If there was ever a story of two cities it must be Kaş and Kalkan. Each picturebook fairly, with cobbled streets and bougainvillea-draped previous stone homes, the 2 grew to become massively in style with holidaying Britons in Antalya when mainstream tourism started to assemble tempo there within the early Nineteen Nineties.
After I first visited in 1994, Kalkan was nonetheless small, and Kaş – half an hour’s drive away alongside the vertiginously lovely coastal highway – was the larger, livelier sibling. In these days, Kaş was the place you went for a correct night time out – inevitably ending in a knuckle-whitening taxi journey again within the early hours.
Within the intervening 30 years, a lot has modified. Kalkan has grown right into a form of Turkish Monte Carlo, beloved of Britons (Wadebridge-on-Sea, somebody mentioned to me lately, having visited for the primary time), with lots of of eating places, 1000’s of villas and a well-heeled air that sees £300 purses fly out of the door earlier than the primary cocktails have been drunk. Kaş, then again, stays remarkably unchanged; nonetheless a working city, with a tangle of atmospheric previous streets and a boat-lined harbour. It additionally has its justifiable share of luxurious villas and boutique accommodations, however these are virtually all discovered on the Çukurbağ peninsula, 4 miles out of city.
Whereas I nonetheless love Kalkan, Kaş is the place I am going to for a correctly Turkish break. Staying on the peninsula provides an actual sense of peace and escape, though the shortage of any bus service means counting on taxis – of which there are a lot of – or self-drive. Each Simpson and Classic supply villas on the peninsula, whereas the Discerning Assortment provides two accommodations, the Mandalina Suites and the Deniz Feneri Lighthouse, each splendid for a romantic getaway quite than a household week, with direct entry to the ocean. If you wish to be within the coronary heart of city, Resort Sonne (doubles from £56 B&B) makes a cushty, inexpensive base.
Like Kalkan, Kaş is brief on seashores; as an alternative, a sequence of seaside golf equipment fringe the city’s coastal strip, providing the prospect to arrange camp for the day, with sunbeds on over-water decks, normally connected to a restaurant or cafe. If I wish to be on the town, I normally head to Leymona Seashore, handily positioned only a few minutes’ stroll from the principle harbour, or Kaş Seashore, the place the frozen margaritas are the proper solution to glide from late afternoon into the nice and cozy, sun-drenched night.
Though it’s attainable to spend every week lazing on quite a lot of sunloungers and doing little else, Kaş has positioned itself lately as one thing of an actions hub. Dive boats glide out from the harbour every morning, providing every part from Padi programs to refresher programmes and superior open-water dives (subaquadive.com is usually thought of the perfect). Bougainville Journey caters for tender adventurers, with kayaking journeys and Jeep safaris, in addition to these in search of extra hardcore thrills, comparable to canyoning via a sequence of spectacular gorges.
My favorite time out is a ship journey to Kekova island, most well-known for the stays of the traditional metropolis of Dolikisthe, misplaced to the ocean after an earthquake within the second century AD. It’s great to swim via crystal-clear water with a ruined Byzantine church shimmering eerily beneath you, and, though you get to see extra of the ruins when you select to kayak over them, for me, snorkelling is one of the best ways to essentially get a way of what would as soon as have been an imposing buying and selling metropolis. On the mainland reverse Kekova is Kaleköy, the place there are additional partly submerged relics.
Maybe probably the most shocking issues about Kaş is its proximity to Greece – or no less than the Greek island of Meis/Kastellorizo (Turkish/Greek), one of many smallest within the Dodecanese archipelago, simply half an hour throughout the water. It’s a straightforward day journey by ferry, though it’s finest to e book upfront – and go away loads of time for the convoluted passport wrangling that must be accomplished earlier than you allow Turkish shores.
The island’s dimension makes it simple to discover in just a few hours – boat taxis go away from the harbour for Aya Georgio seaside and the spectacular Blue Cave – though I not often do a lot however potter between the neoclassical mansions that line the harbour, pristine in shades of duck-egg blue and butter yellow. Lunch is inevitably a protracted, sluggish affair, taken at one of many waterfront eating places – a little bit pricier than these within the backstreets, however price it for the view again throughout to the rooftops of Kaş, clustered on the opposite facet of the water.
Nonetheless a lot I really like Kaş, it’s unimaginable to not go to Kalkan whereas I’m there. The highway clings to the mountainside, with hairpin bends sheering all the way down to the ocean beneath and views that would train the Amalfi coast a factor or two. Time was, I’d cease for a dip on Kaputas – a stunner of a seaside, sandwiched between two cliff faces – however its current standing as an Instagram favorite means when you go to between 10.30am and 5pm you’ll battle for each a parking area and a lounger. As an alternative, I time it for a sundown drink and dinner, normally on the Blue Marlin, a small, unfussy restaurant tucked away on the harbour that does the perfect meze on the town.
Consuming out in Kaş is splendidly relaxed in contrast with Kalkan, the place the restaurant scene is nearly gladiatorial. In Kaş, most eating places nonetheless serve conventional Turkish dishes, with meze trays stacked in chilly bars, and contemporary fish piled on ice. It’s exhausting to go fallacious, however I normally attempt to get a desk at Beyhude Meyhane or Meydan, whereas Oburus Momus is my go-to if I’m with associates who’re vegetarians or vegans. Kaş has a clutch of stay music bars – Echo is sweet, if at all times busy – but it surely’s extra of a mellow-tunes form of vibe than a severe occasion city.
Even after 25 years of visiting Kaş, there are nonetheless loads of issues I haven’t executed. I hold promising to stroll a piece of the Lycian Method and white‑water raft via the Toparlar canyon, or (much less convincingly) take the chance to paraglide off Mount Assas. Someway, there are at all times extra engaging issues to do, like sitting within the city’s leafy Çay Bahçesi (tea backyard) on the principle sq. and watching the world go by – or bartering for every part from T-shirts to spices on the frenetic Friday market, arguably the perfect within the area.
However maybe my favorite factor of all is to rise up early, decide up tea and simit from the Aysun Pastahanesi (on Bahçe Sokak) and sit on the harbour wall, watching the city slowly get up, precisely because it’s executed for many years. Tourism has introduced a lot to Turkey since my first go to within the Nineteen Nineties – fortunes made, resorts developed, European tastes catered for – however in Kaş, no less than, it’s the shortage of change, its splendidly undiluted Turkishness, that makes it such a gem.