Where to go
Things to do in Antalya
Dipping its toes in the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea, Antalya enjoys 300 days of sunshine every year. Tucked up against the Taurus mountains, this lively city boasts sun-drenched beaches, a charming old quarter and plenty to keep you busy. Stand in the footprints of ancient civilisations when you visit the many archaeological sites in the area, some of which date back more than three millennia. If you like to mix your beach time with exciting activities, Antalya is the perfect destination. Take your pick from an inviting range of excursions like rafting, river cruises or hiking in the surrounding mountains. Or keep it local with an exploration of Kaleiçi, the historic part of town, clustered around the postcard-pretty harbour and packed with fine eateries and plenty of atmosphere. Top six things to do in Antalya 1. Explore the Taurus Mountains There’s no shortage of wow factor scenery around Antalya. The lofty peaks of the Taurus mountains rise to the north and west, scattered with lakes, caves and green valleys. For epic views, leave the heat at sea level and ride the cable car up Mount Olympus. Jump out at an altitude of 2,365m after admiring the scenery on the 4km journey up. Turn up the thrills with a visit to the dramatic Köprülü National Park, where the cleft of Köprülü Canyon is 400 metres deep in places, and the river at its base is perfect for whitewater rafting. Birdwatching and hiking are also popular things to do in the mountains around Antalya. 2. Uncover archaeological riches Dotted with ancient wonders that have stood the test of time, the Antalya area is packed with historical headliners. About 2,300 years ago, Termessos was a thriving city built on a plateau under the summit of Mount Güllük at over 1,000 metres. Today, remnants of streets and villas, sturdy stone temples, a bath house and a dramatically sited theatre lie abandoned, surrounded by pine forests giving the whole site a powerful, Indiana Jones atmosphere. Ancient Perga is even older – nearly 3,000 years old – lying just inland from Antalya. It was a walled town which had its heyday under Roman rule. The site is best known for colonnaded streets and elaborate fountains. Nearby Aspendos is home to one of the best-preserved Roman theatres in Europe, still used for opera shows every June. 3. Get Your Fix of Nature If natural marvels are more your thing, a clutch of serene lakes and waterfalls await discovery a short hop from Antalya. Though the waterfall at Manavgat doesn’t drop far, the turquoise water and idyllic surroundings make up for it. River cruises to see the waterfall are a popular option. Tick off one of the most popular things to do in Antalya when you go on foot or by boat to see the Lower Düden falls crashing over the coastal cliffs into the sea. Kurşunlu waterfall is another fairy-tale cascade within easy reach of Antalya, while local beauty spot Lake Karacaören offers boat trips and great swimming spots. 4. Relax on Antalya’s Most Beautiful Beaches Turkey’s crinkle-cut coastline boasts hundreds of beaches, from sleepy coves to lively spans of sand that stretch for kilometres. The best beaches around Antalya are just as varied. Konyaaltı is a vast, showstopper of a beach to the west of town, perfect for beachside dining, strolling through the beach park, or simply sunbathing. Stretching east from the centre of Antalya, Lara beach is a family-friendly beach with acres of sand and good facilities. Small but perfectly formed, the three coves of Phaselis merit a visit if you like wild beaches backed by a fascinating archaeological site. 5. Cruise the Coast on a Boat Trip When the seascapes are so ravishing, who can resist the temptation to get out onto the water? A boat trip is a great way to see the coast around Antalya from a different perspective. Choose from a short trip to see the local shoreline, or head further afield to visit Kekova island and the relics of the sunken ancient town of Simena. Gulet cruises are a popular option for boat trips around Antalya – touring the Turquoise Coast in classic boats adds extra romance and character to your cruise. 6. Savour Local Flavours With so many adventurous things to do on the doorstep, you’ll work up an appetite in no time on holiday in Antalya. Luckily the old town, the resorts and the beaches are bursting with great places to try out tasty Turkish specialities. Fresh fish, Turkish kebabs and kofte meatballs are local favourites, or you could sample a variety of appetisers when you order a selection of meze – lots of small dishes to share. As they say in Turkey, ‘Afiyet olsun’ – Enjoy your meal.