Turkey // The Turquoise Coast //

Kalkan and around

The former Greek fishing village of Kalkan is today a very popular and slightly upmarket resort. Its population of four thousand includes some 1500 expats, two-thirds of whom are British, and most of the small boutique hotels that used to be Kalkan’s lifeblood have been converted into apartments and second homes. The surviving package-holiday trade dominates the remaining short-stay accommodation, and ensures that Kalkan remains more exclusive than nearby Kaş. Once you accept the resort’s pervasive social profile, lack of a sandy beach and the fact that restaurants, though good, are uniformly overpriced, Kalkan makes a good base for exploring Patara and the Xanthos valley, while excursions east or inland might occupy another day or so.

Despite the rash of new villas and apartments spreading over the hillsides around, the compact centre has retained many of its nineteenth-century Greek houses, many now serving as restaurants and bars, and thus at least some of its charm. Tourism and property sales, now the town’s raison d’être, are fairly new phenomena: until the late 1970s both Kalkan and neighbouring Kaş eked out a living from charcoal burning and olives. It’s hard today to imagine it as it was in the 1980s, when its rather bohemian atmosphere contrasted starkly with the often oppressive conditions prevailing in Turkish cities after the 1980 coup.

The artificially supplemented pebble beach called Kömürlük, at the east edge of Kalkan, is pleasant enough, with reasonably clean water that’s chilled by freshwater seeps. Although larger than it looks from afar, it still gets hopelessly full in summer, when the sunbeds (TL7 for two beds and an umbrella) are at a premium.

One alternative is to use the swimming platforms or lidos that flank the bay, accessible on well-priced shuttle boats. The only other bona fide beach within walking distance is a coarse-pebble one well southwest on the coast, visited by the Lycian Way on its way to Gelemiş.