Antalya Travel Guide
Of all the beach resorts in Turkey, Antalya is one of its most popular. Lying on its Mediterranean coast, it is part of the Turkish Riviera. However, despite its association with all-inclusive holidays, Antalya is a great place for cultural travellers.
With a pair of ancient city ruins nearby and a well-preserved Old Town, Antalya will surprise you.
Come check out our Antalya travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Antalya, Turkey.
Antalya is a fantastic destination in Turkey. However, before heading to the beach, take a day trip out to the Ancient City of Perga. While the ruins date back to Greek times, people have been living in the area since the Bronze Age.
Perga garnered a mention in the Bible. In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas preached the gospel in Perga in 46 AD. Its citizens abandoned the city in 1000 AD, shortly after the founding of the Seljuk Empire.
Throughout this site, you’ll find many pillars, as well as reliefs featuring depictions of everyday life. Note that there is a lack of shade at this site. As such, be sure to bring a broad-rimmed hat, or a parasol to keep the sun off you.
Still in the mood to explore ancient ruins? Head next to the remains of Termessos. Perched high atop a mountain 30 kilometres outside of Antalya, this city infuriated Alexander the Great. Back in the 4th century BC, the legendary leader was conquering everything in sight.
In modern-day Turkey, only one city eluded his grasp: Termessos. A Pisidian city that sat atop a high mountain plateau, its superior positioning made a surprise attack impossible. He contemplated an assault, but thought better of it – it would have been a colossal waste of human lives.
Even the Romans didn’t dare to take Termessos by force. In the 1st century BC, they reached a deal with the city-state. In it, they guaranteed their autonomy. At an unknown date in the future, nature did what no army could: An earthquake wrecked their aqueduct. With their water supply destroyed, Termesso’s citizenry opted to abandon their home.
Today, the lack of past warfare has preserved Termesso remarkably. Its walls, gymnasium, theatre, temples, and other structures are in excellent condition. Even so, do respect your surroundings as you explore.
Back in Antalya, be sure to spend a half-day exploring Kaleiçi. This is the old city centre of Antalya – as such, it contains buildings dating back to Roman times. In addition, you’ll find buildings from Byzantine, Seljuk, and the Ottoman era.
As you walk its streets, you’ll find many museums, mosques, and old residences that ooze character. Some locals still live here, but entrepreneurs have converted most buildings into shops, restaurants, and hotels. Even so, keep this in mind when leaving a bar for your accommodation at night. By being quiet, you’ll help improve the sustainability of tourism in Antalya.
If you’re looking for a marquee attraction in Kaleici, make time for the Antalya Museum. It protects artifacts recovered from archaeological digs, as well as works of art from different Turkish periods. 5,000 items are on the floor at any given time, but it also has more than 25,000 items in storage.
As you wander its galleries, keep your eyes open for many amazing sights. These include things like the ancient bone relics of Saint Nicholas, traditional musical instruments, and marvellous sculptures.
As you walk through the streets of Kaleici, be sure to stroll under Hadrian’s Gate. This Roman-era construction once served as a gate into the city in Roman times. However, it had been obscured by the city wall in later times.
It was uncovered as the old city wall was deconstructed in the 1950s. After a restoration effort immediately thereafter, it regained its former prominence. Thanks to its remarkable preservation, it makes for an excellent photo op.
Want to get away from the beaches for a day? Spend an afternoon at the Lower Düden Waterfalls. While gorgeous, it is not possible to swim in the gorge. This downside is the only one, though. Its beauty, plus the fact you can go behind the falls, makes them worth a visit.
Let’s face it, though – you’re probably visiting Antalya for its beaches. Start by grabbing a sun lounger on Konyaaltı Beach. It starts at Antalya’s west end and stretches six kilometres, ending at the base of high cliffs. This beach is a sociable place, and is a smart choice for families, as it is patrolled by lifeguards.
If you’re looking for a place that is drop-dead gorgeous, make Kaputas Beach your destination. Reaching it requires a degree of physical fitness, as it is 200 steps straight down. Once you’re at the base, though, you’ll be on a beach with golden sand and cliffs all around.