Recent,  Turkey

Visiting Tlos Ancient City and Saklikent Canyon | Daytrip from Kalkan or Fethiye

For a fantastic daytrip from Fethiye or Kalkan, I recommend Tlos Ancient city and Saklikent National Park. After spending one month living in the western part of Antalya region, we visited many ancient sites in the region and Tlos is definitely our favourite and one of our top things to do near Kalkan. Conveniently, there are a number of other attractions in the neighbouring Saklikent National Park, including Saklikent Gorge, one of the deepest in Europe. We visited in February; winter is a great time to visit both of these destinations as there are no crowds at this time of year.

“A grander site for a great city could scarcely have been selected in all Lycia.”

Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt – describing Tlos.

Visiting the Ancient City of Tlos

About Tlos

In Tlos, as with other ancient cities nearby, the original residents were the Lycians. The site was further developed when under control of the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Excavation works started quite late at Tlos. According to information on site, regular work on started in 2005. That being considered, there’s already so much to see.

I personally find every ancient site fills me with awe at what humans managed to achieve before modern technology. However, Tlos is a particularly beautiful and awe-striking site. In the words of explorer Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt (what a name! Quotation stole from Wikipedia…) “a grander site for a great city could scarcely have been selected in all Lycia.”.

On arrival, the first thing that you notice is the rocky Acropolis, positioned intimidatingly above the main road. The whole rock face is honeycombed with ancient Lycian rock tombs.

Myths and Legends

Legend has it that Tlos was the residence of Bellopheron. If you don’t know him, perhaps you’ve heard of Pegasus, the winged horse? Well, Bellopheron was the guy who rode Pegasus to defeat the fire-breathing lion/goat/dragon – and of course, female – Chimera. If you look hard enough, you may find a carving of Bellopheron and Pegasus in one of the tombs…

Key Things to See in Tlos

The summit of the Acropolis gives you a chance to observe the whole site. On one side, stunning views of the surrounding region. On the other, the rest of the city. The large rectangular shape is the remains of the stadium and a large pool, which was supposed for bathing and ritual activities. Other building lie beyond, including baths, a church, the temple of Kronos and of course, an Amphitheatre.

The remains of the bath house gave me serious bath-envy. It’s the grandest bath-house I’ve ever seen: a stunningly high building with seven enormous windows looking out onto the valley below. The residents of Tlos were seriously lucky!

The Amphitheatre was undergoing work whilst we were there – great to see! According to the Turkish paper, the Daily Sabah, it should be finished by October 2024, and ready to host events.

Don’t Miss…

The other notable thing that we loved about the site were the remains of some beautiful carvings. Considerable time has been spent rescuing hundreds of pieces of intricately carved stonework, laying them out for what I hope will eventually be reconstruction. We enjoyed walking down the aisles of stone and finding our favourite pieces.

Essential Information for Visiting Tlos Ancient City

Entry Price for Tlos Ancient City (2024)

60 TL per person (February 2024) – which is currently about 1.80 EUR (rampant inflation changes prices frequently though). Bring cash.

Are there Food and Drinks available?

Yes – there’s a cafe which was open even in February, so presumably all year round. We were offered koefte, salad and fries which was all very good.

How to get there?

Tlos is located in a popular tourist region near to the Saklikent national park. The nearest city is Fethiye which is about 35 minutes drive away. We drove with our hire car. There’s no real parking space but you can just park on the side of the road. The other option is to take a taxi or find a tour that will get you there (we didn’t see any arriving in winter though).

An Unexpected Diversion

After Tlos, we set off for the second item on the itinerary: visiting Saklikent Gorge. This is conveniently situated on the way back toward Kalkan albeit on the more scenic route.

Before reaching our destination, we came across an old lady walking on the side of the road who flagged us down, appearing to want a lift.

We couldn’t understand anything she was saying but she gestured some directions. We arrived at the house of a few old women, also speaking no English. The old lady indicated that she wanted to get back in the car shortly and then returned with some cake. Off we went again… and then the directions got a bit more confusing…

She took us back to the old women’s house but still told us she wanted to get back in the car. We didn’t want to just leave her and still couldn’t understand what was going on, so called a Turkish friend to help us translate.

The other women in the house told us that the old lady lives in Yeşilköy, which was on our way home. We decided, that, as the old woman was clearly confused and had no obvious was of getting home, we’d just set off back with her.

Unfortunately, the Situation Deteriorated…

We hadn’t long left the women’s house for the second time when she started getting distressed, calling for Allah and seemed to be in a lot of pain. We really didn’t know what to do – she seemed like she wanted to get out of the car so we pulled over.

We offered her a doctor, hospital, mosque… in the end we called the emergency services. The ambulance said she had some psychiatric problem and transferred us to the police. The police said they would come and help. We tried to get the old lady back in the car and explained the police were coming to help her – at this point she bolted up a hill, cross-country, at a surprising speed for an old woman. We didn’t think she’d get too far and didn’t want to chase after her.

With our Turkish friend translating for us, when the police got there, we explained to them what had happened. However, she’d gone much further than we’d thought and was nowhere to be seen.

We thought she’d probably run back to the house with the women, so took the police there. Unfortunately, she either hadn’t gone there or hadn’t made it back yet but the police were able to speak to the women and get some more details. Fortunately, we’d even taken a photo together before, so they knew who they were looking for! The police were really good; we hope they find her and manage to get her to some relatives.

Saklikent Gorge

After that rather stressful experience, we still even had time to visit Saklikent Gorge! Fortunately, the walk wasn’t anywhere near as long as I thought – just a quick five minutes – so there was still daylight left to admire one of the deepest gorges in Europe.

There is a well-maintained walkway along the gorge, allowing you to admire the steep sides of the rock. At the end of the walkway is an island with seating and even trees growing. The water is crystal clear and you can see it coming straight out of the mountain. It’s a beautiful place to visit and well worth adding to your travel plan!

Essential Information for Visiting Saklikent Gorge

Entry Price for Saklikent Gorge

We paid 30 TL or 2 for 50 😀 in February 2024 – which is currently about 1.50 EUR.

Visiting time for Saklikent Gorge

To see the gorge itself, I would recommend around 30 minutes, or longer if you bring something to eat and drink.

How to Get There

Saklikent Gorge is located about 30 minutes from Fethiye and 1 hour from Kalkan. We drove and parked our car in their car park. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or find a tour.

Visiting Saklikent Gorge in Winter

It’s not possible to visit the gorge in the case of heavy rain due to safety concerns. Activities like rafting or climbing are not available in winter, you can just enjoy the view. There didn’t seem to be an open cafe or shop on site which I’m sure would be different in summer.

Tlos and Saklikent are great activities for a winter trip to Turkey and I really enjoyed visiting them. Did you find this post useful? Let me know in the comments or write to me on Facebook (Hopelessly Nomantic), Instagram (Hopelessly_Nomantic) or Twitter (HopelesNomantic). Happy Travels!

Looking For More Turkey Inspiration?

Take a look at my other posts for more travels through Anatolia in Winter.

For other tips on avoiding European Winter – check out my Morocco Posts.

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