The following information is provided in the Guest Handbooks and the various items of information we send guests as part of our booking process, but feel free to browse here for any information you require about Turkey in general and Kalkan in particular.
Kalkan is often referred to as a "former Greek fishing village" but we can't actually find any evidence of that!
In reality, Kalkan became an important trading port during the 19th century – even more so than Fethiye or Antalya, its two larger neighbours. It was settled 150 to 200 years ago by people of both Greek and Turkish origin - subject to the Ottoman Empire - and was known by its Greek name “Kalamaki.” Camels brought goods to Kalkan from the nearby Xanthos valley and from as far away as the mountain highlands near Elmali. Cargo ships were then loaded in Kalkan’s harbour to sail for the far reaches of the Ottoman Empire carrying charcoal, silk (you can still see many mulberry trees in Kalkan today), olive oil - still produced in Kalkan - and wine, as well as cotton, grain, sesame seed, flour, grapes, acorns used for dye, and lumber from the vast cedar and pine forests.
By the early 20th century Kalkan had become quite a sizeable village. At the turn of the century it had its own Customs House (which you can now stay in - see our Customs House page!) and in 1915 there were reportedly seventeen restaurants, a goldsmith, a shoemaker and several tailors. The first local elections were held in 1928 and, in 1937, the present elementary school was opened. See... it never was a "fishing village"!
Following World War I, the exchange in population between the new Turkish Republic and Greece took place in 1923 after the Turkish War of Independence. Most of the Greek origin people then living in Kalkan left Turkey. Some went to the nearby Greek island of Meis, but most were resettled near Athens. They were resettled as a community (like most Greek immigrants from Turkey) and named their new town “Kalamaki”, after Kalkan’s previous name.
Trading continued until it faded away in the 1950s due to the improvement of the Turkish road system and the adoption of overland transport. With no more sea trade, the population of Kalkan trickled away as people moved to larger coastal cities to find work. Luckily, Kalkan was saved by the arrival of wealthy English yachtsmen in the 1960′s and tourism eventually became the main economy of Kalkan. Because of this, Kalkan has retained its historic charm. Strict building and preservation codes are enforced and many of Kalkan’s buildings are listed. Because of the determination to keep Kalkan beautiful, Kalkan has a specialness to it lacking in many other towns along the coast.
Taxis: There are plenty of taxis in Kalkan, should you need one. They are yellow, so you can’t miss them, and the principal taxi rank is located by the roundabout at the beginning of the Old Town. If you need to ring for a taxi, there is a list of numbers in the Guest Handbook we provide.
Buses: The local buses are called “dolmuş’ and provide a cheap, fun way of travelling around the area. The bus station is located on the right side of the wide hill leading out of the town, a little further up than the market, after the cemetery, just before the petrol station. You will find the offices and bus stops of the local service-providers, and also the long-distance coach companies, to the left-hand side and back of the bus station building. From there, you can take a bus to the nearby coastal town of Kaş (30 minutes), Patara Beach (20 minutes) and Fethiye (a little over an hour), as well as a “tour” bus to Saklikent Gorge, in the mountains. There are timetables, and most buses are scheduled to run every half an hour, either on the half hour or on the quarter hour, depending on the company, but the timings can be slightly erratic, as they are a bit of a law unto themselves and often delay the departure of the bus if there are too few people, waiting for it to fill up a little before leaving! The best thing to do is to just go to the bus station and be prepared to wait for a while for the next bus (this is Turkey, after all!). The dolmuş do also often stop at the top of the Old Town road near the taxi rank, and also on the D400, but because their journey starts at the bus station, there is always the risk that they will be full by the time they reach that part of town.
Car Hire: You do not necessarily need a car in Kalkan; most of our accommodation is centrally located. Neither do you really need one to get to either of the local sandy beaches, the nearby resort of Kaş (which is worth a visit) or the town of Fethiye, an hour away, as they are all well served by the local buses (see above). However, if you like to get out and about and explore by car, you may be better off hiring one from the airport rather than taking an airport transfer. Alternatively, you can easily hire a car by the day in Kalkan; there are several car-hire companies throughout the town, but be aware that you may need to reserve several days in advance in high season. Be careful with the additional “damage excess waiver” cover as, in Turkey, this does not include damage to windscreens, undercarriage and tyres. However, there is an insurance company on the internet (www.insurance4carhire.com) that covers you for a complete refund of any monies paid as a result of any damage to the car. It cost us less than £40 for a year's cover; you may feel that it is worth the extra
• Hire cars are usually supplied with a near-empty tank of fuel, the idea being that you return them likewise.
• There are several petrol stations within a mile or two of Dalaman airport.
• The petrol station in Kalkan is located at the top of the hill, on the way out of the town.
• Almost all petrol stations in Turkey have pump attendants to fill your car.
• Petrol is expensive in Turkey (prices are similar to the UK). All major credit cards are accepted.
Legal Driving Requirements
Driving yourself is a great way to explore and can be a real experience! Roads are generally good but Turkish drivers can be a little unpredictable by European standards, so all drivers should exercise caution. Please see the following driving tips to help you on your way to trouble free motoring:
Parking: In towns or built-up areas, always try to park in the “otoparks” (car parks) or designated parking bays on the street, as illegally parked cars may be towed away or their drivers fined. In rural areas it is reasonably safe to assume one may park almost anywhere. Kalkan is currently fairly relaxed in this respect
Beaches: The coastline around Kalkan is rich and rugged, with many small sandy coves, secluded bays and rocky inlets, which are great to explore. The stretches of rocky coastline are extremely inviting, lapped by clear aquamarine waters, and are perfect for cooling off and snorkeling.
Kalkan: Kalkan itself has its very own ‘Blue Flag’ beach. Although the beach is pebble and shingle, rather than sand, the shallow rake to the sea is ideal for timid swimmers. The waters are warm and crystal clear, perfect for a gentle snorkel without going too far afield, and sunbeds are available for hire. Because of the pebbles, it is advisable to use beach shoes for added comfort going in and out of the water; if you haven’t brought any with you, shops in the town sell some good ones at very reasonable prices.
Kaputaş: Kaputaş Beach (between Kalkan and Kaş) is a delightful sandy cove at the mouth of an impressive gorge. It is only about 10 minutes’ drive from Kalkan, and the dolmuş to Kaş stops right by it. However, please be aware that there are many steps to climb down from the road side (and back up!). In the tourist season, Kaputaş has parasols for rent and there is shade in the afternoon. Simple snacks are available, prepared by the wife of the man with the parasols, plus fruit and cold drinks can be delivered to you on the beach.
Patara: A 20-minute drive or dolmuş ride to the west of Kalkan takes you to Patara, a protected area and famous as a nesting ground for Loggerhead turtles, as well as being the birthplace of St Nicholas/Santa Claus. Patara Beach is regularly featured as one of the world’s most beautiful and undiscovered beaches, with an uninterrupted 18-kilometre stretch of soft golden sand, backed by undulating dunes. At the eastern end of the beach, there is a car park and then a short walk through the dunes to the beach, where you will find a small open-air café serving reasonably-priced drinks, ice-creams and lunches, plus a couple of toilets, showers and changing rooms. You can also hire sunbeds and parasols or, alternatively, a short stroll away you can easily find your own secluded bit of beach on which to lay your towel.
In order to reach the beach, you will drive past a huge area of ancient ruins, which are the subject of a major ongoing excavation project. There is an entrance fee to the beach, which is low, or you can buy a ticket to visit the ruins, and this will also allow you entry to the beach. These fees contribute towards the maintenance of the beach and the site.
NB: The only way to Patara is by road - no water taxis or boats to stop there.
Beach Clubs: There are plenty of ‘beach clubs’ dotted around Kalkan bay, both near the harbour, across the bay in Kişla and, on the other side, round the headland, at Kalamar Bay. These are, essentially, sunbathing platforms with garden areas, cut into the hillside, and are quite unique to this part of the south west coast. Some also have pontoons in the sea from which you can dive. They are all very good, and all have a nominal entrance fee, equivalent to a few pounds, which covers the cost of hiring your sunbeds and parasols. There are good restaurants at each of them, too, serving drinks, snacks and lunches, which are payable in addition to the entrance fee.
Below is a list of the current beach clubs. The ones located around the bay operate a free boat shuttle from the harbour. Please be aware that the clubs are very popular and in high season you will need to go earlier in the day to ensure you can get in (the boats won’t take you, anyway, if the clubs are full):
Boat Trips: For many holidaymakers, a boat trip from Kalkan harbour is one of the highlights of their holiday. You can spend a lazy day relaxing on the boat, in the sun or the shade, whilst taking the occasional dip in the superb swimming waters. The trips are reasonably priced and a very tasty Turkish lunch, prepared by the friendly crew, is included in the price (it’s incredible what they manage to produce in such a small galley kitchen!). There are boats of varying sizes, and most can be chartered for groups, if you wish, (which can work out cheaper per head – although you will always need to book in advance). If there are only two or three of you and you go to the harbour just before 10.00, you will usually manage to find a boat with some spaces, but the trips are very popular, so at the height of the season it is a good idea, nevertheless, to book on a boat of your choice a couple of days in advance (or even earlier if you are a larger group, or want to book a charter for a specific day). You will need to go to the harbour to book in the evening, once the boats return from their day trip, from about 17.30 (so maybe before or after your evening meal).
Equally enjoyable are the very special evening trips (”Sunset Cruises”), which some of the boats offer. Not much scope for sunbathing, of course, but you can still jump in for a swim - and instead you have a glorious sunset, followed by a lovely meal under a canopy of stars – amazing!
Boat trips from other local places: A short drive to Kaş will offer you the opportunity of a boat trip to the sunken city of Kekova. Boats leave Kaş around 09.30 and arrive back around 18.00. Once again, there are opportunities to swim, and lunch is included. It can be a little choppy on the return sail, but it is a great day out if you enjoy the sea! For a shorter boat trip, take a boat from Kaş to the quintessentially Greek island of Kaştellorizo (Meis in Turkish), just a 20- minute ferry ride away. You will need your passport and some euros, though there is an ATM on the island. Ferries leave Kaş around 10.00 but you should arrive at the boats by 09.30 to allow for passport formalities.
All these boat trips really are an opportunity not to be missed, and we strongly recommend you go on at least one during your stay!
Walking: The lush green countryside, fertile plains and rolling hills are perfect for recreational walking. There are a series of well-known trails to explore, taking you through the surrounding mountains and forests. The area around Kalkan boasts a diverse array of wildlife, and majestic birds of prey gliding on the thermals are a common sight. Of course, for the more serious walker, the wonders of the ‘Lycian Way’ are extremely close to hand. Books detailing routes and organised walks can be found in some of the shops in the Old Town.
Other Activities: Various activities can be booked at one of the several agencies in Kalkan. Scuba diving, white water rafting, river canoeing, sea kayaking and paragliding can all be enjoyed in and around Kalkan. Although it is not necessary to have previous experience of these activities, it is important that you are reasonably fit and active, are a confident swimmer and, of course, follow all of the safety instructions given. Jeep safaris and horse-riding on Patara Beach area also available.
Please note: Flying within 24 hrs of scuba diving is extremely dangerous due to the pressurisation of the aircraft cabin.
Turkey is a fascinating country, with a rich cultural history and some stunning scenery, so it would be a shame to leave without venturing a little further afield. A selection of some of the local places to visit is briefly outlined below.
Kaş: The larger town of Kaş (pronounced Kaşh) is a 30-minute drive away. The coastal road snakes its way along the edge of the rocky coastline, providing truly spectacular views out to sea, breath-taking scenery and dramatic gorges. It is well worth a visit for the journey alone! The town is situated in a sweeping curved bay (the name Kaş translates as ‘curved’). It was first mentioned in Lycian times, as ‘Antiphellos’, and the modern town is built on the ancient site, with the ruins of Antiphellos still scattered around the town. Kaş also has a bustling harbour, with winding streets and alleyways, and is a great place to visit. It has a rather different “vibe” from Kalkan, with a more Bohemian feel and a wider mixture of nationalities. A bus to Kaş goes regularly from Kalkan bus station.
Exploring further afield into the mountains reveals the wild beauty of the region. The Taurus Mountains are mainly composed of limestone and are covered with typical Mediterranean maquis and dotted with wild olive and carob trees at the lower altitudes. The range climbs to a height of 3,000 metres. Many of the villages around Kalkan remain untouched by tourism, with life quietly ambling by at a pace unchanged for centuries. A couple of examples are:
Places of ancient interest (these can be booked as excursions through several agencies in Kalkan)
Xanthos: Xanthos was the capital city of the Lycian Federation and was the most important city for most of Lycian history. The ruins of Xanthos stand atop an elevated area within the Xanthos valley with a river flowing closely under the city’s west side. From this elevation one receives a supreme view of the valley, surrounded by the spectacular Taurus Mountains.
Patara: The birthplace of St Nicholas & a mystical site, half covered with the sands of Patara (also see under “Beaches” above).
Tlos: One of the six principal cities of Lycia, Tlos once bore the title of ‘the very brilliant metropolis of the Lycian nation’. Dominated by its acropolis, it is one of the oldest and largest settlements of Lycia and was inhabited until the 19th century by Turks. The influence of many cultures has resulted in an interesting collage of structures.
Pinara: A Lycian site with a splendid and isolated setting.
Letoon: A shrine to Leto consisting of three temples.
Myra: Ancient rock tombs and a spectacular amphitheatre.
Telemessos: The modern town of Fethiye is built on the site of this ancient Lycian town (see Fethiye above).
History: Turkey’s rich history is evident in the numerous ancient sites and monuments spread throughout the country. The site of what is claimed to be the world’s oldest known community is here (dating back to 7500 BC), at Catal Hoyuk (near Konya). From early civilisation up until 1923 and the victory of the Freedom War, Turkey had been invaded and conquered by many nationalities. Amongst these have been Hittites, Greeks, Romans and Persians, not to mention the French and the British after the First World War.
Many famous figures have emerged from the early period including Alexander the Great, Homer, Mehmet II and Suleyman the Magnificent. There have been many Empires but the greatest have been Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman.
The area around Kalkan has more than its fair share of history. Situated in the heart of the Lycian region, easy access is afforded to many Classical, Byzantine, Roman and Lycian sites, almost all of which are set in beautiful natural surroundings. Xanthos, Letoon and Tlos are within easy reach; Kekova, Demre, Myra, Arycanda, Phasselis, Olympus, Aspendos and even Ephesus are accessible further afield (Ephesus by an overnight trip).
Ataturk: Mustafa Kemal, more widely known as Ataturk (which means “the father of the Turks”) is the founder of the modern Turkish state. In 1923 Ataturk became the first President of the new Republic and in the following years he introduced a series of revolutionary reforms. These included changing the national alphabet from Arabic to Turkish, giving women the right to vote (Turkey being only the second country in the World to do so), introducing surnames and abolishing the wearing of the Fez. For these reasons, Ataturk is remembered with profound respect and affection.
Mosques: As a place of religious importance, dress rules must be respectfully adhered to by all those entering a mosque. For women, bare arms, legs and heads are not acceptable inside a mosque, and men should avoid wearing shorts. Heads must be covered with a scarf and shoes must be removed before entering a mosque. Avoid visiting mosques at prayer time, on Fridays (Muslim Holy Day) and on religious festivals.
Dress: Turkey is a fairly modern country and the wearing of shorts and t-shirts around towns and cities is quite acceptable. In more remote villages and places of worship, it is advisable to wear something a little more formal, such as skirts or trousers with a blouse or T-shirt. It would be considered offensive to go shopping in bikinis or swimming trunks and if you are scantily clad anywhere other than the beach or the privacy of your accommodation, you will attract the attention of the locals, both male and female! Topless sunbathing can offend the traditionally-minded and to be naked in public is, of course, illegal.
Blue Eye: The belief in the malevolent powers of the evil eye, is one of the most widespread superstitions in the country. The blue bead “nazarboncugu”, which you will see everywhere, guards against evil wherever it is displayed and, for this reason, it will be seen providing protection everywhere - homes and new buildings often exhibit one, and children and babies often wear them.
The Economy: Turkey’s economy is rapidly expanding. Its size, combined with the variety of terrain, allows it to be one of the few countries in the world that is virtually self-sufficient in food. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy: 40% of the land is under cultivation, with crops grown for export as well as for domestic use. You may notice acres of poly-tunnels along the roads leading to Kalkan; these are used to grow tomatoes, which are exported and provide an increasingly lucrative source of revenue for the area. Cotton and livestock are the country’s primary exports, contributing more to the economy than tourism, and as one travels around, one cannot fail to notice the abundance of sheep - a sign of Turkey’s position as the largest producer of wool in Europe. Government-controlled organisations (known as State Economic Enterprises) control some of the major industries such as electricity, petroleum, and salt and tobacco production. The Government also plays a part in the coal and steel industries, textiles, transportation, broadcasting, and the marketing of agricultural products. Manufacturing is becoming an increasingly important part of the export economy: car manufacture, electrical appliances, consumer goods and engineering projects all contribute to Turkey’s rising export rate.
Language: In one form or another, Turkish is spoken by around 150 million people across 8 countries, in an area stretching from Belgrade to Xianjiang in China. The closest European languages are Finnish and Hungarian. One of the groups of Turkic languages, it was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic during the Ottoman period and later restructured in Ataturk’s Great Language Reform of the 1930s. It was under his direction that the Arabic alphabet was changed to Roman and many Persian and Arabic words were replaced by new Turkish ones. The result is a simplified and logical language, with phonetic pronunciation. Initially the language may seem complex and very different, but if you master a few essentials and a smattering of words your efforts will be appreciated. It is well worth the time and trouble to bring pleasure and a few smiles to friendly Turkish faces. So practise some phrases and you’re bound to impress.
One of the hardest, yet most important everyday phrases is “Teşekkür ederim”, pronounced “Tesh e kur e derim”, meaning “Thank you! Another essential word, is, of course, “Lütfen” (Loot-fan), meaning “Please”!
USEFUL TURKISH WORDS & PHRASES
English - Turkish - Pronounced
Hello - Merhaba - MeR-haba (emphatic ‘R’)
Please - Lütfen - Loot-fan
Thank You / Thanks - Teşekkür ederim / teşekkürler - Tesh-e-kur e-der-im / Tesh-e-kur-ler
Good morning - Günaydın - Guu-nay-den
Good evening - Iyi akşamlar - Ee ak-sham-lar
Good night - Iyi geceler - Ee gej-ee-ler
Goodbye (said by person staying) - Güle güle - Goo-lay Goo-lay
Goodbye (said by person staying) - Hoşçakal - Hosh-cha-kal
Yes - Evet - E-vet
No - Hayir - Hi-ear
How are you? - Nasılsın? - Na-sel-sen
I’m very well - Çok iyiyim - Chok ee-yim
How much is it? - Kac para or Ne kadar - Catch pa-ra / Nay kad-ar
The bill please - Hesap, lütfen - Hessap loot-fan
Welcome! - Hoş geldiniz! - Hosh gel-din-iz
Where? - Nerede? - Nered-eh
OK / Alright - Tamam - Tam-am
One - Bir - Beer
Two - Iki - Eekee
Three - Üç - Ooch
Four - Dört - Dirt
Five - Beş - Besh
Six - Altı - Alter
Seven - Yedi - Yedee
Eight - Sekiz - Sekiz
Nine - Dokuz - Dokooze
Ten - On - On
Hundred - Yüz - Yooz
Thousand - Bin - Bin
Tea - Cay - Ch-ai
Milk - Süt - Suit
Water - Su - Sue
One beer please - Bir bira lutfen - Beer beera loot-fan
Sugar - Şeker - Shek-er
Chicken - Piliç / Tavuk - Pilich / Tavook
Meat - Et - Et
Vegetable - Sebze - Seb-ze
Fruit - Meyve - May-ve
7500 BC Earliest known inhabitants
1900 - 1300 Hittite Empire, Wars with Egypt
1250 Trojan War
1200 - 600 Phrygian and Mysian Invasions followed by Hellenic civilisation
550 Cyprus and Persia invade Anatolia
334 Alexandra the Great conquers all of Asia Minor
129 Rome establishes the Province of Asia with Ephesus as the Capital
330 AD Centre of Roman Empire moves from Rome to Constantinople
1000 Age of Crusades, arrival of the Turks
1288 Rise of Ottoman Power
1520 - 1526 Ottoman Empire includes North Africa and all of the Middle East
1571 Decline of the Ottoman Empire
1826 Turkey, the sick man of Europe is threatened by Russia
1914 - 1918 Turkey enters World War 1 on the side of Germany
1923 Treaty of Lausanne establishes Sovereignty of Modern Turkey. Frontiers defined and population exchange begins between Greece and Turkey. 1923 Turkish Republic established with Ataturk as President
1925-1938 Ataturk’s Programme of Reforms to modernise Turkey
1938 Death of Ataturk
1945 Turkey enters World War 2 on the side of the Allies
1946 Turkey becomes a Charter Member of the United Nations, Democratic Party wins elections with Adnan Menderes as Leader. Military takeover, Menderes is executed. Justice Party elected to take over from the Military. Turkey approaches Civil War
1970s Turkey out of control and close to anarchy. The Army takes over once more
1987 First Free Elections. Tansu Ciller elected First woman Prime Minister
1999 Momentous and tragic earthquake strikes Izmir. Aid and assistance is provided from around the world
2002 Tayyip Erdogan appointed Prime Minister after landslide election victory for Justice and Development Party
2004 - present Negotiations for full EU Membership continue
2014 General Election – Justice and Development Party remains in power.
2014 Tayyip Erdogan elected President
To simplify the “research” process, we have listed below a few of our personal choices, but this is by no means exhaustive and you will, of course, discover your own favourites. Also, have a look at the “Visitors’ Book” in your accommodation for comments from guests. There are also some cards in the “Useful Cards” book. Many of the popular restaurants get busy in the main season so it is advisable to book.
The Olive Garden: One of our overall favourites, situated in the hub of the Old Town, just off the main cobbled street, above the Merkez Café (see below). Owned by Fatih, this offers the usual stunning views over the bay and a well-priced menu of traditional Turkish dishes, many with a slight twist to set them apart from all the other menus. Excellent quality and service.
Kalamaki: Modern, chic décor and a great ‘fusion’ menu, including lovely Thai dishes and modern Turkish with a contemporary twist, all lovingly prepared and served by Tayfur and his staff. At the upper end of the price range, but worth the extra. Welcoming, friendly ambience and, again, there is a great view from the rooftop terrace. Situated on the sharp corner where the main drag turns down towards the harbour.
Kaya: A more basic, but laid-back and very friendly, little restaurant, just by the Kalamar Road roundabout. Our friend, Kadir, is a member of the Magic Circle and likes entertaining his guests with magic tricks - he has certainly had us mystified on more than one occasion!
Korsan Fish Terrace: On a roof terrace, overlooking the harbour, with stunning views, this high-quality restaurant serves superb fish, as well as some excellent chicken/meat dishes, to ensure that non-fish-eaters are catered for.
Gironda: A hidden gem, with a beautiful, opulent interior - make sure you get there early to have a drink in the fabulous bar area before you eat. The food is great and the service impeccable. Definitely a place to be seen and ideal for a special occasion.
Aubergine: A popular restaurant, right on the harbor-front and open all year. A great venue for lunch or dinner by the sea. Always busy, with good food and friendly service.
Café Leon: Owned by our friend, Levent, and his parents, this little place has a character and a menu (designed by Lev’s English wife, Jane) all of its own, with both Western and Turkish influences. Extremely good value. Don’t miss the afternoon tea and cakes!
Korsan Meze: Located just beneath the Korsan Fish Terrace, this serves good, light lunches, with great views.
Merkez Café: A well-known meeting place and a spot for “people-watching” - you cannot miss it when walking down the main street. Perfect for breakfast, coffees, and lunch, or an evening when you want just a light (ish) bite. Great value.
Mussaka: This excellent, very popular restaurant was situated on the harbour-front, but was destroyed by fire in December 2014. At the time of writing, Mehmet does not know when and where he will re-open. When he does, we can thoroughly recommend his restaurant.
Black & Gold: A popular, very classy cocktail bar, warranting several visits! It is situated next to the Korsan Fish Terrace, just back from the sea front, on the beach side of the harbour.
Moonlight: A very popular meeting spot for both pre-dinner and post-dinner drink, this bar is always busy. It is located in a prominent position on the left, at the beginning of the Old Town – you cannot miss it!
Botanik: A new bar in 2014, this has already become a very popular venue, famous for its cocktails. It is situated in an large open garden are, immediately behind Gironda restaurant and accessed by one of the side alleyways.
Fountain: We believe that this is currently the only roof-top bar (as against restaurant) in Kalkan, with a good cocktail menu and regular live music.