Antalya is the most popular destination along the Turkish Mediterranean Coast. It is a sprawling modern city with a small, charming historic center. It has a good archeology museum, many malls, and family-friendly activities, and it is a great base to explore from since it has the Turquoise Coast’s busiest airport.
Antalya is synonymous with beaches and visitors have many to choose from. Konyaaltı Plajı has a swath of rough sand and pebbles running west for several kilometers. The sand is somewhat softer along Lara Plajı to the east. There’s also the private beach of Mermerli Plajı.
The historic center of Antalya, called Kaleiçi (Kah-leh-ee-chee, Old Antalya), surrounds the Roman harbor. There are many entrances to Kaleici, but the most stunning is walking under the three large arches of Hadrian’s Gate which was built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian for his visit in 130 AD. Many of the buildings here date from Ottoman and Roman times. Standing atop the cliff of the old town, you get panoramic views of Antalya Marina (Kaleiçi Yat Limanı).
Antalya Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world and is nearby other amusement parks and the Antalya Archeology Museum. There are abundant options for shopping whether you have a preference for a traditional bazaar, one of Antalya’s many modern shopping malls, or shops selling souvenirs and traditional handicrafts that line the cobblestone streets inside Kaleiçi.
Many visitors opt for boutique hotels within Kaleiçi. Budget-conscious travelers may opt for a pension, but if you are looking for an upscale stay, there are also many luxury accommodations. By far, our favorite place to stay is Tuvana Hotel, an Ottoman-style inn with carefully decorated interiors, a swimming pool, 3 restaurants, and a gorgeous inner courtyard.
Antalya is also a good base for day trips. There are numerous sites with archeological significance nearby. Just outside of the city sit the ancient ruins of Perge. A bit further out of the city limits, Aspendos features a well-preserved Roman theater. Side has a sparkling beach alongside large marble columns as well as a large theater and a museum. It is well worth at least a half-day visit. To the west, Olimpos & Çıralı are quiet towns set between the mountains and sea where you’ll also find eternal flames burning since antiquity. Phaselis has smaller ruins set in a fragrant, green park. There are many other sites such as Selge, Termessos (map), and the ancient city of Sagalassos which feature ruins further into the mountains behind Antalya. They are best paired with Roman road hiking trails. Those who are into adventure would enjoy river rafting in Köprülü Kanyon National Park or a boat tour to Suluada Beach via Adrasan.