I’m driving over the Taurus Mountains in southwestern Turkey and I can feel my toes going numb. I wasn’t expecting it to be this cold and I haven’t figured out the heating system in my rental car.
It’s rolling white hills and flat plains as far as the eye can see. And then, as if someone flicked a switch, I’m drifting down past green pine forests and into the sun-kissed Esen Valley.
It was in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains that Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces in 333 BC. Today, it’s a bucolic region of ski resorts and hiking trails. And as you make your way into the valleys between the mountains and the Mediterranean, you’ll find a sea of plastic greenhouses growing crops of tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers.
I’m on my way towards the Turkish Riviera, otherwise known as the Turquoise Coast.
The Turquoise Coast is a 620-mile stretch of red cliffs, luminous blue water, whitewashed fishing villages, and remarkable ancient ruins.
For years now, this coast has been touted as “the next big hot spot.” But it’s never fully materialized. At least not to the extent that it deserves.
It’s the Italian Riviera minus the poseurs…or the French Riviera without the cost.
Plus, it boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year.
Unfortunately, I’ve arrived to one of the other 65…and aside from a couple of sunny mornings, it’s been mostly raining.
My first stop is Kalkan, a fishing village turned resort town, with winding backstreets and an abundance of small bars and restaurants.
Normally this town would be buzzing with mostly British vacationers. However, to arrive here in the off-season (as I’ve done) feels like sneaking into an amusement park after hours. Very little is open and my presence causes a few raised eyebrows.
The town is in a state of preparation for the coming season, which will start picking up in April. For now, the only sounds are buzz saws, hammers, and a few barking dogs.
But there are still some restaurant open to serve the few expats and vacationers about the place. And I drop in to one for a traditional Turkish breakfast of tomatoes, cucumber and olives, bread and honey, and a sizzling pan of eggs and cheese. And of course a coffee. It all comes in at under 100 lira (about $7).
Afterwards, I take a little stroll through the old part of town and out onto the waterfront. You can check it out in this video:
As towns on this coast go, Kalkan is upmarket. The hotels are small and boutique, and the topography of the land surrounding the bay means than there are few places left to build.
This gives buyers here some protection. The town can’t expand much more. And you can have a sea view with little chance of a high-rise hotel going up in front of you.
In fact, from anywhere in town you’re only a five or 10 minute walk from the water, but there is limited pebble beach here. You’ll mostly find small platforms from where you can swim, go canoeing or scuba diving.
But just outside of town, you’ll find some of the best sandy beaches in Turkey. Including Kaputas Beach, just an eight-minute drive away—and 187 steps down from the road—as well as the famed Patara Beach 20 minutes in the opposite direction.
Patara is a huge unspoiled beach that stretches for 11 miles, and is protected by a national park. You’ll see turtles hatching here from May to October. But the real jewel is the ancient ruins just a few minutes back from the sand…
It’s the remnants of a city that was once the capital of the Lycian civilization, later ruled by the Romans and Byzantines. I went to check it out and had the place entirely to myself.
Fun fact: Patara is the birthplace of St Nicholas (aka Santa Claus).
With just a day to check out Kalkan real estate, I couldn’t give an extensive search, but I managed to squeeze in a couple of viewings just to get a sense of the market.
Here’s what I found:
Two-bed condo with shared pool—$175,000
First up was a two-bedroom condo with a shared pool going for about $175,000. It’s on the Kalamar side of town, which has its own bay and beach club, and feels more exclusive—with nice spa and restaurant options.
Three-bed villa with private pool and sea views—$404,000
Next up, I check out a three-bed villa with great views over the Mediterranean. The villa is a skeleton, so the buyer can lay it out as they wish.
It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the water and the beach club on Kalamar Bay, as well as a variety of water sports activities.
You’re also close to an entry point to the Lycian Way, a marked long-distance hiking trail that traces about 400 miles along the coast from Fethiye in the west to Antalya in the east.
Note, we haven’t done due diligence on either of these properties, nor do we have any commercial interest here. These are simply to show you what kind of properties are on the market right now.
Turkey is currently going through a currency crisis, which has led to a uptick in foreigners hoping to get a deal on real estate.
However, in an upmarket destination like Kalkan, where buyers are predominantly British, you won’t see any major price drops. In fact, the agent I spoke to expects to see a flood of demand when travel picks up again. Thanks to Brexit, which creates barriers to living in the EU for British folk, many are expect to turn to destinations like the Turkish Riviera instead.