This pretty beach resort sits between the Mediterranean and the dramatic Taurus Mountains on Turkey’s south coast. The area has top Blue Flag beaches, warm waters, archaeological ruins, great restaurants and a lively nightlife.
There’s accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets and the bazaar is a great place to pick up a bargain. All in all, it’s a great summer holiday destination and the warm temperatures last right through into the autumn.
Getting there/getting around Antalya
Antalya has its own airport, so it’s relatively easy to reach. Aside from walking, the best way to get around is in a dolmus (minibus), as there are services to most villages, attractions and beaches in the area.
There is an official local bus service too, but the beauty of a dolmus is that you can get on and off when and where you please. They’re cheap, too, which makes them a better option than hiring a car.
Beaches in Antalya
The two main beaches are on either side of the city. Konyaalti Beach, closer to the centre of town, is pebbly, with great facilities. It has been awarded a Blue Flag because it’s clean and the waters are very safe for swimming. Lara Beach, to the east of town, is more popular as it’s sandy.
You can hire sun loungers and umbrellas at both beaches and there are plenty of beach bars and cafes if you need a snack or drink. The fine-sand beaches at Side, about 75 kilometres away, are also extremely popular.
Sightseeing in Antalya
Head into the winding streets of Kaleici, or Old Antalya, a protected historic area with beautiful buildings, impressive towers and minarets and lots of shops. Another sight worth visiting is the huge marble Hadrian’s Gate, which dates back to Roman times.
The Roman harbour is a great place for a stroll, a bite to eat, or a drink and a bit of people-watching. If you’re interested in history, then the Antalya Museum has tons of ancient artefacts, including statues, paintings and mosaics.
Family attractions in Antalya
Boat trips make for good family activities in Antalya. Head down to the Roman Harbour and book yourself on to a yacht excursion. Tours tend to last for about four or five hours and take in a few beaches along the coast, as well as the Lower Duden Falls.
You could also head up into the Taurus Mountains for caves, underground rivers and more waterfalls.
Day trips from Antalya
The perfect place for a day trip and a change of scenery is the little village of Cirali, about 80 kilometres (an hour by dolmus) from Antalya. It’s quiet and peaceful, home to a beautiful four kilometre-long sandy beach and the site of the ruins of Olympos and the Chimera.
The ruins lie on either side of the Ulupinar River and you’ll find a Byzantine bath-house with mosaic floors, a marble temple entrance, a theatre and some tombs. The Chimera, a group of natural flames bursting from the rocks on Mount Olympos, is well worth a look.
Eating in Antalya
You’ll find less British-style grub than in many of the tackier Turkish resorts, but if you’re missing a bit of familiar food, you’ll find recognisable fast-food chains such as McDonald’s.
If you fancy getting stuck into some local specialities, try vine leaves stuffed with vegetables, roast meat kebabs and tasty kofte, meatballs of minced lamb seasoned with spices, served with rice and salad. If you’re on a budget, Turkish pizza (pideci) is very cheap and very tasty.
Antalya is renowned for its fantastic nightlife and the locals come from all over to visit its clubs and bars, which are open until the early hours. Those missing a good old pint of ale will find English-style pubs, too.
Many of the big hotels put on shows featuring belly-dancing, where audience participation is pretty much guaranteed.
Shopping in Antalya
The historic bazaar (carsi) is the place to go to test your haggling skills – top-quality rugs and jewellery are good buys. Turkish shopkeepers will invite you inside for a cup of cay (tea) as it’s their way of getting you to come and check out their wares. They’ll often claim you’ll offend them if you say no, but don’t worry, a polite refusal normally does the trick.