It’s Turkey’s fastest growing city, and one which has really made a splash onto the tourism scene. Antalya, the largest Mediterranean coastal city in Turkey, was once viewed as just a gateway to get to the Turkish Riviera, but has since morphed into a flourishing international sea resort.
Situated right on the Gulf of Antalya, it’s here on the Turquoise Coast where “sandy sweeps of shore hug a coastline lapped by jade waters and backed by forest-blanketed slopes.”
This is one of the most staggeringly beautiful coastlines in the Mediterranean, but beyond the beaches is an incredible landscape of canyons, waterfalls, and a classically beautiful city, with ancient Roman ruins, finely restored Ottoman houses, and a Roman-era harbour with clifftop views over the sea.
Things to do in Antalya: Exploring the Beautiful Turkish Riviera
Getting around Antalya is quite easy. Public transportation consists of buses, dolmuses (shared minibuses), and the tramway.
While these options are low cost and service many tourist attractions, it can take substantially longer to get where you need to go, and it’s a nuisance when carrying a lot of luggage. If look for a quick, comfortable and convenient way to get around the city, Antalya taxis will also allow you to explore beyond the usual tourist sites for more adventure.
These are the highlights of this beautiful town on the Turkish Riviera.
Kaleiçi- Old Town
Discover the historic city centre of Antalya and take in structures from the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman Empires.
Surrounded by the historic Roman Harbour, Old Town is a great place to set yourself up during your time in Antalya. Red roofed mansions, minarets, clock towers, tombs, mosques, fortress gates, shops, and restaurants are all at your disposal.
One of the main entrances to Kaleiçi is Hadrian’s Gate and is a must see when visiting the Old Town. This triumphal arch made up of three arched marble gateways, is truly impressive with its sculpted decorations and motifs.
Constructed in 130 A.D., it is the last remaining entrance gate of the city’s surrounding walls. Be sure to also check out the Yivli Minare located near the Kale entrance gate.
Photo by Orçun Edipoğlu
A great day trip from the city is a visit to Aspendos. This ancient Roman city is home to one of the best preserved Roman theatres in the world, making it one of Turkey’s greatest tourist attractions.
The fully restored theatre can seat nearly 15,000 people and hosts the annual Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival as well as concerts.
Although the theatre has been restored, many other structures have been left in their original “ruined” state.
Termessos is an incredibly well preserved ancient city belonging to the Pisidians. It is known as Turkey’s Machu Picchu as it is situated at an elevation of over 1,000 metres within a National Park.
Highlights of the area include the colonnaded street, upper agora, and the ancient theatre. The ruins are made even more beautiful by the surrounding wilderness with stunning views of the Taurus Mountain Range.
Photo by Panegyrics of Granovetter
This park offers relaxing shade for a break with picturesque views. Enjoy Roman monuments like the striking Hidirlik Tower as well as views of the cliffs and Gulf of Antalya.
Take in the park’s water features or head to a nearby coffee shop or pub for a refreshment. It is a beautiful area that makes for a great respite from visiting all the city’s attractions.
The Düden Falls are in fact made up of two separate cascades, the Lower and Upper.
The Upper Falls make for a wonderful afternoon to enjoy a picnic. They are surrounded by botanical gardens, restaurants, and boardwalks. Explore the accessible natural cave found behind the falls for even more fun.
Lower Falls (Karpuzkaldıran Şelale) is considered to be one of the largest in Europe, flowing over the cliffs and into the sea below. Relax in Düden Park or hire a tourist boat to see the falls up close.
Photo by zolakoma
Köprülü Canyon National Park offers rafting adventures as well as ruins, making for a great trip outside the city. Massive trees including cypress, pine, and oak varieties dominate the area.
Explore the temples of Zeus and Artemis as well as Roman bridges like Oluk and Bugrum Bridge. Enjoy fresh trout served at one of the local restaurants.
Konyaaltı Beach & Lara Beach
Stretching from the cliffs to the Beydağları Mountains on the western side of the city you’ll find Konyaaltı Beach. Here you’ll find Antalya Beach Park with its restaurants, cafes and bars. The park offers visitors showers and rental opportunities for beach chairs and umbrellas.
Lara Beach starts up just past the Lower Düden Waterfalls. Although it may be a bit further out of town and not as attractive as Konyaalti Beach, it offers much softer sand and many services similar to Konyaaltı Beach.
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