With its colourful bougainvillea flowers and atmospheric cobbled streets, Kalkan is undeniably charming. Tourism and improved infrastructure has brought more visitors here over the years and the town has grown, with a number of people buying Kalkan properties as holiday homes, but the Mediterranean seaside destination has managed to retain its old Turkish charm.
Here’s why we love Kalkan.
1. Dining out is spectacular
Kalkan’s narrow, winding streets that run up from the waterfront mean there’s limited space for waterfront dining. However, ingenious restaurateurs hit upon the idea of offering rooftop dining, allowing diners to enjoy sea views - and spectacular sunset vistas - while dining on some of the best food on the coastline. Kalkan’s chefs pride themselves on offering locally-sourced ingredients, including seafood and lamb. Dining in Kalkan is unforgettably romantic.
2. It’s close to Turkey’s longest sandy beach
A short drive or dolmus ride takes you to Patara Beach, where you’ll find 18 kilometres of golden sand. You might even find you have the beach to yourself - Patara Beach is protected and there is very little development here. There are a few spots where you’ll find sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, as well as a few basic facilities and cafes. You can also visit the ancient ruins of the Lycian city that once stood here - where it’s thought St Nicholas was born.
3. Its rarified atmosphere
Kalkan’s quiet cobbled streets and stylish homes engender an atmosphere of genteel charm. You won’t find stag parties, drunken antics or bass-pumping nightclubs in this Mediterranean haunt, just quaint cafes, shops and restaurants housed in old Ottoman-Greek buildings, with carved timber balconies hanging with wreaths of flowers. Although tourism has transformed many Turkish centres, Kalkan, being a little further away from the airport, has escaped overdevelopment.
4. Its beach clubs are superb
What Kalkan town itself lacks a sandy beach, it makes up for with its fantastic beach clubs. There are seven beach clubs scattered along the shoreline, with beach platforms hewn from the rock that allow guests to recline on sunbeds next to the water, or gain easy access to the sea. Some have off-shore pontoons within easy swimming distance. For a small fee you can rent a sunbed and an umbrella for the day. Food and drink is extra. You can also hire equipment like snorkels, pedaloes and kayaks and arrange to go jetskiing or waterskiing. A number of beach clubs provide free water taxis from the jetty throughout the day.
5. Its within easy distance to some pretty amazing ruins
If you’d like to learn a little more about the ancient history of the area where you’re staying, you’re well placed in Kalkan. A short drive takes you to the Lycian cities of Xanthos, Letoon and Tlos. The remarkable Xanthos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its tombs and its Harpy column tomb, as well as its second century AD amphitheatre and recently excavated street. Dominated by its acropolis, Tlos is on the eastern side of the Xanthos valley and can be combined with a stop at Patara Beach. Check out the ancient stadium and the Tomb of Bellerophon. Letoon was Lycia’s sacred cult centre and is a very atmospheric, romantic site with its pools of water inhabited by terrapins and frogs, and lush vegetation. You can see temples to the three deities of Lycia: Leto, Artemis and Apollo, as well as an amphitheatre, tombs, basilicas and submerged porticoes.
6. It offers some of the best scuba diving around
A boat trip of just 30 minutes can take you to some of the most spectacular dive sites on the Mediterranean coastline. Beginners can head to the shallow waters around Snake or Heybeli islands, and view the spectacular rock pinnacles at Frank Wall. Advanced divers can visit the dramatic wall at the southern tip of Snake island, where barracuda, grouper and smaller fish are found in abundance. There are also sandy-floored caves to explore and a number of reefs. The most unforgettable dive site, however, is to be found at Sakarya Reef, where divers can see the wreck of the Duchess of York, a trawler which was apparently sunk for insurance purposes about 90 years ago. The waters surrounding Kalkan are a comfortable 18-30 degrees, depending on when you visit. Perfect for exploring beneath the waves.
7. You can swim in the most incredible turquoise waters
Many people prefer the comfort of a deckchair at one of Kalkan’s beach clubs. But Kaputas Beach, a ten-minute dolmus ride from the town centre, is well worth a visit. Located at the foot of a gorge and surrounded by high cliffs, the climb down to the pebbly beach is formidable but so worth it. Despite the water being a beautiful turquoise colour and an area of natural beauty, it’s rare to find crowds here. There’s little here by way of facilities - although you might be able to hire an umbrella and a few people walk around selling snacks and cold drinks.
8. You can go to Greece and back in a couple of hours
A 30-minute drive to Kas takes you to a ferry terminal where you can catch a boat to Meis Island. The boat ride takes another 30 minutes, and then you can spend your day exploring the pretty - and very colourful - port town (population 350), with its narrow streets and Greek tavernas, catch the local bus around the island to one of the beaches, climb to the castle at the top for views over the sea or take a boat and visit the Blue Cave. Don’t forget your passport.
9. There are islands called Snake and Mouse
Visible from just about every vantage point in Kalkan, the islands of Mouse and Snake lie side-by-side in the harbour. The locals like to point out that the two islands seem to float on the surface of the sea. The islands are uninhabited - except for a few goats, which graze on the island and are watered each day by their owner, who pops over on a boat to visit them. Snorkelling and diving are popular around the islands.
10. Every home has a jaw-dropping view
Thanks to Kalkan's elevation, 99% of properties in this lovely harbour town have incredible panoramic views over the harbour and out over the Mediterranean Sea. It's the prospect of waking up each day to a view like the one above that keeps people returning to Kalkan year after year. And we can't really blame them.
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