Side, Turkey Guide

Last Updated on September 12, 2022

Side (SEE-deh) is a Turkish Mediterranean village amid marble Roman ruins on 2 km (1.2 miles) of unspoiled beach just an hour (65 km, 40 miles) east of Antalya or west of Alanya.

Visit Side to discover a historical town comprised of ancient structures, beautiful beaches, and an old city town. When visiting Side, you can travel back in time while walking in this pedestrian-only town with a total of 29 different structures to visit. The most popular Hellenistic and Roman ruins include the: Theatre,  Temple of Apollo, State Agora, City Gate, and Episcopal Palace and Basilica. While performing restoration works, the ground stones have been protected by a layer of glass. You can walk over the ancient remains, without harming them.


Being an ancient harbor city, Side takes a very important place in the history of Manavgat. It is located on the west side of the river of Manavgat, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

The beauty and fertility of Side is also hidden in its name, meaning “pomegranate fruit” in Luwian, which is an ancient language used by the population living in Southwest Anatolia during the Bronze Age. The ancient city of Side is formed as a half-island, surrounded by water from 3 sides. This is why it also gained much popularity and richness during the era of piracy.

When to Visit

If you really want to dive into its history, and fully engage yourself to discover every little detail, it might take you a whole day to explore all of the sights. As there are many things to see, the ideal time to visit is before or after the hot and busy tourist season. If you visit in the months of April/May or September/October, you’ll miss the crowds and the hot sun. If visiting during the middle of summer, you may consider visiting later in the day (4 pm or after) as many of the structures are outside without any shade. It’s especially nice to visit at sunset when the sun casts beautiful golden rays on the ancient structures, especially the Temple of Apollo.



The Theater

Once you enter Side and walk along the main road leading to the city center, one of the first structures you encounter is the large amphitheater. Located in the central part of the town, it’s one of the most prominent structures of Side. It is very well preserved, and being built on a hill enables it to have an incredible view of the Episcopal Palace and Basilica, along with a partial view of the sea. 

The Temple of Apollo

Whether you visit during the day or night, this temple is an incredible structure.  Its name stems from the Greco-Roman god of light, art, and beauty: Apollo. The reason why it is built at the entry of the harbor was to warn any potential attackers that the city was under Apollo’s protection. The large white columns are perfectly highlighted by the view of the Mediterranean Sea in the background.

Discover More

The old city of Side is filled with many quaint houses, some of which have been converted into souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, and so on. You can have lunch or dinner at one of these eateries, and enjoy the authentic feeling of Side. Prices are on par with other popular tourist destinations. 

At the entrance of the ancient city, for those who don’t walk the way up to the city, you can buy a ticket and get to the center of the old town, by little trains or private golf buggies. There are also different beaches where you can rent a lounge chair and have a swim to cool off and relax. 

Transportation  & Distances

Car, bus and minibus are the ways to get here. Buses and minibuses come from Antalya and Alanya. The nearest airport is Antalya’s, 55 km (34 miles) west of Side.

Alanya: 63 km (39 miles) E, 1 hour

Anamur: 198 km (123 miles) SE, 3.75 hours

Ankara: 615 km (382 miles) NE, 9 hours

Antalya: 65 km (40 miles) W, 1 hour

Aspendos: 37 km (23 miles) NW, 40 minutes

Istanbul: 790 km (491 miles) NW, 13 hours

Konya: 300 km (186 miles) NE, 5 hours

Olimpos: 145 km (90 miles) SW, 3 hours

Perge: 58 km (36 miles) W, 1 hour

Selge (Altınkaya): 83 km (52 miles) N, 2 hours


-by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Julide Koca

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