Kalkan on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is one of the lesser talked about destinations in the country, yet, it has a hard-core fan base of repeat holidaymakers and expats, who either live there permanently or for half of the year, owning a property in Kalkan. Sitting in street-side cafes and ear wagging on conversations, most foreigners seem to be British and indeed, even locals speak English with clear intent and confident knowledge of it as a second language.
In the height of summer, the expat population and visiting tourists seem to outnumber the locals, but this is nothing new because, throughout history, foreign nationalities flocked to Kalkan. Some sources say its old name was Phoenicus, and then later Kalamaki, although its beginnings trace back to the Lycian Empire when the Greek historian Herodotus, said it was the closest place to the stars on earth.
However, the prominent part of its historical story starts 200 years ago, as the only safe harbour between Patara and Kas, so during storms and rough seas, many ships docked in for safety. Turkish and Greek settlers of this time, included traders importing and exporting products such as olive oil, grapes and sesame seeds, to other countries within the Ottoman Empire.
Unfortunately, the Treaty of Lausanne, following the Turkish war of independence ended this lucrative and fruitful trade. As per the treaty, Greeks return to their homeland and vice versa. A connecting road built in the 1960s with the surrounding larger districts of Fethiye and Antalya also encouraged locals to leave because business and work opportunities elsewhere were more plentiful. The dynamics had changed and not for the better, because Kalkan dwindled into a state of virtual nonexistence.
However, hope was on the horizon. Package holiday tourism came to Turkey, and then the internet encouraged independent travel, leading increasingly more people to go off the mainstream track. Foreign yachtsmen exploring the Turkish Riviera, docked in overnight, with ease and confidence because of Kalkan’s already established harbour.
In 2001, the Turkish government started allowing foreigners to legally buy property in Turkey and Kalkan’s future as a popular destination for holidaymakers and expats was born. But why do tourists keep returning and why do expats choose Kalkan as their home in the sun?
The Subtle Blend of Modern and Traditional Architecture
Is it possible to combine two entirely separate architectural styles and still promote an overall quaint and beautiful appearance? In the case of Kalkan, yes, it is. On either side of cobbled paths in the old town, two story houses portray traditional Greek and Ottoman architecture of days gone by.
Preserved and protected by law, white washed walls, with wooden balconies and windows shutters, covered with pink bougainvillaea are what gently surprises all newcomers to Kalkan. Restaurant rooftops terraces promote alfresco dining styles while near the coastline, the exterior appearance of the former Greek Orthodox church, now used as a mosque, remains mostly the same.
Yet, come away from the old town, and houses are distinctively upmarket, modern and portray the latest architectural styles. Clean-cut exteriors and spacious layouts make the most of fantastic sea views. Building construction firms have also incorporated modern features and amenities such as infinity pools, and floor to ceiling windows making the most of the natural sea breeze.
Some places in Turkey suffer from the ugly syndrome, resulting from an unplanned, and poorly executed mass building spree, to keep up with demand. Yet Kalkan carefully blended the old and new parts of town to promote a quaint, beautiful overall appearance befitting of an upmarket destination. This is unlikely to change either, because the hilly, geographical landscape of Kalkan in a small bay, means, construction companies struggle to find new land to build on.
The Luxury Mediterranean Lifestyle
Kalkan promotes everything you would expect from the typical Mediterranean lifestyle. Naturally being a seaside location, fresh fish and seafood are in abundance. Belonging to one of the most fertile regions in the country, fresh vegetables and fruit also encourage locals to eat the Mediterranean diet, known as the healthiest in the world.
Summer times burst into action with al fresco dining, rooftop style while international yachts dock into the harbour, on their cruises of the Turkish Riviera. With much of the action happening seaside, Kalkan is about a laid back, slow paced outlook on life and it is all done with a luxury twist. As one of the upmarket destinations of Mediterranean Turkey, Kalkan promotes luxury living without all the pretences, hence the reason why many expats are retired professionals.
Frequent and Cheap Transport Options
Turkey enjoys an esteemed reputation for its domestic and cross-country bus service, and Kalkan’s local bus service connects it with other coastal towns and villages by using the coastal D400 highway. It is a cheap and easy way to get around the Mediterranean coast but independent travellers and expats, also use car hire.
Although petrol is expensive, diesel models make it affordable to run your own vehicle. Expats and holidaymakers also take advantage of two airports to get there, that is Dalaman during the summer and Antalya, that is an all year-round hub of domestic and international flights.
Things to Do and Sites of Interest
Although life in Kalkan is laidback and event free, the town sits in the heart of Mediterranean Turkey and within one hour’s drive, are many attractions and sites of interest. Kalkan residents enjoy boat trips over the sunken ruins of Kekova, horse riding on Patara beach, a day out in Fethiye, home to the Kayakoy Ghost Village, and many more choices.
Kalkan expats are also explorers, often hiring a car or taking advantage of the connecting bus system to explore further afield, whether it is a short city break in Antalya, or an overnight trip to Pamukkale and Ephesus, two of Turkey’s most popular attractions. Property owners in Kalkan, with the aim of gaining a return on investment through rental incomes, promote these attractions when advertising their rental homes to holidaymakers.
One of the Best Weather Climates in Turkey
Turkey has three distinctive weather climates, and Kalkan’s is one of the better if you seek mild winters and cool summers. With 300 days of sunshine a year, outdoor living in the town is popular. The geographical landscape enables a cool seaside breeze and although January and February are rainy months, snow or freezing temperatures as seen in other parts of Turkey, are unheard of. For British expats living in Kalkan, this weather climate is a welcome relief, from the cold and wet days in the UK.
Six Neighbourhoods to Choose From
Potential expats with plans to relocate to Kalkan have six communities to choose from, each with their own distinctive character and style. The elevated status of houses, in the Kiziltas area, boasts of the best panoramic views, while luxury villas gain the limelight in the Kalamar Bay community. Find out more about these communities and others, in our area guide to Kalkan, that also talks about the quality of life and why Kalkan’s real estate is a good investment.
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