Kalkan is a small Mediterranean harbour town, which was once a traditional trading port (and still boast an “Old Trading House”) Its cobbled alleyways rise steeply up from a picture-postcard seafront to the more modern facilities which now provide for the tourist. The name Kalkan means “shield” in Turkish, after the large four-sided bay at its heart, complete with inky-blue waters that are fed by mountain springs which keep the sea fresh and crystal-clear.
Kalkan is now a relatively cosmopolitan small Turkish village which has expanded to cater for predominantly English-speaking tourists. It boasts a wealth of surprisingly high quality restaurants and bars, and extremely friendly and hospitable English-speaking people. Many of Kalkan’s restaurants would more than “hold their place” in any UK town. The Taurus Mountains - home to the nearby rural village of Islamlar - provide a stunning backdrop, and the views across the bay from the Islamlar trout farms are remarkable.
Strict conservation laws have ensured only sympathetic, low-rise development has taken place in and around Kalkan and the old village itself remains almost entirely untouched, with the entire region retaining a low-key charm. Surrounding villas and small boutique hotels are sensitively built into the natural terrain – (no high rise package-tour facilities here –) and blend with the overarching backdrop of pine forest and turquoise sea. Small, stylish and sophisticated Kalkan eschews popular misconceptions of Turkey: it is renowned for quality roof-terrace restaurants and beach clubs which attract a sophisticated clientele throughout the season. The terrace restaurants afford picture-postcard views over the harbour of moored gullets and come alive at night with fine dining against a backdrop of stars, twinkling lights and soft music. By day, Kalkan’s beach clubs attract a chic crowd who spend time relaxing on waterside platforms or playing at water-sports.
In front of the villa are protected areas of mature Olive Trees, and from the house, the road leads, 150m straight down to the sea, where there is a beach club, and from where a water-taxi offers a relaxing 5 minute boat ride into the heart of Kalkan.
Many an hour can be squandered just behind the seafront wandering the small alleys and pausing to peruse high quality local ceramics, textiles and leather shops. The friendly traders take delight in striking a bargain: enter the spirit of bartering by taking a customary cup of Turkish tea on course to a purchase. The colourful weekly market is held on Thursdays, with stall holders enthusiastically enticing visitors with their assorted wares from jewellery to clothes and electrical items. Beyond the immediate foray is a wide selection of fresh seasonal fruit, pungent local herbs and freshly gathered vegetables.
Eating Out In Kalkan
Kalkan is blessed with a wide and excellent selection of around 100 high quality restaurants serving high quality English as well as Turkish dishes to standards which exceed many in the UK, and prices far below comparable prices at home. Many are situated on the roof tops of the historic Old Town buildings. Such is the quality and choice that we rarely eat in the same place twice in a 2 week visit. – and ALL the Steaks are Fillet Steaks. We provide our “first visit guests with tips on our favourite restaurants this season.
The Turkish staff are pleasant, friendly, and many speak almost faultless English (no need for Turkish phrase books!). But unlike other parts of the Mediterranean they are not “pushy”.
Activities and Trips
Kalkan offers a wide range of activities to suit all tastes. You can enjoy canoeing on the Xanthos, horse riding across the sands of the Patara National Park, sea kayaking (or a boat trip) to the underwater city of Kekova, paragliding, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing and swimming.
In addition, there are numerous trips available, including visits to Fetihye Market, Saklikent Gorge (the longest and deepest in Turkey?), Pamukkale mineral spa, Carpet Weavers, a jeep safari covering spectacular views and countryside, a day trip to Patara Beach, visits to Roman archaeological sites at Xanthos, Letoon and Patara, visits to the trout farms and restaurants of Islamlar and the traditional mountain villages at Bezirgan, Saribelen and various boat trips, including Kalkan bay and islands.
The Hillside House will be your choice if you want a stylish location, with stunning sea views across the bay, your own private pool, close proximity to the sea and easy access to the scores of quality roof-top restaurants in the Old Town and harbour of Kalkan.
The location of the Hillside House, and the need for stairs, regrettably means that we do not consider our house suitable for guests with mobility difficulties..
Kalkan dates from Hellenistic times and is surrounded by fertile, agricultural land. Traditionally locals would move up to the mountain villages over the summer to cultivate wine and fruit and return harbour-side for the winter months to trade their produce. It is well worth getting away from the coast and exploring the Taurus Mountains, indeed we recommend it as a ‘must-do’ experience, driving nowhere in particular through pine and cedar forests, apple orchards and meadows you will encounter a side of Turkey that few people get to see.
The closest village to Kalkan is Islamlar, with a traditional tea garden, village square and trout restaurants. Deeper inland still are intriguing settlements such as the rural hamlet of Bezirgan, once a flooded valley, where life has remained unchanged over the centuries. The surrounding mountain scenery is spectacularly lush with numerous walking trails that are best enjoyed in the cooler months of May and September.
Kalkan Beaches & Beach Clubs
Kalkan isn’t an archetypal beach resort, and this has enabled it to retain its “old world” charm and resist the overtures of mass-tourism. However, it has an extensive and well-cared-for sand and shingle Town Beach with a small café nearby.
There are also a growing number of beach clubs around the bay, which make it easy to spend time relaxing in or beside the sea. The beach clubs which ring the harbour range from the distinctly child-friendly to the chic and more sophisticated. Most offer a waiter-service to their loungers, and sunbeds shaded by olive trees, with the sea always within stumbling distance for frequent, cooling dips, and showers nearby.
Kalkan Beach Park
Kalkan Beach Club (the "tents" in the pictures, less than 150 m below The Hillside House) caters for families and offers free use of its sunbeds, umbrellas and beach. It offers a bar and casual meals, water slides, protected swimming areas, boat trips, and many facilities for families.The regular boat between the Club and the harbour can also be a convenient way of getting from the Kisla area into the centre of the old town.
Mahal Beach Club
In our opinion the beach club at Hotel Villa Mahal is one of Kalkan’s finest, offering a classic, elegant waterfront with services (massages, water sports) and quality dining on the south side of the bay, less than 400m from The Hillside House.Mahal Beach Club can also be reached by the blue water taxi from the main harbour. - Villa Mahal was described as - “...Most Romantic Hotel in Europe...” 2007. - “One of the Best Views in the World”- by the Sunday Times”) It consists of platforms built onto the rocks under the welcoming shade of the olive trees. Sun beds are spaciously dotted on the hillside, ensuring that visitors will always find a private spot from which to enjoy the sound of the waves. It is focused mainly on adults who are seeking stylish relaxation in a beautiful setting, and the Chef cooks a wide menu of excellent lunchtime snacks and evening meals.
Other Kalkan Beach Clubs
The Palm Beach and the Indigo Beach Clubs have a younger vibe and opening for 2017 is Roberto’s - a cool, sophisticated concept. These and other beach clubs can all be seen from the patios of The Hillside House. Alternatively, Kalamar Beach club is situated in Kalkan’s second bay, (along the Kalamar Road and follow the signs) with a good reputation for water-sports and diving.