The city of Antalya is a real gem in the gorgeous Turkish Riviera. Popular also as the ‘citrus capital’ of the country thanks to the plenty of orange trees grown in the region, it’s worth visiting either as a weekend getaway, or as a summer holiday destination.
Interestingly, speaking of citrus, the larger importer of Turkish oranges is… Greece! Coming from a country up north, picking oranges from the tree ourselves was one of the most pleasant experiences in Turkey. Of course, the taste is nothing like the grocery-store ones’ back home.
There are pomegranates too, everywhere. We fell in love with pomegranate juice. They sell it on every second corner and it’s so refreshing and energizing, that at one point you find yourself addicted to this divine drink. You will especially need it if you plan to walk around the city for hours, starting from Kaleiçi Marina. Unless you prefer ‘chay’ (tea) of course.
What to do in Antalya?
Antalya is a large, modern city. However it has a very special atmosphere due to its rich history from Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman times. The Old Town of Antalya – Kaleiçi, is city’s historic heart opening straight to the sea with its amazingly blue waters and snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Be sure to go to the Kaleiçi Observation Terrace– this is a balcony made of glass with stunning view over the marina and the nearby old houses and cafes. Both local people and tourists love to hang out in the Old Town. The place has a charm all of its own with the picturesque souvenir shops, nice restaurants with always smiling waiters, and adorable old-time houses along the cobblestoned streets. By the way – nothing can compare to the Turkish hospitality – you will be offered a free cup of tea in every little shop you set your foot into. But we do recommend a cup of traditional Turkish coffee in one of the seaside café bars.
There is a beautiful park next to the Observation Terrace where you’ll see goat statues made of wood – this is one of the very popular spots to take pictures at.
The Old Town starts from a cliff and descends down to the Mediterranean Sea. That is why there is an elevator to make the access to the beach easier. It is made of glass and gives another viewpoint over the wonderful harbor area.
Blue, green and sunny gold – these are the colors of Antalya’s Kaleiçi and that part of the city is our favorite. But the city has much more to offer to its numerous visitors: the rich Antalya Museum, the Aquarium, really plenty of leather and jewelry shops for those who love shopping, and the amazing Duden Waterfalls to put the final touch of a busy day.
Do you know how to bargain? In Turkey you can buy quality leather clothes and bags (if you are a fan) and exquisite jewelry (with the famous ‘zultanite’ precious stone, which has recently been discovered), but you should know how to bargain and slash the price. You are expected to do that. Don’t fall for the first price offered. It is usually doubled, in some cases – even tripled. So, prepare to negotiate if you really want to take something home.
Where to Stay?
Turkey is famous for its top-class hospitality. It has ones of the best hotels globally and perhaps the best customer service ever. You can choose a heritage hotel and experience the old times in a modern comfort, or book a room in a contemporary-style one. Be it city hotel or a beach one, there’s plenty of wonderful accommodations to choose from.
Our Top 5 hotels in the Old Town of Antalya, boasting a perfect location and excellent facilities
- Casa SUR
- White Garden Hotel
- Palm House 17 Note: this hotel allows children over 12 years
- Char Me Hotel
- Delight Deluxe Boutique Hotel
Book your Antalya hotel now:
Belek Resort Area
Within a 45-minute ride you can find the resort area of Belek. The beaches there are sandy and wide, and there are really good hotels to stay at. But, overall Belek is considered a high-end resort, with large all-inclusive resorts, as well as golf-courses.
We booked the Belek Beach Resort and had a wonderful stay.
Trips to take while in Belek
Aspendos ancient ruins and theatre
This is one of the best preserved Roman theatres worldwide and the one with possibly the best acoustics. There are a number of interesting musical events to enjoy if you are lucky enough to get a ticket.
Manavgat boat trip
Manavgat is a town very close to Belek and Antalya and a river floating through the city. Note: There’s a waterfall, which is not always included to the Manavgat river cruises. Ask in advance – it’s worth visiting.
One of the most exquisitely decorated and beautiful mosques in the area. As usually, you should leave your shoes outside (perhaps carry some socks with you, so you do not enter bear foot), and if you are a woman – be sure to carry a scarf with you, so you can have your head covered. Otherwise you won’t be allowed inside.
Karmir Resort Area
Karmir is another resort area with beautiful sandy beaches. It is very popular with Russians. You’ll hear Russian speech everywhere while there. There are huge all inclusive hotels, and the area is lively and full of numerous shopping centers and cafés.
We stayed at Karmir Resort and Spa and truly enjoyed our stay.
Kekova sunken ruins (Underwater City)
Kekova is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of the town of Demre. While sailing to the island, you can see the remains of a sunken ancient city below the water. Supposedly, the ancient city was destroyed by earthquakes around the 2nd century.
The ancient rock tombs of Lycia in Kas
Lycia was an ancient civilization along the area of the present Turkey, known today as Kas. The Lycian people inhabited a compact, mountainous region and buried the noble citizens in cave tombs facing the blue waters of the sea. Lycia tombs date from 15th-14th century BC.
St Nikolas church in Demre
Demre is the Lycian town of Myra. You can come across both names. You can stop in Myra to see the Church of St Nikolas, later known as Santa Claus. Russians are very fond of this church and there lots of Russian tourist groups at the place.
Kaputaş Canyon Beach
Kaputaş is a small cove at the end of Kaputaş canyon near Kaş. It is very popular among foreign travelers due its crystal clear water and the views from the high road above it. In the active holiday season there is a traffic jam near it, as everyone wants to stop by and admire the amazing Mediterranean panorama.
Fethye and Blue Lagoon
This is perhaps the resort area with the most stunning turquoise sea view along the whole Mediterranean Turkey. The Blue Lagoon (known as Ölüdeniz in Turkish) is truly a paradise on earth. The beach there is equally popular with backpackers and high-end tourists.
Kaunos Rock-Cut Tombs
Kaunos’ tombs are similar to the Lycian tombs near Myra, however much ‘younger’ – presumably dating back from 4th-2nd century BC. The tombs are overlooking the beautiful Dalyan River and people can see the during a river cruise. The ancient city of Kaunos was an important port of Anatolia and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dalyan Turtle Beach
Apart from the river, there is a small town carrying the same name: Dalyan. In Turkish it means something like fishing net.
Dalyan Turtle beach is one of the best beaches one can ever imagine – large, golden-sand beach between the sea and river, accessible exclusively by boat. The mountain range next to it makes the place like a fairytale. The beach was turned into a protected area to save the baby turtles, which grow along the shores of the river. One can spot a giant turtle from the boat during the warm months and even in October!
October is still perfect to enjoy the beach in South Turkey. The water is still warm and there are fewer tourists.