Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Ephesus is open daily from 8am (£8 admission, plus £6 for the Terraced Houses). The Ephesus Museum is in Selçuk (£2).
Where to eat
Facing the Roman Aqueduct, Sisçi Yasarin is a Selçuk institution, selling the finest köfte (meatballs) around (mains from £4; Atatürk Caddesi).
Where to stay
Nisanyan House: having spent 11 years writing guides to Turkey’s small hotels, Sevan Nisanyan put his knowledge into practice at this hilltop complex. Overlooking the cascade of fairy-tale Ottoman houses in the town of Sirince, the stone buildings feature marble bathrooms, brightly coloured Iznik tiles, raised sleeping salons and writing bureaus (from £45).
Lycian Way: Best for walking
Drive five hours southeast on the D550 and E90 via Mugla and Fethiye.
Of all the ancient civilisations that rose and fell on the Anatolian plateau, the Lycians were the most enigmatic. Aside from being mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as valiant fighters in the Trojan War, little is known about them – their language baffles scholars, and their culture and customs were unlike any other in the region. Their kingdom was the Tekke Peninsula, where cliff tombs and sarcophagi still litter the hills above the Mediterranean.
Meandering past these ruins is one of the world’s most beautiful walks, a 15-mile-long path known as the Lycian Way. It leads along the coast and across the Tekke hinterland, through holiday towns and tiny hill villages, following ancient trails from goat tracks to Roman roads. Above the harbour town of Kalkan, the trail climbs to a yayla (pasture). A line of mountains perfectly encloses the plateau, seemingly protecting the fields and the shepherd dozing under a tree with his flock. A mile further on, Bezirgan is a village with stone Ottoman farmhouses overlooking tidy streets and fruit trees. The trail leads past a line of old-timers on a bench and climbs out of the yayla into wilder countryside, following mule tracks along rocky, mottled ridges.
The Lycian Way offers a precious opportunity to genuinely encounter the landscape and people of this region. Small pleasures dot the rural byways: drinking from wells, breaking for çay (tea) and a chat with an old man in a sapka (flat cap) leaning on his stick in the shade of a wooden hut. Often, the only company for hours on end are goats, which scatter into bushes and onto rocks as you pass.
Eventually the path reaches the edge of the plateau and drops dramatically towards the coastal town of Kas. Far below, terracotta roofs spill down the hillside towards a multicoloured line of masts in the marina, and an anchor-shaped peninsula arcs through the blue. Taking a rest on a rock, Mick Douglas is at the end of a 12-day odyssey along the trail. After camping most nights, the Australian artist says walking the path has brought him a much deeper understanding of this region and its people. ‘I just met a guy tending his cows – they were all over the path. We exchanged bits of English and bits of Turkish, established that we both had a sense of humour, and decided to eat lunch together. That’s what it’s been like throughout the journey. I’ve loved the whole spirit of it.’
The Lycian Way runs between Ovacık, three miles north of Ölüdeniz, and Antalya (trekkinginturkey.com). The Lycian Way (£15.99; Upcountry), by trail founder Kate Clow, describes the route.
Where to eat
Overlooking the beach, Sea Valley Restaurant is popular for a bite. In the kitchen, village ladies roll pastries and bake bread. Seafood dishes and pide (pizza) are also on offer (mains from £5; Kabak).