I’m talking about a little place called Kalkan.
This stunning bay is undoubtedly one of Turkey’s best-kept secrets. It’s a small, historic and enchanting harbour-side town with a surprising lack of mass tourism. Once a fishing village, Kalkan is now one of the prettiest and most exclusive resorts in Turkey. The town is pristine and has a really special charm. I can’t help calling it ‘the Cotswolds of the Mediterranean’; with stone villas, beautiful Bougainvillaea, historic architecture and an abundance of history. The bay’s crystal-clear blue water is magnificent and the warm traditional Turkish hospitality is abundant. This is a truly peaceful region of the Med and perfect for a romantic getaway or honeymoon. Equally, it boasts everything you could want from a holiday with family or friends, especially if you’re renting a villa.
Relaxing should be high on your priority list if you’re planning a visit to Kalkan. The summer months are HOT! The view from almost anywhere in Kalkan is the stunning curved bay that stretches out past the harbour and lighthouse on the cobbled pier, beyond the beautiful mountains and two small uninhabited islands, to the endless open sea. A wealth of luxury spa facilities offer massage treatments galore and the opportunity for people watching at any of the outdoor harbour front bars and restaurants is endless. There is plenty to do in Kalkan if you’re not one for soaking up the sun all day, but if chilling out is your thing – Kalkan is perfect!
When it comes to accommodation, luxury villas and boutique hotels with private pool suites and views that rival South East Asia are seriously good value.
Restaurants and Bars
The Old Town of zig-zagged cobbled streets is lined with shops, but above them sits a surprising wealth of multi-level rooftop restaurants and bars ranging from authentic Turkish and international cuisine to meze bistros and chic cocktail bars. The pedestrianised harbour front is filled with modern bars, fine dining restaurants and contemporary open-air cocktail and shisha lounges – all with sea views.
If you’re looking for history, check out Xanthos. Parts of this UNESCO World Heritage Site date back to the 3rd century BC. Featuring ancient ruins, tombs, and an amphitheatre, the site is set on a hillside with a fabulous view of the Esen river and overlooks the Xanthos Valley surrounded by the spectacular Taurus Mountains. Two other popular sightseeing destinations are the Saklikent Gorge and Kekova Sunken City. The Saklikent Gorge is the second-largest (20 km-long) gorge in Europe, the longest and deepest gorge in Turkey, about a 40 minutes’ drive from Fethiye. A day spent on a boat to Kekova’s Sunken City is a perfect way to combine relaxation and sunshine with a bit of history. Along the edge of the island facing the mainland lie half-submerged remains of a Lycian sunken city, and also some remains from the Byzantine times.
The old town has souvenir shops selling handmade ceramics, glass and wood decorations, and jewellery. There are several shops selling clothing, fake sports brands and handbags, as well as shoe shops, and many Turkish boutique shops selling lamps, oil burners, candle holders, pots, plates and lots of other traditional Turkish items. All the souvenir shops have plenty of items featuring Turtles and the popular ‘Evil Eye’ symbol. There is a huge market once a week which is a great experience. Here you will find fruit, veg, clothing, Turkish delight, souvenirs, hand bags, carpets, fabrics – everything! It’s well worth a visit.
Boat trips around Turkey’s Turquoise coast are very popular and easily available. You will see some beautiful beaches, wonderful scenery and some stunning sea caves and lagoons. By night – watching the sun set over the mountains from the open sea is phenomenal, the best sunset I have ever seen and an experience I must recommend. By day – there are plenty of opportunities to spot sea turtles. Many other water sports are available from the harbour front including Jet skiing, parasailing, speed boat trips, water-skiing and inflatable rides.
Kalkan bay has its own public beach with crystal clear waters and a blue flag award for cleanliness. Gorgeous Kaputas Beach is a short bus ride away (10 mins from Kalkan) – a lovely sandy swimming cove nestled at the foot of a striking mountain gorge, and Patara Beach is part of a national park and is a beautiful 12 kilometre stretch of sand backed by dunes and a popular place for spotting turtles. There are several Beach Clubs in Kalkan, all accessible by a free shuttle boat from the harbour and reached within 5 minutes. They all have restaurants and bars, sun beds and umbrellas, and safe swimming zones, all offering different views across the bay. My favourites are Mahal beach club, Palm beach club and Yali beach club.