3 Days* in TURKEY
Turkey has been a hot travel spot for years now, and for good reason. It’s eclectic mix of cultures, situated as it is between Europe and the Middle East, appeal to a wide swath of sensibilities and its scantily developed southern coastline, AKA the Turquoise Coast, boasts breathtaking Mediterranean landscape and sea. There are many sweet villages tucked into the hills – here is a 3Day guide to a couple of my favorites. Rent a car at the airport – the mobility is well worth the expense and the roads are smooth, well-signed and great fun to drive on.
Day 1* in Turkey
Antalya International Airport is a good place to start your journey as it is situated on the eastern tip of the Turquoise Coast. Head south on the 400 – a smooth, well-signed highway that runs beside the sea. The first 90 minutes of the drive are unremarkable, but the last hour winds and curves dramatically along the steep, shimmering coast, bringing to mind the best stretches of California’s PCH or Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Deserted beaches and sandy lunch spots pop up along the way, if you fancy a mid-drive dunk or nibble.
Ucagiz is a sleepy fishing village 2.5 hours from Antalya and a 10-minute boat ride to Kalekoy, an exquisite little hideout tucked into the hillside across from Kekova island and a great place to spend 2 days – or 2 months. As you approach by boat, you’ll see some of what makes Kalekoy so cool. The harbor is distinctive, littered with rocky outcroppings, sandbars and a half submerged tomb. Above the town sits the remains of a rambling crusader castle and a conquering Turkish flag. It’s easy to imagine Mr. Ripley emerging from the green sea, snorkel in hand.
When it comes to lodging, the best option is Mehtap Pansiyon. The owner, Saffet, is a beacon of Turkish hospitality, offering a tireless stream of suggestions and good humor – he even sold us the beautiful kilim rugs straight off his floor.
Also, Methap has a private dock, kayaks, row boats and a number of perfect outdoor reading nooks, nestled into the shade of Bougenvilla vines and overlooking the bay. Rooms are simple, clean and comfortable. If you opt for rooms at the front with a sea view, they date back to the Lycian era. After you’re settled, take a dip in the crystal green water and find a breezy spot to flop out until dinner. Food is prepared by Saffet’s wife and consists mostly of freshly caught fish cooked whole and salad just picked from the garden.
Day 2* in Turkey
Rise early while the water is still glassy, grab a kayak and head across the bay to Kekova island. Now a protected area, the shoreline and sea floor is littered with ruins from an ancient town that was destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century. Peer down and you’ll catch glimpses of the submerged port structures, now inhabited by fish and sea turtles.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to Methap for their wonderful breakfast (included) consisting of a dozen small plates of delectable treats from spanakopita to fresh cheese and local honey.
Afternoon activities should include a little snorkeling around the sandbars and islands (bring reef shoes or strap on sandals). Also a hike up to and around the castle - the 360 view is absolutely spectacular. For dinner you can head down to one of the simple restaurants along the water. The food is mediocre but the setting – tables teetering on the end of docks – is worth it.
Day 3* in Turkey
After a morning swim and breakfast, head back to Ucagiz for a bit of rug and textile shopping. There are many shops to choose from – we found some beautiful antique Kilims at TBD. And if you’re into Turkish towels, ready your wallet.
For the drive back to Antalya, choose the mountainous inland route – 635. It takes about 30 minutes longer than the 400 but is perhaps even more spectacular, winding through sheer rock faces, pine forests and low hanging clouds.
At first glance, Antalya can seem like an ugly, congested port city. Which makes Old Town all the more refreshing. Well preserved and elegantly restored, this is where you’ll find chic boutique pensions and great food. We stayed at Atelya Art Hotel, which I highly recommend. It has a shabby grand vibe with high ceilings and antique furniture but no phones. Even better? The garden is filled with jasmine, orange trees and a sleek lap pool.
There are lots of good options for dinner. Seraser Fine Dining is situated in a lovely leafy Mediterranean garden and offers very good homemade pastas and a decent wine list. It’s as good a place as any to linger for your last evening in Turkey.
- Mosquito repellent
- Reef shoes
- Sun hat
- Turkish Towels
- Pillow Covers