Though I often think about where I’d love to explore next, I don’t always put a lot of planning into my travels. Incidentally, I stumbled upon one of my favorite destinations in a haphazard sort of way. My friend and I had taken a bus from Istanbul to Gallipoli and finally to Ephesus. I was planning to meet another friend of mine a week or so later in Greece, yet we had no definite travel plans in the meantime. There were so many unique places in Turkey that I really wanted to see. Somewhat constrained by dates, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit everything I wanted to do in this trip.
The day came to leave Selcuk (just outside Ephesus), so we headed for the bus station without any plans in place. We had yet to decide upon our next destination. The only thing we were sure of is that we were headed somewhere new as the hostel we’d just left was booked for this night. Once at the bus station, I came across a Turkish magazine with a beautiful photo of turquoise blue waters, a sailing vessel called a gulet, and some quaint stone buildings. I little light bulb went off in my head. Buried deep inside the magazine I found out that the photo was taken in Kas (Kaş). After talking to one of the bus drivers who was hanging out waiting for his next trip to begin, we found out where Kas was, how far it was and which bus to take. Next thing I knew, we were on a clean, air-conditioned, overnight bus to Kas on Turkey’s “Turquoise Coast.” We were even served complimentary apple tea on board (Turkey has comfortable, modern and inexpensive bus service). I didn’t see much during the ride as I fell asleep for most of the trip. I awoke to the sun rising while we meandered down a winding road towards Kas. I was not disappointed.
Since Kas is two to three hours drive from the major airports in the area, it receives fewer visitors than some of the more accessible tourist destinations and therefore remains somewhat unspoiled. Kas itself is a charming and unhurried town with dramatic mountains meeting the blue of the Mediterranean while scented flowers adorn the buildings and guest houses that line the narrow streets. Kas was founded by the Lycians and has changed hands many times since. You will see Lycian Sarcophagus (tombs) dotted throughout the coastal towns. There are plenty of unique restaurants, cafes and bars to stop by after a day exploring out on the water. I recall sitting on cushions by an outdoor fireplace at one of the many great cafe/bars.
Kas is also a good base for exploring the plentiful ancient Lycian cities and archeological sites. We took a day trip on a gulet (beautiful wooden sailing vessel of the area) to visit the sunken city of Dolchiste near Kekova. After an earthquake, part of this Lycian city disappeared under water. From the boat, we could easily see some of the stairs and walls of ancient city through the clear waters. We pulled into a bay where we were allowed to snorkel, though no SCUBA was allowed here. Also along the way, we stopped to see a large sarcophagus rising up from the water. Another day trip we took was by bus to nearby Patara to enjoy the long and uncrowded sandy beach. Patara is also worth a visit for its ancient ruins and for the fact that it is the birthplace of Saint Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus.
Luckily, we had no trouble finding a place to stay in Kas. We ended up at a great little pension in Kas a short walk from the bus station. Though it is small, there are many good deals on hotels in Kas. It can get busy at times though, so you will probably want to book ahead to be safe. For a list of accommodation options in Kas, please click here.