Traveling the Turkish Riviera: Olympos Travel Guide
Would you travel to a place that doesn’t exist on Google Maps?
As a solo female traveler, my usual response would be something like lol, maybe let’s not. But then I visited Olympos, Turkey and everything I thought about travel changed.
Up until the Turquoise Coast during my year long backpacking adventure, most of my stops were meticulously planned. Like I’m talking extensive spreadsheets and color coded maps here. But then on my own in Turkey, a country I knew almost nothing about before I arrived, I wanted a change of pace.
I wanted to challenge myself to be one of those ‘go with the wind‘ travelers I so envied. That meant most days I wouldn’t know where I’d be next, let alone where I’d be sleeping. Allowing only those I met on the road to give me suggestions ended up being equal parts exhilarating and relaxing.
Although I still love planning travel, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to let your travels choose you. Sounds all hippie dippy I know, I know. But seriously if it wasn’t for allowing myself to have this flexibility, my Turkey trip would have looked a whole lot different. And I wouldn’t change my month in Turkey for the world.
PRICE POINT: ✪✪/✪✪✪✪✪
CURRENCY: Turkish lira
TIPPING: 5-10% leave cash
Olympos Travel Guide Covers:
– WHERE TO STAY IN OLYMPOS
– HISTORY & ANCIENT RUINS
– HIKING THE LYCIAN WAY
– CHIMAERA FLAMES
– OLYMPOS BEACH & ÇIRALI
– GETTING TO OLYMPOS VIA BUS
– COST SNAPSHOT
Sounds great, but where does Olympos fit in this new found travel persona?
But then, after a night out in Kaş, I met who would become my travel partner for the next 3 countries, Giri. He’s what I would consider to be a professional traveler, clocking in at the past 3-4 years being on the road full time. In some twist of fate, he’s also the only other person I’ve met abroad who was also born and raised in Florida. After being away from home for almost 7 months by time I reached Turkey, we had a lot to talk about.
We ended up traveling for the next month together and if it wasn’t for him, I would’ve never known Olympos even existed. It wasn’t on Google Maps and like much of the Turquoise Coast, I’d never heard of it before. I was skeptical, but went along anyway to see for myself what he described as a picturesque little hippie village on the beach.
If Google Maps doesn’t know what Olympos is, then what exactly is it?
What was once an important city for the ancient Lycians is now a hippie enclave set in a gorgeous protected bay and an ideal backpacking stopover along the Turquoise Coast. The area sports a sprawling complex of some of the best ancient Lycian ruins in the area and an impressive pebble beach set in the shadow of the great Mount Olympos.
Because Olympos is under conservation laws, the area is protected from development and as such, from an over-abundance of tourism. This means no permanent structures are allowed to be built here. Everything in Olympos is constructed primarily of wood with great respect to the beautiful nature surrounding it.
Quick History Recap of Olympos
Although not much is known about the ancient Lycians, we do know that they were well revered and respected by the ancient Greeks for their peaceful nature and trade routes that make up the Lycian Way, a now 580 km popular hiking trail.
The city can be dated back to 300 B.C. and was conquered by the Romans in 78 B.C. Sometime during the 15th century after years of Roman rule, the city was abandoned when the Ottoman Empire lay siege to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Where to Stay in Olympos
A 1.5km road leading to the ruins and beach house all the available camps visitors can stay at in Olympos.
Bayrams Tree Houses
One of the most popular camps is Bayrams Tree Houses. Since we were there during the off-season we were lucky enough to snag one of the simple but private bungalows with its own bathroom and citrus trees lined up outside.
If you’re traveling solo or need a cheaper alternative, Bayrams also has hostel style bunk rooms with shared bathrooms. Best of all? The price includes a buffet style breakfast and dinner. All meals are vegetarian-friendly, hearty and delicious!
How to Get to Olympos
Getting to and from Olympos can be a bit tricky. Because it’s not technically a city or even a registered village, when you type Olympos on Google maps nothing comes up.
However accommodations do show up on Google Maps, so if you’re driving, use “Bayrams Tree Houses” as a point of reference for Olympos.
We didn’t have a car so we had to rely on public transport and word of mouth from friendly locals. Coming from Kaş you’ll take a bus to “Olīmpos Junction.” Tell the driver you’re heading to Olympos and they’ll know exactly where you’re trying to go. The bus from Kaş to Olympos should cost around 28 lira.
Once you arrive to Olympos Junction (pretty much just a cafe with outside seating) you’ll wait for a shared taxi van costing 7.5 lira to that 1.5km strip of road where all the camps in Olympos are. Tell the driver where you’re staying and they’ll drop you off right out front.
Top Things to Do in Olympos
Hike the ancient Lycian Way
One of the most popular activities in the area is to hike the ancient Lycian Way trade route. You’ll see many hikers stopping in Olympos for the night. If you don’t plan on doing a multi-day hike, you have the option of doing a 3 hour or longer 6 hour hike from Olympos. We opted for the 6 hour hike that ends in the small village of Adrasan. If you’re like me and a 6 hour hike sounds grueling enough, you’ll be able to take a quick taxi or shared van back to Olympos.
The trail is marked but the best way to track your hike is through the app Maps.me. Although the hike is easy, it’s a long one. So be sure to take enough water and snacks for the road. If you’re lucky, there may be a vendor along the way selling fresh squeezed juice or coffee.
NOTE! Do NOT take photos of vendors you may see along the way without buying something first and getting permission. Our man below was super sweet to us (even if he didn’t speak a lick of English), mainly because we bought coffee and juice. However, the same wasn’t the case to the older British man walking by, snapping his photo without buying anything. That fellow was subjected to the wrath of an angry Turkish man. And trust me, no one wants to be confronted by an angry Turkish man.
Explore the ancient Lycian ruins of Olympos
Only a brief 15 minute walk away from the camps you’ll find the ruins of Olympos where you can explore the ancient Lycian Way of life. You’ll be required to pay a small entrance fee, but the ticket offers visitors multiple visits and is your access to the beach from the camps.
Although there are directional signs, the entire site seems to be a bit haphazard only adding to the mystical feeling of being surrounded by so much history. Instead of being set to discover everything, go at your own will and let your curiosity guide you through the ruins.
Relax on Olympos beach
I’m a sucker for beautiful beaches. As a Florida native it’s integral to my existence. However beaches surrounded by forests and looming mountain ranges is something I’ll never get over. I was in complete awe of the gorgeous beach at Olympos with Mount Olympos peaking in the distance.
Although you can access the beach from the nearby town of Çıralı, the easiest way to get to the beach from Olympos is through the ruins. Not only is the beach littered with broken pieces of ancient ruins, but the pebbles that form the beach are beautiful on their own. Off to the right hand side of the beach you can also swim inside caves.
Climb up to the castle
Offering some of the most picturesque views of the bay and surrounding Taurus Mountains, is the castle/fort to the very right of the beach. The quick climb up from the beach to the castle walls is not to be missed during your visit to Olympos.
Roast marshmallows on the Chimaera flames
Did I ever think I’d be roasting marshmallows over eternal flames in the middle of nowhere Turkey? Definitely not.
Best seen under the cover of night, the Chimaera is a cluster of flames on the slopes of Mount Olympos that have been burning for thousands of years. The Ancient Lycians attributed the flames to a monster made of part lion, goat, and snake. I’m still confused by this monster assortment and why a goat was included in its mix. But ya know, ancient civilizations can be funny like that.
Causing a bit of spooky eeriness, is that the cause of the flames is unknown, although it’s thought to contain methane. Also, if you extinguish one flame, another will pop up close by. We tested this out and can say this is indeed true. Weird stuff man.
Chimaera is about a 25 minute drive from Olympos and many camps offer transport to the flames after dinnertime if enough people sign up.
Walk the beach to Çıralı for lunch
Although Çıralı clearly survives for the sole purpose of tourism, walking down the beach to the little town for lunch makes for a lovely afternoon. We decided on grabbing a bite to eat at Begonvil Restaurant and sat outside on it’s beautiful terrace under a giant tree. Although a bit expensive, we were happy with our lunch there.
Olympos Advice For the digital nomads out there
Even though you’re out in the middle of nowhere with very little structural development don’t think you have to give up all modern amenities in Olympos. One such is Wifi. Although the Wifi didn’t reach the bungalows, decent connection can be found all throughout the shared areas at Bayrams.
There was even a super cute, trendy coffee shop aptly named The Beaver nestled in the line of camps where we spent an afternoon toiling away on our computers.
Cost Snapshot of Traveling in Olympos (in Turkish lira):
- Single room bungalow (includes dinner & breakfast): approx. 210 lira (during off-season)
- Beach & ruin access pass: 7.5 lira
- Lunch in Çıralı: 40 lira
- Laundry at Bayrams: 30 lira
- 5L water: 2.5 lira
- Turkish coffee: 7 lira
- Gozleme: 10-13 lira
- Bottle of wine: 65 lira
- Bag of assorted nuts: 14 lira
- Candy bar: 9 lira
So how does sleeping under the shade of the citrus trees with a beautiful beach and looming mountain range sound to you now? As always if you have any questions on my Olympos travel guide, leave them in the comments below!
Check out the last stop on my Turquoise Coast Itinerary here:
Olympos, Turkey Travel Guide
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