What better in the cooler Fethiye temperatures than getting out there and going for good wander? We don’t walk in the hills much in summer – it’s just too hot – so when we do get out there, it always feels great. One of our favourite walks in the Fethiye area is the walk from Kayaköy to Ölüdeniz. We’ve followed this trail many times with various friends over the years and the views are still wow! Let’s walk from the village of Kayaköy to Ölüdeniz…
Hiking From Kayaköy To Ölüdeniz
The first two bits of important information are:
- Don’t set off on this walk in your flip flops or flimsy shoes. As you descend to Ölüdeniz, it’s quite rough underfoot – rocky, dusty (muddy after rain), rubbly, and there’s also scree on the steep descent just before you reach the lagoon in Ölüdeniz.
- Make you sure you take some water along. There is nowhere on the route between Kayaköy and Ölüdeniz where you can find fresh water, so it’s always wise to take a litre or two with you – especially in the warmer months. You can buy some in Kaya village or top up at the water tap on the main road by the ruins.
This route is often recommended as a ‘loosener’ for people attempting Kate Clow’s Lycian Way.
Start From The High Church
We’ve written a little about the village of Kayaköy in the past, and if you’ve never been before, the ruins are very much worth exploring before you begin the walk.
We always start the route from the big high church in the middle of the ruins. So, to begin with, get yourself up there. It’s sometimes possible to enter the church and there are beautiful views over the Kayaköy ruins and over the valley. Pebbled mosaics decorate the floor of the church itself and you can see a few reminders of the decorative paintwork that must have covered the whole ceiling in the past.
Follow The Painted Waymarkers
On leaving the church, stand with your back to the entrance door and you will see an archway slightly to your left. This is the exit point you need. This courtyard is a great place for getting some photographs of Kayaköy by the way.
Follow the painted waymarkers closely, especially if it’s the first time you’re walking this path from Kayaköy to Ölüdeniz. The path will lead you on a steady climb up through the ruins of the former homes of the Greek population who used to live in the area. Have your camera on standby and enjoy the exploration at the same time as the hike.
There are loads of little nooks and crannies to explore amongst the ruins and there is obviously more than one path. For hiking towards Ölüdeniz, on some of the ruins, there are makeshift Ölüdeniz signs stuck to walls here and there but you must also keep your eyes peeled for these red and yellow stripes.
Stick To The Kayaköy To Ölüdeniz Route
This is the next important point. If you’re chatting and you lose the waymarkers, it doesn’t matter so much whilst you’re still amongst the ruins. You can always retrace your steps and soon pick them up again. However, once you get onto the mountainside, make sure you concentrate on following the red and yellow striped paint markers. They are on walls and rocks along the ground.
Views Over Kayaköy Towards Belen
The way markers will lead you right to the top of the ruins. And don’t worry if you get out of puff (it is a bit of a pull, especially in hot weather) because you can keep turning round to take photographs or just admire the views over the valley. Incidentally, the road you can see winding down the hill right in the distance in the photo above is the road you come down if you are hiking from Fethiye to Kayaköy.
This is likely to be your last view of the ruins as the rocky path now continues uphill, through scrub, and you can see the top of the hill lined with trees. You’ll be pleased to know that the top of the hill in your eye line is actually the top of the hill. It’s not one of those false ones where you get there and then see another huge climb ahead of you. Bonus!
The Climbing Is Finished
At this point, you will be feeling a sense of achievement, you’ll have some fabulous photos of Kayaköy and your legs will forget they are aching.
On reaching the top of the hill, you’ll find yourself on a flat area, covered in boulders, scrub and bushes but the path is easy to trace and you’ll begin a very gradual, almost unnoticeable descent…and then you get your first glimpse of ‘the other side.’
This is a welcome sight because it’s a tantalising glimpse of your final destination. And, better still, you know it’s all downhill from here. You can see from this photo that the path continues to lead you downwards and into the pine forests that cover the hills and mountainsides of this part of Turkey.
For 20 minutes or so, you will lose sight of the sea below as the path leads you through the forested mountainside. This little section is a gentle stroll and provides very welcome, dappled shade on a hot day. As you get used to being surrounded by the ancient pine trees, this gentle path will become rocky, the trees will disappear behind you and you will find yourself staring at this most beautiful Mediterranean view…
Perfect Picnic Spot?
You almost forget that the sea is just below you until this view appears from nowhere. Definitely a time to stop for photographs and to take in the beauty of this area. We’ve seen this view many, many times – and I’ve taken far too many photographs of it – but it still makes us stop and look on in awe every time we do this walk.
Follow the path for another 5 minutes or so and you will come to a little natural clearing which is the perfect place for your picnic – or somewhere just to sit for a moment and have a drink (there are flattish rocks to sit on). From here, you can get your first glimpse of Belcekiz Beach and Kıdrak Bay in Ölüdeniz to your left.
A Rocky Path To Ölüdeniz
From the clearing, the path becomes a steep, rocky descent and it’s here where you’ll be glad of your sturdy shoes and where you need to remind yourself to keep a close eye on those way markers again. The sea is to your right and it looks as though there is only one path that descends the mountainside in an almost straight line.
However, about 100 metres or so after the clearing, you will see a red and yellow way marker that looks like this:
This is not an arrow!
We’re mentioning this because we were completely unfamiliar with this type of waymarking system until we did a bit of reading up on the Lycian Way. Apparently, this is an international system but we had never seen it in Britain – maybe because of the wonderful Ordnance Survey maps we have there.
- So if you, too, are unfamiliar with it, this is not an arrow.
- It is not telling you to continue towards the left of this photo (although another path does continue that way). It is telling you to turn right.
- So, we have walked along the path from the bottom right of the photo with the sea to our right and now we are going to double back on ourselves towards the top right of the photo.
- It’s a zig-zag, descending mountain path we’re following. Uninterrupted views of the sea and bays are now to your left.
As you continue along the zig-zagging mountain path (it’s very easy to follow after the little bit we just mentioned) you will eventually head back into the forest. There are waymarkers and the path is clear in most places.
Cairns Help Fellow Hikers
On the few occasions where the markers disappear, the many people who have done this walk have started to leave rocks that have now become small cairns over the years. Feel free to add your own rocks to make the cairns more noticeable – every little helps! The main thing to remember is not to stray too far without seeing a cairn or waymarker – and always remember where the last one was!
About half an hour after your picnic stop, just as your thigh muscles are aching from continual, steep downward motions and you’re wondering what happened to all that beautiful azure Mediterranean Sea…ta daaa!
Ölüdeniz Viewed From The Hills
Yet again, any aches and pains will disappear as you see your final destination. Okay, your knees might be dithering a bit but aren’t these views completely worth it?
From now on, you will have constant vistas of Ölüdeniz lagoon through the pine trees. And, as you gradually get closer to the lagoon, you will feel the real world encroaching once again – you can even hear music from the beaches in the summer months!
Onwards To Belceğiz Beach
If it is warmer weather, we are always itching to jump into the sea for a swim….but take your time. The last half mile is very steep and full of scree. Both of us have ended up on our backsides on quite a few occasions in our eagerness to get to the bottom! ‘All in good time’ is the motto here!
And that’s it – the Kayaköy to Ölüdeniz walk. In warmer months, take a dip in the lagoon or plunge into the vibrant turquoise waves of Belceğiz Beach. If it’s winter, as in the photo above, much of Ölüdeniz is closed. Never fear, though. Fantastic pide and a cold beer are always available at the open-all-year Kumsal Pide. Not a bad reward after a hike!
Hiking From Kayaköy To Ölüdeniz – Important Information
- Allow 2 and a half to 3 hours for the Kayaköy to Ölüdeniz walk. This includes photo stops and a 30 minute break at the clearing.
- If you choose to link this hike to Ölüdeniz with the Fethiye to Kayaköy walk, allow 5 to 6 hours to complete the full walk from Fethiye. (Includes a stop off for a drink in Kaya and a rest stop at the clearing.)
- There are regular dolmuşes from Ölüdeniz to Fethiye via the neighbourhoods of Hisarönü and Ovacık. Check with the drivers in Fethiye what time the last dolmuş is if you do the walk out of season.
- For other walking routes in the area and general safety tips, we have a list of strolls and hikes around Fethiye.