Frigid. Exhilarating. Magical. Frightening.
It took us almost six years of living in Antalya, but we finally conquered the Mount Olympos Teleferik, the cable car in Kemer that takes you up 2,365 meters/7,759 feet. Read on to learn more about Mount Olympos and our family’s experience, as well as some insider tips to make your visit better.
History of Mount Olympos
In Homer’s The Odyssey, Mount Olympos was the mythical home of all 12 ancient Greek gods. Most historians and geographers agree the peak that inspired this mythical place is the real life Mount Olympus in Greece because it is the tallest mountain in all of the areas settled by Ancient Greece. However, in the Greek world, there were multiple peaks given the name Olympos, including the one found in Kemer which was close to the Lycian cities of Phaselis and Olympos.
Part of the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey, Mount Olympos is known as Tahtalı Dağı in Turkish. This most likely means mountain “with throne,” referring to Olympos as the throne of the gods.
What’s there today?
A 10-12 minute drive from the entrance gate through Beydağları National Coast Park takes you up a windy, but plenty wide and smoothly paved, road to the bottom station. Two parking lots and a large space for tour buses to unload can be found there. You will also see free public restrooms, a ticketing counter, a small Shakespeare Café with only a few drinks and snacks priced in dollars and euro, a small indoor waiting area, and a larger outdoor seating area overlooking the mountain. The view from the bottom station is beautiful and the café area provides a lovely space to sit and enjoy your wait for the cable car to depart.
Opened in June of 2007, the Olympos Teleferik is run by a Turkish-Swiss cooperation and has one cable car line that runs from a bottom station to the summit. There are two cable cars that each hold up to 80 people that alternate going up and down the line every half hour. During the quick ride up, the cars pass over four cable car towers with a max speed of 10 meters/second (36km/hour), which covers the 1,639 meter height difference in 10 minutes.
Up above the trees, and eventually the clouds, lies the summit station. There you will find a small gift shop (with pretty pricey gifts), a larger Shakespeare Café with a bigger menu, and a look-out rooftop terrace that shouldn’t be missed. Outside of the station you can wander around a little bit on both sides, but in the winter, not too much because it is literally the peak of a mountain and the sides drop off fairly quickly. There are fences enclosing the look-out areas, except for the launching point for para-gliders.
From May to October you can book a tandem para-gliding experience in advance. We have not gotten to do this yet, but we have heard from friends it is a magnificent ride for thrill-seekers.
During warmer months, there are also opportunities for hiking on various trails, as well as special sunrise and sunset rides up the mountain.
We visited on a fairly warm (down below) December afternoon. Luckily, we brought coats, gloves and stocking caps, because it was at least 15 degrees (Celsius) colder at the top. Fortunately for us, we somehow managed to time our arrival around a large tour bus. We must have just missed the cable car when we arrived, because we ended up waiting at the bottom station for around 25 minutes. But, it worked to our advantage because we ended up with only six other people in our car (including the cable car operator) on the way up and down. The cable car that emptied before we rode up was crammed full, as was the car that came after we got to the top. Lucky us!
It was a fairly cloudy day, so the majority of our ride to the top was through the clouds, which gave the entire experience an other-worldly, ethereal feel. After about two minutes of trees and foliage, all of the sudden our cable car was engulfed in white nothing-ness and we couldn’t see a thing outside of the car. This might be frightening for some, but it heightened our excitement, and then our kids went even crazier when in the last couple of minutes we emerged above the clouds to bright sunshine and blue brilliance! It was quite magical!
We quickly hit the free restrooms in the basement of the station (which we returned to again later because the water in the sink was deliciously warm and it was FREEZING outside) and were grateful they were clean and well-stocked. Then we made the trek all the way up to the roof for one of the most spectacular views we have seen in Turkey. It really was breath-taking -literally, from the arctic wind whipping all around us- and figuratively, since we were above the clouds. Despite the crazy cold, we were so grateful we finally got to experience Mount Olympos on such an incredible day.
Our time outside of the summit station was limited because of the cold, but the kids did enjoy throwing a little bit of icy snow around. And, our Panamanian friend enjoyed her first ever experience with snow in real life! We thought about getting a drink at the Shakespeare Cafe at the top, but the service was not that friendly and the prices, again, were exorbitantly high. Knowing that there was a big tour group that had just gotten to the top and would probably not be going back down right away on the car they just got off, we decided to head back down in the empty car.
The trip down was just like the trip up and mostly surrounded by clouds, except for the first and the last two minutes. It seemed to go much faster on the way down! We are told that on a cloudless day you can see the beach of Olympos as well as the ancient ruins of Phaselis. We, of course, couldn’t see any of this.
- Try to avoid tour groups if you can. We have not been in the summer time, but we can only imagine how much more crowded it probably is. The cable cars supposedly hold 80 people, but it is difficult for us to imagine squeezing that many people into that space. It might be a bit claustrophobic if you cannot see out of the windows clearly.
- Speaking of, if you have people who are naturally more inclined to claustrophobia, we recommend waiting until it is a clear, sunny day. Not being able to see anything outside the car while soaring through the clouds could create great stress for some people.
- On the contrary, if you have people with you who are scared of heights, a cloudy day might be a better experience for them because you cannot see how high you are climbing. We had no idea what was below us for the majority of the climb, which might have been less scary than if we could actually see how high up we were.
- Be prepared for the car to jolt and bump a bit when you pass the four cable towers. It is expected and normal.
- Also expect the car to blow back and forth a little on windy days. It was not terrible the day we went, but we felt it a little, and the cable car operator said it can get a little bumpy on really windy days. (He also said that the teleferik shuts down if it gets too windy for obvious safety reasons, so rest assured they pay attention to those kinds of things.)
- If you go in the winter time, be sure to bring a warm coat, gloves, a stocking cap, and maybe even a scarf.
- If you go in the warmer months, be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a sunhat. There is nothing up there to protect you from the sun’s rays.
- If you drive, we suggest parking in the lot on the back side of the station. It is bigger and you don’t have to drive up hill to exit.
- The road up to the bottom station is not treacherous or scary. It is definitely a climb with turns, but it is not super steep or dangerously windy. The road is nice and wide so that large tour buses can pass through in both directions easily.
- There are clean bathrooms at the bottom station and at the summit station.
- We recommend not purchasing food or drinks at the Shakespeare at either the top or the bottom. The prices were insanely expensive and in dollars and euros, which is never going to be a completely fair deal.
- There is a discounted price for foreign residents with a Turkish ID card. Be sure to bring ID cards for each person to show at the ticket counter, or you might have to pay tourist prices.
- It is not necessary to purchase tickets ahead of time in the winter time, but it might be recommended during high tourism season. We did not find any discounted tickets online at the time we went.
- In the warmer months, you can paraglide from the summit. Be sure to book in advance if it is something you want to do.
- The last run of the cable car to the top departs an hour before the teleferik closes. Plan accordingly. We recommend at least a half an hour at the top. On warmer days when you can watch people paraglide, you might want to stay longer.
- The teleferik does close for a couple of weeks out of the year for maintenance. Be sure to check the website before visiting to make sure it is open.
- After your trip up Mount Olympos, if you are hungry, be sure to stop at one of the roadside gözleme stands on the way back into Antalya. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
How to Get There
The entrance to Mount Olympos Teleferik is just past Çamyuva in Kemer, around 60 kilometers west of Antalya city center.
If you are driving, be sure not to take the new tunnel once you get past Çamyuva. You will want to follow the signs for Mount Olympos. Enter the gate for free and wind up to the bottom station. There is plenty of free parking available.
If you want to take public transportation, get to the 5M-Migros shopping center on any of these buses: KC71, KM71, KC71A, 504, 504A, 600A, TK92, KL08, UC11, UC11A, TK36, DK38, VC57 and VC59. At 5M – Migros, look for an intercity bus heading to Tekirova and then get off at the Mount Olympos entrance gate on the main road.
Address: Tekirova, Kumluca Kemer Yolu, Tahtalı Teleferiği Yolu No: 2, 07995 Kemer/Antalya
Telephone: +90 541 814 30 21
Hours: Varies seasonally- check the website for current hours; and remember the last car leaves one hour before the park closes