Olympos On a Budget
SightsThe Ancient Ruins of Olympos are by far the most popular sight here. It is a marvelous collection of ancient ruins dotted along the jagged coastline. The ruins of the ancient city of Olympos, enshrouded in dense vegetation, have received little excavation and, as a result, are wonderfully atmospheric. Their location next to a river and the shade provided by the surrounding tall firs, flowering oleander bushes, and a mountain gorge means they are also delightfully cool in summer, the perfect time to explore. Many tombs are scattered around the ancient city, which is reached by two parallel paths that continue down to the beach. In the center of the northern half of the site is the large cathedral complex, once the main temple, which includes a much-photographed 18-foot-high gate.
Other ruins and attractions in the area include the ancient city of Phaselis and the burning flames of Chimera. All these are situated with the National Protected Park of Beydaglari that provides many opportunities for nature lovers in the theme of hiking, bird watching and the impressive view from Mount Tahtali. The Antalya museum in the city center also displays ancient artifacts from Olympus.
The Chimera, the eternal flames on a rocky mountainside above Cirali village near Olympos, Turkey, is a fascinating natural phenomenon: about a dozen flames issue from a mass of rock with no apparent fuel to sustain them. The flames are burning a sort of methane gas that has been venting from the earth on this rocky slope for thousands of years. The flames are most dramatic at night, and luckily the forested park is open 24 hours a day, allowing visitors to hike the 2 miles uphill along a rough stone path to the Chimera anytime.
Olympos itself mostly consists of the ruins and beach area. Olympos is very famous for the "treehouses" and offers a bit of a different lifestyle. It tends to cater to younger crowd, including backpackers, students, and budget accommodations. In Olympos there are more bars and discos, where as Cirali caters to a quieter crowd with only a few local bars playing live Turkish music.
A short walk down the beach from Olympos, or a longer drive around the mountain, is the town of Cirali. It is quiet and peaceful village perfect for families, nature lovers and for those wishing to get away from the mass touristic cities or towns. The beach on this side is usually more quiet and calm, and there are more modern facilities than those in Olympos.
ActivitiesThe Olympos beach is a spectacular adventure in itself. This 3-mile sweep of beach, with a line of fir trees behind it and a surrounding amphitheater of mountains (including the 8,000-foot peak of Mt. Olympos) is one of the wonders of Turkey. The surface here consists mostly of smooth white and multicolor pebbles mixed with some light gray sand, so prepare to recline on a lounger rather than a beach towel.
Most people come to relax and swim at the beach that fronts the ruins, but there are also numerous activities available from agencies and camps in Olympos, including boat cruises, canyoning, sea kayaking, paragliding, diving, mountain-biking trips, and rock climbing.
Food and DiningTurkish cuisine is one of the richest cuisines of the world. Olympos, as part of Antalya, enjoys an authentic cuisine which is a wonderful blend of the Arabic and Mediterranean influences. Fresh vegetables grow on the shoreline in some areas, but wheat and corn are most common. One can find all the cuisines of the world in Antalya hotels and restaurants. But some of the special foods of the region include: sac kavurma (meat), Tandir kebab(meat), Kolle (cooked by mixing different types of corn and fruit sprinkles - sugar added), and Tomato cive (cooked with tomato and wheat).
TransportationThe best prices for buses and trains in Turkey can be found on Omio (formerly GoEuro). They let you search across all train, bus, and plane routes throughout Europe.
Antalay has its own airport, so you can fly in there to reach Olympos. Olympos is about 50-60 km south of Antalya. The nearest major towns are Kumluca to the south and Kemer to the north of Olympos. There are minibuses from Antalya's otogar (main station for intercity buses) as well as buses from Antalya to Kas, which stop at the junction on upland section of the main coastal highway of the region, which is about 10 km away from Olympos. From there a dolmus, which depart fairly frequent, can be take you the rest of the way. If you prefer more flexibility, you can also reach Olympos by rental car.