Guest Post: Cocoa Chelsea's Top 5 Things to do in Kalkan
Kalkan in Turkey is one of my favourite places in the world - it is beyond beautiful, and has amazing weather and even better food. It is my absolute pleasure to share with you a handful of reasons why I am so in love with this town and why you should be booking yourself a holiday there very soon.
I have been going to Kalkan at the end of August for the past 4 years (my parents first went in 1989 and are still going back) and I have made a list of some of the top things to do whilst you are there:
1. Spend the day on a boat.
If you only do one thing when you are there - make sure you do this. Boat trips are pretty famous in Kalkan and the day consists of arriving at the marina in the morning - climbing aboard one of the gorgeous boats, and then being treated like a celebrity all day. There are a lot of companies offering different day trips, but the company I have used every year is called Yildiz and they are a family that own 2 boats. You can either rent the entire boat for a private day, or share it with others. The front of the boat is covered in sun-beds - some in the sun, some in the shade (there is also a top deck with sun-beds on for maximum sunning), and at the back there is a big table and chairs in the shade where you are served some of the most delicious homemade Turkish food by the Captain’s wife. Throughout the day you have a large lunch and then later in the afternoon a wonderful fruit platter followed by a cake and biscuit course! You sail around to a few different, stunning locations (most unreachable by land) where you can snorkel (they have the equipment on the boat), swim, dive, get a mud bath or just relax. I suffer very badly from motion sickness but the sea is so calm, especially when you are ‘parked’ in a bay, that I never feel even slightly unwell. I couldn’t recommend this trip - and the family who host the day - enough. They are so friendly, great tour guides and amazing cooks. I can’t wait to go back next year.
2. Have a Turkish Bath.
When in Turkey, it would be a shame to miss out on a proper Turkish experience, and the Turkish Bath & Massage, known as a Hamam, is definitely an experience not to be missed. I will not go into too much detail as you really need to experience it for yourself. But, in summary, you go into a gorgeous marble steam room and are then given an amazing full body, exfoliating, Turkish massage which is very different to a normal massage! My advice would be to do this at the beginning of the trip, as they take off all the dead skin on your body. In doing this, you are left with a fabulously fresh layer of skin, just waiting to be tanned. You do not want to do this at the end of the trip, as they will scrub your tan off - which is a shame, as you will have worked hard to get one!
I had my massage done with my entire family - all 6 of us in one room taking it in turns. It did turn into entertainment more than relaxation but my skin has never felt so soft as it did after. We had our massage at the Hamam in The Regency Hotel, which I would highly recommend. After the massage, we grabbed a quick lunch by the pool in this gorgeous hotel, with incredible views of the town. I have had a Turkish massage at another Hamam in Kalkan a few years ago and it definitely was not as good, so I do recommend this spa.
3. Go restaurant hopping.
I could write for hours about which restaurants to go to as the food in Kalkan is divine. Kalkan has grown in popularity over the years so there are now hundreds of restaurants to choose from, all competing to be the best. I would say that the most expensive restaurants are down by the marina and personally I don’t think they are as good as the other places. They are more touristy and living off the hype of their fabulous location. Saying this - ‘Trio’ is very, very good - so if you want to eat by the sea then I would go there! In my opinion, the best places to eat are the roof top restaurants.
Not only is the food fantastic, you also get an amazing view of the town, plus if you get there in time for sunset - it is just spectacular. My favourite of the rooftop restaurants is Kalamaki - they have one of the greatest starters I have ever eaten - the pot of mussels in the tastiest sauce! I also highly recommend Olive Garden and Gourmet.
As with most restaurants, you can tell the best ones by how busy they are - and this couldn’t be truer for Kalkan in general - however, there is one restaurant, called Kurus, which was recommended to my family. It is not in the town centre, only about a 5 minute drive out, but they come and collect you from your villa or hotel (and drop you off after). When you arrive they ask you if you prefer meat or fish or vegetarian, and if you want meat, would do you prefer the lamb or the chicken. They then bring you plates of the most delicious, authentic Turkish food whilst sitting in a gorgeous local restaurant. A unique experience, in a family-run restaurant.
Another restaurant that I have to mention is up in the mountains outside of Kalkan. You need a car to get there but it is well worth the drive. The town in the mountains is called Islamlar and it is famous for its Trout Farms. This is due to the ice-cold water that runs from the top of the mountains which is apparently an ideal habitat for breeding trout. We stopped off at a little restaurant, dipped our toes in the stream and then sat down for a gorgeous lunch.
The food is just fabulous. You obviously have to try the trout, which was excellent, and I highly recommend the grilled local cheese!
4. Get yourself to a beach club.
Kalkan doesn’t have luxurious sandy beaches, and the one beach by the marina is pretty small. So when I was not chilling by the pool, I would spend my days at the Mahal Beach Club. This beach club is heavenly. You can’t get bored of the views from the sun longer looking out at the horizon and the ridiculously turquoise sea.
The sun loungers are on different leveled platforms built into the cliff face, so you feel like you have your own private club. The food in their restaurant is so delicious and they have a great variety of dishes.
I recommend the Pide (the local take on pizza) or the calamari. There is a little boat that leaves every half an hour from the marina to the beach club and back again and takes about 7 minutes so it is really easy to get to. Perfect for a day by the sea. You can also book watersports from the beach club to keep you entertained if you don’t want to sunbathe all day. To top off this wonderful experience you can have an oil massage in a man-made cave whilst listening to the waves. It is good to know that there is also free WiFi!
In the evening, the beach club turns into a magical restaurant. It is possibly the most romantic location I have ever eaten dinner, on your own platform, by the edge of the sea, surrounded by candles and looking over at the town of Kalkan. I would recommend getting there before sunset - then you get to see it in the light, sunset and then in the dark.
5. Go shopping.
The shopping in the Kalkan is great fun - especially if you are looking for leather goods or jewellery. Apparently most of the designer handbag companies, including Mulberry have factories in Istanbul, causing there to be a lot of high quality leather available for other companies, allowing them to easily make some fabulous leather items! There are so many shops dotted in between the restaurants, one of which is even called ‘Genuine Fakes’, selling everything from the classic Chanel and Mulberry bags to the brand new Chloe & Balenciaga, plus authentic and unique Turkish clothes, towels, jewellery and pottery.
My favourite evening activity is looking at all the beautiful bags. Exact replicas of designer handbags, made out of real leather and good quality - my shopping dream! My personal favourite shop is called BSG Leather. These shops have everything from handbags, to belts, to phone cases, shoes and diamond rings. You can walk around those little shops for hours browsing.
The real leather bags can set you back a good £100 but if you are looking for something cheaper then you must visit the Turkish Market which takes place every Thursday morning. Even if you are not in the market to shop, it is great fun! It is full to the brim with cheap but great items, everything from olive oil soaps to fake Ralph Lauren Towels and every spice imaginable - it is a buzzing atmosphere and definitely an experience! Whilst you are there - make sure you get a pancake from the ladies cooking in the middle of the market in the 40 degree heat! They are simply delicious.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my top 5 things to do in this gorgeous place. I have done a lot of travelling in my time as a travel blogger and it is still my number one holiday location.
This article only skims the surface on what there is to do in Kalkan - there are incredible day trips to sunken cities, gorges, old towns, amphitheatres and a white sand beach. I haven’t even got to telling you about the fantastic bars and nightlife. But I hope I have inspired you to check out this incredible place. Kalkan is getting more and more popular and I do believe that in five years time it could be a bit too touristy - so I would go now to see the amazing town on a hillside, covered with bright pink flowers and cobbled streets!
Thanks very much to Clickstay for inviting me to write a post for them! Check out my personal blog - Cocoa Chelsea - for travel, lifetstyle and beauty features.