Is there a better way to explore a country and feel its soul than hike it through the most remote and pristine gateways, spotted with small but indigenous settlements rather than multicultural cities? So check out the network of trails available, take your GPS, hiking equipment, some proviant, and a handful of adventurous enthusiasm, and you're ready to hit the road. Don't worry, when you need some help, you can always rely on friendly locals.
Turkey features a good deal of short- and long-distance routes. The most popular ones that usually appear in the top hiking trails lists include Lycian Way, Independence Trail, St Paul Trail, the Kaçkar Trails, Yenice Forest Trail, and Evliya Çelebi Way.
Lycian Way is the favourite of many hikers. It stretches for 509 kilometres along the southern coast of Turkey starting from Fethiye to Antalya and involves trekking along the most scenic beaches of the Mediterranean, as well as climbing Mt Olympos, and some ancient sites, in particular, the ruins of hidden Lycian cities.
Independence Trail or Istiklal in Turkish winds on the opposite side of the country—along the Black Sea beach. In 1919 during Turkey's War of Independence, its relatively short route from Inebolu to Kastamonu was trekked by liberating army,–hence comes the name.
St Paul Trail is a difficult one, stretching for 500 kilometres from Aspendos or Perge to Yalvaç across the remote Taurus Mountains and Yazili Canyon Nature Park. 32 of Kaçkar Trails are naturally found in the Kaçkar Mountains and are even more challenging than St Paul Trail. Along with high mountains reaching almost 4,000, the trail is famous for tenth-century Georgian churches, and rich wildlife encounters, so don't panic if you spot a bear, an ibex, or a wolf.
Evliya Çelebi Way is the oldest and longest route stretching for 1200 kilometres from Istanbul to the historic city of Kütahya, and Yenice Forest Trail—on the contrary, the latest and shortest wandering for only 396 kilometres that might be covered in 21 alternative routes. Its main highlight is the historic town of Safranbolu, named so for being the centre of the saffron crocus harvesting.
Generally, the best season for hiking in Turkey is spring, and autumn, for summer is often uncomfortably hot. The best months are April to June, and also October. However, every trail has slightly different recommended season. According to guidebooks, Independence Trail is best to trek in March through October, and so is Yenice Forest Trail. Whereas the best season for hiking St Paul Trail is April to July and September to November, and July through September is indicated to be the best time for the Kaçkar Trails.