Antalya Travel Guide
Hagia Sophia at night © Moyan Brenn
Antalya is the main city on the Mediterranean coast and one of the most popular holiday spots, with an attractive harbour setting and the picturesque old quarter of Kaleiçi enclosed within ancient Roman walls. Dominating the town is Antalya's symbol, the Yivli Minaret (Grooved Minaret) dating back to the 3rd century. The superb Archaeological Museum, housing one of the top collections in the country, is not to be missed.
Known as the Turkish Riviera, a holiday on the Antalya shoreline offers secluded coves, ancient cities and harbours, seaside towns, sparkling seas, and soaring cliffs. The city provides an excellent base for exploring the small towns nearby, as well as caves, waterfalls, and Roman ruins, including Perge and the mountain-top remains of Termessos.
A 30-minute drive east of Antalya is Aspendos, boasting the finest example of a Roman theatre in the world. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is remarkably intact. In addition to the vast number of archaeological wonders, the area also has a wealth of outdoor activities. Antalya, lying at the foot of the Taurus Mountain range, is host to numerous sporting events throughout the year, including international beach volleyball, triathlons, and canoeing competitions.
Shopping in Antalya can be an exhausting but exhilarating experience, with everything up for grabs from the famous local jams and jellies, made from a variety of fruits and vegetables, to antique jewellery, kilims, prayer rugs, leather ware, cotton clothing, traditional pottery, and wood carvings. Haggling is expected and bargains can be had. The best shopping is in the Kaleici district near the city walls, along winding side streets in the old quarter and along the avenues of Ataturk, Cumhuriyet, and Isiklar. Shopping is not only entertaining in Antalya but offers plenty of picturesque photo opportunities too. There are also several large modern shopping malls around the old town, one of the largest and most popular being Migros. Be wary of those who try to sell you antiques, as it is illegal to export them.
Although most tourists will head for one of the numerous restaurants in the Kaleici (old town) when on holiday in Antalya, the more adventurous gourmets would be better advised (for quality as well as price) to steer off the beaten track and try one of the restaurants favoured by locals. Although, the Kaleici restaurants are certainly atmospheric, with some even built into the ancient Roman walls. A good bet for Turkish food in Antalya, offering a delightful courtyard planted with lemon trees, is Restaurant Kirk Merdiven. Other recommendations are the Coco Bar, renowned for the tastiest lamb shish kebabs; Kismet Balikcisi, the local's choice for top seafood dishes; and the Develi Restaurant, where you may be forgiven for thinking the starter is the main meal as you wade through copious delicious Turkish specialities. MCYörüks is popular for its mixture of Western and Eastern offerings, low prices, and live music.
Antalya pulses after dark with what is undeniably the Turkish east coast's liveliest nightlife, centred on a wide variety of clubs and bars. Most bars double as discos, and most of the hotels offer floor shows, usually with belly-dancing, that are open to non-guests. The hottest spots for all night dancing are Ally's and Club 29 in Kaleici, but those who just want a quiet, cool drink gravitate to the waterfront bars to catch a sea breeze, or relax at one of the city's nargile (water pipe) bars.
Antalya's lovely main beach, Konyaalti, is made for relaxing and fun in the sun while on holiday, with a wide spectrum of watersports on offer. Both up and down the coast there are other beautiful beaches to explore. Local operators offer all sorts of sports activities, from mountain biking to bungee jumping. The area is full of possibilities for excursions, from magnificent waterfalls and mysterious caves to a plethora of archaeological sites. The city has some interesting museums and the narrow, high-walled streets of the old quarter are pleasant to wander through. Nature lovers will enjoy the Karaoglanoglu Park, and there are Mediterranean boat cruises offered from the harbour.
As in most Turkish holiday resort towns, touts for Antalya's shops, stalls, restaurants, and bars can be bothersome.
Things to see in Antalya
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