Antalya is one of several port cities on the Turkish Riviera. It is a perfect holiday destination for sun worshippers, history buffs and food lovers alike. With so many beautiful white beaches close to hand, tourists are often tempted to spend their entire holiday lying in the sun. However, don’t forget that there are also plenty of historic sights and excellent restaurants to experience, as well as breathtaking mountainous countryside to explore. Discover the best of the area and enjoy a diverse vacation with this Finnair travel guide to Antalya.
Sights in Antalya
In addition to being the epicentre of the city’s colourful nightlife, Antalya’s old town, Kaleiçi, is overflowing with fascinating historic architecture, some of which is ancient Roman in origin. It’s easy to while away hour after hour wandering the quaint, narrow streets, and there’s no shortage of cosy restaurants offering delicious local cuisine. Enter the old town through the imposing Hadrian's Gate (Üçkapılar) and visit attractions like Yivli Minare, an attractive fluted minaret that rises proudly into the sky; the Roman-era harbour of Yat Limanı; the ruins of Kesik Minare, which was a Roman temple, a church and a mosque in times gone by; and the historic clock tower of Saat Kulesi. Climb the tower of Hıdırlık Kulesi for sweeping views and learn more about the city’s long and colourful past at the Antalya Museum. Antalya Aquarium is popular with people of all ages; it is home to an array of aquatic life and features a stretching underwater tunnel. Other places that are perfect for family days out are Aqualand water park, Antalya Zoo and Nature Park and the fairground of Aktur Lunapark Antalya. The beaches in Antalya also appeal to every type of traveller, with soft sands and gentle waves, perfect for swimming, sunbathing and beach sports. Regular boat trips depart from the harbour, some offering themed journeys. Karaalıoğlu Park is a pleasant place to relax without getting sand in your shoes!
Things to See and Do Near Antalya
- Belek – If you like golf, you’re sure to love a day trip to Turkey’s golfing capital. There are more than 30 top-class golf clubs to choose between.
- Aspendos – The well-preserved Roman amphitheatre here is among the best examples across the globe. There are more surrounding ruins that date back to the Roman times.
- Perge – You’ll find even more history at Perge, with evocative ruined temples, an old arena, the remains of baths, and an ancient agora with statuesque columns. A lesser-visited spot, it’s often free from crowds.
- Düden Falls – Located just outside of the city, this waterfall tumbles over the cliffs presenting a picturesque sight. It’s a great spot for a picnic and you can also take a cruise to admire the falls from a different perspective.
- Karain Cave – Once home to prehistoric people, excavations here have found teeth and bones that once belonged to Neolithic man, as well as artefacts from ancient times. The museum displays a number of local finds and the caves offer a different experience.
Shopping in Antalya
Antalya is a great destination for shoppers, and its wealth of traditional bazaars and modern shopping centres offer endless opportunities to pick up goods at bargain prices. Shisha pipes, rugs, fake designer clothing, Turkish tea sets and items with the blue eye design are common finds.
- Antalya Turban Marina – Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Old Town, this marina is home to several small boutiques that sell international designer fashions as well as popular Turkish brands.
- Kaleici – The narrow streets of the Old Town are brimming with small stores that sell everything from traditional goods to tourist trinkets. You’ll also find shops that sell rare items and antiques, though do keep in mind that taking antiques out of the country is a criminal offence. The main shopping streets in the Old Town are Ataturk, Cumhuriyet, Isiklar and Gulluk.
- Antalya Bazaar – A bustling retail space, this lively market attracts both locals and tourists. If you‘d like to have clothing custom made, the tailors here are ready to serve you. You’ll find a good selection of local handicrafts and art as well as the typical tourist souvenirs, and there are also various foodstuffs to tempt you.
- TerraCity Mall – For a less frenetic and relatively hassle-free shopping experience, the large and air-conditioned TerraCity Mall could be what you are looking for. There are more than 150 shops within this centre, offering a range of domestic and international products.
Food and Drink
- Seafood – Seafood is plentiful in Antalya, with many restaurants making the most of the fresh catches hauled to shore each day. Menus change according to the season.
- Lahmacun – A popular snack all around Turkey, this so-called Turkish pizza consists of a thin dough base topped with minced beef or lamb, vegetables, herbs and spices. They’re ideal for a quick lunch on the go.
- Dolma – Found in many places around the Mediterranean region, leaves and vegetables are stuffed with a variety of ingredients. Common types include vine leaves wrapped around rice, minced meat and vegetables, stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes and stuffed aubergine. Dolmas can be served hot or cold.
- Adana kebab – This grilled meat on a stick is full of flavour from the addition of various spices.
- Katmer– These sweet treats are pieces of pastry stuffed with pistachio nuts.
Transport in Antalya
Antalya is a fairly large city; while some areas are perfect for exploring on foot, an extensive public transportation system keeps the rest of the city connected. An easy-to-understand lettering system is used on vehicles, clearly showing the routes.
- By foot – The Old Town is best explored on foot, with narrow walkways and cobblestone alleys that aren’t accessible to motorised vehicles. Indeed, walking is the only way to reach many parts of the Old Town.
- Buses – Many buses operate around Antalya and fares are cheap. Vehicles are generally comfortable and in good condition. Tickets can be bought at the bus station and, on some routes, you can pay the driver. Alternatively, smartphone users can pay via their phones. Paying via mobile devices can save money on the fare.
- Dolmus - A shared vehicle similar to a taxi or minivan, regular dolmus services operate on fixed routes around the city. You can board at a dolmus stand or flag down a vehicle anywhere on its route. Unlike in other parts of the country, Antalya’s dolmuses run according to a schedule, meaning that you don’t need to wait around for the vehicle to fill up with passengers. You can pay the driver.
- Minibuses – Minibuses operate on set routes, providing an alternative means of travelling around Antalya.
- Trams – An old tramline runs between the east of the city and Konyaalti Beach. As well as being a practical means of crossing the city, it is also a great option for sightseeing as it passes by many of the city’s landmarks. It takes half an hour to complete the full line and the fare is cheap. A newer tram line runs between Fatih and Meydan, stopping at the main bus station, Muratpaşa and Ismetpaşa. Tickets can be bought at stations or you can pay using an integrated public transport card that can be topped up at machines close to the tram stops.
- Taxis – There are many taxi stands around the city. Taxis should use the meter. Surcharges apply for nighttime journeys. Taxis can also be ordered by telephone or mobile application.