Nestled between the Mediterranean and the Taurus mountains lies Antalya, Turkey’s primary holiday destination.
In a previous article, we had mentioned Antalya for those willing to plunge into Discovering the Turkish Riviera but Antalya is so unique it deserves to be highlighted as a destination in its own right. Antalya’s weather allows it to be categorized as a year-round vacation destination on Turkey’s Turquoise coast, with world-class beaches and endless sunshine that draws millions every year.This article has classified what to see and do into four major categories that will offer an in-depth guide to visiting Antalya.
Antalya boasts an ancient past that draws many history enthusiasts. It was founded by Attalus ll of Pergamum around the 1st century B.C., who called it Attaleia. It later changed hands around 130 AD and became a Roman city. The Byzantines controlled this area until 1207, when the Seljuk Turks took over and renamed it Antalya. The Ottomans conquered it in 1391. After World War l, the Italians occupied Antalya for a short period. However, Ataturk successfully brought it back into the Turkish fold in 1921.
The Kaleici area, which includes the Old Town and the Old Harbor, has some remarkable landmarks. Let us begin with Hadrian’s Gate, an archway built in 130 AD that serves as a gateway into the city. This Gate has two towers built on either side, reflecting different periods. The Southern Tower has an inscription that attests to its Roman origin, and the Northern Tower was rebuilt by the Seljuk Sultan, Alaeddin Keykubat l.
Antalya’s distinctive landmark has to be The Fluted Minaret. With a height of 38 m, this mosque has become a symbol of the city of Antalya today. Built by the Seljuk Sultan, Alaeddin Keykubat l, it stands to represent unique Anatolian Turkish architecture. Closeby is Antalya’s Clock Tower, a commandeering structure in the Old Town, Kaleici neighborhood. The Tower dates back to the second century, but the clock was added later, around 1901.
Hidirlik Kulesi is also one of the oldest surviving monuments in Antalya. The specific function of this Tower remains shrouded in mystery, but the vantage point allows you to have spectacular views of Antalya Bay. A 45-minute drive to Aspendos will lead you to a treasure trove of ancient structures, primarily the theater.
Antalya’s coastline is around 657 km. Various day trips can be scheduled from Antalya to venture out and discover more historical ruins and remnants in this ancient city or its environs.
Patara: was a substantial naval base during the times after Alexander the Great. It was also a thriving port during Roman times
Xanthos: was the capital of ancient Lycia. Here, one can see a blending of Lycian traditions and the Hellenic influence. The tombs in Xanthos are examples of funerary architecture in ancient times.
Simena: has an ancient stone citadel that was once a vital watchtower against pirates.
Myra & Demre: Myra was once an important city in Lycia and is now an open-air museum. Demre, named after the river Demre, has an incredible sight of abandoned Greek villages when the population exchange took place in 1923.
Hierapolis & Pamukkale: Hierapolis is an ancient Greek city, and Pamukkale is the natural travertine terrace formations in the archaeological site. Pamukkale, translated as “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is an experience never to be missed. The mineral-rich thermal waters are a sight for sore eyes and have healing properties.
Perge: dates back to around 1000 BC. The theater and stadium of this ancient city are well preserved. Perge’s stadium could seat up to 12,000 people. You need to close your eyes and visualize what it was like in its heyday.
With a shoreline that extends for 400 miles from one end to the other, travelers will surely find a spot that fits their unique needs. Whether you choose to be close to the hustle and bustle of the city center or opt for secluded bays, the options are pretty spectacular.
Sarısu Kadınlar Plajı: this beach is located in the city center and is a sheltered public beach where only women can swim.
Cleopatra Beach is the longest beach in Turkey and the Mediterranean region. In addition to the softness of the sand and the cleanliness of the water, it is quite shallow for 150 - 200 meters, so families with children prefer to bring their young ones here for safety reasons. There is a medieval castle here as well.
Kaputas beach: With picturesque views that take your breath away, you have a perfect stretch of sand that glistens against the turquoise colors of the Mediterranean.
Konyaalti beach is a blue flag beach that extends for 7 km. The blue flag attests to the water’s cleanliness and safety for swimming. You will do more than lounging on the pebbly sand with many amenities nearby and a buzzing promenade.
Cirali beach: an hour and a half drive away from Antalya airport leads you to this beach tucked away amongst pine trees and citrus orchards.Stretching on the sand and getting lost reading a good book seems perfect in this rural area.
Lara beach: is also a blue flag beach and is by far the most popular beach in Antalya. It is 15 km long, but only 2 km has been set aside as a public beach. The rest serves as the beachfront for many of the upscale hotels in Antalya. With its light brown sand and clear crystal water, Lara beach is a lively place to be.
Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, Antalya is rich in fish and seafood, which constitutes a very healthy diet. Grilled fish is a staple in Antalya. Meat lovers will not be left disappointed either. The iconic meat dishes like kofta and kebab are made from beef, lamb, and chicken that have been roasted, grilled, fried, or skewered. You may be wondering about vegetarian meals. Well, Turkish cuisine incorporates a lot of vegetables. The vegetables are locally sourced and are delicious and nutritious. A purely vegan meal is bound to be a filling and satisfying meal even for meat lovers. There are some dishes that you must try like:
Gozleme: is one of Antalya’s best street foods. They resemble pancakes but with stuffings such as cheese, potatoes, spinach, or chopped meat.
Borek: is a savory pastry filled with cheese or minced meat, topped with powdered sugar. The secret to these pastries has to be the super-thin hand-rolled dough that they use.
Pide Salonu: is also another must-try street food in Antalya. They resemble pizza but are not circular. It is a thin and long flatbread baked in a special oven with meat, vegetables, and cheese as toppings.
Kuzu tandir: is a grilled specialty that involves slow cooking lamb shanks. The meat becomes soft and tender and easily falls away from the bone. Best eaten with meze dishes as a starter.
Yenge: is a sandwich with melted cheese, halal salami and sausages, sucuk, pickles, and tomatoes.
Dondurma: is Turkish mastic (plant resin) ice cream that is perfect for dessert. Yanik and Tava Dondurma are unique to Antalya. They are very cold, stretchy, and available in different flavors.
You are bound to hear the words “Afyet olsen,” which means enjoy your meal. Don't forget to compliment the food and the chef with the words “Elinize saglik.”
The additional calories you are bound to gain with all the delicious food will naturally be offset by all the activities Antalya offers. In addition to swimming, paragliding, visiting museums, parks, and malls, there are some unique activities that you can engage in Antalya.
Coasteering: involves following a route on the rocks along a shoreline. It doesn't involve any technical climbing equipment but uses protective gear such as helmets, wet suits, life jackets, rubber shoes, and gloves. It includes bouldering, traversing, swimming, and maybe some cliff jumping. It will make you have fun and feel alive since it combines the sea and lots of adventure.
Visit Sandland Antalya: Sandland covers an area of 10,000 square meters and exhibits sand sculptures of gigantic sizes made by artists worldwide. Its theme changes every year. It has a section dedicated to children too.
Catch a Cable Car ride: The glass-enclosed cable cars take you on a panoramic excursion over Antalya. You can also be dropped off for a scenic hike. Watching the sunset here is breathtaking.
Dive with the Caretta caretta turtles: Antalya is one of the largest nesting areas for the endangered Caretta caretta sea turtles. These loggerhead sea turtles are credited with keeping Antalya’s beaches free from jellyfish.
Canoe over the sunken Simena ancient city in Kekova: The pristine clear waters allow you to get glimpses of the past. An earthquake had destroyed the city in the 2nd century AD. Kekova is a protected area, so swimming, diving, and snorkeling are prohibited. Watching flying fish will add to any child’s excitement.
Antalya Aquarium is among one of the world's biggest, and walking through the tunnel offers everyone a chance to see the underwater creatures in person or watch them in 4D at the Aquarium's Cinema. Its associated Snow world Ice Museum gets you to let yourself free with the igloos, sliders, and snowballs. The truly adventurous can experience the world’s dangerous creatures in the aquarium's “Fear Trophy” section.
A villa with an infinity pool in the cute little town of Kas - Antalya, with its cobblestone streets, sea views, Turkish breakfast and tea, and the sparkling sun, gives a whole new meaning to the word Gunaydin, Turkish for good morning. What a view to wake up to!
Life is about moments that take your breath away, and an unforgettable holiday experience on the Turkish Riviera is definitely one of them. Get in touch with us at HalalTravels.com, and we will be more than happy to curate your getaway.