It’s very easy to fall in love with Kalkan, the vibrancy of their colourful culture and customs steeped in history and tradition, dramatic coastlines and rugged mountains that form backdrops for some of the most breath-taking scenery, the ubiquitous ‘bougainvillea’ adorning many of the balconies fill the air with its heady aroma, crystal clear turquoise waters lapping against the rocks and shoreline tempting you in.
This small rustic but sophisticated town was once inhabited by Greeks in the early 1920’s, Kalkan is a popular town located on the Southern Mediterranean coast known as the Turquoise or Lycian coast which has maintained its charm and character and not spoilt by the development of mass tourism.
About an hour and forty minutes’ drive from Dalaman airport, taking you through quaint traditional villages, each has its own iconic quintessential building, the mosque, with its distinctive visible features of the Minaret (tower) and Qubba (dome) dominating the landscape.
If you have holidayed here for several years, when travelling the picturesque route, there is always the air of excitment when approaching the sign for Kalkan, the heart melts with the familiar view, from the elevated position the vast expanse of sea like a millpond, the hazy somewhat magical sight of mouse and snake island floating on the sea, so named because of its form not because of its inhabitants, the abundance of villas and apartments that pepper the hills and town, you feel like you are returning home.
The view of the town Mosque, original Custom House and the beautiful harbour with the historic lighthouse at the end of the jetty, simple reminders why so many holidaymakers return time and time again, it is simply sublime.
Nestled amongst the residential areas, Kalkan has retained its charm, tourists residing amongst locals immersed in the local community exchanging conversation in the local bakery’s, butchers and grocery shops.
Kalkan is built on three levels and yes, I am not going to lie to you, the hill from the harbour aptly named ‘cardiac Hill’ at the bottom of the town can prove a challenge but with a bench ideally positioned half way makes for an ideal breather and the chance to take in the surrounding beauty of this vertiginous landscape that is the majestic Taurus mountains.
The town has an eclectic mix of shops, selling beautiful pieces of jewellery, fine art, leather goods and of course the obligatory soft furnishings, Turkish carpets, rugs and cushions.
As you meander through the cobbled streets, exchanging light conversation with the locals, the air is filled with the faint scent of incense sticks burning, the pavement cafes welcome you in for a traditional Apple tea or Turkish coffee served with sweet cubes of lightly dusted Turkish delight, here you can sit, relax, watching the hustle and bustle of daily life unfolding before your eyes.
The harbour at the bottom of the town is always a hive of activity, fishing boats setting off as the sun rises to fish for the catch of the day, succulent seabass, red mullet, sword fish and tasty grouper fish fresh from the sea to the plate, delicious cooked on the BBQ served with a little salt, lemon, fresh salad or roasted vegetables and rice.
The waterfront restaurants make an ideal place to sit and immerse yourself in the fabric of this town, marvel at the gullets and tour boats, offering day and night cruises, this is a favourite activity for so many who holiday here, to either enjoy the boat trips and meeting and greeting familiar or returning holidaymakers, talking over an apple tea as you set sail for the day, exchanging how many visits to Kalkan you have done or as a first timer what has attracted you here and all feeling the same about this idyllic piece of paradise.
Kalkan town beach is a small pebble beach but with plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas, the water is very clear, clean and chilled by a fresh water spring that seeps from inland into the sea, if you are lucky you can sometimes spot the giant turtles swimming in the cool water their small heads bobbing up for air.
It is a great place to unwind and people watch, an early breakfast and then down to the beach early to soak up the atmosphere and watch the boats sailing out for a day of sun, sea and adventure.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the beach area offering refreshments, light snacks and ice cream, shower and toilet facilities are also available.
When it comes to dining out there is an abundance of choice, Kalkan has close to 134 cafes and restaurants serving mouth-watering cuisine infused with herbs and spices, all freshly prepared, beautifully presented ready to tantalise and excite your taste buds!
They say smells create memories and that is certainly true here, the intense fragrances of Sumac, Paprika, Kofte and Saffron fill the air, a culinary delight, there is such an array of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish that is freshly caught that day and the most tenderised lamb served with plump juicy apricots is divine and for those who have a sweet tooth, a little piece of decadence, sticky sweet baklava oozing with honey, the light filo pastry melts in your mouth, an ideally served with a small cappuccino or caramel iced coffee.
Kalkan caters for everyone’s tastes whether it’s a traditional Turkish breakfast, which differs from region to region, the famous Turkish kebab with juicy peppers and onions served on a bed of light fluffy rice or for those wanting to sample many of Turkeys appetizers and starters, the cold and hot meze is ideal. Here you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for with excellently trained chefs who will even customise your meal to suit your taste buds.
Most of the restaurants have roof terraces that provide stunning picturesque views of the harbour and bay, the fishing boats and yachts lazily bobbing gently on the calm waters below, the historic lighthouse watching over providing safety for the weary traveller.
As it turns dark soak up the vibrant orange sunset reflecting on the sea, the twinkling lights of Patara Prince can be seen in the distance, a truly heavenly sight one that is guaranteed to relax and unwind you.
After dinner Kalkan takes on a different vibe, the streets are alive and there is a buzz in the air, there are only 4 nightclubs in Kalkan for those wanting to dance the night away, or for those wanting a more laid back evening take in the atmosphere in one of the many cocktail bars serving iced cold Mojitos, Turkish delight martinis or just an iced cold Efes beer.
Kalkan has all the amenities that you find in a bigger resort but with its clever use of the old town forming the heart and the cobbled winding streets home to small stylish boutiques, nail and beauty bars, tailors and pottery shops, barbers offering haircuts and Turkish shaves, even a Turkish bath and massage is available at any one of the main hotels.
It is easy to see from the warmth and charm of the Turkish people who create a magical atmosphere here that draws you in, creeps into your heart and soul, Kalkan will stay with you forever, it is a little piece of Turkish Delight and most definitely a jewel in the Ottoman Crown.