The serpentine road from Kalkan to Kaş passes glittering inlets dotted with pebble beaches. Sandwiched between sea and mountains, cosmopolitan Kaş is refreshingly hassle-free. Its pleasant streets are lined with inexpensive, hospitable places to stay, excellent restaurants, superior artisan shops, and laid-back bars. A peninsula curves around from one side of the town’s harbor, creating a calm, rock-lined lagoon ideal for casting off for a boat trip. Kaş is unique in its character and class, allowing for chances to soak in a little Roman and Lycian history, dance to a hodge-podge of American folk, blues, rock, and Turkish pop, or simply lounge on the waterfront, cocktail in hand. Already renowned as one of the best scuba sites on the Mediterranean, Kaş is building a reputation among paragliding enthusiasts. Launches have recently opened on the same mountains whose hiking trails showcase the area’s natural beauty and local culture. Kaş hosts a national arts festival every year at the end of June, when Turks from around the country come to enjoy the professional dance, music, and art displays.
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- Buses: The otogar, uphill on Atatürk Cad., is serviced by Kamil Koç (836 19 49) and Pamukkale (836 13 10), To: Ankara (12hr8:30pm, $19); Antalya (3hr., every 30min. 7am-7:45pm, $5.40); Aydın (1hr.; 9am, 9pm; $8); Bodrum (7hr., 9:30am, $10); Bursa (12hr., 8pm, $17); Dalaman (3hr.; 9am, 9pm; $7); Fethiye (2hr.; 9, 9:30am, 6:30, 8:30, 9pm; $2.50); İstanbul (15hr., 6:30pm, $21); İzmir (9hr.; 9am, 9pm; $12.50); Muğla (5hr.; 9am, 9pm; $6); Selçuk, via Aydin. To get to Olimpos, take any Antalya-bound bus.
- Dolmuş: From the otogar to: Kalkan (40min., every 30min. 9:30am-7pm, $1); Kaputaş Beach (20min., every 30min. 9:30am-7pm, $1); Patara (1hr„ every 30min. 9:30am- 7pm, $2); Saklikent and Xanthos (10:15am, return 6pm via Kaputaş Beach; $8); Xanthos (lhr., every 30min. 9:30am-7pm, $2).
- Taxis: Yat Taksi (836 19 33), on the road toward the harbor on Liman Cad.
- Car Rental: Ali Baba Rent-a-Car (836 25 01; fax 836 32 25), on Hastane Cad. Motorbikes from $13 per day; cars $30-68 per day. Open daily 8am-midnight.
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Most of the activity centers around the small harbor along the main street, Cumhuriyet Cad. At its west end near the mosque, Cumhuriyet Cad. intersects Hastane Cad. before becoming Atatürk Bui. and heading out of the city. At its east end, near the Atatürk statue, Cumhuriyet Cad. intersects Ibrahim Serin Cad., which leads to the PTT before turning into Çukurbağli Sok. From the Atatürk statue, Hükümet Cad. passes above the harbor to the two beaches. The street going uphill behind the tourist office the one with most of the souvenir shops is Uzun Çarşı Cad.
- Tourist Office: Cumhuriyet Meydanı (836 12 38; fax 836 16 95), to the left as you face the harbor. A very helpful, English-speaking staff distributes local maps and accommodation info. Open daily 8am-noon and 1-7pm; Nov.-Apr. M-F 8am-5pm.
- Travel Agencies: Nearly all agencies offer tours to Kekova. Tour prices vary slightly, so shop around before buying a ticket. BT Adventure and Diving on Ibrahim Serin Cad. (836 37 37; fax 836 16 05) has a friendly staff and offers diving ($30), kayaking trips to Kekova ($30), jeep safaris to Saklikent Gorge (8:30am-6:30pm, $37 with lunch), and canyoning. Open daily 8:30am-11pm. Simena Tours, 1 Elmalı Cad. (836 14 16), down the street from the otogar, books airline tickets and arranges popular day- trips to Kekova and Saklikent Gorge, it also plans canoe tours of Xanthos on Xanthos River (9am-6pm, $24 with lunch) and trips to Gömbe, a traditional village in the mountains near a lake (10am-6pm, $20 with trout lunch). Open 9am-8:30pm. Dolce Vita Travel Agency (836 16 10), next to the tourist office, offers friendly and professional service to all the popular sites. Skysports (836 32 91; fax 836 36 79) offers paragliding for $80. Open 8am 1:30pm.
- Banks: ATMs are scattered throughout the harbor area and on Atatürk Bul. Türkiye İş Bankası (836 15 60) is on Atatürk Bul. Open 8:30am-noon and 1:30-5:30pm. English Language Bookstore: Merdiven (836 30 22), directly to the right of the monument tomb, sells used books, maps, and guide books. Open daily 10am-midnight.
- Laundromat: Habessos Laundry (836 12 63), on Uzun Çarşı Antik Sok., across from Galileo Bookstore. $5 per load, with ironing $7.40. Open daily 8am-midnight.
- Hamam: (836 30 62), at Hotel Hera on Hükümet Cad. Full service $15.
- Police: (836 10 24), across from the entrance to the jandarma on Hükümet Cad.
- Hospital: Private (836 11 85), before the campground on Hastane Cad. Munise Ozan (836 41 42 or 836 41 41), next to Ali Baba Rent-a-Car on Hastane Cad., offers free public health services and is a certified and helpful tourism doctor.
- Internet Access: Internet Cafe (836 28 45), on Çukurbağlı Cad. $2 per hr. Open daily 9am-midnight. Turkuaz Internet Cafe (836 20 88), in the market off Atatürk. $2 per hr. Open daily 9am-midnight.
- PTT: (836 14 50 or 836 14 78), on Çukurbağlı Cad. Walk 50m up from the Atatürk statue on Ibrahim Serin Cad. Poste restante available. Open daily 8am- 1pm. Currency exchange desk open 8:30am-11pm. International phones 24hr.
Since pensions tend to jack up their prices in the high season, the search for inexpensive accommodations in July and August will test your haggling abilities. There are many budget pensions on the side streets to the right of Atatürk Bul. (when heading from the otogar to the waterfront), all of which are so close to each other and compete so fiercely that bargaining can significantly ease the strain on your wallet. If you’ve got some extra cash, the pensions on the hill on the other side of town, with water views and convenient beach access, are worth the money.
- Ateş Pension, Yeni Cami Cad. No. (836 13 93), on the right side of Hastane Cad., uphill from the mosque. A popular backpacker hangout with simple rooms, some with bath and balcony, and an adjoining pension with stenciled flowers on the walls and mosquito nets. Ottoman-style breezy rooftop terrace contributes to the laid-back atmosphere. Laundry $3. Free internet. Discounts on local tours and deals with multinight stays. Breakfast Included. Singles $7; doubles $14.
- Hermes Pension, İmdi Cad. (836 11 73), block in from Atatürk Bul. when walking toward the water from the otogar. Clean, airy, pleasant rooms, all with bath, tile floors, and balcony. Nice neighborhood. Little English spoken. Breakfast ($2.50) sewed on terrace with view of the water. Singles $7; doubles $10; triples $14.
- Bahar Pension (836 13 23). From the otogar, head down Atatürk Bul. toward the sea and take a right onto Gül Sok. Pastel wails illuminate the rooms of this vibrant hostel, topped off by a rooftop terrace. Breakfast included. Singles $9; doubles $13.
- Santosa Pansiyon (836 17 14). Clean, simple rooms, all with bath and balcony. Bare bones but likeable, and right near the mosque (listen for the wake-up call from the muezzin). Breakfast included. Singles $6; doubles $12.
- Kaş Camping (836 10 50), on Hastane Cad., 100m past the theater. Beautiful view, hills, shade, grass, and hot water. Great oceanside terrace for meals. Breakfast $2.50. Tents $2.50 per person; 2-bed bungalows $10; caravan with electricity $8.
Kaş sports dozens of joints complete with beautiful settings and quality food.
- Bahçe (836 23 70), uphill from the monument tomb. Known for the best mezes this side of Istanbul ($1.50-1.75), this enclosed garden restaurant can do it all. Try the fish wrapped in paper ($6.50) or the saç kavurma (lamb or beef cooked on the table; $5) for a taste of the house specialty. Open daily noon-midnight.
- ESOBA Restaurant (836 16 87), uphill from the PTT on Çukurbağlilar Sok., past the internet cafes. A popular green and fresh garden eatery recommended by locals and other Kaş connoisseurs. Interesting dishes include eggplant kebap ($3) and yoğurtlu köfte (lamb with yogurt; $2.50). Mezes $1.25. Open daily 7am-midnight.
- Çınarlar Meki (836 28 60), on Ibrahim Serin Cad. A delicious pide ($.60) and pizza ($4) restaurant in the town’s main square. Marvelous people-watching. Beer $1. Open daily 7:30am-12:30am.
- Chez Evy, Terzi Sok. (836 12 53), up the street and around the corner from the Red Point Bar. If you’ve got some extra cash, Chez Evy is the place to savor exquisite French food in Turkey. Magnificent jasmine enclosed garden and beautiful Ottoman reclining areas provide an ideal setting for enjoying mushroom cheese crêpes ($4), a hearty portion of broiled lamb ($8.50), or salad choose ($5). Open daily M-Sa 8am-1am.
- The Blue House (836 21 71), first right uphill from the monument tomb. This extraordinary, antique-filled house has a small, beautiful terrace overlooking the harbor and town. Especially pleasant at night. Soups $1.20; vegetable dishes $1-2; chicken and other grilled meats $4-9. Open 7:30pm-midnight.
- Corner Cafe (836 14 09), across the street from the PTT. Small and friendly cafe serves yogurt with honey ($2), flavored rice ($1.50), salads ($1.50), pastas, kebaps, and fresh fruit juices. Open daily 8am-1am.
- Spaghetti House ( 836 40 76). Turn left at the tourist office. Walk straight for 25m and take another left. This gourmet Italian restaurant offers a fantastic selection of pasta and salad at reasonable prices. Savor creamy tiramisu ($3) at one of the small outdoor tables. Salads $1.50-3; pasta $1-5; dessert $4-5. Open daily 9am-1am.
- Dolphin Cafe and Bar (836 35 38). Elegant restaurant next to the Blue House, with a story terrace and view of the harbor. Outdoor seating. Specializes in seafood $4-7. Delicious mezes ($1.25-2) and salads ($1.50-2.50). Open daily 9am-1am.
The Kaş shoreline is a mixture of white jagged rocks, surrounded by foaming surf and small pebble coves. To the left of the main square, dozens of swimming docks provide the perfect place from which to dive. The entrance to Küçük Çalık Plajı (Little Pebble Beach) is atop the hill on Hükümet Cad., 200m uphill to the left as you exit the tourist office. More determined sunbathers and swimmers frequent the less-crowded Büyük Çakıl Plajı (Big Pebble Beach), a 15min. walk down the road. Additional bronzing beds such as Liman Ağzi beach are in the small alcoves in Kaş’s harbor, where the peninsula curves back. These, as well as Bia beach with paddle boats and free lounge chairs, can be reached by most boats in the marina. The Blue Caves, 15km from Kaş, arc home to the Mediterranean’s only seal colony. The caves are a 20min. swim along the coast be careful and leave early, before the water becomes too rough. Doves Cave, 2km past Kalkan, can be reached only by water. Opposite this grotto, the Güvercinlik Cave spouts a cold underwater stream.
The most impressive of the town’s historical sites is the Hellenistic theater, just past the hospital on Hastane Cad. The only intact ancient structure in Kaş, the solitary theater overlooks the sea and the Greek island of Kastellorizo. During the Lycian Culture and Arts festival (June 28-July 1), the town hosts various concerts and performances here, though the setting sun is a daily event, in itself. Follow the path behind the theater 50m to the 4th-century BC necropolis with Doric tombs. Up Uzun Çarşı Cad. behind the tourist office, there’s a free-standing Monument Tomb, also from the same era. A more extensive hike (or dolmuş ride) to the mountain town of Gömbe will bring you into contact with the Yoruk people, caretakers of Turkey’s traditional nomadic culture. Ask at the local eatery for the trail to the Yeşil Gölü (Green Lake) crater lake where cold springs refresh the weary trekker. Kaş also hosts a famous Friday market behind the otogar, selling everything from fresh produce to clothing and household items (8am-8pm).
- Mavi (836 18 34), on the harbor to the left of the Atatürk statue. Kaş’s first bar has gained more fame from its squatters than from its clientele. Enjoy a lively scene in the bar or perch on the ledge outside, where the frugal can enjoy the music with the help of the “grocer’s brew” ($.80). Beer $1.50; rakı $2; cocktails $7. Open daily 5pm-3am.
- Red Point Bar (836 16 05), the 2nd right off Ibrahim Serin Sok. when headed toward the PTT. Look for the small red sign. Situated on a quiet side street, Red Point claims to be the hottest bar in town. Hit this perpetually packed club and dance the night away or talk at the outdoor tables. Beer $1.20, rakı ($2). Open daily 6:30pm-3am.
- Déjà Vu Bar (836 17 47). Facing the harbor, walk left uphill from the Atatürk statue; Déjà Vu is on the right. Throughout the night, laid-back blues and rock flow from the depths of this hip bar. Sit on the star-dappled terrace and sip some of the cheapest beer in Kaş ($1). Vodka $1.75; cappuccino $1.25. Open daily 5:30pm-2:30am.
- Hi Jazz Bar ( 836 11 65), across from Chez Evy. Head uphill and turn left after the Red Point Bar. Simple and elegant, this softly lit bar with photos of jazz artists offers a refreshing break from the usual Mediterranean nightlife scene. Beer $1.50; rakı $2; cocktails $5. Open daily 5pm-3am.
- Bacchus (836 43 78), across from the Blue House. Silvery trees and shimmering, moonlit flowers fill this aromatic garden bar. Turkish and American soft mood music. Beer $1.20; cocktails $5; espresso $1.25; ice cream $1. Open daily 8am-3am.
- Han Terrace and Bar (836 21 29), across from the PTT. Decorated with hand-made trees, dangling colored lanterns, and light mosaics. Beer $1.50; rakı $1.50; cocktails $3.50. Open daily 9am-2:30am.
DAYTRIP FROM KAŞ: THE SUBMERGED CITY OF KEKOVA
Trips from Kaş, often on glass-bottom boats, cost around $15. Try a smaller boat ($10) for a more private visit. Kekova can also be visited by sea kayak ($30). Kayaking allows for the best views of the ruins, a pleasant lunch in Uçağız (a small coastal village difficult to get to by other means), and some hearty exercise. Inquire at EFT Adventure and Diving in Kaş for more details . It’s best to visit in the morning when the area is not as crowded. Kekova is also reachable from Kalkan and Demre (see below).
Off the coast near Üçağız, the Lycian city of Kekova lies submerged under the clear Mediterranean waters. During the eras of Hellenistic and Arab control, the city served as a lookout post and refuge from marauding pirates. From craggy Kekova Island, one can see through calm water to the underwater walls and staircases that collapsed in an earthquake. If the waters are exceptionally smooth, it may be possible to spot an amphora or two, but don’t go in expecting to find Atlantis. Above sea level on Kekova Island, a motley assortment of doors and walls still bear evidence of long-gone floors and ceilings. The highlight of the trip is the partially submerged Lycian sarcophagus near the village of Kale, as well as the sight from the village’s castle. Swimming or snorkeling among the ruins is forbidden.
DEMRE AND MYRA
The ancient ruins of Myra stretch high into the dry cliffs. The mixture of Lycian rock tombs, sculptures, and a Roman theater is truly awe-inspiring. The offerings of nearby Demre, unfortunately, are not. Its rather drab establishments alternate with unfinished concrete buildings along dusty, hot streets. On the road down from the Beydağları Mountains to Kaş, Demre was once an important member of the Lycian League, and St. Paul is said to have stopped here in 61 AD on his way to Rome. Demre was the diocese of St. Nicholas, better known as Santa Claus. The kind-hearted saint, bom in Patara (60km west of Demre), became the Bishop of Myra in the early 4th century. The town also has a beach and cold springs.
TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION.
Demre’s layout is fairly simple. Take a left at the otogar exit and walk 100m to reach the T-junction with the town’s main street. To the left 300m is the Church of St. Nicholas. The ruins of Myra are 3km straight from the T-junction. From the otogar, buses run to: Antalya (3hr., every 30min. 7am-8:45pm, $4); Fethiye (1hr., every hr. 9am-4:45pm, $4); Kaş (1hr., every hr. 8:15am-1:15pm, $1.50). Myra Otogar Taksi (871 43 43) has taxis at the otogar. Other services include: banks and an ATM on Noel Baba Cad., including a Türkiye İş Bankaşı on the way to St. Nicholas Church from the otogar (open 1 am-5:30pm); a police station (871 42 21), near the otogar; and a PTT, 200m to the right of the T-junction. (871 55 19. Open 8:30am-6pm.)
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD.
Kent Pension , in a bright green building 22km up the road to Myra, has 10 clean, comfortable rooms with 24hr. hot water and gardenside bungalows with bath. The pension provides tours of Kekova with visits to several bays, the Blue Caves, and a shipyard, as well as shuttles to the beach and cold springs. (871 20 42. Dinner $4. Tours $10. Breakfast included. Singles $9; doubles $15; 3-person bungalows $10.) Another option is Hotel Kiyak , Merkez Girişi PK 65, a salmon-pink hotel across from the Kekova Pension and near the traffic roundabout. Walk out of town, away from St. Nicholas and Myra. Its 24 large, modem rooms have balconies, bath, phone, and TV. The hotel also organizes Kekova tours ($5-9) and “mountain safaris,” with visits to a waterfall, lakes, and a hamam ($23). Free shuttle to beach and cold springs. (871 45 09. Breakfast included. Singles $7, with $9.50; doubles $15, $20.)
Demre’s dining options are sparse; inquire about evening meals at pensions. Otherwise, you can find a cheap meal along the main road toward St. Nicholas Church. İpek Restaurant , near St. Nicholas Church, dishes out Turkish specialties. (871 5448. Hot meze $1-1.50; pide $1.50. Open daily 8am-midnight.) İnci Pastanesi , by the İpek restaurant, sells delicious pastries. (Baklava $3.50 per kg. Open daily 7am-midnight.)
Myra was one of the most important cities in the Lycian League, a federation that included 70 cities, including Xanthos, Patara, Olimpos, and Tlos. Myra was divided into three areas: the sea necropolis in the southwest part of the site to the right of the theater, the acropolis area and its surrounding walls, and the river necropolis. The rock tombs built into the sea and the river necropolis are of particularly high quality and are thus off-limits. Some tombs are stylized to imitate wooden beams, and many still have slight traces of color. The river necropolis is less touristed than the sea necropolis, since it requires an arduous climb over thorny, brambled cliffs. The site’s other major highlight is a Ell theater with 35 consecutive rows of seats and a still-intact stage. Stone tablets engraved with theater mask reliefs lie scattered about the structure. The theater was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 141 AD, but was later rebuilt and modified to host gladiatorial games. (Open daily 9am-7:30pm; in winter 8am-5:30pm. $1.50, students $.50.)
Demre’s other major attraction is the Church of St. Nicholas, thought to be built on the site of the famous saint’s tomb. An annual Orthodox service takes place in the theater on December 6, the anniversary of St. Nicholas’s death. The current structure, which dates from the 8th century, suffered centuries of neglect until the Russian Tsar ordered its repair in the 19th century. Later lost under debris and shifting sand from the Myras River, the church remained hidden until 1956. Excavations since 1989 have uncovered many new rooms but few treasures. Though for the most part barren, the church’s stripped walls are illuminated by a few Byzantine frescoes crafted after the Arab invasions of the 11th century, and the church is speckled with tombs from all periods of the church’s history.Scholars have generally agreed that the tomb of St. Nicholas is in the southern nave of the church. In 1087 Italian merchants broke into the tomb and hastily took the remains to Bari, Italy, leaving behind only those that appear in the Antalya Museum . The Turkish government’s efforts to bring St. Nicholas back to the church have fallen on the deaf ears of Vatican officials for the last 20 years.(Open daily 9am-7:30pm; in winter 8am-5:30pm. $5, students $2.)