The Lycian Way is considered one of the world’s greatest long-distance hiking trails, but did you know it’s also possible to closely follow the trail by car? As someone living with an invisible illness I’ve become more and more interested in accessible travel and my recent experience with InnTravel has opened my eyes to a new world of travel experiences I earlier thought would always be beyond my reach.
The Lycian Way
The Lycian Way is considered one of the world’s greatest long-distance hiking trails. Many people visit for walking holidays, but for those with mobility issues, that’s just not an option. However, this shouldn’t stop people exploring the amazing sights the Lycian Way has to offer, as it’s possible to follow alongside the trail by car.
The Lycian Way is found in southwest Turkey, along what is known as the Turquoise Coast. This region was once home to the ancient civilisation of the Lycians, where their realm once stretched from the modern cities of Antalya and Fethiye over to the west of the Toros mountains.
Today all that’s left of the Lycians are their ruins, which now merge with the region’s modern towns, villages and hamlets, with tombs scattered across the countryside and even emerging out of the sea.
The Lycian Way is Turkey’s first long-distance coastal path, and was pioneered by the passionate walker Kate Clow. Kate led a team of people who created the Lycian Way to connect a number of historical sites along this length of coastline. In full the path is 509km in length and can take weeks to hike completely, so most people choose a section to walk.
I was actually lucky enough to win a 10-night Lycian Way Walking Holiday from InnTravel earlier this year, which sounded absolutely brilliant. However, once I looked at the itinerary I quickly knew that the trip would be beyond me because of my health and mobility issues. I was absolutely gutted as I’d never heard of Lycia before and as a lover of history, the chance to explore the region sounded amazing.
How a hire car can totally change a holiday
I went back to InnTravel to explain my situation and they said they’d go away and see if anything was possible with my physical limitations in mind. After discussing the situation with their local Turkish partners Middle Earth Travel, the two companies came up with a solution to personalise the trip for us by providing us with a hire car. So, instead of spending each day walking 6-10 hours between the hotels, Justin and I could drive from hotel to hotel via the scenic D-400 coastal road, stopping off at some of the main Lycian ruins along the way.
Having never done anything like this before, the InnTravel/Middle Earth Travel teams weren’t sure how successful this holiday would be as a road trip, but I’m happy to say it went wonderfully, and I was so chuffed to see two well known companies be so open to the idea of supporting accessible travel.
Sure, the experience would have been very different if I’d been able to walk along the Lycian Way itself, wandering through pine woods and discovering hidden ruins perched alongside mountain paths. But this road trip variation still allowed me to experience the region and many Lycian ruins, including Phaselis and Olympus.
We followed exactly the same route as the walkers would, starting in Antalya and then spending two nights in the mountains of Beycik before heading to the coastal villages of Cirali for two nights and Adrasan for one night. We then went back up into the mountains for a stop in peaceful Hoyran before finishing our trip down by the sea at Simena/ Kaleköy, home to Lycia’s ‘Sunken City’.
If anything, travelling by car gave us the opportunity to see more of the ancient ruins than if we’d walked. Our trip coincided with another group on the same holiday, but who were undertaking the journey as originally designed. Catching up with them at each of our hotels, we found that by having the car we had much more time to go off and visit different sites during the day. They’d be either walking or resting while we had the time and opportunity to visit other Lycian ruins close to, but not on the Lycian Way, such as Rhodiapolis, Myra and Limyra.
Accessible travel in Turkey
Sure, it wasn’t possible for me to reach some of the Lycian sites due to their location on steep mountains or rugged, uneven countryside and some of the things I did wouldn’t be possible for people in wheelchairs, but it did turn the trip from something I could have never done into an accessible holiday! I wasn’t able to see everything yes, but I did see a lot more than I first imagined would be possible.
Turkey isn’t the most accessible of destinations for people with ill health or mobility issues, but where possible travel companies, hotel owners and locals will do everything they can to help you make the most of your visit to their country. Even in Simena, where my hotel was on a very steep cliff face, I met a disabled guest who returns every year. The owners always come and meet him, settle him in and make sure he has everything he needs, and he absolutely adores it there.
Before this trip, if I’d ever read about a walking holiday I’d rule out that trip straight away. However, this holiday with InnTravel has showed me that with some planning and flexibility it is possible to find ways to explore regions you may have considered inaccessible before, and it’s definitely widened my horizons to the kinds of trips I can consider.
My own situation has also helped InnTravel to look more closely at accessible travel and how it can ‘tweak’ itineraries to support customers dealing with health and mobility issues. It has said it will definitely consider offering a similar sort of road trip on request. Great news for the world of accessible travel!
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