ANTALYA VISIT & TRAVEL GUIDE
Antalya Visit : Antalya offers plenty of things to do for everyone. Antalya offers plenty of things to do for everyone. If you want to dose up on sightseeing, you’ll find a fascinating line-up of tourist attractions to keep you busy. The labyrinthine old town is full of atmospheric historic sites, while the city is perfectly placed to act as your base for sightseeing around the outlying area, where dozens of grand ruins await. It’s not all history, though. This city is also a great spot for your launch onto the white-sand beaches of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. Beach lovers and history buffs will both leave satisfied. If you want to dose up on sightseeing, you’ll find a fascinating line-up of tourist attractions to keep you busy. The labyrinthine old town is full of atmospheric historic sites, while the city is perfectly placed to act as your base for sightseeing around the outlying area, where dozens of grand ruins await.
This area has been inhabited since the earliest times. The oldest artefacts, found in the Karain Cave (Karain Mağarası) 2km inland from Antalya, date back to the Palaeolithic period. As a city, Antalya is not as old as many others that once lined this coast, but it is still prospering while the older ones are dead. Founded by Attalus II of Pergamum in the 1st century BC, the city was named Attaleia after its founder. When the Pergamene kingdom was bequeathed to Rome, Attaleia became a Roman city. Emperor Hadrian visited here in AD 130 and a triumphal arch (now known as Hadrian’s Gate) was built in his honour. The Byzantines took over from the Romans but in 1207 the Seljuk Turks based in Konya snatched the city from them and gave Antalya a new version of its name, and also its symbol, the Yivle Minare (Grooved Minaret). After the Mongols broke the Seljuk grip on power, Antalya was held for a while by the Turkish Hamidoğullari emirs. It was taken by the Ottomans in 1391. After WWI the Allies divided up the Ottoman Empire. Italy got Antalya in 1918, but by 1921 Atatürk’s armies had put an end to all such foreign holdings.
How to Travel to Antalya
Antalya is easily accessible city by all forms of transport. Antalya can be reached by highways from all parts of Turkey and the international airport provides easy access for domestic and foreign visitors. Antalya is located in the south of Turkey, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, is Turkey’s most popular tourist area. This coastal city offers many transportation options to reach the city.
It is very easy to reach to Antalya, by car or by coach. Antalya has great coach connections from all cities and even towns from Turkey, especially, Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and all major cities.
Antalya Bus terminal is welcoming coaches 24 hours of a day and only 10 km to the city center and it is very easy with public transportation to reach all the edges of Antalya and its province.
It is also possible to reach Antalya by sea. Antalya has a big international pier which the Cruise Ships are arriving, and also Yacht Harbors where you can come by your private or chartered yacht from, Mediterranean Countries. Main Pier and Yacht Harbor is only 8 km to the city center.
Antalya’s international airports provide easy access for domestic and foreign visitors. The high capacity of airports in Antalya serve the tourists worldwide arrived here.
Antalya Airport caters for the charter flights full of holiday makers. There are plenty of international and domestic flights to Antalya. The new airport Gazipasa Airport opened up in 2012 and is based near Alanya. It is a large investment by the Turkish government to relieve some of the pressure from tourist traffic through the main Antalya airport.
By Organized Tours
Antalya Public Transportation
Getting around Antalya is relatively easy for visitors once they have adjusted to the area and oriented themselves.You can get around Antalya by diverse means of transportation. Buses and trams are usually on time and taxis or dolmus are relatively cheap. The public transportation consists of four different options which can be combined to get to all attractions and popular locations.
Antalya Top Rated Tourist Attractions
Antalya’s Historical Treasures
Antalya has many well preserved historical treasures and ancient settlements to visit dating back to thousands of years. These historical structures give you a number of options for daily activities.
Xanthos – Letoon (Map)
Xanthos, which was the capital city of Lycians dating back to 3000 BC, is known to be the largest administrative centre of Lycia during antiquity. Xanthos was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List together with Letoon in 1988. Known as the city of monuments, Xanthos Ancient City is located near the town of Kas.
Termessos is one of Turkey’s best preserved ancient cities and most outstanding archaeological sites. The untouched ancient city was built on a steep hillside covered with pine forest. It is a great place for visitors to see.
One of the most powerful cities of the Lycian Union, the ancient city of Myra is known for its perfectly preserved Roman era amphitheatre and its tombs carved in the rocks overlooking the amphitheatre.
Phaselis Ancient City is located within the borders of Kemer town in Antalya province. Established by the people of Rhodes in the 7th century BC, Phaselis is also an ancient port city. It has a rich history and is crucial for its ruins.
Located in Demre, Simena is only accessible by sea and has a very impressive view. The castle is still standing today. The city also has underwater rock tombs. Due to the earthquakes, half of the ancient city is in the water, and half is outside the water.
One of the oldest settlements that belong to the Lycian Union, Patara Ancient City is one of the most important symbols in the history of Turkey. At the archaeological site, you can see dozens of unique historical ruins of the ancient city. Patara, which is included on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2009, is one of the outstanding universal values of Turkey.
The ancient city of Olympos is situated on the sea shore, close to Cirali, on the southern side of Tahtali Mountain. Olympos, which was a member of the Lycian Union, was a maritime trading city. Just like its neighbour Phaselis, it was saved by the Roman Commander Isauricus, after falling in the hands of pirates.
Side (Map )
Side is among the best known ancient cities in Turkey. Side was a port in ancient times and its name means pomegranate. The amphitheatre built on colonnaded arches is the biggest in the area. Among the other ruins there are the agora, a gymnasium, the Apollo Temple on the seaside, fountains and the necropolis.
Situated in Serik town of Antalya province, Aspendos impresses visitors with its elegant amphitheatre and other ancient remains. The theatre of Aspendos is one of the most magnificent and well preserved buildings in the world built by the Romans. Near the theatre there is a basilica, an agora and the ruins of Anatolia’s longest aqueduct.
Perge, which is located to the east of Antalya, was an important city of Pamphylia. Artifacts from various parts of the ancient city are being exhibited on the road to stadium. Do not forget to see the entrance to the city with its two towers, the colonnaded long road with shops on its two sides and which was once covered with mosaics, the vast agora and public baths.
Antalya’s Natural Attractions
From beautiful national parks and valleys to amazing canyons and gurgling waterfalls, do not miss the natural beauties of Antalya where sea, mountains and pine forests meet in harmony.
Koprulu Canyon National Park (Map)
Situated 108 km away from the northeast of city centre, Koprulu Canyon is a canyon and a national park in the province of Antalya. Koprulu Canyon National Park is at the middle of many natural beauties in a fertile valley. The canyon continues for 14 km along with the Koprucay River, reaching a maximum height of 400 m. Selge Antique City and Bozburun Mountain are located within the limits of national park. Koprulu Canyon National Park, which has a rich flora including red pine, black pine, cedar, fir, oak varieties and wild olives, also hosts the largest cypress forest of Asia minor.
Altinbesik Cave National Park (Map)
There are cedar, juniper, red-headed tree species and many kinds of flower spreading in and around the national park. Also, there are no remarkable animal communities in the area. However, you can find the wild animals such as wild boar, fox, wolf and wild goats. The water system of the Altinbesik Cave is one of the world’s longest and biggest karstic system. The first 200 m from the entrance of the cave forms a sub level cave and this level always is under the water. At the last 40 m of the lower level there is a steep exit covered with white travertine. This part forms the most beautiful section of the cave.
Duden Waterfall, consists of two beautiful waterfalls, is one of the most beautiful places in Antalya. It is divided into two branches, Upper Duden and Lower Duden.
Upper Duden (Map): Upper Duden is located 8 km away from the city center. It is poured into a very large natural pool from about 22 meters. Also known as a corner from heaven, the waterfall is one of the attraction centers with its cave, roaring waters and different beauties.
Lower Duden (Map): Lower Duden is located 8 km away from the city center, near Lara. The waterfall is poured from the cliffs at 50 m in height in Lara with a great noise and mixes into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the iconic natural beauties of Antalya.
Kursunlu Waterfall (Map)
Kursunlu Waterfall is one of the unique places in Antalya, welcomes travelers and visitors in all seasons and also offers visual beauties with 100 bird species and rare plants living in 7 ponds in the area. Walking among the plant tunnels, cactus trees and monumental plane trees will be great experience for you. Let the song of water join this greenest feast to treat your eyes and mind.
Manavgat Waterfall, which is situated 3 km to the west of Manavgat district, is one of the best known waterfalls in Antalya. The waterfall is still quite impressive and flows slowly from 3 m in height. Its abundant flow from a large area is worth seeing. You can organize a picnic within nature just next to the waterfall and eat fresh fish at the restaurants nearby. It is an ideal place to reconnect with nature.
Iconic Locations of Antalya
Antalya Aquarium (Map)
As one of the biggest aquarium complexes of the world, Antalya Aquarium offers inspiration, entertainment and education all at once. After touring the 40 thematic aquariums, you will come across the biggest tunnel aquarium of the world with a length of 131 meters and a width of 3 meters. Besides, making snow balls from real snow in Snow World, you can step into a journey among the most poisonous, colourful and interesting species of the world in tropical reptile house; Fear Trophy. You can sail the world seas with multi-dimensional movie technology in Oceanride XD Cinema. The Aquarium is located next to Konyaalti Beach and close to the centre of Antalya.
Hadrian’s Gate (Map)
Hadrian’s Gate is one of the main (and the most dramatic) entrance gates into the Kaleiçi district. Considerable stretches of the Hellenistic and Roman town walls on the eastern side of the old town have been preserved, and Hadrian’s Gate is the most notable of these sections. Erected in honor of the AD 130 visit by Emperor Hadrian himself, this imposing three-arched marble gateway, flanked by imposing towers, is decorated with rich sculptural decorations. As you walk through the arches, look up at the ceiling to view the best preserved carvings
Yivli Minare (Map)
Antalya’s most distinctive landmark is the Yivli Minare (fluted minaret), built by the Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubad (1219-36). The minaret is a typical example of Seljuk architecture, with a square base surmounted by an octagonal drum bearing the fluted shaft, with its corbelled gallery around the top. The attached 14th-century mosque is still in use today. The minaret is right beside the Kale entrance gate into the old city. Opposite the minaret is Antalya’s Ottoman-era clock tower, while nearby are some tombs dating from the 14th century.
Old Town (Kaleiçi) (Map)
The maze-like Kaleiçi neighborhood was made for strolling. Perfectly restored whitewashed and red-roofed Ottoman mansions line the cobblestone streets, now home to a plethora of boutique hotels, souvenir shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Although it’s more a place to simply breathe in the old-world ambience, there are also plenty of small tourist attractions for those who want to sightsee. The main square (Kale Kapisi) has a fortress gate and stone-clad clock tower, while the 18th-century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque is worth a look just for its stunning interior tile work. Along Hesapçi Sokak, you’ll find the graceful Kesik Minare (truncated minaret). Destroyed by fire in the 19th century, this is all that is left of a building that started its life as a Roman temple, was converted into a Byzantine church, and finally became a mosque.
Old Harbor (Map)
Nestled into a recess in the cliffs, Antalya’s old harbor is a picturesque huddle of boutiques, pretty cafés, bazaars, and gently bobbing yachts that look out over the shimmering Mediterranean. With its peaceful pleasure-boat atmosphere now, it’s difficult to imagine this place was once Antalya’s major economic hub, but from the 2nd century up until the mid-20th century, this was the main port, bringing trade and prosperity to the city and surrounding region. These days, you come here to shop and then watch the sun set over the sea while you sip a coffee, or you can head out onto the Mediterranean on one of the many excursion boats to swim, sightsee, and spread out your towel on an empty beach.
Antalya Museum (Map)
If you’re at all interested in Turkish history, don’t miss this excellent museum. The dazzling exhibits here showcase all the best finds from excavation sites across the Turkish coast. Even better, the collection is displayed in exemplary fashion, making Turkey’s rich (and rather complicated) history easy to understand. The large archaeological section offers displays from the Bronze Age to Byzantium, with a particular emphasis on ruins in the nearby area. If you’re short on time, make a beeline for the galleries containing the mosaics from Seleukeia, silver hoard display from Aspendos, and divinity statues from Perge.
Best beaches in Antalya
While most parts of Turkey already embraced the fall, weather conditions with temperatures near 30 degrees Celsius still allow tourists and locals in southern provinces to feel like the summer will never end. Daily Sabah has compiled some of the finest beaches in southern province of Antalya, often cited as Turkey’s “tourism capital,” where you enjoy your last chances for the season to enjoy the warm waters of Mediterranean. Here’s the list:
1 – Çıralı Beach (Map)
Separated from the renowned city of Olympos only by a rock, Çıralı has one of the most beautiful secluded beaches on the Mediterranean coast and, like Olympos, is the site of ancient Hellenic ruins and historic sites. Çıralı is famous for its flaming rocks, or natural flames that burn constantly on a mountainside at the north end of the village.
2 – Adrasan Beach (Map)
Priceless landscapes which paint the backdrop of Kemer’s historic wonders and quaint beaches, Adrasan Beach is one of Antalya’s hidden treasures. Offering a quiet escape from the bustle of city life, Adrasan Beach has its own entertainment with quaint bungalows which offer guests a friendly, simple getaway without the pricetag of luxury hotels.
3- Olympos Beach (Map)
Located in the southern holiday region of Antalya, Olympos Beach is probably one of the most well-known beaches in Turkey. Generally preferred by younger couples and teenagers, Olympos is situated near Mount Olympos, dotted with ancient sites along old roads, greenery and natural wonders.
4 – Konyaaltı Beach (Map)
Konyaaltı Beach is located near the city center of Antalya. Free and open to the public, this beach is busy with visitors through the end of October when you can see people swimming and sunbathing on Konyaaltı Beach. If you have to stay in the city center, Konyaaltı Beach is a good option where you can enjoy the Mediterranean Sea.
5 – Alanya Doğu Beach (Map)
A year-round tourist destination located in the southern province of Antalya, Alanya is worth a visit in any season, although its atmosphere in spring is completely different. Alanya Doğu Beach is 40 kilometers long and begins on the Alanya Peninsula, stretching down the coast to the Gazipaşa region.
6 – Lara Beach (Map)
Lara Beach is another blue-flagged beaches in Antalya. Since it is close to the city center, it is one of the most preferred beaches among local and international tourists. What makes Lara Beach so popular is not only its clear waters and golden sands but also its beautiful sandcastle exhibition where you can see amazing sculptures made of the pure white grains of sand.
7 – Patara Beach (Map)
Voted one of the top beaches in the world by Times Online Best of 2005, Patara Beach is known as the “widest beach on the northern Mediterranean.” A 12 kilometer-stretch of beautiful white sand beach, it is not difficult to understand why this beach is considered one of the best in the world. Located on the southern tourist spots of Kalkan and Kaş, the beach is believed to have been the birthplace of Apollo.
8 – Cleopatra Beach (Map)
Located in Antalya’s popular destination spot of Alanya, Cleopatra Beach is one of the most visited beaches in Antalya. Cleopatra Beach is always filled with tourists who enjoy this blue-flagged beach and its clear blue, Mediterranean waters. The beach is free and open to the public.
9 – Damlataş Beach
Located on the eastern part of Cleopatra Beach, Damlataş Beach is one of the best beaches for snorkeling with its golden fine sand and clear waters. Also, a cave is located in the Damlataş region. Discovered by accident in 1948 during the construction of a harbor in the southern city of Antalya, the Damlataş Cave is one of the most touristic caves in the country.
10 – Phaselis Beach (Map)
Phalesis is not only a beach but also the site of ancient ruins. Located in the northern Antalya town of Tekirova in the district of Kemer, this district has a stunning view overlooking the Mediterranean coast.
Antalya is proud to host many international events throughout the year. Every year, national and international congresses, remarkable cultural and arts festivals, concerts, local festivities, sport events, exhibitions and demonstrations take place in the city. The festivals all make Antalya a tourist destination that offers endless possibilities to its guests.
- Antalya International Golden Orange Film Festival
- Antalya International Piano Festival
- Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival
- Antalya International Theatre Festival
- Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival
- Kaleici Old Town Festival
- Ibradi Grape Festival
- Ibradi Snowdrop Festival
- Kas Lycia Culture and Art Festival
- Kemer International Underwater Days
- Myra Saint Nicholas Celebrations
- Phaselis Art Days
- Side International Culture and Art Festival
- SunSplash Antalya
- Antalya Runatolia Marathon
- Alanya Triathlon
- Kemer Extreme Enduro Race Sea to Sky
- Elmali Oil Wrestling Festival
- Golf Championships
- Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey
Dining in Antalya is no ordinary experience. The surrounding environment plays as much as an important role as the delicious local cuisine. In Antalya, you can enjoy a meal either along the relaxing beachside or amongst nature in the mountains. Whether it’s in a renowned five star resort or a traditional homely local restaurant, Antalya’s food scene won’t disappoint. Although Turkish cuisine varies depending on the region, typical ingredients used in the south-western regions include olive oil, rice, eggplant, fish and light usage of spices such as cumin, sumac and paprika. Antalya’s signature cuisine includes Kulakli Soup (made with chickpeas and diced meat), Tahinli Piyaz (a dried-bean salad seasoned with crushed sesame seeds), Tandir Kebap and Kabak Tatlisi (a pumpkin desert sweetened by crushed sesame seeds and grape syrup and bergamot jam). Grida, also known as Lagos or Mediterranean white grouper, is the common fish used in many local dishes.
With its narrow lanes and cobbled streets, Old Town has a vast collection of quaint traditional restaurants and cafes that serve authentic, local cuisine. For a true taste of the Mediterranean, there’s no better place than Seraser (Map). Housed in what is essentially an Ottoman villa, dinner in its beautiful courtyard makes a perfect meal during the hot summer nights. Your plate will be artistically presented to match the soothing tranquil ambience of the surrounding environment. Soothing jazz will gently be whispering in the background with candles lit to set that romantic mood. Attention to detail is evident everywhere from the quality and presentation of the food to the decor and the attentiveness of the staff. Remember to treat yourself with the house special dessert – Turkish Coffee Crème Brule.
For an enchanting view of the Mediterranean coastline, dinning at the harbor area is highly recommended. Seafood is the speciality in this part of town with many restaurants in this area serving the freshest and finest. With an enchanting view of the Marina and enticing fresh seafood prepared with such skill and passion, Club Arma is one of Antalya’s most exclusive places to dine. Experience your meal against the backdrop of a gorgeous panoramic view of the Old City and the Mediterranean Sea. Locals constantly rave about this restaurant’s specialism in seafood cuisine – the seafood being so fresh that it feels like your dinner was caught only minutes before you ordered!
A meal at Sibel’s Four Seasons(Map) is Turkish food at its finest. Located away from the heavily tourist-infested beachside, this hidden gem is a family run restaurant located deep in the mountainside. This restaurant places an emphasis on fresh, organic and traditional home cooking with most of the ingredients grown nearby. A meal here is literally from garden to table! The restaurant’s mountainous location can prove to be a refreshing change of scenery with the surrounding green trees providing cool fresh air and much needed relief from the blazing sun.
The hustle and bustle of the city area is an abundance of roadside eateries, cafes and restaurants. Serving a wide variety of different cuisines, it would be very difficult not to find a place to dine when visiting the city. For a taste of the Italian influence mixed in with local Turkish flair head to Pepenero Restaurant, best meat restaurant Vahap Usta and 7 Mehmet. They pride themselves on coming up with new flavors and combined with the unique interior and attentive service it makes for a memorable meal. The cocktail menu is also pretty inviting.