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Why I maintain returning to Kas, Turkey’s unspoilt seaside hideaway | Turkey holidays



If there was ever a story of two cities it needs to be Kaş and Kalkan. Each picturebook fairly, with cobbled streets and bougainvillea-draped previous stone homes, the 2 grew to become massively fashionable with holidaying Britons in Antalya when mainstream tourism started to assemble tempo there within the early Nineties.

Once 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 evening out – inevitably ending in a knuckle-whitening taxi journey again within the early hours.

Turkey map Kas

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, hundreds 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, alternatively, stays remarkably unchanged; nonetheless a working city, with a tangle of atmospheric previous streets and a boat-lined harbour. It additionally has its fair proportion of luxurious villas and boutique accommodations, however these are nearly all discovered on the Çukurbağ peninsula, 4 miles out of city.

Snorkelling is the best way to see submerged ancient ruins.
Snorkelling is the easiest way to see submerged historic ruins. {Photograph}: ukayacan/Getty Photos

Whereas I nonetheless love Kalkan, Kaş is the place I am going to for a correctly Turkish break. Staying on the peninsula presents an actual sense of peace and escape, though the dearth of any bus service means counting on taxis – of which there are a lot of – or self-drive. Each Simpson and Classic provide villas on the peninsula, whereas the Discerning Assortment presents two accommodations, the Mandalina Suites and the Deniz Feneri Lighthouse, each very best for a romantic getaway slightly than a household week, with direct entry to the ocean. If you wish to be within the coronary heart of city, Lodge Sonne (doubles from £56 B&B) makes a snug, reasonably priced base.

Like Kalkan, Kaş is brief on seashores; as an alternative, a collection of seashore golf equipment fringe the city’s coastal strip, providing the possibility to arrange camp for the day, with sunbeds on over-water decks, normally connected to a restaurant or cafe. If I need to be on the town, I normally head to Leymona Seaside, handily positioned just some minutes’ stroll from the primary harbour, or Kaş Seaside, the place the frozen margaritas are the proper option to glide from late afternoon into the nice and cozy, sun-drenched night.

Half-submerged tomb off Kaleköy.
Half-submerged tomb off Kaleköy. {Photograph}: Dorling Kindersley ltd/Alamy

Though it’s doable to spend every week lazing on a wide range 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 thing from Padi programs to refresher programmes and superior open-water dives ( is usually thought of one of the best). Bougainville Journey caters for delicate adventurers, with kayaking journeys and Jeep safaris, in addition to these in search of extra hardcore thrills, akin to canyoning via a collection of spectacular gorges.

My favorite day trip 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 in case you select to kayak over them, for me, snorkelling is the easiest way to actually 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 one of the vital stunning issues about Kaş is its proximity to Greece – or not 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 simple day journey by ferry, though it’s greatest to ebook upfront – and depart loads of time for the convoluted passport wrangling that must be accomplished earlier than you permit Turkish shores.

A market in Kaş.
A market in Kaş. {Photograph}: Glyn Genin/Alamy

The island’s measurement makes it simple to discover in just a few hours – boat taxis depart from the harbour for Aya Georgio seashore and the spectacular Blue Cave – though I hardly ever 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 an extended, sluggish affair, taken at one of many waterfront eating places – just a little 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.

Nevertheless a lot I like Kaş, it’s unattainable to not go to Kalkan whereas I’m there. The highway clings to the mountainside, with hairpin bends sheering right down to the ocean beneath and views that might educate the Amalfi coast a factor or two. Time was, I’d cease for a dip on Kaputas – a stunner of a seashore, sandwiched between two cliff faces – however its current standing as an Instagram favorite means in case you go to between 10.30am and 5pm you’ll battle for each a parking area and a lounger. As a substitute, 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 one of the best meze on the town.

Kaş old town.
Kaş previous city. {Photograph}: Aliaksandr Mazurkevich/Alamy

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 recent fish piled on ice. It’s arduous 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 dwell music bars – Echo is sweet, if at all times busy – however it’s extra of a mellow-tunes form of vibe than a severe get together city.

Even after 25 years of visiting Kaş, there are nonetheless loads of issues I haven’t carried out. I maintain promising to stroll a bit of the Lycian Means 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 primary sq. and watching the world go by – or bartering for every thing from T-shirts to spices on the frenetic Friday market, arguably one of the best 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 carried out for many years. Tourism has introduced a lot to Turkey since my first go to within the Nineties – fortunes made, resorts developed, European tastes catered for – however in Kaş, not less than, it’s the dearth of change, its splendidly undiluted Turkishness, that makes it such a gem.

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