Achingly pretty, slightly bohemian, quietly confident; the small town of Kaş on the south coast of Turkey is all of those things and more besides.
We fell in love with Kaş the first time we visited in the late 1990s. And that has never left us. A pretty harbour, cobbled streets and alleyways, fuschia-coloured bougainvillea climbing and tumbling from overhanging wooden balconies.
How could we not fall in love with the place?
As with the centre of our hometown of Fethiye, Kaş manages to house a happy mix of traveller. From backpackers to those looking for a stay in a boutique hotel. No sprawling hotel complexes, here.
And also, as with our hometown, if you find yourself in Kaş out of season, no worries. This is a working harbour town that doesn’t pull down the shutters once November arrives.
You’ll find lots of bars, restaurants and shops still open for business.
Kaş is upmarket without being pretentious. Maybe that’s because it is a working town. That’s definitely one of the draws for us – the fact it’s a working town makes Kaş real. It doesn’t exist purely for tourism. And the tourism that does exist in Kaş is low key and chilled.
But does that mean there’s nothing to do in Kaş? No, of course not. For those that do visit, there’s all sorts for you to add to your itinerary. We’ve done lots of these things but not all of them.
Let’s have a look at all the things you can see and do on a visit to this, one of our favourite places in Turkey.
Things to Do In Kaş, Turkey
Enjoy The Drive Or The Ride
Okay, not exactly accurate for ‘things to do in Kaş,’ but it does deserve a mention. Because, in this case, to travel is just as good as to arrive.
Whether you arrive in Kaş from the east or the west (or even via the yayla road to the north) your journey will delight with spectacular scenery.
Kaş lies just off the magnificent D400 coastal road. A drive or a bus ride along this stretch of tarmac is truly spectacular. Here’s an idea of what’s in store for you – our article about a D400 road trip between Antalya and Fethiye, taking in Kaş along the way.
Go Shopping And Explore
If you’re staying in town in an apartment or a villa, one of our favourite things to do is to support the local market. If you’re a fan of the same, then Kaş market is on Fridays.
Even if you’re in a hotel or a pension, a wander around a Turkish market is always worth a bit of your time.
And then there’s the street shopping. Shopping for souvenirs is an absolute must on the list of things to do in Kaş. There are two reasons for this: your setting and the products on sale.
Uzun Çarşı is the most famous – and pretty – shopping street in Kaş and is definitely not to be missed. But don’t forget to explore the other pedestrianised alleyways of the old town.
We’re not big fans of shopping, but, like Bodrum centre, it’s a different experience here with products you might not see elsewhere.
Yes, you’ll get the Turkish carpets and kilims, leather bags and mosaic lighting. But also look out for boutiques selling linens, handmade jewellery and individual artwork.
And, like we said, Kaş is very chilled. It has nothing to prove. By and large, your shopping experience will also be chilled. There’s a distinct lack of the old “Hello, yes please, come into my shop.”
Experience Ancient History
Whilst the centre of Kaş is not awash with ancient ruins, there are two relics of the past that are a must see.
Kaş sits on Turkey’s Lycian coast. The King’s Tomb – also known as Lions Tomb – stands proudly at the top of Uzun Çarşı. It’s a real chance to get up close and personal with a tomb from the Lycian era.
Like the tomb of Amyntas in Fethiye, it dates from the 4th Centıury BC. It’s also known as the Lions’ Tomb because the lid features two lions’ heads resting on their paws. Unlike the tomb of Amyntas, however, you can reach the King’s Tomb with little effort.
The King’s tomb is one of the largest free-standing sarcophagi in the area. And you have it right on your doorstep when you are in the centre of Kaş.
Antiphellos Ancient Theatre
Compared to such splendour as the theatres at Hierapolis or Ephesus, for example, Antiphellos Theatre might seem a bit of an anti-climax. It isn’t huge and relatively recent restoration means it all looks rather pristine.
However, it is a sight (and a site) not to be missed in Kaş because it’s a pleasant walk from the centre of town. And, once you climb to the top, the views over the harbour and across to Greek islands are really pretty.
The sunset from here is also not to be missed. So, if it’s a hot day, wait until a little later for your visit so that it’s cooler and you can take in the sunset, too.
Hit The Beach
Whilst Kaş is a harbour town, there are a few small beaches where you can enjoy the clear waters around this area and chill.
If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll know we’re not beachy people. However, one of our favourite things to do in Kaş is to hit the beach.
The walk to Büyük Çakıl Plajı (Big Pebble Beach) is undulating. Your reward is a cool swim and a cold beer at one of the snack bars in the bay.
We travel in spring and autumn so these beaches are relatively quiet when we’re there.
There are other beaches in Kaş. You can swim in the centre of town at Küçük Çakıl Plajı (Little Pebble Beach). Or go to one of the bays on the peninsula. Heading west, out of town, there are also roadside bays where you can stop for the day to swim.
In high season, you can take a taxi boat to Limanağzı. Most of these beaches are mapped on our page of beaches in Fethiye and beyond.
For The Water Babies
Kaş is well known for being one of the best places in Turkey to go scuba diving. Azure blue, crystal clear waters and underwater wrecks are a real draw for divers.
Whether you’re a first timer, an old pro, or you are wanting to develop your skills further to boost your scuba diving qualifications, Kaş has local diving schools to suit.
If you’re looking for a more leisurely boat trip from Kaş, day boats leave from the harbour in the summer season.
Lunch and swim stops included as well as chances to see ancient ruins such as Kekova Sunken City (see below for more details of this area). It is also possible to leave the harbour early evening and watch the sunset over the bays by doing a sunset trip.
Paragliding In Kaş
Whilst the resort of Ölüdeniz is perhaps the most famous place in Turkey for paragliding, Kaş is also getting in on the action.
If you want to see the town and surrounding landscape and seascape from above, why not do it by way of launching yourself from a mountain and tandem paragliding?
A Circular Drive Or Walk
If you want to get some height without being quite so adventurous as resorting to paragliding, you can take a circular walk or drive that goes above the town and the peninsula.
The full route is around 8 km and, as you can see, the views are very much worth your effort.
Restaurants & Bars
Kaş has got vibrant nightlife. And, because it is a working town, that nightlife isn’t directed purely at summer visitors. But, we’re talking bars; not clubs.
There are jazz bars, blues and rock bars – and just chilled out bars with a great vibes. Our favourite female Turkish singer, Birsen Tezer, has been known to do the odd summer appearance in Kaş and has played at the Kaş Jazz Festival. It’s that sort of place.
Hide away in the side streets or get a bit of height and sit yourself somewhere overlooking the water.
As for eating, whatever your budget, you’ll easily be able to fuel yourself so that you can go out and explore all these things to do in Kaş.
In the centre, well, take your pick. anything from traditional Turkish food and specialist köfte restaurants to trendy burger joints, seafood restaurants and eateries serving up international cuisine. And don’t forget to while away some time at the tea gardens by the harbour.
Run The Kaş Peninsula
If you know us, you know we like to take part in running events around Turkey. Each October, Kaş holds the Kaş Yarımadaton 12k and 21k run. (Cancelled for 2020).
If you’re around during that time, why not take part or go along to support the runners as they take off around the peninsula? We’re hoping to take part in 2021.
Day Trips From Kaş
So, lots of things to do in Kaş town to keep you occupied. If you’re staying around for longer than a few days, however, it would be a shame not to use Kaş as your base whilst also exploring nearby.
Kaş is right at the heart of Lycian Turkey with ruins and coastal villages to visit both to the east and the west.
To the north, you will hit the yayla roads which are so high, you will require snow chains during the winter months and will need to check weather conditions before you set off. In the summer months, however, these roads make for a wonderful drive.
East of Kaş
First of all let’s hit the D400 once more and head eastwards towards Antalya. We’ve explored this region whilst on a Kemer to Kekova gület cruise so you can get more in depth information on these places by clicking the links below.
Kekova, Simena, Üçağız
A 4o minute drive from Kaş is the old fishing village of Üçağız; also known as Kale Üçağız. Here, you can clamber around and explore the Lycian tombs.
(If you do a boat trip from Kaş, you will be given the opportunity to swim around here and sail over the ruins of Kekova.)
Again, the small town of Demre is another 40 minute drive and a very worthwhile day out from Kaş.
North of Kaş
Time to explore the yayla! These are the highlands and hanging valleys of the area.
Gömbe Or Elmalı
Especially if you’re in Kaş during the summer months, a drive up through the mountain roads to Gömbe or Elmalı is breathtaking. And it will cool you down, too.
We took this yayla road when we drove to Pamukkale from Kaş on our southwest Turkey road trip and it was hugely rewarding with spectacular scenery. You may have to overtake the odd tractor and trailer.
Other than that, herds of goats with shepherd and kangal dog will be your other road companions.
The village of Gömbe will take you approximately 1 hour to reach. Elmalı will take you approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. Elmalı is famous for its Ottoman wooden houses.
West of Kaş
West of Kaş, there are so many things to do and places to see that are easily reachable in one day.
From Kaş, Kaputaş Beach is just a 20 minute drive. Even if you’re not going to stop here to sunbathe or swim, be sure to stop and take photos from the road above.
As we said, lots of our travels are either done in low season or in the winter months. Visit Kaputaş in summer and your scene will be one of beds and umbrellas.
Just 30 minutes from Kaş is pretty Kalkan. Much building of villas and apartments from the town, climbing up the hillside. But this doesn’t affect the beauty of the old side streets and alleyways which climb steeply away from the harbour.
Visit Kalkan for shopping and dining. There’s also a small beach.
Patara Beach And Ruins
50 minutes drive from Kaş, Patara is not to be missed. Wander around the village of Gelemiş, explore the ancient Patara ruins and, if you’re craving a sandy beach, well, you’ve just hit the jackpot!
A huge stretch of soft sand, sand dunes, snack bar – a real treat for beach lovers! Oh, and another great place to catch the sunset.
A popular excursion from most resorts in the area, so expect Saklıkent Gorge to be crowded in high season. It is, however, not to be missed.
Breathtaking beauty – and breathtakingly icy cold water! Even in the southern Turkish hot summer temperatures, this water is a real tester!
Saklıkent and nearby Gizlikent Waterfall are just over an hour’s drive from Kaş.
The town of Fethiye – our hometown – is a 90 minute drive from Kaş. Lots of people in Fethiye visit Kaş for the day, so why not vice versa?
There are so many archaeological sites in the vicinity of Kaş but if you want to bag yourself a site on the UNESCO World Heritage list, you can have a double whammy.
Across The Water From Kaş
Just a 20 minute sail from Kaş and you are in a whole new country: Greece. At the time of writing, unfortunately, it is currently not possible to sail between Turkey and Greece. We hope this will change in the future.
If you do get to make the short ferry ride from Kaş to Meis you will be rewarded with a tempting slice of Greek island life.
Once you reach this tiny Greek island, here are a few things you can do in Meis to while away your time. We love this island and really hope we can go back there again one day soon…
Kaş – Our Chillout Zone
We know this area of Turkey quite well. So, for us, when we go to Kaş, it’s a trip where we take a night or two just to chill out and enjoy the town itself. We usually stay in small pensions such as Meltem Pension and we have also stayed in a seafront hotel, Gardenia (a very kind gift).
Kaş also has camping facilities and self-catering apartments and villas. As we said, this is not the land of sprawling mass tourism and huge hotels with multiple facilities. Go to Kaş, kick back, relax!
Southern Turkey is littered with places where you can take a laid back break away from the big tourist centres. If ‘laid back’ is your thing, check out our articles on spending time in Datça, chilling out in Dalyan and mooching around the very pretty Akyaka.
You can book accommodation in Kaş through Booking.com