Modern day Kalkan, located on the coastline of Turkey, is worlds away from its days as a humble Greek fishing village. Yet its rich history is still wonderfully visible in the atmospheric old town, as well as the nearby Lycian ruins scattered along its coastline and the ancient tombs overlooking it from the Taurus mountains.
Holidaymakers are spoilt for things to do in Kalkan. Located on The Lycian Way – one of the world’s most spectacular walking routes – treks to sheer drop gorges, empty beaches and scenic mountain vistas are right on your doorstep. The unique landscape also offers epic canyoning, kayaking and some of the country’s best diving. Or, for those wanting to simply relax, two of Turkey’s best beaches are a short drive away.
Combine all of this with a buzzy harbour, slick beach clubs and fantastic restaurants hiding on the old town’s rooftops (with views of the Mediterranean’s infamously turquoise waters) and it’s easy to see why so many British ex-pats have fallen in love with this coastal Turkish town.
When to visit Kalkan
Kalkan is pretty warm most of the year, with December-March being the only time the temperature dips below 20°C (and who wants to visit then, anyway? We’re here for warm sunny days, right?)
If you’re looking for more comfortable temperatures, less tourists – however, a little more rainfall than the summer months – then go in spring when it averages 25°C. In the summer you can expect higher temperatures (average 32°C) and little to no rainfall, but obviously this is the time that most tourists will flock to the area. Basically, as long as you avoid the wet winter months, you’re guaranteed sun-soaked adventures.
How to get there
Airlines such as easyJet, TUI, Thomas Cook Airlines and British Airways all run direct flights from the UK to Dalaman Airport. The flight is just over four hours.
Hiring a car is the easiest way to explore the region. There are hire companies at Dalaman Airport. The drive to Kalkan takes just over two hours (there is a toll en route). Alternatively, taxis/private shuttles, such as Dalaman Express, work well for non-drivers and larger groups.
Why visit Kalkan?
Known for its crystal-clear waters and rugged terrain, this stretch of the ‘Turquoise Coast’ is strewn with tiny bays and unnamed pebbly shores. A short drive from Kalkan, you’ll find two of Turkey’s best beaches. Hiding in a deep gorge, is the picturesque bay of Kaputaş, and fringing the ruins of a Lycian port, runs the country’s longest beach, Patara. For more top picks check out our guide to the best beaches in Kalkan.
Food and drink
Kalkan old town is famous for its atmospheric rooftop restaurants. Whilst the cuisine is often relatively simple, it’s brilliantly fresh, authentic and often very affordable.
Don’t know where to eat in Kalkan? Avoid the one-a-penny international cafes and try some of our favourite haunts…
- For a true Ottoman feast, head to uber traditional Gironda Restaurant. Located in a former Greek merchant’s house, you dine on the sea-view rooftop terrace.
- For a blowout meal, book a candlelit waterfront table at romantic Villa Mahal.
- Alternatively, residing on an old olive press, Coast is the new kid on the block, offering modern Turkish tapas.
The former Greek fishing village may be a thriving tourist resort now, but during the Ottoman Empire it was an important port, trading everything from silk and charcoal to olive oil and wine. However, it’s the region’s Lycian roots which are most obvious when out and about – from tombs which seemingly hang off mountain sides, and the sarcophaguses which pepper nearby Kaş, to various Lycian city ruins.
Serious history buffs should visit the ruined cities of Xanthos and Letoon, which have made it on to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list, or the beautiful hanging tombs at Demre. Alternatively, combine a look around one of Lycia’s key ports with a day on one of the country’s best beaches at Patara, or head to Kas’ beautiful sea-facing amphitheatre to see the sunset before enjoying dinner in the town.
Discover the sunken city of Kekova
A devastating earthquake caused this tiny Turkish island to succumb to the Mediterranean Sea. Tour operators like Abi Travel’s offer organised day trips, or jump onboard a fishing boat to see the partially submerged city and its Byzantine Church. Usually, trips also include a visit to Simena, where you can appreciate its Ottoman castle.
Dine at a trout farm in the Taurus Mountains
The gushing mountain rivers are rich in trout and dotted along them are villages famed for their trout farms. Head 15-minutes’ inland, to picturesque Islamlar, home to Bodamya Tepe Restaurant. Grab a table outside and enjoy trout caught straight from the stream which runs through its lush garden. We recommend booking Sunday lunch (family day).
Where to visit
Embrace outdoor adventures
Active types are spoilt for choice when it comes to Kalkan activities. From world-class hiking along The Lycian Way and canyoning in the mountains, to kayaking along the Xanthos River or ‘tubing’ near the Saklikent Gorge.
Explore ancient cities
This stretch of coast is peppered with the ruins of Lycian towns and cities, many of which are just a short drive from Kalkan.
Hit the water
From traditional gulet cruises along the coast to a spot of island hopping, a day at sea provides you with spectacular views of the Turquoise Coast. Check out our suggested boat trips in our things to do in Kalkan round-up.
Luxuriate in Kalkan’s beach clubs
Don’t fancy Kalkan beach? Then enjoy the hospitality and comfort of the town’s renowned beach clubs. Accessible by a quick water taxi from Kalkan’s harbour, the serviced sunbathing platforms have loungers and parasols, with ladders providing direct sea access.
Head into the mountains
The Taurus Mountains hide gorges, lakes and traditional villages. Get a birds-eye-view of the coast, enjoy lunch at a trout farm and discover Lycian ruins.
If you’re looking for places to stay in Kalkan, we’ve got a collection that could have just what you’re looking for. From places close to the beach, to villas with pools, and spots that look like they’ve just been pulled straight out of a movie… but if you’re not sure what you want, our friendly concierge service are on-hand to answer any questions!