We were on the final stop of the westward route of our gulet cruise along Turkey’s southern Lycian coast. Lazing in sheltered bays around the area known to sailors as Kekova Roads, we’d traversed the sunken city of Kekova. We’d swam in the clear waters at Tersane. And, of course, we’d also realised a dream in exploring Simena Kaleköy. From the castle at the top of the hill, we’d looked down across the bay to our next destination: Üçağız.
Onwards To Üçağız
Üçağız was to be an overnight stop. Some of the guests on our gulet had booked to go on a day trip. First to the icy cold waters of Saklıkent Gorge and then onwards to the Lycian and Roman ruins of Xanthos. Being relative natives of that area and having visited both sites many times before, we took the opportunity to make the most of our time in these idyllic surroundings and get off the gulet to go and explore a little of Üçağız and its Lycian heritage.
This wasn’t our first visit to Üçağız. Many years before, we’d driven back to Fethiye from Antalya along the D400, making a few stop-offs en route. Üçağız was one of those stops. That time, we’d just had a quick drink at one of the harbourside restaurants. We’d fended off a few hello-yes-please-boat-trip hunters and gone off on our merry way. All we remembered was that Üçağız was quaint and pretty – we hadn’t seen a single Lycian rock tomb.
Lycian & Roman Üçağız (Teimiussa)
This gulet cruise, for us, was a Lycian voyage. We had already lost ourselves in the history of Phaselis and the mysterious – even slightly haunting – ruins of Olympos. Nearby, in modern day Demre, we’d also had a guided tour of the ancient ruins of Myra and learned more of the history of St. Nicholas. Now it was time to see what was on offer in Üçağız…
As usual, those of us going ashore climbed into the dinghy and we all set off to the jetty. Whilst the rest of the guests clambered off and rushed away to get ice creams in the village centre, we took a right and headed off in the direction of the ruined citadel which we also knew was home to many Lycian rock tombs.
In Lycian times, the village of Üçağız was known as Teimiussa and, apparently, the inscriptions show that the owners of these rock tombs were citizens of either Myra or Cyaneai. As we headed away from the main harbour, it didn’t take us long to spot the rock tombs and the rubbly, steep, narrow footpath, weaving its way upwards towards the ruins that constitute the citadel.
It might have been mid October when we did our gulet cruise, but the sun was still searingly hot as we climbed the short pathway through brambles and varieties of flora and fauna. If you ever decided to explore around here, one piece of advice: spray yourself liberally with mosquito repellent. I hadn’t had a single bite throughout the whole trip and now, here we were on our last stop before heading back to Kemer, and I could feel – and see – the bites rising around my uncovered arms and shoulders.
We could have turned back but the details on some of the rock tombs were so intact and there were just so many of them. A bit of itching wasn’t going to stop us – and we wanted to get the height, too, to enjoy the views over the harbour of Üçağız.
As you can see, it’s a short climb but this hillside is literally littered with Lycian tombs. It’s worth your effort. Some tombs remain proud and upright but others have lost their footing and tumbled onto their side; their roofs scattered still further down towards the Mediterranean. We photographed, stood and breathed in our surroundings and then started to pick our way back down the hill towards the village.
In years gone by, Üçağız (meaning ‘three mouths’ referring to the number of entrances to this wonderfully sheltered harbour) was reachable only by boat – and today, the bay is dotted with the many gulets that stop here on their various Blue Cruise routes.
Since a long, almost 20km, meandering road was built to the village from the D400 highway, day trip boats also chug away from the harbour each morning, packed with day trippers who have arrived by car and coach from nearby resorts.
As it was mid October, except a few shop owners, we had the couple of streets that make up the village to ourselves. A couple of bars, travel agents offering daily boat trips and sea kayaking, a smattering of low key pensions, residential properties and a cat; those were the little back streets of Üçağız. Tumbledown and quaint. Apparently, there is a block on development here so we can all live in hope that the views, atmosphere and postcard appearance remain intact…
Clambering around Lycian ruins on steep hillsides in baking hot sunshine and then reacquainting ourselves with the village streets of Üçağız (granted, our second mission only took a matter of minutes) is thirsty work. We still had some time to spare before the dinghy would speed over from the gulet to pick us up. One more experience awaited us. Well, you know us – you certainly do if you read this blog a lot – it would have been remiss of us not to bob into one of the waterside restaurants for a cold beer.
Quaint village surroundings, Lycian ruins, sheltered bays dotted with gulets, pine-clad hillside scenery, restaurants along the shoreline; taking it all with a cold beer – well, not a lot not to like about Üçağız is there?
We walked along the jetty and hopped back into our dinghy, taking photos of the Lycian rock tombs along the Üçagız shoreline as we chugged across the water.
Lycian rock tombs
“Oh, you’re interested in those,” asked our crew member as he saw me snapping away. He looked surprised – well the crew of the gulet are from these parts. Guess Lycian rock tombs are just a part of the furniture of Üçağız for them.
When I nodded, he steered the dinghy closer to the shoreline. Then he slowed down so we could all get more photos. And then it was back to the gulet for food and chilling whilst we waited for the others to return from their day trip.
Üçağız was as pretty, if not more pretty, than we remembered. And, although it’s perhaps not grabbed us enough to want to stay overnight onland (guess we were spoilt by nearby Kaleköy) it’s definitely somewhere we could laze away the days on a boat. Just look how picture postcard Uçağız is when viewed from the water.
The morning after on the gulet was a pre-dawn start; the long journey back along ancient Lycia’s coastline to our original starting point: Kemer.
Üçağız – Useful Info
- Üçağız is a popular anchoring point for gulets doing Blue Cruise routes. We stopped here as part of our gulet cruise.
- If you are looking on maps, you might also see Üçağız marked as Kaleüçağız.
- If you are arriving by road, the turn off from the D400 is between the town of Kaş and Demre. Driving time from Kaş is around 40 minutes.
- Daily boat trips to Üçagız and the other bays and sights around this area are available from Çayağzı (Demre) and Kaş.
- Üçağız is a stopping point along the Lycian Way and there is a handful of low key pensions and restaurants along the harbour.