Kalkan Travel Guide
Hagia Sophia at night © Moyan Brenn
The charming Mediterranean holiday resort and fishing town of Kalkan is situated on Turkey's Turquoise Coast, and is sought after by a crowd more in search of atmosphere and charisma than mere fun and sun. Narrow twisting streets, historic Ottoman architecture, shuttered windows and white-washed houses, as well as sweeping views over the harbour and sparkling bay, are all part of its unique character.
The genuine friendliness of Kalkan locals is a welcome change from the hassle experienced in most holiday towns. Untouched by mass tourism, Kalkan is small, unspoiled and laid-back, but still has plenty to offer holidaymakers, from beautiful beaches and watersports, to ancient Lycean history and boat cruises. Kalkan also boasts the highest number of restaurants and bars per square metre on the Turkish coast, and is renowned for its rooftop venues.
Kalkan's Thursday market is a great place to pick up souvenirs and mingle with the locals to get a true reflection of Kalkan life. Gold and silver jewellery, Turkish kilims (hand-woven rugs), and a traditional blue-coloured glass 'evil eye', said to ward off evil spirits, are the main buys when enjoying a little retail therapy in the streets of Kalkan and many of the shops stay open till at least midnight. Other popular purchases are tailor-made suits, as well as other clothing.
There is a high concentration of restaurants in Kalkan, most of which are peppered around the centre of town. There are over 100 restaurants ranging from trendy and market eateries to local lokantas (tavernas), and even rooftop restaurants which offer breathtaking views over the harbour and serve a variety of cuisines, including traditional Turkish, locally caught seafood, and many classic Mediterranean favourites, while local meze (similar to tapas), cheese, and trout are popular features on restaurant menus. There are a number of eateries offering international cuisine, but visitors should note that they come with an international price tag.
Kalkan's nightlife will keep all types of visitors busy. With plenty of restaurants, cafés, bars, and nightclubs to enjoy, the town comes to life after dusk. Head to one of the many rooftop terrace bars for sundowners, listen to a gypsy band while sipping on the local aniseed drink, 'raki', smoke a hookah pipe and recline on Ottoman-style cushions, or enjoy the local ladies putting on a belly dancing show.
Kalkan's main beach is shingled and this may not appeal to many would-be beach-goers but the water sports and activities on offer off these shores still attract thousands of tourists each year. Nearby Kaputas Beach is sandy and much more pleasant for those longing to dig their toes in the sand. Enjoy sailing, jet skiing, water skiing, scuba diving, parasailing, and banana boating, or plunge to the depths and discover what lies beneath the crystal clear waters on a snorkelling trip. The ruins at Xanthos Valley and the New Acropolis are popular attractions to visit, as is the ancient city of Patara.
Kalkan can often be packed with British tourists and the main beach is shingle so shoes are advised for beach excursions, although the water depth drops off close to the shore, so travellers won't have to walk over the pebbles for long.