20 BEST THINGS THAT SHOULD DO IN ANTALYA
20 BEST THINGS THAT SHOULD DO IN ANTALYA, the towering walls and the Hadrian Gate give a clear indication of Antalya’s origins, which are located on Turkey’s southern coast. The old town of Kaleici, which has the name of the Roman Emperor, is located behind that Gate and slopes down to a little harbor where boats have traded since Roman times. This region was conquered by the Romans in 133 BC, and ever since then, it has flourished.
Naturally, Antalya expanded beyond the Hadrian Gate and the walls in all directions, east, west and north, with the sea as its southern boundary. Today, Antalya is an all-year-round resort destination with an international airport that serves the city and the resorts along the coast in both directions. Luxury hotels line the coast, especially to the east of the modern city, which has an infrastructure well able to cater for the demands of the metropolitan population in excess of 2.5 million.
With 300 days of sunshine annually, you’ll find plenty of outdoorsy things to do in Antalya. Even in wintertime, the international airport has numerous flights from elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East.
20 THINGS TO DO IN ANTALYA
1- LEARN THE HISTORY OF KALEICI
There has been minimal modern building within the old town (Kaleici), where the shops, hotels, bars and restaurants make use of buildings that have stood there for many years.
As a result, Kaleici retains a charm that no modern city can match.
All the narrow streets, which are largely pedestrianised, slope downwards to a small harbour and a tiny beach.
The views out across the Mediterranean are lovely and it’s a great place to sit with refreshments.
The Hadrian Gate is the only remaining gate from the early days, while Hidirlik Tower, built in the 2nd century, is another landmark to take in while you wander around.
2- EXPLORE ANCIENT HISTORY IN ASPENDOS & PERGA
You can see some archaeological wonders with an experienced guide, with Perga and Aspendos being the highlights.
Perga is an ancient Greek city famous for the temple of Artemis and its academic resident, the mathematician Apollonius.
The Persians and then Alexander the Great took it before the Romans.
Aspendos has a similar history, and the image of its stunning theatre is regularly used in promoting this part of Turkey.
The Greeks built it in 155 and there are few better-preserved theatres anywhere.
The Roman aqueduct is another highlight of your time in Aspendos.
3- ENJOY THE DUDEN WATERFALLS
Tours of Antalya and the surrounding region have plenty of variety, historical, cultural and natural.
There is something special about waterfalls, and the Upper and Lower Duden falls are impressive.
The river’s journey begins from springs in the Taurus Mountains and includes parts underground and manmade channelling.
The Upper falls are in a small park, and you can explore a small cave behind the water.
The Lower Duden gets the most attention, where you will see water cascading directly into the Mediterranean, a drop of over 40 metres (130 feet).
4- SAIL TO SULUADA ISLAND
The clear blue waters along this coastline is one of the top attractions.
Whether you want to swim, snorkel, or just take in the whole setting, a cruise out to sea is a wonderful experience.
The nearby island of Suluada is covered with forest, a beautiful place to make for.
You will be able to see the bottom of the sea, such is the clarity of the water, and have plenty of opportunity to swim in this warm water and enjoy lunch on board.
The island’s beaches are an added attraction on a day trip.
Remember to take a hat and protection from the sun because its rays are strong for most of the year.
5- TAKE AN ADVENTURE TOUR
You’ll have some fun tasks to solve; questions relate to yourself and your personality and characteristics.
At each location, you are given a task to complete, and there are points awarded for doing that.
It means if you are a group of friends, you can divide into couples and compete with each other.
You would want to see many of these places anyway during your time in Antalya.
If you enjoy the tour, you can play some more because there are some extra riddles that you can “play” later in your holiday.
6- SEE MARINE LIFE IN ANTALYA AQUARIUM
Antalya’s aquarium is one of the most modern and impressive ones anywhere.
It has both freshwater and marine species, and you can imagine being in different parts of the world as you walk through.
The oceans of the world featured are the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific, as well as the Red Sea.
There is a separate tank for each while enjoying the Nile and the Amazon species.
The Tropical Reef section and the shark tanks are impressive, while there is a scheduled feeding time for the sharks.
It doesn’t stop there because there is a pirate shipwreck observation point, the chance to make snowballs in Snow World and a section dedicated to snakes.
7- BOARD THE KEMER PIRATE SHIP
Head west to Kemer, where a pirate ship will take you on a cruise with a difference.
It’s a fun way to explore Phaselis, an ancient trading port with plenty of impressive ruins, including a theatre, aqueducts, an agora and baths.
The sea is shallow and warm, so it is a great place for swimmers.
After lunch, the next stop might be Paradise Island or Mehmet Ali Bükü, a lovely bay.
There’s time for more swimming before heading to Alaca Water, an inlet where you can swim or snorkel.
Relax on your journey home as you are likely to be tired because you will have had a full day.
8- RELAX AT THE TURKISH BATHS
There are few better ways to relax and revive yourself after a busy day than to get a Turkish bath and associated treatments.
There are several places to do this, but the best is likely to be a dedicated package designed to give the best of experiences.
Take a look at options that include the level of privacy you want, the availability of steam rooms and saunas, and a jacuzzi bath.
Body massages and a scrub in a Turkish bath may not be something you have tried before.
Each is soothing and after the treatment is finished, you’ll have the energy to keep on exploring.
9- MARVEL AT AN ANATOLIA DANCE SHOW
The culture of Turkey is rich and varied.
It includes music and dance so you should try to see and hear some of these traditions while you are on holiday.
One great option is the Fire of Anatolia (Anadolu Ateşi), a group with around 120 dancers who have performed worldwide.
Throughout the holiday season in Antalya, it performs in an outdoor amphitheatre, Gloria Aspendos Arena, which has a capacity of 4,700.
Two shows, “Evolution” and “Troy”, allow you to marvel at the skills of the performers.
Every minute, the dancers perform around 240 steps (that’s four steps each second!).
The history of Anatolia is told throughout the shows in dramatic and colourful dancing.
10- DRIVE A QUAD
Quad bikes have become increasingly popular for holidaymakers to explore off-road in recent years.
It does take skill and care to ride a quad, but if you book a tour, you will be given guidance and safety hints before you set out.
The Taurus Mountains are a great place to explore, often rugged, sometimes with sand dunes.
These mountains separate the lovely coastline from the Anatolian plateau.
An organised tour using quads offers plenty of time to explore, time to stop and swim or simply relax.
Depending on the season, you may even come across snow, which is magical on a cloudless sunny day.
11- SWIM WITH A HORSE
If you have experience riding a horse, consider booking a tour that allows you to ride a horse along a sandy beach.
An experienced guide accompanies each group of riders.
While the experience in a wonderful setting is great, the highlight is heading into the sea to “swim” with your horse.
All the horses are used to heading into the sea, so you need have no fear.
12- DIVE INTO THE WARM SEA
The clarity of this part of the Mediterranean Sea makes it a great place to go scuba diving.
You can expect to see a series of colourful fish that make their home the offshore coral reef.
All the equipment you will need comes with an organised tour that involves a tasty lunch between your morning dive and your afternoon one.
You can expect different locations, morning and afternoon.
Even if you are just a novice, you will be able to get an initial experience with the instructor who goes with each group.
13- EXPERIENCE THE THRILLS OF GREEN CANYON
Green Canyon is a wild place, 14 kilometres (9 miles) in the larger section and 3 kilometres (almost 2 miles) in the lesser one.
You can cruise along, stopping to swim in a long, narrow green lake.
The setting is beautiful, and you may have the added bonus of seeing a rare bird, the fish owl.
Lunch is served in a restaurant within the canyon.
You should have your camera for the lovely images your eyes will see, be it the lake, the mountains and the forests.
14- HAVE FUN AT LAND OF LEGENDS THEME PARK
This theme park is a youngster’s dream; there are more than 20 fun games and twice as many water slides.
The thrills include a “journey” to 62 metres (around 100 feet) above the ground on the Hyper Coaster, with the Typhon Coaster about two-thirds of the height.
Bring swimwear and a towel because of the facilities in the park, with plenty of chance to cool down in the summer heat when temperatures will certainly be in the 30s and regularly touching the 40s.
The family will love a day here after a trip from Antalya accommodation eastwards.
15- DISCOVER THE DELIGHTS OF KOPRULU CANYON
This national park canyon is worth visiting if you want a day out from the city.
The park covers over 360 square kilometres (around 140 square miles), with the canyon 400 metres (1,300 feet) deep.
The restaurants in the rest area nearby specialise in trout, which flourish in fast-flowing water.
There are two bridges that were feats of engineering in their time, Oluklu and Bugrum, both built by the Romans.
The park’s flora and fauna are additional reasons to enjoy a few hours there.
16- VISIT THE ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM
The Antalya Museum in Konyaalti is one of the largest museums in Turkey.
There is an open-air gallery and 13 separate exhibition halls.
While 5,000 exhibits are on display, a further number approaching 30,000 are kept in storage at the facility.
The exhibits tell the story of the region over history.
A century ago, Antalya was in Italian hands, and their archaeologists began the process of collecting, with the Turks establishing the museum in the hope of keeping such treasures within the country.
Half a century ago, the museum moved to its current site and temporarily closed a decade later for three years to organise the place properly.
17- LAZE ON KONYAALTI BEACH
Antalya expanded east and west from Kaleici, and if you head west hugging the coastline, you come to a long stretch of beach, Konyaalti.
There is some sand, but it is primarily pebbles.
There are lifeguards on patrol even though it is a long, flat beach with shallow waters, ideal for swimming.
It has “blue flag” status that confirms its quality and status.
There are good facilities along the beach, including free changing rooms, showers, bars and cafes.
There’s also plenty of accommodation if you decide it is a district you like. Here are some great options:
- Porto Bello Hotel Resort & Spa
- Megasaray Westbeach Antalya – All Inclusive
- Onkel Rada Apart Hotel
18- HEAD TO KARAALIOGLU PARK
Karaalioğlu Park is a short distance from Kaleici, making it easily accessible to visitors wanting an open area away from the beaches to relax.
Antalya’s modern centre has plenty of good shopping opportunities, so perhaps you can take a break from shopping by sitting in this large park?
Likewise, the park is a great place for a break if you have been sightseeing for a few hours.
The Hidirlik Tower, an ancient fortress that looks down over the harbour, is within the park.
The municipal theatre and the mayor’s office are also here, together with several statues and monuments commemorating the poet Nâzım Hikmet and Don Quixote.
19- ENJOY ANTALYA CUISINE
There are numerous markets in Antalya selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
If you pass any of them, you will see a splash of colour.
There are numerous restaurants selling international cuisine but you should certainly sample the range of foods that the locals eat.
Mezes are Turkey’s answer to tapas and are rich and varied.
Lamb and chicken are popular choices, while all coastal places have an extensive choice of seafood.
Turkish soups, salads and bread are all popular and available everywhere.
You should ensure you try these things when visiting the city.
20- SEE SANDLAND IN LARA
If you head east from the centre of Antalya along the coastline, you will come to a district known as Lara, with plenty of quality hotels with beach access.
On Lara beach, you will find Sandland, effectively an open-air museum.
Artists from all over the world have been involved in producing the sculptures on show. Each year, the theme changes.
It covers an area of around 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres), so there is room for the hundreds of sand sculptures you will find there.
Typically, you will find legendary characters, the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Colosseum, as you have never seen them before.
At night time, LED lights are turned on, making the sculptures even more impressive.
Turkey and Greece have some similar attractions. Find out more about Greece.