If you read this blog a lot, you’ll know the Xanthos Valley area is one of our favourite places in Turkey, and in the past, we’ve written about both Tlos and Saklıkent Gorge. Today, we’re heading south from Saklıkent and along the Eşençay (the ancient Xanthos River) to the sites of Letoon and Xanthos.
Last week, we said we were making the most of the Spring weather in Fethiye and, after clambering up to the Lycian rock tombs in Fethiye, we decided to keep up the momentum a couple of days later by taking off to wander along a short stretch of the Lycian Way from Letoon to Xanthos. This is a day out we’ve done in the past and it’s a great way to spend some time if you’re in Turkey on a budget. We’ve got a few posts lined up about these sites and first up is how we visit Letoon and Xanthos under our own steam.
Dolmuş From Fethiye To Letoon
First of all, make yourself a packed lunch. We packed some water and olives and then hit the bakery for a few snacks before heading off to the dolmuş station in Fethiye.
This is the dolmuş you need: the Kumluova-Karadere dolmuş with the red frontage. They’re allegedly every 20 minutes so you shouldn’t be waiting too long. When you get on, tell the driver you’re going to Kumluova and then sit back and enjoy the ride along the beautiful D400 highway. The journey to Kumluova usually takes about an hour, but ours was 90 minutes because of a higgledy piggledy detour due to road works.
Getting to Letoon From Fethiye
If you’re a foreigner on the Kumluova-Karadere dolmuş, the driver assumes Letoon is your destination and points you to this noticeable yellow sign. As you can see, it isn’t easy to miss anyway. You now have a stroll along a flat, greenhouse-lined, cobbled road (the Xanthos Valley is the land of Turkish tomato growing) towards the ancient site of Letoon. It’s only a kilometre so you’ll be there in minutes.
Eventually, you’ll pass the theatre of Letoon which stands in a field on its own, overlooking the road. There wasn’t a soul around as the season hasn’t started yet so we were thinking we might be able to wander in for free….
No! Some poor guy has to sit in a wooden hut all day, every day, waiting for people like us – or maybe we were just unlucky! Last year’s dusty guidebooks appeared from under the desk and were politely refused. We paid our entrance fee and set off to take photos and eat lunch. More of that in future posts.
Walking from Letoon to Xanthos
Once you’ve had your fill of Letoon (it’s not a huge site), you can leave by the entrance gate and take a right, back the way you came.
You’re following the Lycian Way – but cast any images of wild Lycian mountain paths from your mind. This stretch of the Lycian Way is simply the road between Letoon and Xanthos. If you do the walk in springtime, however, there’s much blossom to be photographed. Once you get to the T-junction to Kumluova, take a right. (There’s a market at the T-junction where you can stock up on more water.)
If you do this walk on a Saturday, Kumluova pazar breaks the walk up a little for you. Keep heading straight up this road until you come to another T-junction with a health clinic facing you.
This is where you’ll see your first official Lycian Way markers – and where you can work out that the distance between Letoon and Xanthos is a gentle, flat 5 kilometres. After a short while, the Eşençay will be to your right and you’ll see a hill in the distance, proudly flying the Turkish flag. This is your destination. Keep plodding until you hit another T-junction and your next set of Lycian Way markers.
We’re nearly there. Just 1 kilometre to go. Cross the bridge over the river, Eşençay, and glance up the hill to the left. Your first clue that the Lycian and Roman ruins of Xanthos are within touching distance is the ruins peeping above the top of the hill.
Continue along the road towards the small town of Kınık and you’ll see some wasteland to your left – maybe the site open-air market area. Cross this and head to the far right corner and up the short, steep entrance road.
The entrance office is halfway up the road on the right, just opposite the theatre to your left. Pay your dues and explore the area. Beautiful scenery but again, that’s another post.
How to get back to Fethiye from Xanthos
You’ve got a choice here. Head back down into Kınık to their small recently-built otogar and check the times of the buses back to Fethiye. The bus that passes through Kınık is the Batı Antalya / Fethiye Seyahat mini coach that plies the route along the D400 coastal road between Fethiye and Antalya. We were lucky and got there just in time for the 16:15 bus.
If there isn’t a bus due, you can either sit outside the nearby Kral Lokanta and have a beer (which he tends to get from the shop next door) or even some food, or you can make your way back to the junction above (Xanthos 1 km) and wait for the Kumluova-Karadere dolmus back to Fethiye.
Letoon To Xanthos Walk – Useful Info
How much it cost us (Prices are per person – 2012)
Lunch from the bakery: 3TL
Dolmuş to Kumluova: 7TL
Entrance to Letoon: 5TL
Entrance to Xanthos: 3TL (5TL from April onwards we were told)
Bus from Kınık to Fethiye: 8TL
Total cost per person: 28TL (around £10). We did say it was a good budget day out!