For some time away on the peaceful Turquoise coast of Turkey, a 2019 holiday to Kalkan is exactly what you need. Curled around the harbour at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, Kalkan is a small resort and fishing village with its own style and atmosphere. Whitewashed villas with shuttered windows line the narrow streets, which wind down to the harbour where the pleasure boats dock, and carved timber balconies strewn with colourful bougainvillea cascade overhead.
This historic town has many architectural treasures, and strict building codes keep the more contemporary additions in line with the traditional Ottoman architecture of the old town. Out in front of the bay, islands float upon the water, and a number of speciality shops line the streets. Kalkan is littered with once-in-a-lifetime dining opportunities, with an array of rooftop terrace restaurants and bars from which to view the surroundings. Meanwhile, the fishing culture is still alive and well, with fishing boats leaving the harbour in the early mornings and returning in the evenings with the day’s haul.
The Ottoman origins of the village are still very much evident in the landscape today, and a tour of the local architecture is highly recommended on a holiday to Kalkan. Other cultures, including Greek, Roman and Lycian have left their mark upon the town throughout history, and the evidence of this can be seen in many of the resort’s attractive sights, including Xanthos, Letoon, Patara, the sunken city of Kekova, Saklikent Gorge, and Hierapolis-Pamukkale. There are a number of walking tours available in the area, enabling you to see the best of Kalkan at your own pace.
The restaurants in the area are some of the best in Turkey, and all utilise the very freshest local ingredients. There are plenty of sunbathing opportunities at the shingle beach, as well as a diving school and a range of other water sports. For opportunities to take in the resort’s surroundings from the sea, there are regular boat trips from the harbour that take you on a gentle cruise around the bay.
Eating out is a cultural experience when you’re on a Kalkan holiday. With rooftop restaurants and bars backed into all kinds of cosy nooks, the setting and the menu creates a unique character wherever you go. There’s an abundance of organic fruit and vegetables in Kalkan, and most establishments use these as the base for their cuisines, as well as locally caught fresh fish and meat. There are Turkish and European dishes on offer on the rooftops of The Nar and Zula, and fillet steaks and leg of lamb are on the menu at Sofra. For a waterfront dining experience, where you can watch the gulets and fishing boats more in the evenings, there are some luxury restaurants overlooking the harbour. Try Likya Pavilion for Turkish and international dishes, or Coast for burgers, Asian and European dishes. Aubergine is a popular choice with its rattan seats and tailor made locally sourced ingredients, and there’s a selection of vegetarian choices on the menu.
For a taste of traditional Turkey, try Adana Ocakbasi, where you’ll find kebabs, fresh fish and baklava, or Belgin’s kitchen, located on the site of a 150-year-old olive oil pressing workshop with traditional Ottoman cushioned seating area. If you fancy a night in, or are returning to Kalkan late in the evening, there are a few restaurants that deliver, or for a more adventurous meal, the trout farms in the mountains surrounding Kalkan serve fish that is raised on-site, using produce that’s grown in-house.
Keep the whole family entertained on a holiday to Kalkan with a smorgasbord of activities to choose from. Several of the beach clubs in Kalkan offer a range of water sports, including Kalamar Beach Club, where some of the available options include kayaking, pedaloes, jet skis and private boat hire, as well as trampolining. The Kalkan Dive centre is located here and is a great opportunity to scuba dive, where you can meet the local aquatic residents, including stingrays, turtles and starfish. Just out of town is the Saklikent Gorge, waiting to be explored, and there’s even an option to hire a raft and take to the white waters of the river. Twenty minutes away in Patara, you can hire quad bikes and trek the safari around the Patara National Park.
The sandy beaches around Kalkan are perfect for a family beach holiday, and many of the beach clubs have pools and facilities that cater for children.
Action & Adventure
For an action-packed holiday to Kalkan, there are a few worthwhile options. There are numerous walkways to get you out and about in amongst the historical sites and natural beauty. Kalkan also has its own gym, equipped with free weights, exercise bikes and a floor exercise area. There are many options for water sports at the beach clubs in Kalkan, as well as further out in Saklikent Gorge. The diving school is an accredited PADI five-star dive centre, and is the perfect opportunity to explore the world beneath the waves.
There are also several mountain excursions just outside of Kalkan, including Saklikent Gorge, Green Lake high in the Taurus mountains with nomads living on its shores, and tandem paragliding near Kas for unparalleled views of the mountains and shoreline.
A beach holiday to Kalkan includes some truly spectacular beaches. To the east of Kalkan’s harbour, the public beach is an impeccably clean pebble beach that has been awarded a Blue Flag, and with crystal-clear waters that drop off fairly close to the shore, it has optimum swimming conditions. There are two other gorgeous beach locations a short minibus ride from the centre of Kalkan.
Kaputaş Beach is about a 10-minute drive from Kalkan, and is nestled in a luxuriously soft sandy cove, with brilliant turquoise waters perfect for a relaxed, secluded dip off the shore. Umbrellas are available for hire, and the beach is located at the foot of a magnificent mountain gorge. Patara beach by far stands out as the most naturally beautiful. Part of a national park, the sand stretches for 12 kilometres along the shore, and is backed by sand dunes with a small snack café at one end, which also hires out sun loungers and umbrellas. There are also at least six popular beach clubs within easy reach of Kalkan, with a range of water sports, cafés, bars, restaurants and swimming opportunities.
As the sun sets, the town lights up, and a holiday to Kalkan is the perfect opportunity to experience the bustle of night-time activity that this resort has to offer. Many of the shops in Kalkan stay open until midnight, making it easy to do a spot of late-night hassle-free shopping. Shopkeepers in Kalkan are also happy to accept foreign currency, and the array of goods on offer include hand-woven rugs, antiques, gold and silver jewellery, hand-blown glass, hand-carved pipes, ceramics and bespoke clothing.
Kalkan also has a range of bars enabling you to spend a night sipping cocktails under the stars. Some of the options include establishments with gypsy bands serving raki with hookahs available to smoke, belly dancing clubs, jazz bars, live music venues, and some small dancing bars with seating areas for spectators. Pirat hotel also has a disco club that is open to the public, and many other hotels host a weekly Turkish night, which includes festivities like Turkish feasts, belly dancing shows, live Turkish music and regional folk dancing.
A couple’s holiday to Kalkan is the perfect setting for a tailor-made romantic getaway. Enjoy a freshly cooked Turkish meal at one of the many rooftop terrace restaurants, or test each other’s cooking skills with a cooking course at Guru. Hire a gulet for a few days and take a private cruise around the island, or visit the trout farm restaurants in the mountains. Visit the ancient Lycian sights and get a taste of Kalkan’s cultural heritage or visit the secluded mountain villages. Dance through the night in each other’s company at a Turkish night, or spend the day lazing on the beach and soaking up the sun.
For a really relaxed romantic getaway, there’s the Sultan Hammam and Wellness Centre. Unwind and let go in the spacious marble Turkish bath area and treat yourselves to a full body exfoliation. Indulge in a foam bath and lather massage, and take advantage of the sauna. The centre also has a lounge area where you can finish the experience with a cocktail in front of panoramic views of the harbour.
The most prominent cultural relic of Kalkan is its general architecture. Dating from the Ottoman Empire, it features narrow cobbled streets with whitewashed buildings and carved wooden balconies. A walk around Kalkan’s old town will familiarise you with its heritage. There’s a Greek Orthodox Church in the town which was converted into a Mosque in later years.
Historically, Kalkan was the only safe port between Fethiye and Kas, and was a favourite trading port, so the people of Kalkan have long been involved in trade. This is evident in the wealth of shopping opportunities in the town, with a spectacular array of hand-made goods on sale, from rugs to ceramics, blown glass, pipes and jewellery.