If you ask me, I’d tell you that my personal highlight of the entire coastal drive was Kas. I suppose I’ve always enjoyed small villages more than bustling towns, so if you’re like me, I think you’ll find Kas a complete gem. Located at the corner of an extended peninsula of the Turkish coast, it’s a small hilly village with small streets lined with tiny cafes, charming shops and so, so, so many lemon trees. Kas is also a great center point to other places worth seeing around the area – I’ll tell you more about this.
1. Marvel The Old Quarter
In almost every town in the coast, you’ll find that each of them has an Old Town, or Old Quarter. After all, Turkey has had a long history of civilization over centuries, so it’s only natural to find these old remnants in every new population, embedded as part of the modern-day habitat. Kas is no exception, and walking around the Old Quarter, you’ll find yourself going through narrow cobbled streets with old houses now turned into cafes, pubs, shops and bakery. Take your time exploring the corners of this area, and if you fancy, drop by a café or two to sample local coffee and baked goods.I’d recommend Gado café, and although the cakes weren’t that amazing to me, its high point is a guy who sits and play the piano for hours, and it’s lovely to sit with a hot cup and listen to. There are also seriously adorable cats roaming roaming around.
2. See The Most Beautiful Beach In Turkey (Allegedly)
Beauty is subjective, I know, but there’s something to be said if almost everyone is consistently saying it. Such is the reputation of Kaputas beach, a narrow little beach between two high coastal cliffs. It’s a pebbly beach, and I think what makes it beautiful is the aqua green waters of the Aegean Sea against the pale beige outcrops that makes for a very mesmerizing view. In the summer this beach would be crowded, but in the winter it is almost empty, so you’d do well to make your way down the cliffs and sit for a while on the pebbles watching the sun go by. You can also see Greece from the beach, which is always a treat.
3. Explore The Kayakoy Ghost Town
There’s a long list of things you can do in and around Kars, but if you’re stripped down for time and can only choose very few, then please, let this be one of those things.
The Kayakoy Ghost Town is a basically and abandoned town that dates back to the 14th century. In the beginning, it was a harmonious town consisting of Anatolian Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians. However, during the Greco-Turkish war, a population exchange occurred, and people were forced to gradually abandoned this town that had been home to them for centuries.
Today, walking around this abandoned town really does have an eerie feeling to it. The stone walls and homes are empty, the large churches echo with voids and you can see the old schools and chapels, eaten by time. I took almost half a day walking around the area as it is very large, but you could easily spend longer here if you’d like.
4. Bask In The Sunset At Hallenistic Theatre
A walking distance from Kas center, this amphitheatre won’t be the best you had ever seen, but it does boast a beautiful sunset facing the sea. Back in its days of glory, it could house 4000 spectators, but now it’s a beautifully aged monument. People come to hang out with friends and dates, and it’s generally quiet as the sun begin to set and you can watch it all while sitting on the ancient seats, with Meis Island (Greece) in view.
5. Enjoy A day trip to the village of Kalkan
Kalkan is a small village a short drive away from Kas, and I love the chill of it. Fishermen’s boats are anchored by the jetty, and you see locals hanging out by the water, smoking and fishing the day away. Walking down the quiet lanes, you’ll see almost a glimpse of Greek-influenced structures – mosques that look like they were inspired by Santorini, their domes and walls whitewashed against the clear blue sky. The restaurants are beautiful and honours the local specialty of the place.
6. Visit Demre to See The Ancient Town of Myra, But Also To Eat A Lot Of Oranges
What?? Another ancient town?? I know, I know, but seriously, they’re beautiful to explore and there are plenty of them along your coastal drive, it’s almost a crime if you don’t keep visiting them until you’re head starts spinning.
Myra is an ancient Lycian town located in Demre, and you can spend a few hours roaming around this large space admiring its rock tombs and large ampitheatre. I love how the ruins are well maintained, and if you come during the winter it’s almost empty, so you’ll feel like Indiana Jones sans the villains chasing after you.
But wait. I haven’t even told you the best part yet. Myra is located in the current-day orange agricultural area. What this means is when the season is right, you’ll drive through miles and miles of orange trees, their ripened fruits a beautiful color against the dark green leaves. The locals don’t mind if you pluck a few, and there are orange juice stalls here and there where you can enjoy a fresh glass of orange juice for as low as 10 liras.
7. Try Local Produce
This should actually be in the to-do list of any place you ever visit! Trying local produce straight from the fresh food market is great way to get acquainted with the local way of life. You’ll learn about what they grow locally, what’s in season and when, how they eat and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to chat with everyday people doing their everyday chores.
In Kars, I had the pleasure of enjoying strawberries, oranges and lemon which were in season in winter. I bought some to eat at home with local yoghurt, and even cooked a proper breakfast using all the produce from the market. It’s quite fun trying out produce, but preparing them in my own personal way.
Where To Eat: You can find all my recommendations on what to eat here, but specifically in Kas, Zula Meyhane for a wonderful dinner with a view, Smiley’s for delicious fresh seafood, the small fruit juice stall in front of Myra ruins, Good cafe for some coffee and music.