Antalya is the fastest growing city in Turkey and a gateway to the Turquoise Coast, the Southern Mediterranean region of Turkey. Tourists from around the world have also discovered the great beaches and culture of Antalya, which together compose such an interesting mixture for a great holiday.
The rich history of Antalya is still very evident today, as artworks from different civilizations decorate the city, and numerous fascinating archaeological sites invite tourists for a visit.
The truly wonderful nature of Antalya, ranging from snowcapped mountains to turquoise rivers, offers endless opportunities for activities. Go skiing to Saklikent Ski Center in the morning and return back to the beach in the afternoon!
Where to stay in Antalya
Antalya is the 8th largest city in Turkey with a vast selection of hotels. For all-inclusive 5-star luxury hotels, the Lara district is an obvious choice. The Lara beach is one of the closest beaches to the center and therefore a convenient lodging area to combine the buzz of the city with beach life.
If you wish to stay near the historical sites of the city, the Old Town contains plenty of smaller boutique hotels.
Things to do in and near Antalya
The Duden (Düden) Waterfalls are two separate natural attractions within the city of Antalya, consisting of the Upper and the Lower Waterfalls.
Situated near the Lara Beach, the Lower Duden Waterfall flows over the cliff and drops 40 meters directly into the Mediterranean Sea. The misty cloud created by the waterfall is a sensational sight from the adjacent Duden Park.
The Upper Duden Waterfalls are a series of smaller waterfalls in a tranquil municipal park about 10 kilometers north of the city center. The waterfalls can be observed from various perspectives: from above, from below and even via a hidden cave behind the waterfall.
Hamam (Turkish bath)
Among locals, visiting a hamam, a Turkish bath, is a typical way to freshen up. For tourists, a visit to a hamam is a nice way to relax while getting a feel for local culture. One of the most popular hamams is Demirham Hamam in Muratpaşa district in the city center. A reservation in advance is recommended.
Antalya Old Town (Kaleici)
The Old Town of Antalya (Kaleiçi) provides nice contrast to the otherwise modern Turkish city. Within its narrow streets, the Old Town conceals a multitude of historic sites, such as the Clock Tower, the Hadrian’s Gate, the Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque and the Alaaddin Mosque / Yivliminare Mosque (Fluted Minaret) from the Selçuk-era.
The Old Harbor is an excellent place to enjoy the harborside restaurants with a great view to the sea.
The Saklikent winter sports resort with a total of 10 kilometers of slopes is situated 50 kilometers away from Antalya on the northern face of the Bakirli Mountain. The easiest way to get there is by a car or by booking a tour.
With the seawater at about 18 °C, the end of March is the best time to combine skiing with a beach holiday. The skiing season ends in early April in Saklikent.
Activities for families
Antalya is an excellent destination regarding children’s activities. The Aqualand & Dolphinland water park contains a dolphinarium and plenty of water slides both for adults and children to enjoy.
Antalya Aquarium is located right next to the water park. There’s also a reptile park on the premises providing other interesting activities for children.
A boat trip is an easy way to explore the surrounding nature of Antalya. There are boats trips with various themes, such as pirate boats or party cruises, and with various destinations, such as the Paradise Bay in Kemer or the Manavgat river.
The Kursunlu Waterfall is situated 19 kilometers away from Antalya. This beautiful waterfall is divided into several cascades that flow into a pond in the midst of lush, green nature. The scenic waterfall provides one of the most attractive views in Antalya.
The surroundings can be explored on foot while getting enchanted by the scents of the surrounding flora, such as wild roses.
There is no public transport available to the waterfall. Therefore, a taxi or a rental car is required.
The 7000-seater Aspendos Theater is one of the most remarkably preserved amphitheaters in the world. The theater is located in the Greco-Roman city of Aspendos, and it is still used as an actual venue today.
The Aspendos Theater is situated some 40 kilometers east of Antalya. The easiest way to get there is by organizing your own transportation (e.g. a rental car) or by participating on a tour. A public bus connection is also available, but you need to change buses in Serik. The admission fee to the Theatre is about 25 Lira, equivalent to some 3 euros.
Beaches in Antalya
The Konyaalti Beach is situated west of Antalya at the end of a tram line, with the Taurus mountains providing a beautiful backdrop while swimming and enjoying the sun. The Konyaalti beach consist of small pebble stones, which is a bit of a disadvantage. There are plenty of services available by the beach – cafes, and sunbeds & parasols for hire.
The distance from the center to the beach is about 6 kilometers, equivalent to about a 15-minute drive. By tram, take the west-bound line and exit at the last stop. A one-way tram ticket costs 3 Lira (40 cents). Entrance to the beach is free of charge.
The Lara beach is situated some 15 kilometers east of the city, and it is the second of the two main beaches in Antalya. The Lara Beach has been awarded the blue flag eco-label, which indicates that the beach exceptionally clean with clear water.
The several kilometers long beach has an endless selection of restaurants and bars. While there are sunbeds and parasols for rent, you can also just find a vacant spot at the beach, spread your beach towel, and soak up the sun.
Antalya is a great shopping destination clothing-wise, as the price level of clothes is the lowest in Europe and the selections is very nice. There are both bazaars, where price bargaining is part of the culture, and traditional shops & shopping centers with fixed prices. All the major shopping centers have a great number of shops selling clothing, electronics, pharmacy products and much more.
The biggest shopping center, TerraCity, is situated east of Antalya near the Lara neighborhood. Other major shopping centers include MarkAntalya near the old town and Migros next to the Konyaalti Beach.
Prices in Antalya
Below, there are some examples of restaurant and hotel prices in Antalya. Costs of hotel rooms refer to median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
33 cl beer in restaurant
Hotel room, 3-4* (July)
Hotel room, 3-4* (September)
From the airport to Antalya
The Antalya Airport is situated 10 kilometers away from the city center. There are public buses and trams available to travel from the airport to the center.
The Bus number 600 leaves every 30 minutes and drives to the center. The Bus number 800 operates to Lara every 2 hours.
The HAVAS shuttle bus is yet another possibility to get to the center. The tickets for the bus and tram connections cost around 7 Lira (1 euro), while HAVAS costs around 20 Lira.
Winter: The winter weather in Antalya is warm, with occasional rain and wind. The highest average daily temperatures, with regard to both air and seawater, stay under 20 °C. Therefore, for some, winter is a suitable time for swimming.
Spring: Antalya is an excellent travel destination in spring, as the temperature resembles that of summer. The highest daytime temperatures are between about 25-30 °C, and seawater temperatures also exceed 20 °C.
Summer: The summer months are very hot in Antalya. Temperatures rise well over 30 °C. Seawater temperatures approach 30 °C.
Autumn: Autumn is also a great time to visit Antalya. The beach weather lasts through October. In October, average daily highs are still between 25-30 °C, and the same applies to seawater.
Text: Erol Tasgit
Photos: Adobe Stock