Why Kalkan on the Turkish Riviera is your next luxury retreat
Kalkan on the Turkish Riviera is a slice of laid back luxury. Oliver Bilgutay plucks olives from the trees and eats the cuisine of his dreams
The images of Turkey that were splashed across news channels in the wake of one of the worst earthquakes in recent memory make a stark contrast to pictures of Kalkan, a town on the Turkish Riviera more than 1,000km away. While the whole of the country mourned the loss – and local Kalkan business, including the ones mentioned in this article – helped to raise funds to help those affected, it’s hard to reconcile the tranquillity here with the devastation in the east of the country.
Hidden among the rising hills and mountains of the Turkish Riviera and facing crystal clear water teaming with sea turtles and the occasional pod of dolphins, Kalkan is the turquoise jewel of the Mediterranean coastline. Kalkan’s rustic old town, painted purple by the flowers of bougainvillaea vines and filled with an eclectic selection of restaurants, bars, shops, and café’s, stands alongside modern, contemporary villas built upon the hillsides.
Kalkan, unlike many other Mediterranean holiday towns, is suited to all ages. It has sophisticated restaurants, jazz bands and late-night music bars; there are high-speed water sports; and there are calming beaches that are perfect to enjoy the sunset with a cocktail or glass of rosé. There are 10 beach clubs along the shoreline, as well as the local ‘Town Beach’ which has the best views of the surrounding bay.
A favourite way to fully experience Kalkan is via the daily boat tours that depart from the small harbour. With an endless selection of boats, with an equally long selection of characterful captains, you are able to decide which parts of the bay you would like to see. The islands are a great option to scramble across the rocks in search of small pools: Frenk has become famed for its deep waters and towering cliffs, from which the brave plunge, while Firnaz Bay is a perfect spot for a calm drink and to enjoy a lunch of local dishes made for you by your captain.
Canoeing on the Xanthos River carries you through the lush surroundings of the ancient Lycian lands to Patara Beach
If you are in search of a more nocturnal adventure, there is also the option of an evening boat trip, where watching the sun sink into the ocean is the main attraction, followed by some stargazing on the deck. This ‘Midnight Cruise’ gives full context to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus stating that Kalkan is “the closest place to the stars on earth”. For those with slightly more niche interests, there are countless historical sites in the surrounding towns and villages, not least the Lycian trail, which runs across the surrounding mountains.
Nearby Sakilikent Gorge, the second largest in Europe at 20km long, is also a must. The landscape is spectacular, with sheer walls towering high above as you clamber over boulders and through rock pools. Try river canoeing on the Xanthos River, which carries you through the lush surroundings of the ancient Lycian lands to Patara Beach. And for accommodation, you can rely on one of Kalkan’s oldest businesses: Ko rsan.
With rental villas spread across town, from the two-bedroom traditional Korsan Minik located in the heart of the old town, to the seven-bedroom Villa Korsan, which peers over the sea and bays, to the more affordable Korsan Apartments located just minutes away from the town centre. Korsan also has a property development arm, with over 90 per cent of its accommodation built by the company itself. So if you happen to fall in love during your stay, you could even create your own dream property, with Korsan taking care of the management, maintenance, and rentals.
Korsan is also well known for its restaurants. Korsan Meze offers traditional Turkish dishes with a modern twist. The Korsan Fish Terrace is a great place to indulge in fresh seafood caught in Kalkan bay. And the newest restaurant, The Kitchen by Korsan, has a mix of world cuisines as well as villa catering services, which can bring the food right to your doorstep. Pre-arrival, you can arrange for a selection of freshly prepared traditional mezes to be waiting for you at your villa and you can also opt for an in-villa BBQ night, a Mexican themed taco evening, a dip into Italian cuisine with handmade pasta, or even a sushi night, all prepared to your specifications.
Sticking to the foodie theme, I strongly recommend a guided tour around Korsan’s Tosunlar Olive Oil Press. With olive harvesting season occurring in late autumn, you will have the opportunity to taste some of the freshest, highest quality olive oil in the world, before having lunch in the factory restaurant – a fantastic op portunity to try ‘Pide’, a Turkish, pizzalike dish prepared in a large stone oven, a staple of any holiday in Turkey.
Kalkan is filled with amazing restaurants, winding streets and turquoise seas. It will soon become your favourite place to pull up a sun lounger, put your feet up and unwind under the shade of an olive tree.
Visit Kalkan, Turkey yourself
For more information and to book go to korsankalkan.com. Korsan will arrange airport transfers from nearby Dalaman airport, and organise restaurant reservations. Check out their Instagram channels: korsankalkan; thekitchenbykorsan; korsanfishterrace; korsanmeze; tosunlar_korsan_caykoy