Go Exploring: A Guide to Outdoor Adventure in Türkiye

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All Photos © Courtesy Go Türkiye

Known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and many historical sites, Türkiye is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts—and there is no shortage of things to explore. Whether you fly over beautiful landscapes or cycle through ancient cities, Türkiye offers many outdoor activities to discover the country’s true beauty, culture and history.

Türkiye

Fethiye, Lycian Way

Hiking

LYCIAN WAY

Combining traces of the ancient history of western Anatolia with magnificent views of both TurkAegean and Turkish Riviera coastlines, Likya Yolu (Lycian Way) figures among the top hiking routes not only in Türkiye but in the world. The 535-kilometer trail surrounded by turquoise waters and the Taurus Mountains, offers many opportunities to observe the ancient ruins of the Lycian Civilization and to enjoy the region’s popular beaches such as Adrasan, Kabak and Patara Beach.

BELGRAD FOREST, SARIYER, ŞİLE IN İSTANBUL

One of the world’s largest cities in the world is also one of the busiest. However, İstanbul’s forests offer the opportunity to trek and hike in their peaceful atmospheres. Not only will you avoid the huge crowds of the city, but it’s also the best way to get to know different areas of İstanbul.

One of the best places to hike in İstanbul is the Belgrad Forest. Spanning 5,300 hectares, Belgrad Forest offers a variety of short and long trails. In the districts of Sarıyer, and Arnavutköy, you will find a lot of small forests for walks in nature. During hot summer days, hop onto a ferry and travel to the Asian side of İstanbul, where you can go for a swim or hiking on the Princes’ Islands or to the Şile district where you can set up your tent at the district’s campsite.

YENİCE FORESTS, KARABÜK

Designated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as one of the 100 biodiversity hotspots, Yenice Forests is a wonder of wildlife and monumental trees, which is also one of the lesser-known hiking trails of Türkiye. 21 marked trails along with the alternative routes cover a total of 396 kilometers and the 292-kilometer mountain bike trail allows outdoor enthusiasts to journey through the wilderness.

LAKE ABANT NATIONAL PARK, BOLU

Covered in pine tree forests and colorful flowers, Lake Abant is two to three hours by car from both İstanbul and the capital Ankara. If you are looking for an easy and moderate route, you may find many short and long tracks around the lake suitable for hiking.

HİTİT YOLU, ÇORUM AND AMASYA AND KASTAMONU

Hitit Yolu (Hittite Way) is a rich mosaic of Anatolian history and culture combined with beautiful natural scenery. Spreading along Çorum, Amasya and Kastamonu the Hittite Way passes through UNESCO World Heritage site, the ancient city of Hattuşa (Hattusa). Seventeen marked trekking trails cover 236 kilometers and if you include all the local trails, the Hittite Way spans a total of 385 kilometers.

ÖLÜDENİZ, FETHİYE

Paragliding

ÖLÜDENİZ (FETHİYE), MUĞLA

Looking for a first-time paragliding experience? Try it at one of the most preferred paragliding locations in Türkiye. Landing on the white sand of Ölüdeniz is spectacular and the topography guarantees a calm, slow, and easy final descent for first-timers as the winds are light and the beachfront is long. Babadağ Mountain of Ölüdeniz is almost 2,000 meters high, so you’ll have to make sure you’re dressed warmly since there’s ice year-round at the top. It takes about 30 minutes to paraglide all the way down to the bottom, and in that time, whether with a pilot or on your own, you can make 360-degree turns and wingovers.

KAŞ, ANTALYA

The center of the turquoise sea, home of the Caretta carettas (loggerhead sea turtles), ancient cities, deep caves, and Mediterranean seals…Kaş is popular for many reasons and is a great spot for paragliding. Look out over the stunning Çukurbağ Peninsula as the whole Mediterranean stretches out before you and land right in Kaş, a quaint and endearing town that will leave you with lasting memories.

UÇMAKDERE, TEKİRDAĞ

Located less than three hours from the center of İstanbul, the village of Uçmakdere in the district of Şarköy in Tekirdağ is a great choice for paragliding. After you take off from the Ganos Mountains, which has an altitude of 915 meters, you’ll be flying over the region’s beautiful beaches and nature. Uçmakdere is also a frequent destination for trekking lovers. Fill your lungs with plenty of oxygen while trekking along the enjoyable earth roads and hillsides of the Ganos Mountains.

ALİ DAĞ, KAYSERİ

Prepare for an adrenaline-pumping experience in the heart of Anatolia. Six kilometers from the city center of Kayseri, you can take off from Mount Ali Dağ, where the 2004 World Paragliding Championships were held. With an altitude of 1,750 meters; it’s suitable for professionals and semi-professionals however, you can also fly with a pilot.

BODRUM AND MİLAS, MUĞLA

Another great paragliding experience is also waiting for you in the Muğla province. Paragliding has become such a popular activity over the beaches of Ören in Milas and Bodrum that the hill from which you jump, which is the mountain’s peak, has been renamed “Paraşüt Tepesi” (Paragliding Hill). Take in the stunning views of nature while flying over the Aegean Sea, passing over beautiful green fields, pastures and forests.

KÖPRÜLÜ CANYON, ANTALYA

Rafting

KÖPRÜLÜ CANYON, ANTALYA

Starting from the Taurus Mountains, Köprülü Canyon flows into the Mediterranean. The 12-kilometer-long track is open all year long and is one of the most famous rafting centers in the country. While rafting down the canyon which is fed by the underground waters, rafters have the rare opportunity to view historical bridges from a different perspective.

FIRTINA STREAM, RİZE

If you’re planning to visit Rize in the Black Sea Region of Türkiye, make sure to plan a rafting trip. Fırtına, which means storm in Turkish, is a challenging stream that has four difficulty levels in different sections. Even though it’s a challenging ride, rafters enjoy the beautiful surroundings of tea gardens and historical bridges.

BEKİLİ STREAM, DENİZLİ

Bekili Stream is truly an adrenaline booster. The 9.5-kilometer course is classified as levels three and four in difficulty and is completed in two hours, not suitable for amateurs. However, there’s a second rafting course of 11 kilometers classified as level one difficulty allowing first-timers to enjoy a thrilling experience in TurkAegean.

ALAÇATI, İZMİR

Wind Sports

ALAÇATI AND URLA, İZMİR

The most prominent windsurfing destination in Türkiye is also the perfect spot for first-timers. In Alaçatı you’ll find pro surfers and beginners all surfing together, enjoying the winds and the sea of the TurkAegean. Also called a “windsurfing paradise” by the locals, Alaçatı nicely curls into a protected bay which makes it a windsurfing and also a kitesurfing destination for all seasons. Among the olive groves and lush valleys, kiteboarders can enjoy the strong winds of Urla, also located in the province of İzmir. In both destinations, many windsurfing and kiteboarding schools offer private or group lessons.

GÖKOVA, MUĞLA

While looking over the three-kilometer wide Gökova, you’ll find a skyline filled with different colors of kites. Thermal winds that blow every afternoon and around noon provide clean and consistent winds. The water is warm, clear and shallow so you can try new moves or learn to freestyle and freeride.

ALANYA, ANTALYA

Famous for crystal-clear turquoise waters and lush green pine and cedar forests, Alanya located in the Turkish Mediterranean, now known as the Turkish Riviera, is one of the most popular spots for windsurfing and kiteboarding. The average height of waves in Alanya ranges between 0.6 and 3.6 meters, and during the off-season (December to April), the best beaches Damlataş and Keykubat are mostly uninhabited and peaceful.

KAPADOKYA, NEVŞEHİR

Cycling

KAPADOKYA, NEVŞEHİR

Kapadokya (Cappadocia) is a mesmerizing place and its eccentric landforms allow cyclists to explore this fairyland. Here road and mountain bike routes vary from 20 to 40 kilometers. Cycling through the beautiful valleys such as Güvercinlik and Ihlara, you’ll come across the famous fairy chimneys, rock churches, vineyards and stunning rock formations. Early morning rides with hot-air balloons flying over is definitely an experience you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

KEMER, ANTALYA

Kemer is a perfect address for cyclists who appreciate good climbs and refreshing breaks by the sea. Whichever route you choose, the awe-inspiring landscapes will accompany you. The beautiful town has lovely beaches, unspoiled bays with turquoise waters, and a total of 13 cycling routes including five roads and eight mountain bike routes with different gradients and levels of difficulty. You can explore the wonderful Mediterranean coastline accessible only by small paths, and visit small hilltop villages and ancient sites scattered among pine forests.

A SHORTLIST OF MUĞLA’S CYCLING TRAILS

With more than 1,000 kilometers of coastline and around 300 days of sunshine a year, Muğla’s crystal-clear turquoise bays, pine-clad mountains, as well as lush plains with fragrant sweetgum trees and blooming citrus orchards make it one of the most popular cycling destinations in the TurkAegean. For day-long excursions, Lake Bafa and a 14-hour-long route Kral Yolu (King’s Way) in Milas district are great paths with archaeological significance and most importantly you’ll enjoy the peacefulness of 8,000 years old olive trees throughout your journey.

Naturally, cycling stands out as an ecological way to discover everything that the province has to offer and to experience its local life, first-hand. As Türkiye began to prioritize sustainable tourism, a variety of cycling trails have been mapped out in the region by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in recent years, offering biking adventures that would take you through striking natural habitats as well as hidden villages and ancient ruins.

Take the 70-kilometer eco-trail that circles Lake Köyceğiz, a former Mediterranean bay that has been transformed into a lake in thousands of years by the alluvial deposit carried by the local streams. For history enthusiasts, the 39-kilometer Kaya Mezarları (Rock Tombs) route passes through the ancient city of Kaunos and is another great option to take a closer look at the Kaya Mezarları, with around 150 to discover in the region, including 15 that were built in the form of temples carved entirely into the rocks, overlooking the Dalyan Strait that connects Lake Köyceğiz to the sea through a maze-like wetland.

For those who can’t get enough of the sea, one of Marmaris’ most challenging courses climbs eagerly from Turunç to Kumlubük, passing by some of the region’s most beautiful bays along a route of 57 kilometers. Discover the sweetgum (liquidambar) forests on a bike, as you pass through the Sığla Rotası (Sweetgum Route), a 33-kilometer eco-trail ending up at the cooling Toparlar Waterfall. Or take the course of Mount Sandras, one of Muğla’s best destinations for mountain bikers, as well as outdoor sports aficionados.

The 84-kilometer Trans Sandras route would gain an altitude of 1993 meters. Visit Karacasöğüt, an archaeological site inhabited since the Hellenistic period, the first stop on the 47-kilometer biking route, which also passes by secret bays and the village of Yeşilbelde, famous for its organic peanuts.

BIKE-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION: NOW IT’S CERTIFIED

Accommodations can now receive the “Bicycle Friendly Accommodation” certificate to better serve cycling travelers. To receive this certificate, accommodation establishments must fulfill several criteria, including employing staff who are familiar with the cycling routes in the region and offering special nutritional menus for cyclists. Once you have chosen a bike-friendly hotel, you will reach all the help you need.

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Türkiye is home to many places that are beyond your wildest dreams, ancient history, and areas waiting to be discovered. Visiting this country is an unparalleled experience.

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