Sightseeing in Antalya
As one of the world’s most visited cities, Antalya has rapidly gained a reputation as the ideal holiday destination. In fact, the entire region has been a popular place since antiquity. It’s something you’ll discover in the sheer abundance of awesome ancient sites and elegant ruins.
Choose to stay in the city of Antalya after you arrive, and you walk under Hadrian’s Gate. This ornate arch was built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian back in 130AD. Meanwhile, the Kesik Minare is a mosque that has a chequered history as a previously Roman and Byzantine site. But wherever you wander in the historic centre of Kaleici, you’ll see ancient minarets, towers and castles.
Timeless beauty beyond
Whether you head inland or further along the coastline from Antalya, you’ll come across archaeological marvels that rank among the finest in Turkey. That includes Perge, a huge ancient city that was one of the richest and most important sites in Greek and Roman times. Today, you can still see rows of temple columns at its long thoroughfare, as well as Roman baths and the Aspendos Theatre.
Side is also a stunning classical city. Its peninsula is particularly beautiful, where the Temple of Apollo casts a beautiful sight by the bright blue Mediterranean Sea. Other highlights include the Vespasian Gate, Greek amphitheatre and an archaeological museum housed in ancient baths.
Remarkably, there are yet more ancient cities in this historic region of Turkey. For instance, you could head to Termessos with its rock tombs, temples and a theatre perched over 1000m high in the Taurus Mountains. And then there’s Patara with its layers of Roman ruins.
A cool retreat
Antalya is also a region of great natural diversity, and you can discover more about its beautiful views and leafy paradises in our Couples section. But to start with, you could pay a visit to the Dim Cave in Alanya, a cavernous network of caves with underground lakes and rock formations that look like molten waxworks.
Activities in Antalya
Antalya is a city with plenty of things to do and see, whilst its lush coastline means relaxing is always on the cards too. Here’s just a small selection of the activities you can get stuck into in Antalya:
As you’ll see in our sightseeing section, Antalya boasts a spectacular array of ancient sights in the city itself and several of its surrounding regions. That’s why it’s fitting that Antalya Archaeological Museum is one of the most interesting of its kind. Don’t expect the usual dull exhibits here – the museum has been fully modernised to feature artfully lit displays of statues and Byzantine icons.
A marvellous MiniCity
The MiniCity Antalya is a fun attraction for all ages. Stroll around it to see shrunken versions of Turkey’s most famous monuments and legends. You’ll be wowed by tiny versions of Myra, Troy, Hagia-Sophia and more, all replicated in amazingly intricate detail.
Great golf courses
Just 44km east from Antalya, Belek boasts some of the best golf courses in the country. In fact, there are 14 around the resort, so you have a brilliant sporting choice. Antalya Golf Club is widely praised for the exceptional quality of its courses, including the renowned PGA Sultan. It’s a course that has been played by golfing greats such as Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.
That’s not forgetting the Montgomerie Maxx designed by golfing legend Colin Montgomerie. The Lykia Links is highly rated too for its coastal landscape – it often ranks in the top 100 golf courses of the world
Family fun in Antalya
Antalya is a very popular place for families and it has the activities to match! Zoos, waterparks and quirky museums help to create an inviting atmosphere for all ages.
It can get pretty hot in Turkey over summer, so waterparks offer one of the best options for cooling off. The Troy Aqua in Belek is a particular favourite as it has an array of twisting chutes and slides. There’s also Dolphin Aqua Land in Antalya, which has a good selection of slides and three swimming pools for relaxing in the sun.
Under the sea
Continuing with the water-based theme, the Antalya Aquarium has a very long sea tunnel where manta rays and sharks glide by above your head. You can also see colourful tropical fish, lobsters and eels.
A day at the zoo
A short journey inland from Antalya will bring you to Antalya Zoo, which is a great choice for a fun family day out. Nestled in the hills of the Turkish countryside, there’s an exciting variety of animals here, including tigers, bears and monkeys.
For young children, Balon Park is a place of bright colours, bouncy castles and ball pits. Meanwhile, children and adults alike will love the Antalya Toy Museum which has more than 3000 toys – some of them date back to the 1860s!
Romantic breaks in Antalya
The lush countryside, isolated temples and sandy peaces ensures Antalya is a picture-perfect city. After all, what can be more romantic than staring out across a gilded waterfront on balmy evenings in Turkey?
Antalya stands out from many other regions on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast because it has several smooth, sandy beaches. They make for beautiful places to relax with your partner during a romantic break. Our pick of the bunch includes Cleopatra Beach in Alanya. Its rich golden sands, palm-lined promenade and elegant hilltop castle have earned it a privileged status in the top 10 beaches of Turkey.
It would also be a good idea to visit Lara Beach. This Blue Flag awarded, lengthy stretch of glistening sand is a lovely place to lie back and appreciate the crystal clear waters. The resort that surrounds it is known as the ‘Las Vegas of Turkey’ for its huge, luxury themed hotels.
Turkey definitely knows how to make the most of its blissful scenery. Goynuk Canyon is a case in point. Its startlingly unique landscape has the curving forms of wavy white rock, leading to open expanses of lush green valleys and turquoise lakes. The waterfalls of Sapadere Canyon in Alanya are just as idyllic too.
However, if you’re on the lookout for waterfalls, Duden and Kursunlu are both beautiful. It’s well worth travelling to either site, as they are cooling havens with cascades of white water and great swathes of greenery. You could even choose to hike through Patara together, on a route that takes in the Lycian Way.
As Antalya is surrounded by so many ancient sites and natural wonders, you’ll find many excursion operators in the city. They’re a convenient way to wrap up the visit, coach travel and in some cases a guide, all in one package. However, there’s always the option to hire a car and visit the attractions yourself. Here’s an at-a-glance guide to the best nearby attractions and their distances from Antalya:
- Perge – 19km
- Termessos – 34km
- Side – 76km
- Arykanda – 135km
- Pamukkale – 241km
- Lara Beach – 21km
- Belek – 44km
- Side – 76km
- Alanya – 136km
- Kursunlu – 23km
- Goynuk – 40km
- Duden -119km
- Sapadere – 180km
Antalya and its surrounding resorts give you ample opportunity to try the tasty Turkish cuisine. With influences from both east and west, Turkish food is a rich concoction of fragrant spices and fresh ingredients. One of the ubiquitous classics is of course the Turkish kebab, with herb infused meat skewered and cooked over hot coals. You should also try flavourful bulgur wheat dishes, koftes meatballs and dolmas – wrapped vine leaves stuffed with meat or fish.
Even the drinks are unique in Turkey, as you can try golden Turkish tea served in small cups often without milk, or Aryan, a very refreshed salted yoghurt beverage.