While Turkey is known for the Grand Bazaar and minarets of Istanbul or the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia, the resort city of Antalya provides an experience you don’t want to leave out from your itinerary. Antalya is an urban metropolis like Istanbul but has the laid back charm that only a city with world-renowned beaches can offer.
Stroll around the charming old quarter and sip on Turkish coffee while gazing at the Mediterranean or take your swimsuit out for a day at the beach that ends with listening to jazz or dancing at a club playing the latest hits. If you’re more of an adventure buff, go hunting for ruins, trek the towering Taurus Mountains or take the bus to the nearest waterfall. Antalya boasts the best of the Turquoise Coast and is also an excellent base for excursions. Even if you find yourself in the city for just one day, it’ll be the highlight of your trip!
What’s The Best Time To Visit Antalya?
The best time to visit Antalya is during the springtime, which is from March to May. During this time of the year, the temperature ranges from 16 to 25 degrees Celsius, so the summer heat has not yet taken over. The pleasant weather means that you can roam all over without worrying about the heatwave and the resorts are open for you to lounge in. The month of Ramadan also falls during this time, which means that you can indulge in the delicacies of Iftar and see the celebrations up close.
The summer months from June to August can get unbearably hot with occasional rain, which can put a damper on your plans. However, if you’re looking to go easy on your budget, visit the off-season months after August. This is when most of Antalya is gearing up for its winter months which sees a small amount of snow and almost no tourists.
For the most part, Antalya is a coastal city most active during the months where the sun is out, and the beaches are filled with tourists. You will have the best luck with festivities, resorts and liveliness during these months. However, winter months have their own peaceful charm, should you wish to avoid the crowds and enjoy the cut in prices.
A Few Facts About Antalya
In the words of the Turkish Republic’s founder, Ataturk, “Without a doubt, Antalya is the most beautiful place in the world!”
This exclamation about the city’s heavenly atmosphere is now endorsed by the number of blue flags it holds. As of 2020, Antalya has 206 beaches and five marinas that hold the blue flag. This is the highest number of blue flags held by a county in Turkey and the world.
Ever since its inception, Antalya has been a haven surrounded by the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean sea. The city also hosts the Antalya Aquarium, which houses diverse fish and the world’s biggest tunnel. When you visit Antalya, you are bound to step into a natural wonder or an essential remnant of history on every corner.
One Day In Antalya Itinerary
Start your day by relaxing on the pebbled Konyaalti Beach
Start your morning right by visiting one of the two prime beaches in Antalya. Konyaalti is a stretch of cerulean with pebbles instead of sand rimming the waters. It’s the perfect place to dip your feet into the water and go for a swim or to grab a towel and lay back in the shade of your umbrella. You can also grab drinks at the nearby restaurants and enjoy the views of the sea and the Taurus Mountains.
Since Konyaalti Beach is a popular tourist attraction, visiting in the morning means you will have beat the crowds and have the beach (almost) to yourself. After your swim, grab breakfast at one of the chic cafes and restaurants that line the beach. If you’re looking for a traditional breakfast, order a batch of menemen, an egg dish prepared in the Turkish way.
Don’t forget to grab slippers for walking the beach, as walking barefoot might hurt your legs.
Shop at Lara or MarkAntalya
After breakfast, you can take the bus to Lara, which is a premium neighbourhood in Antalya. Lara has a white sand beach with stunning views if you want to continue your beach escapade. Here you can rent paddle boards or make use of the amenities of the surrounding resorts to lounge in luxury. If not, you can visit the humongous shopping centres like TerraCity and shop till you drop. If you want to stay closer to the city centre, visit the lively MarkAntalya to shop brands such as Berhska, H&M and Zara and then get a sugary treat of Nutella dough balls (a Turkish favourite) at the nearby dessert shops.
Gorge on Turkish delicacies
We’re all familiar with baklava and Turkish delight, but if you sat down to sample all Turkish delicacies, you would never want to leave. Turkey has a myriad of food choices, from street food to grand dinner table dishes. When you grab lunch in Antalya, make sure to sample some of these. You can grab doner kebabs or pilav (rice) at any of the street food shops or go for a Turkish lunch with several small plates and a bottle of Raki (local alcoholic beverage). For a lavish dinner, we’d suggest heading to the docks of Lara or the old harbour, but if you’re looking for something more down to earth, the street food at the university park or near MarkAntalya is your best bet.
Take a stroll through Karaalioglu Park
Head to the Karaalioglu Park, close to Kaleici, the old quarter, and take in the view of Antalya from up top. The modern park interweaves walkways through the natural scenery of Antalya and is perched upon cliffs overlooking the cerulean Gulf of Antalya. You can also sit in the chic cafes and sip on Turkish tea while gazing upon the ancient Hidirlik Tower or simply have a picnic in the grassy area or on the picnic tables.
Nostalgic Tramway and Antalya Museum
While trams are common public transport in Antalya, this tramway runs only in the city centre and is worth the 2L fee. The nostalgic tramway takes you back to the past as you sit on the rickety old-fashioned tram. The ride offers quite the juxtaposition as you sit in the transport of an older generation and gaze out at the urban landscape. You can end this trip down memory lane by getting down at the Antalya Museum and taking in more of the city’s history. The Antalya Museum is located in the heart of the town and is a great place to see the best of the excavation adventures around Antalya showcased in all their splendour. This tour will take you through the rich timeline of the Turquoise Coast, from the Roman capture and Greek history to Ottoman remnants and more recent finds.
The museum is shut on Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly.
Rediscover the charm of the Old Quarter
After you dig into the past, ease into the present with a stroll through the charming Old Quarter, Kaleici. The old quarter is the centre of all the activities in Antalya and is always abuzz with an event or twenty. The place is a blend of old architecture with urban activities with cycling tracks, cafes and pubs alongside old covered markets and antique gems. Enter the old quarter through Hadrian’s Gate, a three-arched marble archway and one of the most opulent entrances to the quarter.
Kaleici and its alleys are almost made to directionlessly stroll around as you browse through the shops and peddlers wares. After your walk, you can head towards the Old Marina, where you can grab a Turkish coffee and watch the yachts bob in the Mediterranean or hop into one of the “pirate” boats for a sunset tour. Once you’re back you can end the night at one of the famous clubs of Antalya, which are also located in Kaleici or go for dinner at the charming outdoor cafes or hole in the wall retreats.
If you’re shopping for rare finds, make sure that it doesn’t fall under the ‘antiques’ section with immigration as the exports for such items is prohibited.
Explore the lively Antalya in the AM
If the clubs are shut, or you’ve completed your dinner but don’t want to end the night just yet, take the taxi to the university neighbourhood. You can do so from Republic Square, which is eerily empty and hauntingly beautiful at night. Here, the shops don’t close before 4 AM, and the streets are always crowded with students staying up till the wee hours of the morning. You can relax at any of the cafes that also serve hookah or gorge on delicious food if you get midnight munchies.
Where To Stay in Antalya, Turkey?
The best neighbourhoods to stay in Antalya are Konyaalti or Kaleici.
Porto Bello Resort and Spa
Liman Mah.1. Sok. Konyaalti, 07070 Antalya
For the ultimate luxury stay in Antalya, book a room in Porto Bello Resort and Spa. It’s located right on the Konyaalti Beach and offers a fabulous spa center, outdoor swimming pool and even tennis courts. Not to mention that the food is incredible! The location is great since you can always hop over to the beach, so all in all, a vacation doesn’t get much better than this.
Altınkum Mah. 416 Sok. No:15 Konyaaltı, 07070 Antalya
Trend Suites is an aparthotel with an outdoor pool, plus it offers its visitors a chance to rent out bikes for free. There’s even a garden you can enjoy! Yes, this is a fantastic, modern place to stay in Antalya, and you are also very close to the seafront. A dash of luxury you deserve!
308. Sokak 16, 07070 Antalya
Just 300 meters from Konyaalti Beach, Aspendos eXtra is a comfortable, modern three-star hotel with an outdoor pool and a garden. As soon as you see it, you’ll know that you will have a wonderful stay here, and the area around it is excellent for leisurely strolls and enjoying Antalya’s bars and restaurants. You’ll love it here!
Kuyu Beergarden Hostel
Hamam Sokak no. 17, Kaleici, 07100 Antalya
Need a hostel in Antalya? Kuyu Beergarden Hostel is a great place to stay! It has its own bar, it’s close to Mermerli Beach, and the atmosphere is great. You can really chill out here or just head out and explore, the choice is yours, but the hosts will always make sure you enjoy your stay.
Day Trips From Antalya
Go digging into the past at Aspendos
Aspendos is one of the many ruins that are spread across the Turquoise Coast and easily accessible from Antalya. What makes this one particularly special is the fact that it is one of the most well-preserved ruins in the world. The 96 metres wide theatre has also doubled up into a movie set on many occasions. While the theatre was built when the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled, it has distinct Greek styles incorporated in its architecture.
From Antalya, you can take the tram to Perge (Aksu Stop) and then take a 20-minute bus ride or take a direct bus from Antalya Otogar (Main Bus Station) takes over an hour.
Witness the beauty of Duden Waterfalls
Visiting the Upper Duden Waterfalls doesn’t take more than an afternoon from Antalya. The site is inside a nature park just 10 kilometres from the city centre. The park is built around the flow of the waterfall, and you can walk to its base and even grab a meal while you’re at it! If you don’t fancy a lunch break, grab a bit of warm corn to accompany you on the walk to the falls and then climb over the stones to reach the Cave of Wishes. While the rocks may be slippery on the way to the cave, you will be privy to a mystical view from the back of waterfalls once you reach there.
Note: You might get a little wet on your way to the cave.
To reach Duden Waterfalls, you can take any of the buses that regularly ply from MarkAntalya.
See the ever-burning flame in Olympos
Olympos is Turkey’s answer to a place where the young roam free and living amongst nature is the norm. While Olympos is most renowned for the ever-burning flame of Chimera, which is a short hike from the town, it’s a symbol of freedom amongst Turkish youth. The town is riddled with 20-somethings partying till dawn and hanging around in tree houses or trekking at the break of dawn. If you want to experience a night in the wild or an adventurous retreat, a day trip to Olympos from Antalya is your best bet.
To reach Olympos, you can take the bus from Antalya Otogar, which leaves every half an hour. It will take you approximately an hour and a half to reach Olympos.
Extra Tips for Visiting Antalya
When you visit Antalya, make sure to grab a card for the bus and tram services. The card, called AntalyaKart, is rechargeable and available at kiosks at the airport and all over the city. You can also track the stations around you, the routes and the arrival time of the buses (live) on the app of the same name. However, the app only works with the internet, so make sure you have a stable plan when planning to travel around. Websites like booking.com and Wikipedia are also banned in Turkey, so you won’t be able to access them unless you’re on an international data pack.
Remember that the public transport is only operational till midnight, after which you may have to rely on taxis. Ensure that you only go by the meter as the taxis may charge you an exorbitant amount for a short distance otherwise.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.