The southern Turkish delight of Antalya offers a quirky mix of old and new. If it’s fascinating culture and history you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. Stylish bars and restaurants are not in short supply either and if thrilling rides are your thing, there’s a handful of exciting waterparks to visit too.
Antalya proudly sits on the top 20 world’s most visited cities list in the number 11 slot. Why not grab a slice of the action and see what this destination has to offer?
If you’re exploring southern Turkey, here are some of the best things to do in Antalya.
1. Antalya Muzesi
One of Turkey’s largest museums, Antalya Muzesi is a haven for history buffs. Keen to discover the fascinating archaeological history of the country’s Mediterranean coast? There are hundreds of artefacts to feast your eyes on. Think marble statues of Roman gods and glistening gold treasures from Byzantine and Ottoman sites.
2. Hadrian’s Gate
Situated on busy Atatürk Boulevard, Hadrian’s Gate can be traced all the way back to 130 AD when it was constructed to commemorate the visit of Roman emperor Hadrian. It’s successfully survived thousands of years to be one of Antalya’s most-visited historic sites.
Today, the towering archways act as the gateway between modern Antalya and the old town of Kaleiçi. Be wowed by the intricate shapes and floral designs overhead but remember to look closely at the original pavement below, too. You’ll see time-worn grooves in the stone that were created by carts rolling in and out of the city’s walls.
Venture through the arches of Hadrian’s Gate and step back in time at Kaleiçi. This fascinating old town showcases structures from the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine eras and is as pretty as a postcard! The ancient surrounding walls once housed the entire city and in more recent years, time-worn buildings have been restored and given a new lease of life.
The winding streets are known for getting lost in, but when an area is as gorgeous as this, who’s to complain? It’s all part of the fun! Along the way, you’ll see family-run shops selling everything from Turkish carpets to authentic spices in all the colours of the rainbow. Seeking sunset spots? Head to the Roman harbour for undisturbed views.
4. Duden Waterfalls
Explore the great outdoors on a day trip to the Duden Waterfalls. This natural wonder features two attractions in one – the upper and lower falls. The lower falls showcase water flowing freely into the Mediterranean Sea, while the upper falls are in a jungle-like landscape where you can see ancient tombs engraved in the rock beneath the waterfall.
Wander from the falls to discover the naturally-etched caves, but be careful, these rocky paths aren’t for everyone! Don’t forget to pack a picnic, as the lush green setting is perfect for a spot of al fresco lunching.
5. Konyaalti Beach
One of Antalya’s main beaches, Konyaalti’s shingle sands stretch for 7km to the backdrop of the Beydağları Mountains. This serene setting is one of the best to enjoy Turkey’s sun-kissed Mediterranean coast.
Feeling hungry? Antalya Beach Park is an open-air food court that serves a huge variety of both local cuisine and international favourites. By day, sample the chewy Turkish delight ice cream and by night, take a seat at one of the candlelit tables and dine under the stars.
At more than 1,000m above sea level in Gulluk Dagi National Park, this ancient city is a favourite with those seeking stunning views. The amphitheatre, commonly known as the ‘Eagle’s Nest’, perches on the edge of the Taurus Mountains, overlooking the surrounding peaks and valleys.
Take a seat on the stone terraces where up to 5,000 spectators would have been sitting during performances or head up to the stage area and experience the mountain backdrop.
After a walk along the rocky terrain, you’ll be rewarded with the views of the lesser-known ancient ruins, including walls, an entrance gate, temples, an agora and the remains of a bath site. Don’t forget your camera – these views need to be seen to be believed!
7. Kaputas Beach
Take a scenic day trip to this picture-perfect slice of coast that rivals any of the busier tourist beaches across Turkey. With its mesmerising azure-blue waters and golden sands, it’s the perfect place for hours of relaxation.
Relatively off the beaten track, it’s a sun trap that’s also a hit with the locals. You’ll need to climb down a long flight of winding stairs to get there, but as the beach isn’t crowded, you won’t be competing for that ideal sunbathing spot!
8. Perge Ancient City
Get your comfy walking shoes on because this ancient city is not to be missed. Once the capital of Pamphylia, you’ll find Perge north-east of central Antalya.
Ruins include a 14,000-seat theatre, Roman-style stadium and a Byzantine basilica, to name just a few. You’ll need a good couple of hours here to explore and make sure you’ve ticked everything off your sightseeing list.
9. Karaalioglu Park
Escape the city’s bustling streets for a picturesque walk through the gardens of Karaalioglu Park. The palm-lined pavements lead you to pretty gardens and the historic Hirdilik Tower.
There are a handful of viewing platforms dotted around the edge of the park where you can enjoy the best panoramic views of the adjacent Beydaglari Mountains. These majestic peaks are often snow-topped and provide a unique backdrop to your holiday selfies.
Sunday is the best day to visit, with many of the locals socialising with friends and enjoying the sunshine. You might even catch local musicians busking.
10. Antalya Marina
After a steep walk down the cobbled steps of Kaleiçi, you’ll find the colourful marina. The crescent-shaped harbour is filled with a mix of fishing boats and high-end yachts. Mingle with the locals and watch fishermen bring in their catch of the day or join other tourist groups on a day trip along the coast.
It’s also a popular spot for enjoying some lunch or an al fresco dinner in the handful of cafés. For the best view, take the sleek glass lift or head to the viewing platform. This hidden vantage point gives you panoramic views of the harbour and Konyaalti Beach, as well as the surrounding mountains.
Posted: 13th Jul 2020.