Is Xanthos, Turkey worth a visit?

A while back, we told you to forget about UNESCO in our post about Tlos. In that same post, we mentioned Xanthos as a UNESCO World Heritage site and also part of the Lycian league. Now, it wouldn’t be fair to claim you can forget about UNESCO without actually showing you what you would miss out on if you did. After all, who are we to tell you what to do? Objectivity demands we let you decide if you want to visit Xanthos or not. 🙂 And the best way to do that is to show you what to expect when visiting Xanthos.

Click to see Xanthos on a map
Theatre Entrance Gate

Theatre Entrance Gate

Xanthos: of great historical importance

One of the main reasons Xanthos was one of Turkey’s first sites ever inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list is the historical importance of the site. The site became famous after being discovered in 1842 by the Brit Charles Fellows who needed barely two months to strip it and ship its most significant artifacts to the British Museum.

Still, even today, there are enough attractive remains to admire in Xanthos, such as the theatre, the Pillar Tomb, the Harpy Tomb, or the Xanthian Obelisk. The Harpy Tomb has beautiful marble reliefs at the top depicting sirens carrying off the dead’s soul. Casts replace the original marbles which are exposed at the British Museum. The Pillar Tomb right next to it combines two tombs: a pillar tomb and a Lycian sarcophagus, and is a unique type of tomb you won’t see anywhere else in Lycia.

Harpy Tomb & Pillar Tomb

Harpy Tomb & Pillar Tomb

The showpiece at Xanthos was undoubtedly the Nereid Monument, now exposed at the British Museum.

British Museum (6424664627)

A magnificent Necropolis

Almost all Lycian sites have a Necropolis; you can see some beautiful examples at Sidyma, Tlos, or Pınara. Xanthos is no different, and we found it to be small but lovely. If you ask us, it is the most intriguing place on the whole archaeological site. Visiting the Necropolis involves climbing and getting off the path, but it is worth it. The Lycian sarcophagi, pillar tomb, and rock tombs are nestled amongst greenery and olive trees and well preserved.

Necropolis Pillar & Rock Tombs

Necropolis Pillar & Rock Tombs

To go or not to go?

Looking at these pictures, one can’t find a reason not to visit Xanthos. And in all honesty, if you are driving by or going to nearby Patara or Letoon, it is worth stopping here. So yes, try and find the time to visit Xanthos. But if you need to make choices on which sites to visit, look beyond the Unesco list.

Xanthos may be significant in terms of the discoveries made there, but it has lost a bit of its magic over time, if you ask us. Not only because of the shipment to the British Museum but because of its setting. The Xanthos Valley is a fertile land, and while the site overlooked a green valley many years ago, greenhouses replaced nature. Almost every second of your visit, you are looking at a sea of greenhouses.

Xanthos Greenhouses

Xanthos Greenhouses

The sight may not disturb you, but we prefer the scenery of Tlos at any time. If you have the time, visit both; if you can only pick one, our favorite is Tlos. It is impressive, in every sense. Read all about Tlos here. Visiting an ancient site should be an immersive experience, and Xanthos has lost that immersive feel due to its surroundings. Still, it is an amazing site, despite the greenhouses surrounding it, and even though the famous mosaic floor from the church is no longer visible after it has been covered to protect it.

Practical information to visit Xanthos, Turkey

Xanthos is situated in the village of Kınık, just off the D400 connecting Fethiye to Kalkan. Access to the site is well way-marked. There is an entrance fee to be paid. It is common to visit both Xanthos and Letoon, its so-called sister-site only 5km further down the Eşen Çayı river in Kumluova. Please note that a ticket to one site does not give you access to the other.

Click on the link below for current ticket prices and opening times or read what other travelers have to say about it on TripAdvisor.

✔️ Have you been to Xanthos? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the site to your bucket list.

Xanthos is about 30 minutes by car from Kalkan, so staying at Villa Rudi in authentic Islamlar is a great option. We loved every minute of our stay!

Click to see more places to stay near Xanthos on a map

Also read our Turkey Travel resources page, containing essential information about traveling to Turkey, including links to the E-visa website and much more.

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

LISTS & REVIEWS

Bookmark your favorite places, find other destinations nearby, get directions from your location, and read or leave reviews.

Our Turkey Trip Planner wad designed to do just that. You'll find all our favorite spots in one place, including scenic road stops.

Map of Turkey

Do you like to see things on a map? On our interactive tourist map of Turkey, you'll spot nearby points of interest right away. We've done the heavy lifting for you. Just click on the icons to go to each post.

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Is Xanthos, Turkey worth a visit?