Twenty years ago, Kalkan was a sleepy fishing village, a handful of rustic seafood restaurants dotted on winding, cobbled lanes.
Now, Kalkan is a lively harbour town with more than 350 restaurants and bars, cute cafes and eclectic shops selling everything from diamonds and textiles to designer handbags and football kits.
The atmospheric town runs down to indigo water dotted with colourful boats and gulets, traditional Turkish wooden sailing boats.
WHY VISIT KALKAN?
If youre looking for a combination of peace peppered with activity when you can muster up the energy, Kalkan is ideal.
At first glance, it is a bustling family resort set in a picturesque harbour with all that offers. Scratch the surface though, and youll find incredible restaurants set in ancient villages, perched at the top of verdant valleys, run by families so friendly youll want to return again and again.
With daytime temperatures keeping us by the pool or beach club, we built our evenings around culinary experiences.
The places we visited were mostly out of the way. We took advice from the team at our hotel, the Likya Pavilion, where a WhatsApp group for guests lets you chat away about dinner recommendations like you would with friends.
Here is what you need to check out to do Kalkan like a pro.
WHERE TO STAY IN KALKAN
We stayed at the charming Likya Pavilion, a Fairlight Jones property tucked away to the east of Kalkan.
Reached up a quiet, unpaved road, it really is a hidden gem. Private villas are dotted up secluded paths, each with a private pool.
The duplex apartments have sun-drenched bedrooms on the top floor with picture windows offering unfettered views of the sparkling Med.
Each morning we threw back the curtains and had our breakfast on the balcony, watching yachts come and go.
The philosophy of this hotel, new to the Fairlight Jones portfolio, is relaxed, quietly excellent service.
The team operate a convenient WhatsApp system so that any time day or night (within reason!) you can message for food or drink, help, a taxi, a restaurant, bar or beach recommendation.
Manager Korhan is a hidden gem of his own – a vague message telling him we would like some lovely Turkish snacks and white wine resulted in some of the best mezze we had in Turkey, gorgeous olives and a bottle of crisp, dry wine from the hills of Antalya sent to our private pool in minutes.
You have good taste! he told us, kindly. But, truth be told, it was he who had the good taste.
This same charming service runs throughout all of the hotels staff. Joan, our rep (all guests are given one to look after their needs during the week); the lovely cleaner, who waved and chatted every day, despite us sharing no more than one word in common, and every one of the bar and restaurant staff.
On our first night, Korhan told us he had moved to Kalkan for the friendly village feel, to recapture the nostalgia of the good old days in Turkey. He was right: Everyone we met was warm and welcoming.
It is a big part of why guests just keep coming back.
The sister hotel to the Likya Pavilion, this lovely property is right on the waters edge. Unrivalled views over the harbour, beautiful, relaxed and Bohemian rooms. There is no restaurant, but breakfast is served on the terrace and guests can order food from Likya Pavilion – the full restaurant menu is available and a table will be set for private dining.
They also have immediate access to the beach club shared also with Likya Pavilion – a eaceful little place carved into the rocks offering plenty of sunbeds, umbrellas and a sublime swimming area with jumping platform.
A luxe option with a killer waterside location across the bay. If youre a guest of Likya Pavilion / Likya Gardens, they can organise a speedboat to take you across for a day lounging on their sun terraces or at the infinity pool.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Kalkan has more restaurants than you could eat at in a year. It makes choosing a trial – but everywhere you go will be good. Ask for recommendations, or wander the leafy streets until you find somewhere that catches your eye.
In Kalkan itself, we loved the Fish Terrace. Set high up on a rooftop under the stars (as so many restaurants in Kalkan are), you would never know you were in central Kalkan. Slick service and some of the best fish we ate all week. It is run by a family, half English and half Turkish, with the sons waiting tables in their university holidays and husband and wife running the show. They use only fresh catches and have a remarkable wine list. A three-course meal here was around £30, which to give you an idea of affordability, was the most we paid all week.
A jewel on the Kalkan coastline. During the day, the rocky levels of this hotel are a beautiful beach club. By night, it transforms into a restaurant Conde Nast called the most romantic in the Med. We sat at a table inches from the waves, the lights of Kalkan curving around the bay.
One of the most spectacular impressive dining spots in Kalkan itself.
Wraparound sunset views over Kalkan bay, a peaceful spot away from the bustle of central Kalkan and impossibly friendly staff. The head chef, along with manager Korhan, came up with a menu inspired by the Turkish dishes of their childhood, brought into the modern day. Mezze was the speciality – all handmade and so good that after trying the restaurants Taste Of Turkey – a culinary voyage of discovery – we ordered the mezze almost every day for lunch.
The sea bass with caper, tomato and onion salad was also excellent – we had it delivered to our villa every day for lunch, along with the mezze and a bottle of dry Anatolian white.
A laid-back, world-traveller-chic kind of place, with eclectic seating – low tables, hammocks, and treehouses. Open all day til late, come for a casual cocktail or bed in – almost literally, given the treehouses are decked out with floor cushions.
I can safely say after 3 that the margaritas are well worth a try.
Mature trees provide shade and fans are placed all around so even in the midday sun, the bar is cool enough.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
The irony that we are tourists who dont want to be with other tourists does not escape us… but isnt it nice to get off the beaten track on holiday?
As such, the rest of our week was spent exploring more out-of-the-way restaurants.
Each time, we were the only English guests among Turkish diners, which is always a sign the food will be authentic – and ideally good. As we hoped, it was excellent. Every time. Here is the lowdown of the best of the restaurants outside of Kalkan itself.
Topping this list is Gurus Place, also known as Kurus Place. Set up on the hillside on the road out of Kalkan to Kas, this was more than just a meal: it was an experience.
Owner Hussein will come to pick you from your hotel in his minibus and will regale you with tales of Kalkans history, Turkeys politics – and even astrology. On the way home, he stopped the vehicle in excitement: he wanted to show us how the star and moon were perfectly aligned in the night sky to depict the Turkish flag, a celestial phenomenon he said happens only rarely.
At his wonderful restaurant, you can feel free to put yourself in his hands.
Liberated of menus and decisions, we enjoyed whatever was fresh from the kitchen that day, which happened to be sensational mezze followed by a succulent pulled pork dish and the piece de resistance: beef meatballs with yoghurt, baked flatbread and homemade chilli sauce that should be bottled and sold.
His choice of wine was impeccable too – a local dry white (Likya Patara, from Antalya). No meal is complete at Husseins without a shot of ajibadem, a Turkish almond liquor reminiscent of Amaretto.
Hussein also holds cookery courses in his kitchen with tour of local butcher, greengrocer and a tasting in the cheese shop ending in a convivial lunch. Enormous fun, youll come out with new skills, full stomach and a smile.
Ask any taxi to take you to Gurus place, on the road out of Kalkan and youll get there.
Kalkan Kaş Karayolu Üzeri 3. Km, 07960 Antalya, Turkey, +90 536 331 10 16
PINARBASI TERRACE, ISLAMLAR VILLAGE
If views are your thing, you will love this. This restaurant really was out of the way – we would never have discovered it without recommendations from our hotel – but it was unforgettable.
A pleasant 15-minute taxi ride took us into alpine hills, through tiny hamlets, past families sitting on sofas in their gardens enjoying the cooling evening.
Our destination was the trout-farming village of Islamlar. Up to 5 degrees cooler, it provides welcome relief from mid-summer heat and a truly authentic experience. Springs diverted from the mountains into the village have led to a thriving trout farming industry, and it is this that forms the backbone of the cuisine.
There are a handful to choose from, but for the views, it had to be Pinarbasi Terrace.
As the sun set, we looked over the flame-coloured skies and lush forested hills down to the now violet-tinged Med.
No photo could do it justice and it is not hyperbole to call it breathtaking.
As we left, a father and son selling honey from their own bees on a stall opposite gave us a taste of pine and orange blossom honey – and sent us off with a large jar.
Pınarbaşı Terrace Restaurant, Kalkan Mahallesi, no:49, İslamlar Köyü Yolu, 07960 Kaş/Antalya, Turkey
DOGA at DOGA HOTEL
Another one not to be missed – and another so off-the-beaten track that we were again the only English people in sight. The drive along a mountaintop road hugging the cliff edge makes the 40-minute trip from Kalkan worthRead More – Source