There’s a particular atmosphere in Kalkan that you really don’t get just anywhere. I’ve felt it, or something like it, in just a few other places I’ve been to. Perhaps not coincidentally, all have been little fishing towns, and most have been somewhere on or near the Mediterranean sea. Collioure, in the south of France has it. The narrow streets of Chania’s old town have it. Rose, a little fishing hamlet in Montenegro has it. Kalkan has it, and in spades.
It’s a kind of low-key bustle... busy, but in a pleasant and manageable way. Sure there are lots of tourists about but in a place like Kalkan, it never feels like 'too much'. It hangs on to its laid-backness, its narrow little streets are always a pleasure to wander, it feels authentic and welcoming. It's one of my new favourite places. Here's how to get the very most out of it...
Kalkan is known for having plenty of high quality, quiet accommodation that's been finished to a high standard. It’s probably going to cost you a little more to stay in Kalkan than some other resorts along the Lycian coast, but for that you get something really special.
I stayed in Korsan Suites; beautiful and quiet self-catering (though with a buffet breakfast included) luxury apartments on the western side of the bay. The suites are perched high up above the coast so the views of the bay from its balconies are genuinely breath-taking. Each one has a jacuzzi pool on its balcony for private use, and there’s beautiful infinity pool for all residents to use too. I honestly could have happily sat in my balcony jacuzzi all day staring out at that view, but of course there were other waters for me to dip my toes in in Kalkan - and on that note...
The crystal clear, perfectly refreshing Mediterranean waters that lap the shores of Kalkan Bay are an absolute pleasure to swim in, and perfectly safe even for little swimmers who might not do well with big waves… the sea here is of the bathtub variety. Kalkan has a gorgeous white pebble beach where you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas, and it’s right beside the town’s promenade so you’re never more than two minutes away from food and refreshments. Kalkan has Beach Clubs too; seven of them, all easily accessible by water taxi. These are perfect places to stretch out on a platform terrace for the afternoon, with sun loungers, watersports, restaurant facilities and easy access to that sparkling sea.
If it’s more beach you want, you can have more beaches. You can have two, in fact. The first is called Kaputas, and its white sands and strikingly blue waters can be reached within just 10 minutes’ drive from Kalkan (buses run daily between Kas and Kalkan, and stop off at Kaputas beach along the way). Its tucked away at the bottom of a huge gorge, flanked by golden cliffs and accessible via a fairly long flight of steps. As far as beaches go, this one is the epitome of ‘small but perfectly formed’ – stunning, soft white sands and the kind of water that looks as though someone has put a beauty filter on it. There are waves here too, sometimes big ones.
A much larger beach is the 12km stretch of sand at Patara, 20 minutes from Kalkan. Patara beach is superb, wilder than you might expect of a Mediterranean strand and – being part of a carefully protected national park – it’s beautifully untouched by the hand of mass tourism. There are no jet skis or banana boats here; no parasailing or party boats. The beach is a nesting site for loggerhead turtles so it closes to the public at night to allow them make their way up onto the sand to lay their eggs. The sea here stays shallow for age and with a few nice waves it's a joy to swim in (though it can be a little wild, so check conditions and take care)! It even has its own ancient ruins for you to explore, though they're not the only ones you can visit in and around Kalkan...
It's no mean feat to drag yourself away from the turquoise shores of Turkey's Lycian coast, but drag yourself away you should. You see, the reason it's called the Lycian coast is that it used to be Lycia, an region that existed from ancient Egyptian times (Early Aegean civilisation) right through to the Byzantine era. and that means that there are loads of extremely cool ancient remains for you to explore in the area.
Don't miss Xanthos, which was the capital of Lycia at one time and is now a free-to-visit archaeological treasure trove that you can wander around without feeling like you're even at a 'tourist attraction'. It's quiet, and untouched, and you really get a chance to feel the history and see how the architecture of the city changed throughout the ages.
Close to Xanthos is Tlos, an ancient Lycian citadel that was inhabited from over 4000 years ago and is one of the largest and longest lasting Lycian settlements. Here you'll find some incredible Lycian rock tombs carved into the hill's rock face, as well as a Roman theatre, a stadium and agora, a two-story market, baths, a church and numerous sarcophagi.
Unlimited Holidays run great day tours from Kalkan to these ancient sites as well as to the beaches, and of course the famous Saklikent Gorge.
Saklikent Gorge is one of the world’s deepest canyons, and around 4 of its 18 kilometres are walkable once April temperatures have melted away the last of the snow from the Taurus mountains and the water level is safe and stable. It’s a beautiful place with turquoise waters, lots of cafés and restaurants at the mouth of the gorge, and even ziplining and rafting if you’re feeling adventurous. Bring rubber shoes if you have them, otherwise you can rent them there!
Seafood is the order of the day here, as you might well expect from a fishing village on the Mediterranean. I ate so well here - fresh fish and Turkish meze is an extremely winning combination, and its all relatively healthy to boot.
There are so many great restaurants in Kalkan that you’re really spoiled for choice of where to eat, but if I have to choose one, it’s tough to top the Fish Terrace restaurant for food, atmosphere, and setting.
I arrived just before sunset as the sky was deepening to an inky blue, and the views from the terrace as night fell over Kalkan were just beautiful. The terrace is always busy so if you want a table (particularly one with a great view), it's worth calling in advance. The food here is fantastic, and great value for what's put in front of you. Have dinner here at least once during your stay in Kalkan.
Flights to Dalaman
- Dee Murray