Olympos (Olimpos) is a string of pansiyons and tourist activities strung along a narrow road on the bottom of a valley just inland from coastal Roman ruins in Lycia, Mediterranean Turkey. It might be generously labelled a “village”.
Ancient Lycian ruins, an isolated beach, accommodation in treehouses and flames that mysteriously burn from the side of a mountain are some of the attractions of Olympos (Olimpos) in Turkey’s Mediterranean south.
The modern “village” is named after the Lycian/Roman city that now lies in ruins just off the beach, which in turn is named after nearby Mt. Tahtalı, the highest mountain in the vicinity, which was called Olympos in Greek times. It must be noted that this is just one of 20-odd noticeably high mountains in that northeastern Mediterranean basin, which known as Olympos in antiquity. The Olympos mountain that was the abode of the Greek gods is a different mountain in northeastern Greece.
A hippie haven until recently, the completion of a surfaced road from the main highway in summer 2009 means that there are many more people (including families with children) heading there now compared to the past. In summer weekends when many day- (and night-) trippers pour in, Olympos is similar to many other resort towns. However, former habitués report that during autumn when everyone else quits the scene, Olympos can be just as beautiful as it used to be.
Olympos is about 50-60 km south of Antalya. Nearest major towns are Kumluca to the south and Kemer to the north of Olympos. There are minibuses from Antalya’s otogar (main station for intercity buses) as well as buses from Antalya to Kaş (and all those others on the way west likeKumluca), which stop at the junction on upland section of the main coastal highway of the region, which is about 10 km away from Olympos. There is a station at the junction with an open air cafe, which also offers some snacks. From there a dolmuş, which depart fairly frequent nowadays, can be caught.
The “town” area is a collection of backpacker guesthouses and hostels, particularly popular are the treehouse style bungalows. Follow the dusty road down past the end of the guesthouses and it leads to an ancient winding path, past the remains of ancient Greek ruins and down to the sparkling water. It’s a pebble beach with absolutely no shade, so it’s blisteringly hot to sit on and not very comfortable without thick padding, but the scenery is spectacular.
The ruins themselves are quite impressive, not as much so as Ephesus but still worth seeing. The relative lack of tourist traffic compared to Ephesus means the site is largely overgrown, which gives the place a “mystical” feel, so you have to do some hiking to get to some of the remains. I was there in late May and it was already brutally hot, so be prepared with lots of sunscreen and water.
Entering the ruins cost 5 TL/person, and going to the beach requires entering the ruins and the staff at the gate make no distinction between someone visiting the ruins and a beachgoer, so you’ll have to pay this fee each time you’re going to beach, except, of course, late at night and very early in the morning, when the office is unmanned. There is also the option of buying a weekly pass which costs 7.5 TL and for 10 entrances to the ruins, and thus the beach.
A great Downhill Mountainbike Ride at Ovacik and a cool Canyoning Adventure through the Kuzdere Passage is offered in the village by Lukka Outdoor.
Bayrams has a lively social scene, with several resident Aussies tending bar. When it’s fully dark you can take a bus up to Mount Olympos, with a 45 minute hike up to the Eternal Flames of the Chimera. These flames issue from natural gas jets in the side of the hill, which will self ignite if put out. These are the flames that inspired the Greek myth of Bellarophon and the Chimera. Ranging in size from small flickers to decent size campfires, they’re quite interesting when you consider they’ve been burning for thousands of years.
Gulets cruising down the coast from Antalya stop at the beach to allow their passengers to wade ashore and visit the ruins or eat at one of the many beachside restaurants.
Since the area is under protection, no permanent construction is allowed (save for treehouses) and as such there is no formal bank in Olympos. Olympos is a small village and has no banks or facilities to obtain cash, so make sure you have enough before you come. However, a mobile satellite-connected cash dispenser run by the Turkish bank of Yapı Kredi is available in a central location between guesthouses, sometimes in summer.
There is an open-air restaurant named Muzo’s on the path to beach, just after the ticket office, where you can have a cheese or spinach Turkish pancake (gözleme) for 5 TL while sitting on traditional Turkish lounges.
There are now plenty of well stocked markets that sell a variety of local and import beers as well as spirits at reasonable prices. Expect a small but not unconscionable markup on city prices.
Minibuses leave to the station on the main road every couple of hours. From there, dolmuşes go towards Antalya and Kaş (15 TL) every 30 minutes. It may be worth asking about buses direct to Fethiye if that is your destination.
There are also gulets that leave from Olympos going to Fethiye generally taking 4 days to get there.
- Adrasan about 4 km away, having been spared (at least for now) from development since the surfaced road does not yet reach there, is the destination of choice for the former frequenters of Olympos who flee the crowds newly arriving to Olympos. It has, however, recently begun suffering from increased development which has accompanied an influx of tourists including families and even one or two tour buses. Accommodation is not particularly cheap (though there are dorm beds available at Jungle Bells for 25TLpp half-board) and the natural scenery is not as impressive as Olympos. It’s still quiet but it’s no Kabak!
- Just off the main road up from Olympos in the direction of Antalya is the village of Ulupinar – great (and cheap) fish restaurants with a view on the mountains and the trout breeding bassins below. Well worth a stop if you have your own transport. Approximate location:http://goo.gl/maps/Oc77G