Turquoise Coast: Kekova – Cirali – Antalya

May 9, 2012

We had read and heard about the sunken ruins in the Kekova region, and wanted to squeeze it into our last day on the road. We didn’t really know what to expect or how to reach the actual sunken city, and as we arrived to this small coastal town Kaleköy, we learned there’s only one way: taking up on one of the cruise offers in the harbour. They were all from few hours to all day long cruises, and they were going to take you around the island and the ruins.

Frankly, we didn’t have the time to get on another cruise; so instead, we just ended up having lunch in this little cute fishing harbour of Kaleköy and walked around the village. We didn’t really mind, because although the pictures of the sunken ruins looked amazing, we had heard that you wouldn’t get to see too much anyway. But the Kekova area and the drive to the village itself was really beautiful and worth the few hours.

As we left Kekova behind, we were on our way to one of the most and last unspoiled parts of the entire coastline- Cirali / Olympos area. We got the idea from our new friends, Stacey and Alan (who we met in Cappadocia), since they had made they’re way through the coast ahead of us. They love hiking and outdoors, so we took their recommendations more than willingly, knowing they’d guide us somewhere cool and more off the beaten path. From the main coastal road we descended about 20 minutes on this small tiny road surrounded by trees and nature only, until we came to this rural village on the beach. This area is a backpackers and trekkers Mecca and offers some of the highlights of the Lycian Way*. It has a beautiful secluded beach with Mt. Olympos peaking right at the ‘end’ of the beach (and a lot of people go there to hike the gorgeous trails of National Park of Olympos), and the entire place literally offers this unbelievably chill vibe. To this day we regret not to have spent a night or two there (rather than in Antalya!), and really wish to go back to hit the trails one day. For anyone who’s into outdoors (combining beach- and hiking activities) should most certainly check this place out. Cirali has quite a few bed & breakfast lodges and some cabins, also a couple of restaurants and stores. We also heard that Olympos has a very lively nightlife amongst the backpackers, as it’s literally located next to the trails for hiking. But although they are very close to each other, the road is not the same for these two places. If you wish to go to Olympos, you need to actually take another exit from the main road.

We hung out the entire afternoon (what was left of it) on this beach floating in the crystal clear water. Unfortunately we needed to then head back to the main road and still make the good one hour drive to Antalya, also because we didn’t really know if getting into the city would be a mission impossible or not. The drive was pretty cool; at some point we crossed bigger towns (which slowed us down quite a lot since the main road takes you right through them), at some point the road climbed higher up to the hills through forestry areas and at times we were right next to the water. 

As we started passing the huge hotel complexes, we knew we had arrived to the outskirts of Antalya. Not to say we regretted it already that we had left Cirali, but it was a serious mess to get to the old town with a car and find our hotel (plus the city looked like a huge jungle mess). When we finally did find it, it was already a dusk. To our surprise the old town was really cute and walkable, and our place was really great for the last day(s) of chilling and not moving a bone. 

There wasn’t much more to it, except walking around and getting the last little souvenirs, going down to the beach to cool off in the sea (the beaches were nothing compared what we had seen on the way, though), and just enjoy at the lounge area in our own court yard. Antalya was seriously a heat trap with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius (95F), and we’re talking about May! Nevertheless, we did go to a real sauna too in our private spa...*

Finally the two beautiful and eventful weeks in Turkey were coming to an end and we were heading to the airport and returning the car. We would always remember our first time in Turkey as a warm experience, with so many wonderful people, so many gorgeous places, and of course some new friendships. It’s not a wonder the Turks say their country is very rich in many ways. Teşekkür ederim, Turkey!


(very cool tree houses!)

* Lycian Way is a coastal hiking trail (distance about 500km) from Fethiye/ Olüdeniz to almost Antalya.
You can find more information for Lycian Way here and here.

Tip: Look for Kabak; off the beaten path, beautiful place!


This hotel was really nice and one event was particularly funny: They had a lovely spa with Sauna. Well, as it wasn't really hot enough outside we wanted to go for it. They turned the Sauna on and this older guy who worked in the Spa came inside the Sauna (fully clothed in his nice work outfit) and started pouring water from a bottle on the stones. He went "I'm so sorry, this is my first time doing this..." and made a shy smile, and I said "Oh it's okay, we can take it from here". After making sure we were fully warm, he exit the sauna...Talk about service, huh? ;)

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