Antalya is Turkey’s eight most populated city and a major destination situated on the coast near the Taurus Mountains.
As one of the main destinations on the Turkish Riviera, Antalya’s industry thrives on tourism and agriculture (particularly orange cultivation) and it offers excellent attractions for visitors such as a mazelike Old Town district, unique annual festivals (Sandland), historical ruins and gorgeous beaches.
Kaleiçi (Old Town) is a labyrinth of cobbled streets with restored guest houses, art galleries and courtyard restaurants enclosed inside the medieval city walls. Avoid the souvenir shops by entering via the commemorative Roman arch to Emperor Hadrian and take your camera to get perfect shots of the clock tower, minarets and the old port of Yat Limanı.
Everyone who comes to Antalya shouldn’t miss visiting the outstanding Antalya Museum, one of the largest museums in Turkey with a rich collection of over 5000 archaeological items. There are breath-taking exhibits of natural history, coins, textile, incense holders, mosaics and magnificent mythical and Imperial statues. A good family-friendly attraction, the museum also has a dedicated children’s section with educational activities.
Often mistaken for the huge waterfall that tumbles from the cliffside at the Düden River mouth into the sea, the actual Düden Waterfalls are located just out of Antalya city. Pack a picnic and venture to this scenic spot with boardwalks to enjoy the splendid view of the Upper and Lower Waterfalls. You can sit inside a natural cave behind the cascades however take appropriate footwear as the rocks can be slippery!
Catch the historic tram that passes many of Antalya’s top sights and head out to Konyaalti Beach in the west where you can visit Aqualand (a huge waterpark with slides and swimming pools) or the Antalya Aquarium that is the longest tunnel aquarium in the world.
Walk from the adjacent Old Town to Karaalioglu Park where you will find lots of grassy areas to sprawl on, the fortifications of the circular Hirdilik Tower and excellent views over the Gulf of Antalya. There are a few cafeterias and kiosks that sell kuruyemis (dried fruits, nuts and seeds) and ice creams.
Rub shoulders with the locals at Antalya’s Bazaar where you can pick up a bargain on many goods like jewellery, spices or leather accessories. Watch men boil sweet corn in their husks, then buy some juicy Turkish figs or the famous Antalya oranges.
Budding archaeologists will delight in the many historical sites in the Antalya region. Best reached by car so you are not restricted by set tour group itineraries, the ancient city of Perge is just 20 minutes’ drive from Antalya and has magnificent examples of ruins such a colonnaded street, stadium and Roman arch. A further half hour’s drive will bring you at the well preserved Roman amphitheater of Aspendos. There is plenty of free carparking available, and make sure you walk up to the hilltop ruins for views over the amphitheater and surrounding orchards.
Drive 45 minutes from Antalya to the eerie spot of the Karain Caves. A prehistoric site where many of the archaeological findings that have been excavated now lie at the Antalya Museum, you can wander these small caves and imagine life in prehistoric eras. Take a flashlight as the caves can be dark, and wear sturdy footwear as the walk up to the caves is steep.
Çıralı is a village found 82 kilometers south of Antalya and is a great option for a day trip. Enjoy a seafood meal at one of the beachfront restaurants and don’t miss visiting the Flames of Chimaera, naturally occurring gas flames that burn from rock vents on the mountain. The flames are particularly impressive in the evening.