Patara was once Lycia's principal port. Cosmopolitan in its heyday—Hannibal, St. Paul, and the emperor Hadrian all visited, and St. Nicholas, the man who would be Santa Claus, is said to have been born here—the port eventually silted up. Dunes at the edge of the village are now part of one of Turkey's longest and completely unspoiled sand beaches. From here, too, runs one of the best sections of the Lycian Way, a three- to five-day walk to Ölüdeniz. Thanks to the ruins and the turtles that nest on the beach, new development was banned in the modern village, making it a quiet alternative to the bustle of nearby Kalkan. If you're craving exploration, arrange a horseback riding expedition on the shore with one of the tour operators clustered in the center of town.


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