Kalkan is a holidaymakers gem with crystal clear waters, quaint harbour and authentic Old Town. Your two-week holiday can fly by without you having enough time to explore all the wonderful experiences Kalkan has to offer. However, if you are the type of traveller who likes to make the most out of your holiday, you may want to embark on an adventure and explore further afield. One of our favourite ‘alternative days’ to a leisurely day at a Kalkan beach club is a day at Patara. Patara is conveniently located just a 20-minute drive away from Kalkan and you can combine a really rewarding mixture of holiday experiences into one day.
If you decide to visit you will note that the village of Patara (known locally as Gelemis) is quite different from Kalkan’s quaint town. Although Kalkan has not yet been touched by mass tourism, Patara in contrast is even more sleepy and ‘authentic’ with a minimal number of small family businesses and modest accommodations. It’s also very green in comparison to Kalkan which gives it an exotic ambience but invites more mosquitos than Kalkan, so be sure to take your protective spray with you.
The Historical Site
According to legend the original city of Patara is said to have been founded by Patarus, a son of the Greek God Apollo. Today the name is still attached to the city ruins which are undergoing excavation and restoration. As recently as 2020 some exciting new discoveries have been made. These include a 1,900 year old statue of a woman and a 2,000 year old Greek snake alter.
Patara was the major naval and trading port of Lycia which made it very wealthy. It was also a very powerful city as it was one of the six principal cities of Lycia and held the highest number of votes. In the Roman era it was the judicial seat of the Roman governor. The city became the capital of both the Lycian and Pamphylian provinces at one time. Believe it or not there is also a significant part of Christian history in Patara as it was the birthplace of St Nicholas. Yes Father Christmas was born in Patara! It was also a place where St Paul carried out missionary work. In short, there is a lot of history connected with this site and it is well worth a visit to check it out for yourself.
What will I see?
On entering the historical site, you will see a vast amount of fallen stone. Some have intricate carvings and some make up the remains of rooms and buildings. You certainly get a feel of how vast the city once was.
However, there are 3 ‘main’ impressive structures which are largely intact. Firstly, the grand amphitheatre which has both a stage building known as a ‘skene’ and staggered seating for an audience of 8000 which follows the incline of the supporting hill. You should walk up the steps between the rows of seating to the top. The climb may be steep but you will get a fantastic, elevated view facing over the ancient city centre.
Secondly there is the parliament building where the representatives of the Lycian League met. It has rows of stone seats arranged in a semicircle; the same arrangement used in the chambers of the American Congress. The stone vaulted main entrances are also intact as is the thronelike perch where the president of the League sat.
Thirdly, a little further along from the parliament building is the main street which is lined with pillars on either side.
Another interesting monument which is being restored to its former glory is the lighthouse. As part of the ‘year of Patara festival’ in 2020 reconstruction of what may be the oldest lighthouse in the world got underway. The lighthouse is inscribed with Nero’s words: ‘I built this for the welfare of sailors’. Currently, you can see the base and the rows of stones which are laid out in preparation for rebuilding.
If you are a lover of a sandy beach, then Patara beach will be a dream come true. The beautiful, fine white sand contrasted with the turquoise sea create a dazzling sight to behold. The area is steeped in history and legend has it that the sand has extraordinary healing powers. This 18 km long beach is renowned for its very shallow waters. So if you have children in your group, you can be comfortable to let them paddle. Of course, you can also swim in deeper waters however you will have to go far away from the beach. Do be cautious as there is a sudden drop in the seabed. We advise that you only give it a go if you are a confident swimmer.
The beach is unsheltered and open on all sides. What does this mean? Yes, you guessed it; the frequent opportunity to catch some impressive waves. This makes it an unmissable destination if you are a surfing fan. Facilities are available including sun bed and umbrellas for hire, showers, toilets. One large cafe at the centre of the beach serves snacks, lunch and refreshments throughout the day. To enter the site which encompasses Patara beach there is an entrance fee per person which doesn’t include sun beds. If you plan to drive that parking spaces for vehicles are available on site.
Patara Kum Tepesi
For spectacular sunsets you should make your way to the Küm Tepesi (translated as ‘Peak of the Sand’) area of Patara beach. You can reach this lovely spot by following winding roads uphill on the other side of Patara village. Here you won’t have to pay an entrance fee because there is no manned entrance. So, if you want to experience Patara like a local this is the place to go. This favourite spot with the locals has huge rolling sand dunes with great views. It’s particularly populated in the evening with visitors watching the sun go down and star gazing at night.
Gelemis (Patara) is an intimate village so most of the restaurants and bars are located along the main street leading into the village centre. If you want to try a taste of a a true local tradition, there are numerous ‘gözleme evleri’ or pancake houses you can visit. These traditional style Turkish pancakes are delicious and filled with local mountain greens, cheese and spices. We’re sure you will enjoy watching the village women rolling out the pancakes over a wooden table and cooking them over open flames. We recommend trying Gözleme for breakfast or a daytime snack.
You will also discover several family run restaurants (which are more like cafes in style) serving a range of traditional meat and fish dishes, village style mezzes and pides (Turkish pizzas). Sailing Terrace, named after its large sail offers a good range of fish and meat dishes. Durak restaurant serves traditional Turkish dishes and plenty of vegetarian options. St. Nicholas restaurant has a spacious dining terrace and a wide menu of traditional dishes and some international favourites.
Where to drink in Patara
There are a few bars you can try which have a chilled atmosphere and serve drinks throughout the evening. A particular favourite of ours is Simbar and Beanies which is next to the local post office. By day you can try coffee and homemade cake at Beanies coffee shop. By night a range of excellent cocktails are on offer at Simbar. The setting is very romantic. Wooden pergolas covered by foliage shade the tables set about quaint garden beyond the bar. If you would like to support local artists there is a gallery at the back too!
How to get there
Basically, you have three options. The first is the local Dolmus service. This is a local minibus shuttle that runs between Kas and Patara regularly throughout the day and evening. You can alight at Kalkan’s bus station and arrive in the village about 25 minutes later. The bus follows the scenic route through the local villages. It will cost you the equivalent of a couple of pounds per passenger so definitely works as an economic option. Alternatively, you can go by taxi or car which will take just 15 minutes along the main road. It’s easy to find the village of Gelemis as you follow the path of one road which leads through Patara.
How can Kalkan Holiday Property assist?
We understand the importance of having a fulfilling holiday and having the opportunity to experience new things. At Kalkan Holiday Property we are very passionate about what Kalkan and the surrounding areas can offer to our clients. When holidaying in one of our properties, our concierge services allow you to enjoy your holiday to the fullest. A member of our team will be happy to advise on activities and help you plan your holiday.
Don’t forget to tag us at @kalkan.holidayproperty when you visit Patara and take an amazing shot!