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Kizkalesi – A Mediterranean Paradise!
One of our favorite places in Turkey is a small Mediterranean town called Kizkalesi. We have been several times, in summer and fall, and we’re always amazed with the weather. In the summer it isn’t too hot and in the fall it isn’t too cool. The water temperature always feels perfect!
The town is situated about 140km from the airport in Adana, and Ankara is about a six hour drive. Luckily they have improved much of the road so traveling is a bit easier than in many other parts of Anatolia.
In Kizkalesi there are not one, but two castles. On the coast is the Korikos castle, built by the King of Cyprus about 197 BC. It is extremely easy to stroll down there from the main part of the town. From the outside, it is pretty impressive, but once inside, there isn’t much left except the walls. As in many structures that have survived this long, the castle has been attacked and rebuilt a number of times, and there is definitely evidence of the Ottomans rebuilding part of it, with columns and other unrelated pieces ending up someplace much different than where they were intended.
The other castle is perched about 200 meters from shore on a very small island. It’s called the maiden castle because legend has it that one of the king’s built it to protect his daughter after a fortune teller foretold her doom. He had been told she would die from snakebite. Well, he succeeded in protecting her for some time, but as luck would have it, someone was bringing her a basket of fruit and in it was the tragic snake! His daughter died after the snake bit her and the king was lonely from then on. It may be a sad story, but it’s a great place to spend the afternoon.
The castle is purportedly only 200 meters from shore. All I know is that 200 meters, in waves, is a long way to swim. We swam, or rather floated and doggie paddled, out to the island with water shoes on so that we could traipse around the castle to see the mosaics and the ancient olive press. We also circumnavigated the entire castle wall which meant straddling, jumping, and doing all kinds of maneuvers to get around the craggy shore. Too much fun! By the time we got back to our beach, though, I was completely wiped out. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in and out of the shade and lunched outside in a breezy beach side cafe.
You could easily spend a few days here just enjoying the beach and the two castles, going out for dinner in one of the beachfront restaurants, dancing in the clubs at night (in the summer only), swimming in the ocean, or just soaking up some much needed vitamin D. However, Kizkalesi is also a good base for exploring the surrounding countryside. There are Roman ruins all over this coastline and you can’t go too far without tripping over an ancient church, temple, aqueduct, tomb, or mosaic. There are chartered boat trips to take, caves to explore, and museums to enlighten you. There’s just so much to do along this part of the Mediterranean coast; you’ll never get bored!
Practical Information for Kizkalesi:
Where to stay – We like to stay right on the beach and there are a few options in Kizkalesi. We always try to stay at Baytan Otel. It’s a comfortable and clean two star hotel with air conditioning and a good breakfast. It has a decent restaurant, too, that also sells beer. The beach just in front of the hotel has umbrellas and beach chairs.
Address: 33940 Silifke/Mersin Province, Turkey
Phone:+90 324 523 2004 You have to call for reservations, don’t worry English is spoken.
Where/What to eat – Fresh seafood right on the water! Walk down the beach towards the point, go around the corner and you’ll find two or three small restaurants with tables right over the water. The sunsets are beautiful from here and the food is fresh and tasty at each of them. Try the shrimp guvec, a grilled sea bass (levrek), or some tasty kalamari.
Getting there – Fly into Adana airport, rent a car and self drive. Rental cars are cheap and driving is safe. It’s about a two hour drive to Kizkalesi along a toll highway. Ask the rental car company for current toll info. You can also take a bus to Kizkalesi. Take a taxi to the Adana Otogar (bus station) and inquire for buses to Silifke. They leave very regularly and can drop you off in Kizkalesi.