Positioned dramatically on the coast of Turkey between the Mediterranean Sea and the Taurus Mountains, Antalya is one of the country’s principal holiday resorts. One seriously stunning city that’s steeped in an ancient past and plays host to numerous religious traditions and customs, it’s got loads for history buffs and culture vultures.
But it’s not just the history that attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors from around the world each year. It’s also the world-class beaches and the seemingly endless sunshine. Yep, like Bodrum before it, this one offers oodles of sun, sea, and sand for those wanting a relaxing beach holiday, all set along Antalya’s whopping great big, 640-kilometer coastline.
So, is Antalya worth visiting? The short and simple answer is yes, Antalya is 100% worth visiting! But you don’t have to take our word for it. Check out these seven pointers, which reveal a variety of reasons why this Turkish town should be on your bucket-list this year…
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Antalya is brimming with history. Considered one of the most ancient cities in Turkey, there are ruins and remains of all sorts to get through. The obvious place to begin is the Old Town (the Kaleiçi neighborhood). That’s a maze of cobbled streets that converge on Ottoman buildings and minarets that have stood for centuries. The Old Harbor is right beside that – it’s been a bustling port since the 2nd century AD, no less!
You’ll also find some POIs that any history-loving traveler simply can’t miss. They include Hadrian’s Gate, a 2,000-year-old entranceway that marks a well-preserved section of the ancient walls around Antalya. There’s also a Roman-era citadel, the Hidirlik Kalesi, towering on the hillside above town. Oh, and for a day trip that’s riddled with history, be sure to plan a jaunt to Aspendos, home to an amazing theatre carved straight into the earth.
Antalya’s position between the Mediterranean sea and the Taurus Mountains means that the area is protected from cold northerly winds, allowing average temperatures to be a lot higher than many other cities in Turkey.
The average temperatures in July and August happily sit at over 90 F. That’s just about perfect for a summer vacation, don’t you think? Even in the winter months, the temperatures are fairly moderate, reaching highs of almost 70 F (21 C) in November and a slightly cooler 57 F in December. These moderate temperatures have made Antalya a year-round vacation destination where you can hit the beach to top up the tan for about eight out of 12 months.
|Avg. Temperature °C (°F)||7.7 °C(45.8) °F||8.7 °C(47.7) °F||11.5 °C(52.7) °F||15 °C(59) °F||20 °C(68) °F||25.6 °C(78) °F||29.3 °C(84.8) °F||29.1 °C(84.3) °F||24.6 °C(76.2) °F||18.9 °C(66) °F||13.4 °C(56.2) °F||9.3 °C(48.7) °F|
|Min. Temperature °C (°F)||4 °C(39.2) °F||4.3 °C(39.8) °F||6.3 °C(43.3) °F||9.4 °C(48.8) °F||13.8 °C(56.8) °F||18.8 °C(65.8) °F||22.5 °C(72.5) °F||22.8 °C(73.1) °F||18.7 °C(65.7) °F||14 °C(57.1) °F||9.1 °C(48.3) °F||5.5 °C(42) °F|
|Max. Temperature °C (°F)||12 °C(53.7) °F||13.6 °C(56.5) °F||16.9 °C(62.5) °F||20.7 °C(69.2) °F||25.8 °C(78.4) °F||31.8 °C(89.2) °F||35.9 °C(96.6) °F||35.5 °C(96) °F||31 °C(87.7) °F||24.7 °C(76.4) °F||18.8 °C(65.8) °F||13.8 °C(56.9) °F|
|Precipitation / Rainfall mm (in)||215(8.5)||137(5.4)||110(4.3)||74(2.9)||45(1.8)||7(0.3)||1(0)||1(0)||25(1)||103(4.1)||138(5.4)||225(8.9)|
|Rainy days (d)||10||8||8||6||4||1||0||0||2||4||6||10|
|avg. Sun hours (hours)||5.8||7.0||8.8||10.2||11.9||13.0||12.9||12.1||10.8||9.1||7.6||6.2|
The food in Antalya is the product of thousands of years of history. You’ll notice Greek, African, Arab, and Mediterranean influences throughout. That means a bout of hearty mezze and seafood with a twist of eastern spice, often simply cooked over charcoal and served with fresh olive oils and harissa.
Look for for the bakeries that serve traditional dishes such as gozleme (a spinach-stuffed flatbread topped with butter), borek (a flaky filo pastry pie), and pide salonu (a sort of pizza-style bread with cheese and tomatoes and olives). In the restaurants, you can look forward to well-known Turkish staples like shish kebabs and grilled fish, all dusted off with some super-sweet Turkish ice cream.
A lot of the food that’s used in Antalya’s cuisine is locally grown and sourced, thanks largely to the fertile coastal plains and tablelands.
Most tourists that visit Antalya come for its magnificent beaches. We can see why! The shoreline here measures a whopping 400 miles from end to end, so there’s a coastal spot to suit almost every type of traveler. From umbrella-dotted sands close to the tavernas of downtown Antalya to totally secluded bays where it will be just you and the looming outline of the mountains overhead, you’re likely to be spoiled for choice.
Here are some of the most popular beaches in Antalya that we think every visitor should have on their radar:
- Lara Public Beach – Located in the city center, Lara is the closest beach to the airport and is one of the easiest beaches to get to. However, this does make it busy during peak seasons. Lara Beach has golden sands and deep blue seas. The coastline is built up upscale hotels that line the beachfront.
- Olympos Beach – Although you would need to travel a fair distance to reach Olympos Beach (around 50km), it’s well worth the drive. Known as a hotspot for boat tours and paragliding, the beach itself is pretty isolated, so you may have to take a 5 to 10-minute walk from where you park your rental car. The azure waters and cool temperatures are refreshing during the summer months and the view of the rocky coastline makes for the perfect backdrop to a relaxing day on the beach.
- Kleopatra Beach – A truly spectacular, postcard-worthy beach that sits at the base of an imposing headland topped with a medieval castle.
- Konyaalti Beach – A Blue Flag beach that extends west of Antalya’s center, this one’s got some very clear swimming waters and pebbly sand.
There are some downright awesome day trips to make from Antalya. From exploring the shimmering beaches of the Turquoise Coast to venturing inland to find rugged mountain regions and ancient cities lost in the Turkish countryside, there’s a real hodgepodge of options on the menu. The ones that we’d put close to the top of our list would be:
- Pamukkale (around 3 hours each way) – Pamukkale is one of the bucket-list draws of Turkey. A series of stepped travertine terraces, it’s got an ancient Roman city and spectacular natural rock formations.
- Perge (20 minutes each way) – Perge is super close to Antalya and a must for history lovers. It dates back to the Bronze Age and has an old acropolis and theatre.
- Aspendos (One hour each way) – This Greco-Roman city has one of the most dramatic amphitheatres on the planet. No exaggeration.
- Demre & Myra (2.2 hours each way) – Lycian rock tombs, a Santa Claus museum, and a ruined Roman city await at this incredible coastal location west of Antalya.
For some, the colorful and lively nightlife is another major factor in why many love Antalya and frequently return. There are countless nightclubs and pubs in the city center as well as the surrounding area. It’s always possible to find venues that appeal to every musical taste. In addition to the clubs and pubs, there are several taverns, discos, and bars that all heaving during the summer months, just another sign that Antalya is the place to visit for a good night out. If visiting during their annual Orange Film Festival you will see that the nightlight atmosphere is even more lively and fun.
The region around Antalya is a mecca for hikers. Right on the doorstep of the city, the Taurus Mountains creep real close to the glimmering waters of the Mediterranean Sea. That makes for some seriously lovely coastal walks with sweeping views of cliffs and glowing golden sands, while everything from sometimes-snow-capped summits to hidden waterfalls lurks deeper inland.
Some of the top hikes in Antalya include:
- Cable Car Hike – This short hike starts and ends at the cable car station on the edge of the city and rewards with views of the main beach and the Med below.
- Düden Waterfalls Hike – A day hike that showcases the stunning Düden Waterfalls and their forest-ringed plunge pools.
- Köprülü Canyon – More popular with rafters, the Köprülü Canyon also comes laced with hiking paths at the base of its craggy cliffs.
Those who really want to challenge themselves should consider the long-distance Lycian Way. It’s a whopping 500km long and links up all the beaches west of Antalya, along with some incredible coastal locations like the Butterfly Valley.