From our previous posts you are aware that we had not even heard of Kalkan before coming here. It was a kind recommendation from a friend Ginny, who had been here previously and really enjoyed it and so with a last minute change of plans here we are :). It is located approximately 123k (an hour and 3/4 by transfer) from Dalaman airport and is in the Antalya province. Located on the mediterranean coast, it boasts 300 days of sunshine and an average October temperature of 27 degrees!
The first thing to note about Kalkan is that it is on a hill; if hills aren’t for you then you may want to consider a different place; for me with a gammy knee this has been challenging and has taken longer than it should to get places (and plenty of bar stops for a rest… what a shame ;)) It does however add to the charm and the lovely views.
We chose to stay at Neruda Pension which is located a little distance up the hill. Given the current pandemic we opted for a one bedroom apartment and this did not disappoint. The apartment was spacious, had a hob for cooking , washing machine and a fridge/freezer. It also had aircon included which is a bonus especially as it was included in the cost. We really enjoyed our stay here; we were wa rmly greeted with Turkish tea and communicated with our host by Whatsapp to inform about our cleaning requirements and ask questions. Despite the hills it was in a good location to access shops, the beach and local bars and restaurants. We spent a lot of time on the balcony as well.
The property also has a rooftop terrace where breakfast is served and in high season offers evening meals. We were invited up to the terrace for coffee and there were some lovely views from there. If the restaurant was open I do feel we would have taken advantage of it .
Kalkan has one relatively small public beach; you can rock up with your towel and picnic and away you go! I do believe there are sunbeds and umbrellas to hire here but it is not compulsary and you can take your own stuff. Perhaps because we were off season and it was quieter due to Covid we did not get pressured to pay for sunbeds or buy any goods on the beach. It is shingly so hard soled water shoes are definitely recommended. We did swim and snorkel here however there was a weird sheen to the water; possibly due to its proximity to the harbour and boat pollution.
The main ways in which to enjoy the sun and sea around Kalkan are beach clubs; bars and restaurants which provide food and drink, as well as sunbeds and access to a cordoned off area of the sea coast. We only really tried one of these at Cakil Beach Club; it cost 25 lira (approx £2.50) for a sunbed and umbrella for the day and offered changing, facilities and showers. We had a very chilled out afternoon and snorkel here; and although food and drink was expensive by local standards it was of a good standard. This is a newly opened club which has only been going a couple of months, however we enjoyed it here. It can be choppy with the waves though so not necessarily ideal for non/weak swimmers or children.
We found a little inlet which was accessible just up the road from Cakir; as you continue you get to a bend and there are some rickety steps down to the sea. This is a bit of a hidden gem but you are able to access the sea here and also go into a small cave. We snorkelled here and although a little chilly was a nice way to spend the afternoon. It was generally quite quiet but I can imagine it could get busy at peak times.
There are other beaches around Kalkan which are easily accessible by bus, taxi or car. Perhaps the most well known one is Patara Beach. The beach is sandy and is nearly 20km in length (this seems to vary however depending on what site you read!) It is also a turtle nesting beach; however we were disappointed it was not cared for like other turtle beaches we had been to (we may well have been sat on turtle eggs for all we knew!). The beach is closed from 8pm to 8am for the nesting and hatching and we did see evidence of little turtle tracks. Patara is 9 miles from Kalkan and took about 30 minutes to reach. Upon entry we had to pay 40 lira for conservation and there are also ancient lycian ruins on the site including an ampitheatre, triumphal gate and a neocropolis (cemetery). The beach is never packed due to the vast size of it and you can like us take your own swim stuff and not pay for loungers. There is a self service cafe/bar which is reasonably priced. Our tip would be to go late afternoon and stay for sunset.
Just a short ride away on the bus to Kas you can find this quite small but very pretty beach. It is a mixture of sand and shingle but was a lovely spot for an afternoon dip. There are several stairs down to reach it and there is only a limited swimming area due to the strong waves and current but it had changing rooms, showers and toilets and also a cafe. You could hire sunbeds and umbrellas here for 30tl or take your own stuff as we did. It was relatively quiet when we went; however it likely to get very busy in peak season.
Travel and Transport
For our transfer from the airport we paid 400 lira (approx £40) for a private transfer from Lukka Travel . Whilst this seems expensive it was a considerable distance to our accommodation and we were collected from the airport and dropped to the door. It was comfortable with air con, there were masks and sanitiser and the driver wore a mask throughout our journey. This was organised through our accommodation and was cheaper than the advertised price. We also used Lukka Travel for an excursion to Kekova and consulted with them for car hire also. They appear to be quite reputable and we had no issues with the service they provided. They also have an office just down the road from the taxi rank.
We did consider car hire from the airport however given the distance and the time we were arriving we decided against it. We did however hire a car from Define Tours through our accommodation to drive to Antalya. This cost £25 a day and no deposit was taken. The car was a manual and had a fair fuel policy. We had no issues with it as they dropped the car to our accommodation and collected it 48 hours later. I do feel it is always worth asking at your accommodation for local deals as accommodation providers often get preferencial rates. Petrol is very cheap here at approximately 68p a litre.
Taxis are plentiful around Kalkan but they appear also to be quite expensive; especially if you wish to head out of the town. We did not use a taxi during our time here but we did record a price list of what they charged.
If you’re on a budget then busses are the way to go. There is a bus station or Otobus Duragi at the top of town but there are also bus stops scattered throughout Kalkan. If you are travelling a distance away from Kalkan then companies such as Bati Antalya and Bus Bud offer very reasonable prices for long distance travel (approximately £3 each to Fethiye which takes 1 hr 25). We booked through Batia Antalya for our onward travel from Kalkan; however there are also different options for more local routes. The bus stops have taped timetables which show bus timetables from Dolman to places such as Kaş, Patara and Kaputaş. These are very reasonably priced and we got a return to Patara for £1.80 each way. The bus was comfortable, not over crowded and had air con. What more could you ask for?
Food and drink
Being on a budget we mainly relied on our self catering facilities and the local supermarket; however we did eat and drink out on occasion and I have highlighted a few places below we enjoyed. It should be noted however that due to the end of the season the resort was not open to its full capacity. Kalkan has an abundance of rooftop restaurants and bars; the standard rule does apply however that the nearer you get to the sea the more expensive it is.
We definitely paid for the view here and the cocktails were on a par with at home for prices however we had a very nice dinner here and watched the sunset.
On the opposite end of the price spectrum there was a traditional turkish self service restaurant just a few metres from our accommodation. This was very reasonably priced with soup and bread for £1 and other meals for £2-£3. If you are on a budget this is an ideal place to go to get a hot meal at very affordable prices.
Blue Terrace Bar and Restaurant
This was our favourite meal of our trip so far. Another rooftop terrace bar; there was a vast menu to suit all tastes and a good dessert menu which we had found is something quite rare in these parts! I had the Bezirgan Chicken and Nigel had Chicken Pyramid; both of which were delicious. We ended the meal with some very tasty cheesecakes!
There was an abundance of supermarkets, various specialist shops and also clothes and souvenir shops in Kalkan. There were ‘fake’ shops where you can buy copy brands such as Nike, Vans and Chanel at a ‘very special price’. In addition there were plenty of shops to buy things very reasonably to take home. As an example I bought a pair of beach shoes for £2.96! For self catering the greengrocers are very cheap here and also the supermarkets offer very reasonable food options; a litre of milk was 65p (65l), chocolate was 10p. There was never any concern we could not get anything we needed here.
The pound is very strong against the lira at present with £1 being 10 lira. This made it very easy for us to work out what we were spending. We bought some lira in advance of the trip but generally used card in most places we went. Given the conversion rates here if we had been aware of this we would have brought English money and changed it here. The highest we saw was 10.15 lira to the £1. Cashpoints were readily available; however we did not use one at all here so cannot state if they work with English bank cards. We mostly used Starling Bank which does not charge transaction fees abroad.
Kekova – Sea Kayaking over the sunken city
We booked this excursion through Lukka travel and it cost £50 each; I am sure it could have been cheaper with a larger group, however it was just us and the guide and therefore more personal for us. We were collected from our accommodation at 8am and taken to Kaş where we swapped vehicles and joined our guide Yasar who drove us the rest of the way to our starting point. After a few instructions and a safety briefing off we went!
We kayaked for 8km altogether and it was hard work! We initially did a 3km paddle to a small beach at Tersane which also allowed for an opportunity to explore some ruins. We had a swim here which was well needed after the first leg.
After our swim we got back in the kayak and went over the sunken city of Kekova. I’ll be honest we were both a little underwhelmed; there was not really an awful lot to see and a lot of it you had to use your imagination to try and figure out how a pile of rubble could be for example a church. After we finished our sunken city tour we headed over to Simena which is only accessible by boat and had a rather nice lunch (included in the price).
After lunch we headed back round past Aperlai ancient city to view some tombs and then took a slow paddle back to our start point. Altogether I felt it was a really worthwhile experience even if the sunken city was underwhelming. The sea was some gorgeous shades of turquoise and I think we were lucky that the sea conditions were calm that day. We didn’t fall in which is always a bonus (although I nearly did the splits when trying to get out on a slippery rock ..ouch) We were however exhausted and returned back to our accommodation for a nap afterwards.
Trip to Kaş (pronounced Kash)
We took the bus to visit Kaş as it was very near to us and according to what we heard was a less expensive but bigger version of Kalkan. It was as we had heard; it was a lot busier, plenty of shops and a restaurants and a nice harbour offering numerous boat trips. It is definitely worth a visit if you are near and is apparently especially nice at night.
Special Mention – The Cats of Kalkan!
If like me you are a cat lover you will be in your element in Kalkan and I couldn’t not mention them. They are everywhere and generally well looked after by the locals. Each restaurant or bar appears to have a resident cat that will come and say hello, sit next to you and look at you with sad eyes wanting some of your food. We didn’t see any ‘manky’ cats; all seemed to be healthy and friendly and we even had a resident one at our accommodation who would greet us every day and even visited on the balcony. I was often amused by the antics of the playful kittens next door and the shops here often highlight displays of cat food; one tourist bought dreamies especially to spoil the cats they came across. I am not sure if this is the case throughout Turkey but the Kalkan cats were definitely a highlight.
Kalkan far exceeded any expectations I had; it is a lovely place with plentiful bars and restaurants (and cats!). The local transport was easy and cheap by bus and we were able to get out and about and see more around the area. The fact Kalkan is on a hill was a minus for me and perhaps more research prior to our departure may have changed our mind; however we have managed quite well and now have thighs of steel!! It has been an enjoyable start to our trip; however it is time to move on and explore more of Turkey!