Imagine lying on a yacht over glistening turquoise waters and sipping a cocktail under the Mediterranean sun. One would say it is the epitome of a relaxing holiday. There are many resort cities across Europe offering just that – the joys of tranquillity and luxury. But Antalya is not an ordinary resort city. It is a historical hub for classical architecture, natural sites and cultural phenomena.
During our rather long visit to Antalya, we were able to pick ten fabulous things that everyone must do on their tour. Enjoy your read!
Visit Hadrian’s Gate
There’s no way you would miss Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya. It’s one of the key ruins in Turkey that belongs to the Roman era. Built in 130 AD to commemorate King Hadrian’s visit to – the then-thriving trade hub – Antalya, the impressive structure of three arches and pillars stands tall at the entrance of the Kaleici city even now. On our visit to Hadrian’s Gate, we came to realise that it wasn’t merely a construction but an art. The ceiling of the structure has some beautiful carvings that you shouldn’t miss out on; If you get yourself a guide, they will explain to you what an important role Antalya’s geographical location played in becoming one of Rome’s counterparts overseas.
Head Over to Kaleici
Turkey’s culture is the most diverse, most breathtaking and admirable in the whole of Europe – and perhaps even the world. Lying at the heart of Antalya is a serene little laid-back town called Kaleici, home to delightful cafes, chic restaurants and historical architectural buildings belonging to the Ottoman and Byzantine periods. Luckily, we toured Kaleici as our last destination, and we absolutely loved our experience.
Be ready to get lost amid the colourful streets. You can carry some change money with you during your walk, that way you can easily purchase from street vendors. Make sure you visit the main square, the Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque and Kesik Minaret on your journey here.
Take a Tour Around The Antalya Archeological Museum
When visiting Antalya, you must definitely include the Archeological Museum on your bucket list. If you’re not a history or cultural enthusiast, you may skip this, but we insist you take a tour. Home to artefacts and ruins dating back 5000 years to the past, the Antalya Archeological Museum is one of Turkey’s finest places to witness the historical evolution from the Bronze age, the Roman era up until the Ottoman dynasty. We were able to see awe-inspiring mosaics, jewellery and craftsmanship of the Ottoman era that were absolutely breathtaking.
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Travel Back in Time at Perge
Formerly the Capital of Phamphliya, Perge is an ancient Greek site, more accurately a ruin, that dates back to 1000 BC or even more. Although it was originally a Greek city in Anatolia, you will be able to find many Roman ruins which were stated sometime after the city was moved. The Roman Theatre, the Chariot Racing Stadium and decaying temples are such sites that you must see here in Perge.
Luckily during our visit, there were very few tourists, so we were able to wander around the 15 km stretch in tranquillity, imagining ourselves walking along the same path that chariots once rode and gladiators roamed. When you visit Perge, make sure to click some good pictures.
Relax at Konyaalti Beach
Beaches in Antalya are undoubtedly mesmerising. Hence it was a daunting task for us to pick the best ones. Konyaalti Beach, located close to the Beydaglari Mountains, is a pebble-lined coastal stretch and a hotspot for beach lovers around the region. We were here during the scorching summer, but the experience was admirable. All the clubs, cafes and restaurants come alive during the summer, and the parties go on till dawn.
Entrance to Konyaalti Beach is free of charge but sunbeds and other equipment must be rented or brought, so bring in some cash. You can even set up camp in Konyaalti, so let the adventure in you soar!
Witness the Duden Waterfalls
The Duden Waterfalls are iconic cascades located in two different places in Antalya. Yes, the waterfall branches into two – the upper Duden and the lower Duden. Both the falls flow from the Duden River, which feeds from an underground spring. Upper Duden is located in the secluded Varsak district, and lower Duden is in Duden Park, Lara district.
When we visited the upper Duden falls, it was the peak season, and many tourists were picnicking by the greens. We took the minibus from Antalya, and the experience was somewhat tiring.
If you’re not a huge fan of waterfalls, caves and forests, upper Duden may not thrill you as there isn’t much apart from this to do in Varsak. Lower Duden – of course – is not breathtaking, but it’s a unique sight to witness. So you may choose either of the falls to visit if you’re on a tight schedule.
Visit the Breathtaking Antalya Aquarium
The Aquarium in Antalya is one of the most fascinating contemporary sites to visit on your tour. It has the world’s biggest tunnel aquarium that is simply out of this world. You can book your tickets beforehand as we did, so the entry process is easier.
The Antalya Aquarium also adjoins the Snow World, Wildpark and Oceanride XD Cinema – all equally enthralling to experience. The Aquarium is home to about 40 thematic species, and the 131-metre tunnel sure raises the bar high for any other aquarium to compete against;
Experience the Turkish Riviera
The Southwest turquoise coast of Turkey is one of the most captivating sights in the Mediterranean region. The Turkish Riviera is known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean sea with its azure waters, glowing coastline, mountains, ruins and many more delightful experiences.
Before we hopped on a cruise – which, by the way, can be slightly expensive if you’re on a budget tour – we visited the Turquoise Coast from land, taking a bus from Antalya to Manavgat and a taxi ride from there. We insist that you visit the Turkish Riviera for a unique kind of escapade.
Indulge In Coffee and a Traditional Bath
Turkey is well known for its spicy, flavoursome speciality coffee and traditional baths in public bath houses – Hammams, which can be found along the streets of major cities. Istanbul, undoubtedly, offers the best experience, but it’s quite crowded as all travellers flock there. Visiting an overcrowded public bath house is the least exciting thing to do.
Antalya’s bathhouses – on the other hand – are just as electrifying. You may get to experience the full length of a bath without feeling insecure. Just a heads up, brace yourself for an active session.
Laze in Lara Beach
Similar to Konyaalti Beach, Lara Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Antalya. Unlike other beaches, this 8km stretch is somewhat calmer and tainted with golden sand, just like the beaches you’d find on tropical islands. Entrance to Lara Beach is free, but you will have to pay rent for the sun beds and other equipment.
On our trip, Lara Beach was the last destination on the list, so we were able to experience the coast at leisure, enjoying the lively nightlife, delicious food at stylish cafes, and the Mediterranean sun.
What Can you Do in Antalya for Free?
When it comes to the resort city of Antalya, you may not find too many activities that are entirely toll-free. But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that there are things to do in Antalya for free. See below.
- Spend time at the beaches: Both Konyaalti and Lara beach is free for visitors. You can bring your towel, umbrella and refreshments and enjoy a good time on your own
- Witness Hadrian’s Gate: As long as you don’t get a guide for your visit, Hadrian’s gate is free to witness.
- Stroll around Kaleci: Wandering around this enchanting city is free of charge, but the glamour and colourful stores along the streets may captivate you to purchase something. And it’s worth it. Help the locals by purchasing something, but beware of scammers.
- See the Duden Waterfall: Lower Duden waterfall can be spotted from afar, and it is free to lay your eyes upon the magnificent cascade.
- Admire architecture: Antalya’s touristic landscape is dominated by Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. From houses to mosques, there’s something of awe that visitors can spot. Be sure to admire all the little interior masterpieces on your tour.
Where Can you Shop in Antalya?
Speak about shopping, and there’s no street in Turkey that wouldn’t be up for it. Antalya is no different. From luxury malls to traditional bazaars, you can find many places where you can shop in Antalya. See below:
- The Land of Legends Shopping Avenue
- Terra City Shopping Mall
- Antalya Migros Shopping Centre
- Mall of Antalya
- Old Bazaar of Antalya
A tiny tip to keep in mind when visiting street stores and bazaars is that they are known for heavy tourist arrivals, and shop owners tend to improvise rates. So beware of such scams, and be mindful when purchasing traditional items.
Night Activities in Antalya
Nights in the resort city Antalya are just as bright and lively as the day. Many tourists visiting Antalya are quite nocturnal. They relax during the day and party at night. One of the famous night hangout spots here is Sheffield Pub in Kaleci. It’s perfect for a laid-back music night with good food and beer.
Cello Cafe Bar is also a good place to chill and sip a drink. If you’re looking for a raving clubbing experience, Club Aura or Club Inferno in Kemer is your go-to place.
Apart from this, you can choose to go for a fine dining experience at an exclusive restaurant, Seraser Restaurant is a great choice. If you’re indecisive – just like us – you can just set out to the streets and wander around until you find which activity interests you the most.
Best Beaches To Visit in Antalya
Undoubtedly, Lara beach is our favourite beach in Antalya. Next comes Konyaalti beach, where the views are simply out of this world. The other beaches that you can visit in and around Antalya are:
- Mermerli Beach
- Inciralti Public Beach
- Kaputas Beach
- Çirali Beach
- Kleopatra Beach
- Patara Beach