Patara Beach, 17 km (11 miles) west of Kalkan by road on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast (map), is known as the birthplace of Santa Claus, and also because of its l-o-n-g and uncrowded sand beach.
Santa Claus? Am I kidding? Not at all! Santa Claus, otherwise known as St. Nicholas, was born in Patara in the 3rd century, and moved to Demre (Myra) where he became a bishop and did his many good works. (See the Demre page for more.)
Patara village, 3.5 km (2.2 miles) south of the D400 coastal highway, is well-suited to low-budget travelers with numerous little pensions and simple hotels charging very reasonable rates for double rooms:
Patara beach is 20 km (12 miles) long, 50 meters/yards wide, and never crowded, because the small village inland from the beach has only a few hundred tourist beds. The ruins of ancient Patara are just inland from the beach, and no big hotels can be built in an archeological zone, so the beach should be protected from heavy development.
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If the beach has one drawback, it’s that there are few trees and thus little shade, so be prepared for a day of sun.
The Patara ruins are interesting: a sand-swept theater, a triple-arched triumphal gate, a necropolis (cemetery) with Lycian tombs, a ruined basilica and a public bath, among others.
Car, or bus and taxi, are the ways to get to Patara. Any bus will drop you on the Fethiye-Kaş highway at Ovaköy, whence it’s a 3.5-km (2-mile) taxi ride (or hitch) to the village that’s officially named Gelemiş (GEHL-eh-meesh), but which everyone calls Patara.
The ruins of ancient Patara are a further 1.5 km (1 mile) south of the village, and the beach yet another kilometer (6/10 mile) through the ruins.