Those of you who know your history will be well aware that this region of Turkey was subject to great turmoil after the First World War when, in the early 20s, Kamal Ataturk guided the creation of the Turkey we know today from a very different geographical disposition.
Much of the mainland where Kalkan is situated was at the time Greek whilst most of the off-shore islands were Turkish. Conflicts between the Greek and Turkish governments resulted in the mutually agreed policy of forced expulsions of Greeks and Turks from their former homes. It is for this reason that we find today Greek islands just a few miles off of the now Turkish coastline.
If you read Louis de Berniere's "Birds Without Wings" you will get a good feel for the impact that this draconian solution had on families who were made to leave the homes that they and they ancestors had occupied for generations, many side-by-side and in perfect harmony with neighbours of the opposite ethnic origins and religious persuasion. Politicians have a lot to answer for!
We landed at Dalaman Airport on Monarch from Gatwick amidst heavy rain. Clearing customs and collecting our luggage was relatively pain-free in this modern airport. As Turkey is not [yet] in the EU, a visa for a stay of up to 90 days has to be purchased at the airport for the princely sum of £10 per person (which is payable in Pounds Sterling). This covers you even if you take a trip to a Greek island during your stay.
We were greeted by representatives of Anatolian Sky, who appeared all to be ex-pats, now living in Turkey. They were all very helpful and seemed to be spaced out at every point where we might need a decision on which direction to take to our coach to the resort. The journey took around 2 hours, including a comfort stop. The original single-track road is currently being upgraded to dual carriageway and so the transfer may well be shorter in future.
Turkey is not in the EU, although are trying desperately to join. The problem of their "zone of influence", Northern Cyprus, will probably need to be resolved first though. It is also one of those countries where you would be well advised to buy your local currency at the resort rather than in the UK. The local currency is the Turkish Lira. If you visited Turkey in the past you will probably remember getting thousands of Lira to the pound. Those days are gone. A few years ago, Turkey realigned its currency and withdrew all the old notes and coins.
I did acquire a small quantity of Liras before we left the UK, just to have something to use during the first day or so. I got 2.64 to the pound at Eurochange. In the resort itself you would be able to change currency almost anywhere and benefit from the general rate of 2.80 I even saw one shop offering 2.83. It is quite safe to change money in any bank, post office or shop but I suggest you restrict yourself to just these outlets. I suggest you don't change money at the hotels though: ours, for instance, was only offering 2.75.
I also saw Pounds Sterling and Euros widely accepted and you will get your change in Lira.
With one notable exception, credit cards are widely accepted and we had no qualms in presenting them. Everywhere we used them, modern portable terminals were brought to us although the screens only seem to display instructions in Turkish, even though this was a UK card!
...is basically an old Greek fishing village, which has grown to meet the demand, mostly from Brit visitors. The heart is still the original old town as it probably has been, more or less, for years. The tight-packed buildings, narrow alleyways and steep climbs up from the harbour are utterly delightful. The shops and restaurants are quite commercialised, as is to be expected in such a popular resort but adds a charm that never quite descends into tackiness.
Outside of the old town things get a little more utilitarian. Frankly, the majority of the commercial buildings around here would struggle to win any prizes for architectural merit. Further out and higher up, as you move further and further away from the harbour, are most of the new housing developments and some of these are quite attractive. Many are being bought by Brits choosing somewhere less expensive and warmer to retire. You can get good value for your money.
The harbour area is where the day cruise and visiting yachts moor. Running alongside the edge of the harbour are a number of restaurants and bars which have terraces on one side of the access road and the actual restaurant on the other. You can sit at either but most people take the terraces. We did have couple of beers in one one morning and, although the prices are a little higher here they are not excessively so.
Sun, sea and sand
The town itself has only a small, stony beach which is often almost totally submerged. Few visitors patronise it, most preferring to stay around their hotel pools or to take a dolmus or a scheduled bus the 30 minute journey around the coast to Patara Beach.
Kalkan has over 300 restaurants; you are not going to get to try every single one during your holiday; deal with it!
Gourmet - A triumph of style over substance - Highly rated on TripAdvisor (14) so we had to give it a try. Big mistake! Yes the place is tastefully decorated. Yes the views from the terraces are good (though by no means the best). Yes the food is beautifully presented; I just wish more care had been taken over the cooking and serving of the dishes as was over the squiggles of soy sauces around the edge of the plate! Our starters were brought before we had finished our tasters. They asked what we wanted for dessert before we had even been served our main course. They forgot to bring us our main course, which arrived over-cooked. They charged our wine the next table (suppose I shouldn't complain about that except they eventually realise their mistake)! And it wasn't even good value, had they service been acceptable. All in all a memorable night out, but for all the wrong reasons. We would not return.
Mango - Bob Marley! - on the Kalamar road and nearly opposite Moonlight (below), we dropped in here one lunchtime, on our way back to the hotel. The food is good and the prices here, out of the main town area, reasonable. However, the music choice is very much reggae, with Bob Marley well to the fore! The restaurant's tables are near the road and so there is some traffic noise. However, if it does rain or there is remorseless sunshine, they do have a canopy that they can wind out to cover the tables.
Akin - Sitting on the dock of the bay - Well, just a little above it actually, so you benefit from better views than you do at harbour level. Once again, the food is good (we had lunch) and the atmosphere here is very pleasant. We had the Turkish version of tapas (meze) and a couple of beers, and a very nice way to spend an hour or so it was.
Rami's Fish Restaurant - All to ourselves, nearly - I simply don't understand why on the night we ate there there weren't more customers. Rami's is closer to the harbour and has no high buildings in front of it so the views from its terrace are outstanding. The food there is superb; the choice if fish is unequalled in any other restaurant in which we ate. The fish is all fresh caught so inevitably not all will be available on the day; we had no such disappointments though.
The food is beautifully prepared and perfectly cooked. The accompanying wine, chosen for a small but well chosen selection, was delicious. The service was excellent. The value for money beyond reproach. Rami's deserves to be far better patronised than it was the night we were there. Mind you, there are always those who value style over substance.
Moonlight - Wouldn't you Credit it, the Best in Kalkan - Saving the best till last. Found purely by chance: out of the centre of town, you could walk right by and not realise it was there. Located on the Kalamar road, above an estate agents and a car hire office, a discreet sign announces its presence. Entered at the side of the building, up steps, you climb to a tiny rooftop terrace with simply staggering views over Kalkan, probably the best. There is only space for 10 tables and all were full the night we ate. You will not get a table here without booking well in advance.
The food can be chosen from a set menu or A la carte but, if the latter you must notify your choices at the time of booking. I recommend that you stick to the set menu: I defy you not to be able to find something you like and at under 35 TL it is staggeringly good value for money. The wine list is limited but contains good choices. The food is very much local in orientation and utterly delicious. This was definitely the best food we had tasted anywhere in Kalkan.
So, what's the down-side? Not discovered until we came to pay, they do not accept credit cards! Fortunately, they are happy to take any currency; we paid in Pounds Sterling - £40 for two, including wine and tip. Unbelievable.
The dolmus is alive and well but these days it no longer consists of a huge old American car with shot shock-absorbers and saggy seats. The general transportation is the minibus seating around 10 people. I even saw one where in order to squeeze in an extra person that placed a plastic garden chair by the door. Clearly H&S has yet to reach Turkey!
There are also regular scheduled buses, which you can catch from the bus stop in the town or from the bus station at the top of the town. Fares are very similar by either scheduled service or dolmus but, of course, you can flag down a dolmus anywhere.
We took trips to nearby Kaş and to Patara Beach. Both were 5 Lira each way, per person. They will try to get you to commit to a set time for a return journey in advance but I suggest you resist. There is no price benefit and you are then tied to an agreed return time no matter what.
Both buses and dolmus have a regularity of around every half hour and most depart on the hour or half hour.
Cruises - As I mentioned, there are a number of yachts of various sizes, lined up in the harbour, touting for your trade for a day out cruising around the bay. It appears that there is fierce competition and, it seems that violence between owners is not unknown. When we were walking down for our trip there was clearly a very unpleasant situation developing between two big guys, surrounded by dozens of others trying to keep them apart. One was carrying a huge hammer so he obviously meant business!
However, the actual trip itself was very enjoyable, aboard Sea Bella. We cruised out to a well-known swimming spot with blue waters and cliff caves. The boat provided snorkels so you could go fish spotting. I was surprised that there was so little underwater flora and fauna and can see no real reason why.
There was another stop for a swim in the afternoon, after our on-board lunch. The food was good and drinks are available but at an extra cost. Prices for drinks were slightly more expensive than ashore. The cost of the tickets for the day was £35 per person.
Patara Beach - We also went to Patara Beach where you can enjoy real sandy beaches rather than the stony one that you find in Kalkan itself. There is 18kms of beach and the bus from Kalkan drops you right at the southern end.
13 Lira will give you two sun-loungers and a sunshade for the day. The sunloungers were in very good condition, unlike the broken old wrecks we have found elsewhere in the Med.
There is a beach restaurant here, where you can get snack but don't expect anything special. Burger and chips is typical. You can also get your drinks to drink in or take back to the beach.
The restaurant also has fairly decent, modern, clean toilets but don't be surprised to find some stalls have "squat" type toilets rather than pedestal ones.
On the approach to the beach you can see on both sides of the road the ruins of the ancient Lycian city. I was interested to see that the original amphitheatre is currently being reproduced alongside it, presumably to to be used for actual concerts. I assume that the original structure was in too dangerous a condition to be reconstructed.
Kaş - A similar town along the coast, the coastal journey takes in some stunning scenery; the day out is worth it almost for the journey alone. A bit bigger than Kalkan, we went on the day we did (Thursday) because they have there an open-air market. We didn't buy anything but there is certainly a lot on offer, largely divided 50/50 between food and non-food.
The old town area is the most interesting part, with much the same sort of attraction as Kalkan: mostly restaurants and bars. We had lunch on the Harbour at the Mercan Restaurant. A very nice atmosphere and extremely good food, fish for both of us, washed down with a very enjoyable local white wine.
Tlos - Not just Patara, the whole area around here is filled with the ruins of ancient cities and the one at Tlos is one of the principal ones of the region. We enjoyed a morning climbing and walking around the site, accompanied by a guide who pointed out the various constructions from different eras.
Saklikent Gorge - After our visit to Tlos we were taken on for a visit to the Saklikent Gorge. This deep rock formation extends around 13kms inland and carries a rapid watercourse out from the mountains behind. Initially you walk along a raised metal walkway bolted to the the rock wall on one side. This leads, after around 150m to a more open area where you could picnic if you wanted.
To get beyond this is, however, a lot more difficult. A raging stream runs out into the main watercourse and you have to cross this to get to the shingle on the other side if you want to get further. However, there is nothing to aid you in your crossing. A couple tried it and abandoned the attempt; one made it across but it is clearly quite risky.
Returning to the entrance to the site you'll find the usual stalls for memorabilia, and food.
We very much enjoyed our visit to Kalkan and the surrounding area. Had the weather been better we probably would have done more but this was the middle of October so, although temperatures in general are warm, the weather conditions can be variable. The centre of Kalkan gets very busy at night and, although we didn't spot any nightclubs or things of that sort, if you enjoy eating your really can't go much wrong. We could ask little more. Hopefully it would suit you too.
I had never heard of Kalkan before one of my relatives moved there. Having a family member who lives there to show me around opened my eyes to a country and culture with a vibe I had never experienced.
They say Turkey is where East meets West and it has a Middle Eastern type feel, the mosques look amazing, the call to prayer evoking feelings of being in a very different land and the weather is hot.
Kalkan itself is set in South West Turkey and this area along the coastline from Kalkan is often called the Turquoise Coast, it has a lot to offer.
A lot of people get a very wrong impression of Turkey but that is mainly due to a lot of the package deals going to the 'Brits Abroad' types of resorts such as Gumbet, Hisaronu or Marmaris etc - Kalkan is as far removed from that as you can get, it is a much more traditional, serene and ultimately classier destination and mass tourism catering to the English hasn't really arrived thankfully. I would say it is very suitable for couples or families but it is very hilly and would not be suitable for people with mobility problems or wearing heels! Also the town beach is pebble so families may want to bear that in mind. It gets extremely hot here in the summer months also ie 40 ish degrees. It is still very hot right into October and even the winter months can be tshirt weather but from mid to end October there can be more unsettled days with some rain or storms.
The culture and the people are extremely friendly and there is a lot of respect for older people. Bear in mind however, that most of the women you see out and about at night in bars are Western and so the impression of these is different to how they view the Turkish women. The men aren't sleazy as such but can be a bit over charming I would say... so for women alone, just be cautious, it is quite common to be asked if you are married etc. Westerners are considered well off in comparison given what the Turkish earn and so the men can come on to Western women for the wrong reasons sometimes. But everyone here is very friendly, it is not an unsafe place, incidents are very rare. English is widely spoken.
The town has grown quite a lot in recent years, more house building going up, more ex pats living here, more buildings being built but as yet it's not unspoilt.
Turkey is not part of the EU and you will need to take Turkish Lira currency with you. On the whole Turkey is very reasonable price wise.
Stepping off the plane at the nearest airport which is Dalaman, I had a private taxi to take me into Kalkan. If you have booked a taxi you will find your driver outside, they are not allowed to wait in the terminal. It takes about 1.5 hours and Turkish drivers are fairly scary and often drive on the wrong side of the road, overtake on dangerous bends and it's not uncommon to see unlit vehicles, but despite that a lot of the roads have improved along this stretch in recent years. I probably wouldn't recommend hiring a car here on a first visit and the road signs are not that clear, although it will probably work out cheaper than paying a transfer and hiring a car later in the holiday. It is possible to travel to the resort independently and you can even book transfers independently via coach to hotels online now.
There are some package deals here but it has always been a more upmarket or secret destination, not one for the big tour companies. Tapestry Holidays come here (or the current version of them as they split into 2 companies) and a couple of other small tour operators though it is getting more popular now it's getting discovered...
I have stayed with family and also once in a hotel. These are cheaper to book via a UK online hotel booking site as if you book direct with the hotel they can be a lot more expensive. I've stayed at the Samira Gardens, a basic but lovely place to stay with a large swimming pool and all for £12 a night at the end of the season. I would check the hotels online for reviews, there are some really lovely ones and as Kalkan is on a hillside, some have amazing views.
Various airlines use Dalaman airport from the UK including Thomas Cook Airlines from Gatwick which tend to be the cheapest and with the most flight options including various times and most days, they have an incredibly good flight schedule to Dalaman. Easy Jet also now fly to Dalaman but do not have as many options on times. Onur Air tend to have cheap flights here but have a questionable safety record (see Wikipedia). There are other airlines flying here but I've always found Thomas Cook to offer the best deal for me.
KALKAN THINGS TO DO
Beach - The town beach is pebble and smallish. There is a lovely tea garden with raised Turkish seating areas overlooking the beach. There are sunbeds and umbrellas available to hire on the beach itself. You do not really see people sunbathing topless here.
Beach Platforms - reached by boat these are areas around the bay with platforms for sunbathing and some have cafes, they are very nice. There are charges associated with their use but are reasonable so don't be put off, there is no hard sell on buying drinks or anything and they have toilet facilities too. There is also one Council run platform. Some stay open later in the season than others.
Kaputas Beach - along the coast road a little way is a stunning beach set far down the steps from the road cut into the hills. There are however no facilities here but it looks amazing!
Hammam - for a great Turkish experience go and have a hammam, it really made my trip!! Lots of the hotels have these on site but there is also one in the town and for approx £10 or so you get a full scrub down and soaping. You keep swimwear on here (though they will ask if they can remove your top when you are lying face down) and can be scrubbed by a male if you are female as it is more touristy I suppose. The male attendants that looked after us were just wearing their swimwear type shorts as they were totally soaked in the process! but in the more rural ones well out of town they cater more for the muslim culture and so females only go with female attendants etc and some take your top off.
Restaurants - one of the best bits of Kalkan! The food is amazing, vegetarians also won't be disappointed (try Iman bayildi, Borek etc), the best veggie food I've had in the world has been here and I've been to quite a lot of countries! There is an amazing amount of restaurants in Kalkan, something like 200 in the small town along alleyways, along the seafront and going up the hill and lots have rooftop terraces and low level seating with floor cushions and low tables. I didn't have a bad meal and there are too many good ones to mention but my favourite was Korsan for the food and all round service.
Other nightlife - there are no big clubs or anything. One of the more popular places is the Moonlight bar which has loud rock/pop music till the early hours and more tables are bought out as more people arrive till you are sat halfway down the street on a slant. The owner gets to know the clients, you pay at the end and they never forget what you had! There are all ages of people go here and everyone is made to feel very welcome.
Hire car is the easiest and quickest way to get around locally but as I have already mentioned, and the guide books state, driving in Turkey is not for the faint hearted. Roads can also be very bad and it is not uncommon to get punctures. We did hire a car and had 2 punctures in 2 weeks. There can be great holes in the road or alternatively drain covers sticking up 1ft high! There did not seem to be any breakdown cover either. The cars can also be damaged when you pick them up (ours had been hit by a chicken...).
If you prefer you can take a Dolmus quite cheaply, these are small minibuses that link up places and even beaches.
Some local places I would recommend:
Patara Beach (birthplace of Father Christmas) - this is stunning. There is a small charge arriving by car per person. Patara village is like something from the 60's with a very laid back vibe. There are small hotels, gozleme (pancake) cafes where you leave your shoes at the door and sit on the floor while the gozleme are cooked in front of you. Try a Turkish tea in a tulip shaped glass. The beach itself is a mile or so away from the town. It is 12 or so miles long of sand. There is parking by the beach and a cafe on the beach doing cooked meals. A small block of toilets, both Western and Turkish. To the right of the beach there are high, stunning sand dunes. It is possible to drive and park further along the beach, approaching from the roads but there are no facilities along the other stretches. Some areas of the beach are protected for the turtles. If you are here early evening the crabs can be seen coming up out of their holes.
The ancient Roman ruins at Patara are amazing, they are unearthing a whole city including ampitheatre. You can just walk amongst the dig with no restrictions. Quite a lot is now visible and it's shocking to walk amongst it as you wish as this would be fenced off in the UK! The gateway and bath houses are visible.
Kekova - take a boat from Kas to here or drive to near Kekova itself and you can charter your own boat for not too much money! Watch for the hard sell at the castle, the ladies there want to act as unofficial guides and can get a little unpleasant if you don't want to buy their goods or use their services.
Saklikent Gorge - stunning gorge which you can walk up, take good plastic shoes for the water. There is an amazing seating area restaurant with floor cushions and low tables to eat by the water. A very romantic place for couples but an all round stunning day out.
Kas - reached along the winding coastal road with dramatic views - a very laid back town with lots of interesting shops.
Meis - a small Greek island. Take the boat from Kas and it takes no more than half an hour. There is even a duty free shop here, a very small one selling very cheap cigarettes. The area the boats arrive is set around a squarish harbourside front with lots of little cafes and small shops.
Fethiye - a larger town in the opposite direction to Kas. There is a bigger supermarket here and a very good weekly market, cheaper than Kalkan market. Good value are pestemals and spices and haman accessories. There are some great shops selling Turkish items in one part of this town along the alleyways.
EXCURSIONS FURTHER AFIELD
There is an overnight coach, two in fact, that depart Kalkan every evening around 7pm for Istanbul from the coach station which is going up towards the top of the town.
Trains are not common in this part of Turkey but coach travel is cheap and accessible and links a lot of the bigger towns. Do note for ladies travelling alone, that it is best to, in keeping with the culture, sit next to another female passenger and not a male.
Kalkan has a market once a week, there are also lots of other local markets and well worth a visit.
Kalkan has lots of interesting small shops selling lovely handicrafts and all sorts of items including lamps, silver, ceramics, pashminas etc.
Kas or the Fethiye is better for shops however and a bit cheaper.
ANIMALS OF KALKAN
One of the shocking things as a Western tourist here is the sheer amount of stray cats and dogs loose in the town begging for food. If you sit in the restaurants you WILL get hassled by the animals wanting to share your meals and sometimes up to 4/5 cats or dogs would surround the table. The Turkish are not such animal lovers as the English but they don't really stop them coming in the open air restaurants.
KAPSA (Kalkan Association for Protection of Street Animals) are seeking to neuter some of these animals and it is mainly the English who try to help this and a lot of the expats take on some of the strays. The dogs they have neutered wear yellow ear tags.
Be careful if you are driving, they frequently run out in front of cars although have a bit more street sense than the average UK dog..
The terminal is fairly new, quite stylish and has clean, Western style toilets although there are not many of them.. Note that this airport is very expensive for food - take your own snacks and water while waiting to depart! There is very little seating whilst waiting and queues can be long. You scan your luggage immediately on entering then proceed to check in then customs and departures.
To conclude, I'm sure, like me, you will be a repeat visitor to Kalkan.
I have only been to Turkey once so far and I went to this samll village called Kalkan. As far as I am aware this Village is not very widely known as a tourist resort, and is one of the few 'unspoilt' places I have been.
It is far from the Zante's, Benidorm's and Blackpools many people call a holiday. Its a true culture change and the best experience I have had so far in my life.
I went when I was 16, not really knowing what to expect as I had never been to turkey before. The hotel was amazing, very clean and the staff were so helpful and polite.
The little village had everything I wanted, all so close and compact together. It had the little shops and stalls, quite a few hotels and bars, and even on the sea front on the edge of the village a couple of little night clubs. They were amazing, nothing like any of the clubs here in Yorkshire.
The best part of Kalkan was the restaurants. I had some amazing food. If like some of the ablve holiday destinations you wanted to eat a burger and chips there was no way you would get them in the restaurante they were served in a cafe on the outskirts. The food in the restaurant was true turkish food. All of it was freshly cooked and fantastic.
I would definatly go to Kalkan again, and I hope it does not become 'Blackpool' in the future. - Not that there is anything wrong with Blackpool - but when I go to Turkey - I want to feel like I am in Turkey.