took during Turkey’s Independence War in 1919.
While Turkey has many new trails currently in progress (being developed into walkable routes for hikers), this one is fully complete and marked, so it’s well-traveled and safe for hikers. You may want some experience since it is on the longer side and will pass through a range of terrain.
March to October is the best time to hike this trail.
The Taurus Mountains are located in southern Turkey and are classified as one of the more difficult areas simply due to the dramatic range in the landscape. Between deep valleys, canyons, rocky ledges, alpine meadows, and lake areas, you’ll want to be an intermediate level hiker before undertaking this mountain range.
Nonetheless, it’s less than 10km, so definitely on the shorter side. You’ll be walking through history alongside ancient caravan routes and the ancient city of Termessos. Don’t miss out on Karagöl Lake, a beautiful crater lake along the way.
This region is pretty easy to access to or from Cappadocia.
Ihlara Valley Hike
So far, the list of best hikes in Turkey has been pretty intense. The Ihlara Valley hike is a nice reprieve from the more difficult or longer routes. The path is located in a river gorge near Aksaray Province, though still technically in the region of Cappadocia.
The path itself is short and sweet. It includes rustic wooden pathways built over the running river, which continues for 16km downstream. The area also has beautiful churches carved into the gorge walls, so this is another hike where you’ll want to bring your camera (and a waterproof bag).
Don’t miss the nearby Selime Monastery (many Ihlara tours will finish here).
Adrasan Lighthouse Hike
Another more relaxing hike option to include on the list of best hikes in Turkey. Adrasan is less snow-capped mountain peaks, more crystal water, and beaches – so you can really delve into the more Mediterranean part of Turkey’s varying landscapes.
The village has a beautiful route that takes you from the Papirus Hotel, along the urban coast (you’ll pass cafés, restaurants, and boutiques, so you’re immersed in civilization on this route), and soon away from the village and along a ride leading to pine forest and up a small cliff to the lighthouse. It’s only around eight km there and back.
The beach is beautiful, so bring your swimming gear.
The Kaçkar Mountains form another incredible mountain range worth visiting. Located on the coast of the Black Sea, they’ve been compared to some of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountain ranges. These are glacier mountains, and due to their elevation (the highest in the region) you’ll find year-round snow at the peaks. The peak sits at around 4000 meters, and along the way, you’ll pass through shepherding yayla communities, wildflower meadows, and ridges with insane views.
There are multiple surrounding villages that can connect you with trailheads and mules for rent, including Yusufeli, Tekkale, Barhal, and Yaylalar. There are many itineraries, and most will span a few days.
Black Sea coast
Due to the moisture of the region, this area is rainy and misty (the most so in the summer), so treacherous areas should be hiked well before midday – after which, conditions and visibility get risky.
The Lycian Way trail is one of Turkeys best-known treks. It’s another one of Kate Clow’s labors of love, and she was paramount to ‘opening’ in 2000 in an effort to preserve the historical elements of the path. The full thing is pretty long—roughly 540 km—and stretches from Ölüdeniz to Geyikbayırı (a city not far from Antalya).
This is best for walking (no bikes) as the terrain is hard and rocky. Undertaking the full trail takes almost a month, but if you are able to stretch your visit to even a few days, you will see some of the country’s oldest mule paths and ancient Roman roads.
Public transit is available along the route. Spring and fall are the best visit times.
St. Paul Trail
This full trail is an astonishing 500km, so no one will fault you for only doing a portion. The route starts near the city of Adıyaman and is said to follow the trail that St Paul took on his first journey to Asia Minor (the name for Turkey at the time). The path was fleshed out and developed by British hiker Kate Clow, so much of its pathways are modern, even though the route is steeped in history.
While not entirely off the grid, the area is relatively remote and quiet. You will walk along coastlines, through ancient settlement remains, forests, canyons, and mountainous regions, so you’ll get to experience a lot of the varied landscapes the Mediterranean has to offer.
Antalya Province (starting point)
Spring is the best time to visit, when the temperatures are cooler, and the flora is at its peak.
This hike is located in an important historical spot: it once served as the main route that connected the east and west reaches of the Roman Empire, so it had important significance in trading and military operations. This walk spans four countries – beginning in Albania, winding through remote parts of Greece and Macedonia, before finishing near Istanbul.
You, of course, do not have to complete the full trail as it is over 1000km. But if you’re solely in Turkey, you can follow part of the trail west. You’ll hit all kinds of landscapes— from mountains, valleys, riverbeds, and small settlements to huge cities. Parts of the ancient road have survived and can be walked.
Istanbul through Durres, Albania
Parts of this route will have ‘bed options’ (homestays, hotels, and the like), while some will be camping-only, so be sure to do research ahead of time.
For more of a challenge, this path is the beginning section of the Schladminger Tauern high trail, which spans several days.
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What to Pack For Your Hiking Trip to Turkey
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourists that buys plastic water bottles. It’s a waste of money and plastic!
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Last Updated on March 23, 2020