Located by the namesake gulf, Antalya has been standing at Turkey’s Mediterranean shore since 150 BC. Since the 70s tourist crowds flock the city as a gateway to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Turkish Riviera. However, Antalya’s rich historic inheritance features several interesting ancient, Roman and Ottoman sites, which make the city itself a popular travel destination throughout the year.
Tourist facilities include all kinds of accommodation, from large all-inclusive resorts to stylish boutique hotels to basic room rentals. Intense nightlife is supported by dozens of hip bars and trendy clubs.
Quite a few of the city’s points of interest are served by the local 10-stop tram. City-buses cover every corner of Antalya, while “dolmus”, Turkish shared taxis on fixed routes, are an efficient and fun way move around. Privet taxis are also widely available.
Things to see and do in Antalya
Located only a stone’s throw away from the city centre, Antalya Museum is one of the top museums in the country. Covering an area of 30,000 square meters, it features 13 halls filled with treasures and artefacts from Stone Age to Byzantine times. Don’t miss the findings from ancient Lycia in the Hall of Regional Excavations and the ancient busts at Hall of Marble Portraits.
The old quarter of Antalya is known as Kaleici and is the city’s most scenic area, with beautifully restored Ottoman houses and picturesque alleys. Start exploring the ancient part of the city from Kale Kapisi Square, where you will see Saat Kalesi, an old stone clock tower. On the northern side of the square you will find the entrance to Iki Kapilar Hani, an atmospheric 15th-century roofed oriental bazaar.
Take Uzun Carsi Sokak, on Kale Kapisi’s southern side, to come across Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Camii, an 18th-century mosque with interesting colorful tile-works which feature fascinating arabic calligraphy. The Roman Gate of Hadrian stands at Hesapci Sokak from 130 AD. By the waterfront you will find the Roman Harbour, which had been Antalya’s main harbour until the 20th century and currently serves as a yacht marina. Stroll down the marina to gaze at local amateur fishermen, who bring their fishing rods here hopping to achieve a nice catch.
Occupying a traditional Ottoman mansion, Antalya’s Ethnography Museum features an excellent collection of local ceramics and a detailed display of typical Ottoman customs and rituals. Nearby Greek-orthodox church of St George is also worth a visit after going under major restoration in the past few years.
Finish your day at Kaleici with a relaxing stroll among lush greenery and colourful flowers at Karaalioglu Park, on the old quarter’s south-western border. Within the park’s grounds stands Hıdırlık Kalesi, a 14-meter high tower which is estimated to be an ancient lighthouse.
Yivli Minare is one of Antalya’s most well-recognized landmarks. Religious services still run at the mosque which is adjoined to the 13th-century fluted minaret, while an ancient dervish monastery, known as Mevlevi Tekke, is also included in Yivli’s grounds. Two medieval tombs are situated near the minaret.
Although most of south-western Turkey’s heavenly beaches are situated outside the city, nearby Konyaalti Beach is decent enough for a quick refreshing dip. Stretching for no less than 7 kilometers, the beach features hard dark sand and pebbles, but the waters are clear. The eastern end of the beach is occupied by Antalya Beach Park, where you can enjoy thrilling waterslides at AquaLand and swim among playful dolphins at DolphinLand, where dolphin and whale shows take place at frequent times. Other leisure facilities, such as golf and paintball, are also available within the park’s grounds.