For leisurely cyclists, this trip can be completed in just over 8 days of cycling, at around 60km per day. If you’ve got a stricter schedule, it’s possible to skip a few of the smaller places and reduce the time by a few days very easily.
Route: Antalya > Side > Alanya > Gazipasa > Anamur > Aydincik > Silifke > Erdemli > Adana
The starting point for this route is Antalya, which you can reach by flight from Izmir or Istanbul if you’re heading over from the west. This city is situated at the slopes of Taurus Mountains, and is part of the Turkish Riviera.
Before you set off, be sure to check out the Aspendos ruins and theatre, which is a giant Roman amphitheatre. Although it’s called ‘ruins’, this site is still in use today and you can still watch performances (although nowadays it’s just of the play variety, and not the gladiator kind).
To begin, get yourself on the D400 heading east.
Cycling along the dreaded D400 road (which in areas is infinitely more arresting than often stated), the journey from Atlanya to Side is around 70 kilometres. Fuel stations along the way are plentiful, so you’ll never be short of a water stop. Food prices at these stations can be astronomical however, so best to stock up from small grocery stores in the villages en route. Serik is one particularly convenient stop off point on this part of the journey. If you’d prefer to see more of the coast on this part of the trip instead of the highway (which is mainly surrounding by farmland), head towards Belek, and then cycle along the road named ‘Turizm’, until you pass the golf club and then swing left (sorry!) and go straight until you’re back on the D400. You’d need an extra day for this detour but Belek is quite a popular resort with a lot to do.
Once you’ve reached Side you’ll understand why tourists flock here in their thousands; it’s a fantastic classical city with lots of ruins, combined with new architecture. The two main attractions are the temple of Apollo on the beach and the Antique Theatre. There are enough hotels that you won’t have to book in advance. (We stayed at Lale Park hotel, which was very comfortable and only a short walk from these attractions). Stock up on some pomegranate juice (side = pomegranate!) and you’re off.
The next stopping point on this trip is Alanya, and fortunately at this point the highway becomes a slightly more attractive option, running parallel to the Med and offering fantastic views (remember to keep your eyes on the road for dodgy truck drivers!). The town of Avsallar makes a good midway stop off point on this 65km ride.
Alanya is mostly a beach resort, but has some of the most fantastic and memorable ruins in the whole of the country. The walls of the fairy-tale-esque Alanya Castle crawl up from the sea to the top of the hill and offers great views from the top, with barracks and defence towers behind the castle. If you’re planning to take a break for a few days, this would be the area to do it; there are more than enough activities to keep you entertained. If you don’t like nightclub scenes, however, don’t go out after dark!
The best sites to see and places to stop off – without the expense of a tour company
A shorter 45km journey will bring you to Gazipasa. There are some twists and turns in the road, and you’ll need to be careful as the road start to get a little narrower and people appear to never have seen a cyclist before, but it’s definitely doable and the road surface is quite good.
The town is very small, rural and not particularly touristy, so you might want to book hotels in advance. We stayed at the Delfin because it was easy to book online in advance. (The hotel owner was also incredibly nice).
If you prefer not to book in advance, camping, local fields should be ok if you ask permission, or even the fuel stations will generally let you kip over the night, in well-tended fields!
The backdrop of this town is brimming with banana groves and mountains. The town is very close to the beach so you can cycle down in the evening and watch the sun set, (as there’s not much else to do). This stop off is great for seeing a calmer side of Turkey.
Anamur is around another 60km from Gazipasa. This part of the journey is a little trickier – the road conditions worsen in areas and there are a lot more hairpin turns on tighter roads. There are some small hills, so leave plenty of time for this stretch.
If you’re visiting in spring there’s an incredible opportunity to see a rare natural phenomenon when thousands of turtles hatch in the sand. Across the dazzling blue beach you’ll be able to see as far as Cyprus, the birthplace of Aphrodite. There are also quite a few castles (such as Mamure Castle) and ruins in the area for exploring if you feel like stopping off here.
From Anamur onwards, the roads are still a little troublesome. This 85km stretch is full of twists and turns –so if you like an adrenaline rush, here’s where it gets more exciting. This is quite an idyllic spot, with crystal clear waters and friendly locals. Again, best to book hotels in advance here because it’s not so tourist-heavy.
The next part of the trip has you cycling inland (still on the D400, so there’s no chances of getting lost). Silifke is filled with historical sites, and although you may have had your fill of castles by now, you definitely have to make a special visit to Silifke Castle. If you want to stop overnight here before heading on, stay in Tasucu.
The final stop on this trip is 45km further on the D400, which again runs right along the coast so you’ll be afforded fantastic views the entire way. The mountainous backdrop on the other side is also fantastic, and is covered in lush forests. This is a very rural district, which is often best for travelling as you’ll find the locals invite you in for tea and treats more often than you’re even willing to accept.
From here, you can cycle on to Adana airport where you can catch a domestic flight to any of the international airports around the country, (about 130km onwards) or catch public transport.
Overall, this is a fantastic way to see Turkey on a budget. People are very friendly and always willing to help out or offer a place to stay, and if you’re really stuck for accommodation, the weather is good enough to pitch up tents along the roadside. The most important thing to remember during the trip is not to get intimidated by drivers on the road. Generally people in cars are very accommodating and it will just be the big fish who don’t want to slow down!
Best time to visit is April, May, September and October – you don’t want to overheat and stop due to sunstroke when you’re planning on cycling 60km per day. This time of year also means hotel prices will be much cheaper than in the far busier summer season.