Kas, Kalkan and Islamlar Villa holiday guide
Dramatically located at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, the Mediterranean towns of Kalkan, Kas and Islamlar are three popular destinations for a friendly, quiet and hassle-free villa holiday. Islamlar is a former Greek mountain settlement, eight kilometres north of Kalkan and a few degrees cooler, it's a breath of fresh air during hot summer months. Make Islamlar your base to explore the area, from the chic little town of Kalkan, to ancient tombs dotting the coastline and the rugged Lycian Way trek. Over in Kas, pretty whitewashed stone cottages – restored Greek Ottoman houses – lie on twisty streets, draped in the bright purple of bougainville flowers. Diving, snorkelling and paragliding ensure that active types will be spoilt for choice, but there’s also laid-back feel with arty jewellery boutiques and tea gardens overlooking the little harbour.
Kalkan, Kas and Islamlar beaches
Kas is a coastal town – but not one associated with a major beach. Nonetheless, you can still plunge into the Mediterranean for a refreshing dip. Kucuk Cakil (‘big pebble’) beach is a tiny rocky hidden-away cove, where you can practice your dives from the surrounding rocks with the local daredevil kids. Kalkan has a white pebbled beach where you can relax on sun loungers or dip into the crystal-clear calm waters – it gets deep quickly and it’s bracingly cold. Or relax at a private beach club with paved platforms and gardens, where you climb down the ladder to immerse yourself in the sea and take in the late evening sun. Or take a ten-minute ride on a dolmus (minibus) and take the 200 steps down from the road to tiny Kaputas beach, dramatically located at the foot of a gorge. Drive a little further west and you’re in Patara, the longest beach in the Mediterranean, an unspoilt 18km stretch of gleaming powdery sand with scenic views encompassing curvy dunes and the majestic Taurus Mountains.
Eating and drinking in Kalkan, Kas and Islamlar
It’s easy to immerse yourself in local flavour in Islamlar’s caybahce (tea garden) where local men gather to discuss the state of the world over endless glasses of sweet black tea. Choose from a smattering of restaurants to sample wholesome Turkish cuisine, including hand-reared trout – and all that while gazing at astounding mountain scenery. Or take the short drive into stylish Kalkan to sample Mediterranean flavours in rooftop restaurants overlooking the sea. Dine on freshly caught stuffed sea bass or Ottoman-style meatballs at Aubergine restaurant on the waterfront, or feast on traditional manti (filled dumplings) sitting on floor cushions at Belgin’s Kitchen, a converted olive oil factory. You won’t be deafened by noisy nightclubs in Kalkan; instead you can sip Turkish white wine on intimate rooftop bars with the evening breeze drifting through the wooden lintels. In Kas, the smell of sizzling fresh fish and meat wafts in the main square, where locals gather in the warm evenings to the restaurants and cafes. There are plenty of international cuisines to try, including Chez Evy for French delicacies in a leafy courtyard, or try the waterfront Manzara Restaurant for fresh fish. Kas isn’t the place for booming clubs until dawn, but you will find romantic rooftop bars for a chilled sunset Efes beer, and waterfront venues for Turkish live music.
Things to do in Kalkan, Kas and Islamlar
Once you’ve explored Islamlar’s peaceful little village square with traditional bakery and teahouses, it’s a short drive to coastal Kalkan, with Ottoman-era Greek cottages converted into stylish boutiques.Join a local dive school to plunge deep into Kalkan’s waters to natural underwater caves, or perhaps take a snorkel and look out for starfish and stingray. Nearby, 18km-long Patara Beach is bordered by the Taurus Mountains and sand dunes, where you might catch the endangered caretta caretta turtles as they lay their eggs at sunset in season. The ruins of 4th century BC Xanthos lie just a half hour drive away, where you’ll find treasures such as a Lycian sarcophagus and amphitheatre in a lush setting. Feeling adventurous? Head to Kas to dive among underwater wrecks, or tandem paragliding from qualified guides. Known as one of the Turkish coast’s finest destinations for diving, Kas has around 16 diving centres for beginners or experts. Visit Kekova Island by boat to dive to ancient underwater ruins – you can get close up to the remains of a Byzantine church. If you prefer to be above the water, a great way to see the coast is on a gullet boat.
Kalkan, Kas and Islamlar nature
Kas lies on the Lycian Way walking route –509km long in total – where you can enjoy a day’s walk through forests and villages on old mule trails, spotting ancient Lycian sites on your way. Take the short trip to Patara National Park to see local birdlife - look out for buzzards and falcons, or take a horse ride along Patara’s 18km-long sandy beach. You’ll be dazzled by the brilliant phosphorescent-blue waters as you swim inside the Mavi Magarasi (‘Blue Cave’) off the coast of Kalkan. If you’re feeling adventurous, paraglide over Kas for dramatic views of the Taurus mountain range.
Shopping in Kalkan, Kas and Islamlar
Kalkan’s Thursday Market attracts local and the regional farmers creating a scene of colourful stalls of fresh local produce plus clothes and crafts – a real taste of local life. For quality goods, browse boutique-type shops for handmade silver jewellery, made-to-measure clothes by local tailors, and hand-blown glass. You’ll also find rugs and kilims from all over Turkey.