Antalya is a large modern city and popular holiday resort on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast, just an hour’s flight or a 12 hour bus ride from Istanbul. With a stunning bay of turquoise water and backed by the snow capped Taurus mountains, beaches are divine and the surrounding hills are perfect for outdoors enthusiasts so it’s really no wonder that Antalya Turkey is loved by so many national and international tourists.
The Old Town, Kaleici
In the centre of this large coastal city is Antalya’s old town, a maze of narrow cobbled stone streets and red roofed Ottoman Houses with white facades. There are plenty of unique handicraft stalls and souvenir stores as well as clothing boutiques and a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants. In the evenings the quaint streets fill up with local students and tourists who come for the vibrant atmosphere and live music. You might notice some sharing a glass of raki, a local liquor, while dining on a selection of ‘mezzes’, while others sip on Efes beer, the most popular national drink.
Naturally the Old Town has a few historical sites to visit, number one is Hadrian’s Gate, said to be named after the Roman Emperor himself when he visited the city. The impressive stone columned structure marks the entrance to the Kaleici, while on the square just outside the old town is a grand Ottoman Clock Tower. In the centre of the old town is an interesting site, known as the Broken Minaret, the ancient building was originally a temple, destroyed and rebuilt, converted to a Byzantine Church, then a mosque, back to a church before the Ottoman Empire came to rule the City and after the final conversion the building was again destroyed in a fire. Aside from its disastrous history the Broken Minaret is an odd contrast to the brightly colored shops and cafes that surround it.
Antalya is the largest city in the region and as a result it’s a shopaholic’s paradise. While the Old Town is the perfect place to pick up handmade goods and souvenirs from your Turkish holiday the modern centre is where you can get the best bargains in high street clothing stores. Or, visit Marca Antalya. A huge multistory mall in the centre of the city with both national and international brands and chain stores. West of the centre there is also a busy farmer’s market every sunday selling anything from fresh fruit and veg to homemade preservatives, spices and textiles.
Tastey Food & Sunset Views
Antalya’s tourist harbour is sandwiched between steep cliff faces which are topped with elegant restaurants overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Dining in one of these seaside restaurants at least once is a must while visiting Antalya. Taste some Mediterranean dishes; fresh fish will certainly be on the menu but Turkey has a wide variety of dishes including stuffed vegetables and yogurt soup so even vegetarians can find something tasty to try. Come during the day for stunning sea views or visit in the evening drink local wine and watch the sunset.
Only 10 km from the centre of town are the Upper Duden Falls, hidden away in a natural paradise within the sprawl of urban housing. The park has a few souvenir stalls by the entrance and men in colourful clothing tease customers as they make a display of serving up sticky Turkish ice-cream. The park fills up with local families picnicking at the weekends so it’s best to come in the week so you can take your pictures and explore the cave behind the deep blue pool are the base of the falls. If you have an extra day in Antalya then you can also stop by the Lower Duden Falls, located east of the centre, where the ice cold water spills over the cliffside, directly into the turquoise sea.
From April to October Antalya’s wide sandy beach is full of families, friends and tourists sunbathing and swimming. Konyaalti is a chilled out area of town where the water is crystal clear and the boulevard is lined with small restaurants so when you’ve finished bathing in the sun you can stop for a glass of cay or Turkish coffee.
Boat Cruises & Day Trips
Many people travel to Turkey’s southwest coastline to sail on the legendary Turquoise sea, however if you don’t have enough time for a multi-day cruise then you can still jump on a daily Antalya Boat Cruise to visit some stunning sights in the Gulf of Antalya or travel to the nearby coastal town of Demre to take a boat to the environmentally protected Kekova Region where you can see the Sunken City and Castle Village in Gokkaya Bay.
Once you’ve finished exploring the highlights within the city of Antalya you might want to start exploring the surrounding area, across the region are many abandoned Lycian, Roman and Ancient Greek cities and burial sites, as well as rural villages and hidden rivers and gorges which you can reach with day trips from Antalya.