Uniquely sculpted by the elements over many millennia, Türkiye’s landscape is like something out of a fantasy book. Nowhere else in the world is quite like it.
It isn’t surprising that parts of Türkiye have evolved into outdoor adventure meccas, with a diverse array of outdoor experiences on offer that are as breathtaking as they are exhilarating. From soaring through the air to navigating through canyons and rivers, Türkiye’s wilderness is a playground for the adventurous.
Let’s take a look at the 7 best outdoor adventures in Türkiye. But first, we’ll dive into some general tips for travelling to this incredible country.
When should I visit Turkey?
Is it safe to visit Türkiye?
Since most readers are Australian, I’ll start by saying that SmartTraveller.gov.au’s advice level for Türkiye at the time of writing is “Exercise a high degree of caution”, particularly in the provinces of Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Şanlıurfa. They state that there is a “high threat of terrorist attack”. More seriously, they list Hakkari and Sirnak as “Reconsider your need to travel” and say, “Do not travel” to anywhere within 10 kilometres of the border with Syria.
Despite this, millions of foreign tourists visit Türkiye each year. There is very little violent crime in the country, and you’ll find countless reports online from tourists saying they’ve felt nothing but safe and welcome during their travels.
The most common crime against tourists in Türkiye is pickpocketing. The usual rules apply for avoiding being a victim, but generally, you need to be aware of your surroundings and be smart about where you keep your valuables. There’s nothing worse than preparing to return to your home country after an epic outdoor adventure, only to find yourself faced with the stress of dealing with a lost passport.
The last thing I should mention here is that outdoor adventures obviously pose more risk than your average beach holiday. If you’re taking a guided tour, make sure you book with a reputable company. Even if you’re hiking independently, exercise the same caution you would on the trails in your home country. Being on holiday can make us do stupid things sometimes. Stay safe.
What else do I need to know before visiting Türkiye?
- Entering Türkiye: By all reports, entering the country is a straightforward process. A visa will be required, but for residents of most countries, they can easily be obtained online before your trip.
- Carry cash: While your major debit and credit cards will be accepted in major cities, your outdoor adventures are likely to take you to places that only accept cash.
- Treat (or boil) your water: Tap water quality varies across the country but even in the big cities, locals choose not to drink the tap water to avoid getting sick.
- Drink the tea: In Türkiye, tea is a deeply ingrained symbol of hospitality. If you meet locals or visit their homes, some may even be offended if you turn down their offers of tea. It’s even common for shopkeepers to offer tea to their customers.
Now, let’s get outdoors and explore this fascinating and picturesque country…
Paragliding Over Oludeniz (Fethiye)
Take to the skies from atop Babadağ Mountain on a tandem paragliding adventure. As you soar over the mountain range, you’ll take in unparalleled views of the stunning coastal village of Oludeniz and its famous Blue Lagoon.
As if the Mediterranean coastline isn’t spectacular enough, the Blue Lagoon’s crystal-clear turquoise waters look like something from a postcard, especially from above. To top it all off, you’ll land right on the beach and can take to the water straight away for a swim.
Need to Know
- At the time of writing, Fly Liberty offers one of the most popular paragliding tours.
- Paragliding in Oludeniz is safe and requires no experience.
- The minimum age and weight limit varies with different tour companies, but generally, anyone above the age of 6 and less than 110kg (220lb) can paraglide.
- Wear sturdy shoes. Your tour company will provide all other necessary gear.
- Tours last around 3-4 hours, including the drive to Babadağ Mountain and the 20-40 minute tandem flight.
Canyoning at Koycegiz Lake and Toparlar Waterfall (Marmaris)
Explore stunning canyons, swim in crystal clear pools, and immerse yourself in nature’s waterpark on a guided canyoning tour. This unforgettable adventure in the canyons around Lake Koycegiz is arguably the most fun you can have while exploring the natural beauty of Türkiye.
You’ll swim, slide, jump and climb your way through canyons, finding breathtaking beauty and a new and exciting challenge around every corner. The most exciting part, though, is the experience of abseiling down a waterfall.
Need to Know
- At the time of writing, Ar-Bek Travel offers the most popular Koycegiz canyoning tour.
- This is a full day tour. Allow approximately 9 hours.
- Included: Transfers, insurance, professional guides, helmet and technical gear, drinks, photos and videos, shoes for rent / sale.
- You can head directly to the meeting point in Marmaris or request pickup from central Marmaris and Icmeler Hotels. The tour begins at 07:30 AM and you’ll be dropped back at the meeting point.
- Wear comfortable clothing, swimwear, closed-toed shoes that can get wet. Bring a towel and money for extras.
- Not suitable for people with disabilities, health problems, pregnant women, children under the age of 6, and overweight individuals. Not recommended for travelers with back problems, heart problems, or other serious medical conditions. Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level.
Whitewater raft the Köprülü Canyon
Adrenaline junkies and nature lovers will love the breathtaking, fast-paced journey through Köprülü Canyon.
Originating from the Taurus Mountains, the Köprüçay River rushes through magnificent canyons, ultimately joining the Mediterranean Sea. Its 14-kilometre section between the historic Oluk Bridge and Karabük Bridge is where you’ll navigate some of the river’s class 2 and 3 rapids, surrounded by stunning National Park and catching glimpses of Roman bridges, aqueducts, and other archaeological remains.
It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a day than an adrenaline-filled rafting experience with a side-serving of Türkiye’s rich history and captivating natural beauty.
Need to Know
- You can whitewater raft the Köprülü Canyon with Novaraft.
- Tours only run from April 1st to November 1st.
- Transfers can be arranged from Antalya, Belek, Side, Manavgat, and Alanya.
- The adventure is open to anyone aged 7 years and up. However, keep in mind that whitewater rafting is not for the faint of heart.
- Bring water shoes or runners (flip-flops are not suitable), towels, easy-drying clothes, a change of clothes, and some money for extras. Water shoes can be purchased at the start of the tour.
Whitewater raft the Köprülü Canyon
Ascend into the early morning sky over Cappadocia as the sun begins to rise, slowly illuminating the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Göreme National Park and revealing its fascinating and unique landscape.
This peaceful and surreal adventure offers visitors a harmonious blend of nature and human history. You’ll see deep canyons, fairy chimneys and other peculiar rock formations coming to life in the soft light, slowly revealing the details of ancient cave dwellings and churches carved into the rocky terrain. Ascending higher still, you’ll float over lush vineyards and valleys filled with a patchwork of agricultural fields.
You will have no doubt seen pictures of hot air balloons over Cappadocia before. That’s because this is an incredibly popular experience for visitors to Türkiye, but it’s popular for very good reasons.
Need to Know
- Many tour operators offer hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia. An established online travel agent like Viator is a good place to start.
- Most hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia last about 1 hour, but tours can run for anywhere from 4 hours to multiple days (at the minimum including pickup, preparation, and drop-off).
- Balloon tours run all year round but are subject to safe weather conditions. They run most consistently in the spring and autumn when the weather is at its most cooperative.
- Due to the popularity of this experience, you will need to book ahead.
Zipline over Goynuk Canyon (Kemer)
Traverse a suspension bridge and race at speeds of up to 65 kilometres per hour on two ziplines over the rugged beauty of Göynük Canyon.
The adrenaline-fuelled experience is set 40 metres above the wild and crystal clear Göynük River, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains. At such high speeds, you may not have much chance to enjoy the lush forests of Beydağları Coastal National Park and their striking pine trees. You’ll be glad to know that there’ll be waiting time on the zipline stations where you can take a pause and fully soak up the incredible scenery. Despite the tourism development in the canyon, it remains surprisingly pristine.
Your tour will conclude at a small lake, where you can take a refreshing dip and enjoy a bite to eat (and, of course, tea) at one of the adjacent restaurants and cafes.
Need to Know
- Book your ziplining tour ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
- The ziplining tour requires a moderate level of fitness and agility. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.
- Bring swimsuits, comfortable clothing and comfortable footwear.
- Transfers are not included. A taxi, rental car or bike are the best options to make your way to the canyon.
- You may need cash at the lakeside restaurants and cafes.
Hike The Lycian Way
The 520-kilometre Lycian Way hiking trail in southwestern Türkiye stretches from Hisarönü (near Fethiye) to Aşağı Karaman (in Konyaaltı, about 20 km from Antalya). It’s been called one of the best hiking trails in the world. Anyone who’s been there (or even just seen the photos) can see why.
Named after the ancient civilization that once ruled the region, this long-distance trail visits many historical sites from the Lycian era, providing plenty of opportunities to explore the rich history and culture of the region.
You’ll need to allow about a month to hike The Lycian Way from end to end, but you’ll explore a broad range of Türkiye’s natural wonders, including pristine beaches (the trail hugs the coastline), verdant forests and rugged mountains. Your nights will be spent at a mixture of campsites and accommodations in the villages along the trail – a mix of guest houses and B&Bs.
If you’re not up for such a long hike, it can be hiked independently in sections. Guided tours are also available that take hikers along shorter sections of the trail. Keep in mind that parts of your hike will likely still be quite challenging.
Need to Know
- There is far too much to know about thru-hiking The Lycian Way for me to include in this article, so you’ll need to do your own research.
- If you’d prefer a tour, many guided trekking options are available for hikers with a week or so to spare and can be booked online.
- The trail is usually hiked from west (Fethiye) to east (Antalya) and is best traversed in the spring or autumn when the weather is milder.
- This is a challenging long-distance trail with many steep and rocky sections. Thru-hiking The Lycian Way is only for experienced adventurers.
Have you visited Türkiye? Got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.
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