Lying on the Mediterranean coast, Antalya is a beautiful city with a wealth of things for you to see and do. The Turkish Riviera is not known as the Turquoise Coast for nothing. Whether you come for the lovely beaches, the plethora of historical sights, or the magical waterfalls that are dotted about the countryside, Antalya is sure to provide you with lifelong memories of a fantastic trip.
Exploring its historic center is a delightful way to get to know the city, and settling down to drink a Turkish coffee while watching the world go by is a heavenly experience. Dripping in history, this wonderful city will introduce you not only to present-day Turkey but also to the wealth of civilizations that have passed through this corner of the globe over the ages.
Towering over the west side of Antalya, Tunek Tepe is a huge hill which offers impressive views over the city, the Gulf of Antalya, and the coastline snaking its way off into the distance. One of the best ways to get to the summit is by cable car up the hillside. At the top, there is a restaurant as well as a nightclub, if you want to dance the night away in a memorable location. If clubbing isn’t your thing, Tunek Tepe is still worth a visit just for the magnificent panoramas that it offers.
Lying around ten kilometers east of the historic center, Lara Beach is a lovely spot to simply kick back and relax while taking in some rays. With the Mediterranean Sea lapping at the shore as you bask in the sun, it is a peaceful place with lots of tourist facilities, so you can easily grab a drink or sit down for a meal at one of the nearby restaurants. A bit further back, you can find lots of different hotels and accommodation options if you want to be even nearer to the beach when staying in Antalya.
Located in a lovely little scenic cove, the Old Marina is nestled amongst craggy cliffs and is cluttered with boats that float upon its turquoise waters. With loads of little cafes and restaurants lining the shore, it is an atmospheric place to stop by, with small, winding streets snaking away from the marina. Once the major economic hub of Antalya, nowadays, it is the perfect place to grab a coffee or meal and look out over the beautiful scenery. From here, you can also take a boat trip and explore the nearby Turkish coastline.
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Antalya, Yivli Minaret towers above its surroundings, an elegant monument that brilliantly showcases Seljuk architecture. Part of the 13th century mosque that is still used to this day, Yivli is located in the historic center. From the top, there are lovely panoramas over the red roofs all around it. Meaning ‘fluted minaret’ in Turkish, Yivli stands 38 meters high and now houses the Antalya Ethnographic Museum, which has loads of old and interesting artifacts for you to check out.
Just outside the city center, Karaalioglu Park is a huge area that is a great spot to wander around and the perfect place to have a picnic. The ancient Hidirlik Tower is located in one corner of the park. From the old Roman fortress, there are some fantastic views looking out over the Gulf of Antalya before you – you can also see the old Roman harbor. Home to several statues and monuments, Karaalioglu is a great park to head to if you want a break from all of the sightseeing.
Lying around 12 kilometers from Antalya, the Kursunlu Waterfalls are located in the nature park of the same name and are well worth checking out. Originating in the Aksu River, the water flows across the countryside before cascading down into the pretty, turquoise pool that lies below Kursunlu. Verdant vegetation surrounds the pool and the wall of water only adds to the perfect scene. A secluded and serene spot, wildlife abounds and it almost feels as if you are in a fairytale, such is the perfection on show.
One of the largest aquarium complexes in the whole world, Antalya’s fantastic aquarium is as educational as it is entertaining; its 40 themed aquariums certainly make for a fun day out for all of the family. With the longest tunnel aquarium in the world for you to enjoy, there is absolutely loads to see and do; the tropical reptile house is also well worth checking out. In addition to this, a Snow World and Ice Museum are also part of the complex; you can have snowball fights and play about in the icy wonderland.
Set on the hillside of Solymos Mountain at an altitude of over 1000 meters, the ancient city of Termessos is spectacular. With amazing views over the surrounding area and the far-off Taurus Mountains, exploring the well-preserved old buildings and remains of Termessos is a magical experience; the colonnaded street and agora are just two of its many highlights. Neither Greek nor Lycian, the inhabitants were Pisidian, fierce and prone to warring. It’s secluded location allowed it to retain its independence in the face of invading armies; this is in part why the site is in such good repair. With a beautiful, open-air theater also on offer, visitors to Termessos will never come away feeling disappointed with all of the incredible sights they’ve seen.
Located in the west of the city, this fantastic pebble beach stretches for over seven kilometers and is a great spot to head to if you’re looking to sit back and relax in the sun. There are lots of cafes, snack bars, and restaurants nearby if you’re feeling puckish, and the Antalya Beach Park just behind it has numerous shady spots if you want to retreat from the sun. With the spectacular Beydaglari Mountains providing a lovely backdrop in the distance, Konyaalti Beach is the perfect place to simply take in the scenery while lounging by the sea. If you’re feeling a bit more active, why not try your hand at jet skiing or visit the Aqualand waterpark that’s just a stone’s throw away.
Lying just 15 kilometers from Antalya, Perge is an amazing archaeological site that you just have to visit. The former capital of Pamphylia was founded around 1000 BC and there are a host of incredible ruins for you to explore; the stunning Roman theatre is the highlight of many people’s trips. In addition to the huge array of crumbling buildings, half-destroyed temples and decaying columns that are everywhere you look, Perge also has an amazing chariot racing stadium for you to check out; it used to be able to accommodate 15,000 spectators in its heyday. Considering how epic everything is, there are remarkably few tourists around, and that leaves you to step back in time and imagine Perge in all its glory.
One of the finest most important museums in the whole of Turkey, the Antalya Archaeological Museum is home to a huge collection of artifacts from the city and the surrounding region and it is not to be missed. History lovers will absolutely adore its extensive archaeological sections that feature stupendous mosaics, silver jewelry, and beautiful statues from Perge and Byzantium. Covering over five thousand years of history, the exhibitions contain amazing ruins and artifacts from the Bronze Age right up until Roman and Byzantine times.
Jaw-dropping to behold, Aspendos needs to be seen to be believed. Although it is located around 40 kilometers from Antalya the trip is certainly well worth making for the astonishing sight that greets you. One of the top tourist attractions in Turkey, Aspendos’ wonderful Roman theater is incredibly well-preserved and was built around 155 AD. Set in the side of a hill, its huge entrance towers above you as you enter; the mind boggles at the sheer size and scale of it. Away from the theater, there are a number of other ruins for you to explore, such as those of a basilica, aqueduct, and agora. The undoubted highlight is the marvelous theater that draws people from all around the world.
Impressive and dramatic in equal measure, Hadrian’s Gate is a fantastic monument that was built to honor the Roman Emperor Hadrian who visited Antalya in 130 AD. The triumphal arch is remarkably well preserved and still serves as one of the main entrance points to the historic Kaleici neighborhood. The three arches are lined by pillars and the ceiling within has some lovely carvings for you to gaze up at; two old towers perfectly frame Hadrian’s Gate on either side. While the old defensive walls still surround much of the city, Hadrian’s Gate is the only entrance gate that still remains.
Located around 12 kilometers from the city center, the Duden Waterfalls are beautiful to behold and the group of them are very popular to visit for both locals and tourists alike. Originating in the Taurus Mountains, the water runs its way through the karst countryside surrounding Antalya before plunging dramatically into the Mediterranean Sea at the Lower Duden Waterfalls. While the lower falls are best viewed onboard a ship, the upper waterfalls are a delightful spot for a picnic; they are set in a scenic little gorge. Here, you can actually venture into a cave behind the waterfall, which is a mesmerizing experience as the water pours off the overhang of the cliff in front of you.
The historic center of the city is littered with delightful old Ottoman mansions and beautiful monuments and buildings that date back to Roman and Byzantine times. As such, Kaleici is an absolute delight to wander around; its warren-like streets are the perfect place to get lost and simply enjoy all the sights and sounds of Antalya. With a myriad of restaurants, shops and atmospheric cafes for you to choose from, there is a lot to see and do. There are also a number of lovely little art galleries for you to peruse. Interspersed amongst the narrow streets are such amazing buildings as the 18th century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque and the elegant Kesik Minaret, while life revolves around the picturesque main square. For many visitors, Kaleici is the highlight of their trip. It is not to be missed if you want to experience the intoxicating mix of contemporary and traditional Turkish life.