Antalya, often referred to as the “Turquoise Coast’s gateway,” is a stunning blend of sun, sea, and ancient history. For those considering things to do in Antalya, the old city of Kaleiçi with its historic harbor and Hadrian’s Gate are top attractions.
Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled along the Mediterranean coast, Antalya offers a plethora of beach resorts and beautiful coves. The Düden Waterfalls, cascading into the sea, provide a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Beyond its natural beauty, Antalya is a hub for cultural festivals, vibrant markets, and traditional Turkish cuisine. For those wondering where to go in Turkey for a mix of relaxation and cultural immersion, Antalya stands out as a premier destination.
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Attractions and Things to do in Antalya
1. Konyaaltı Beach
Konyaaltı Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Antalya, stretching over 7 kilometers along the southwestern coast of Turkey. It’s known for its beautiful blue waters and pebbly shores, offering a perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. The beach has cafes, restaurants, and bars, providing ample refreshment options.
Travel Tip: Visit during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds, and don’t forget to bring water shoes to walk on the pebbly beach comfortably.
2. Hadrian’s Gate
Hadrian’s Gate is a triumphal arch built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who visited Antalya in the year 130. This ancient monument is a testament to Antalya’s rich Roman history and is an architectural marvel with its ornate carvings and three arched gates.
Travel Tip: Take a guided tour to learn about the historical significance of the gate, and explore the nearby old town of Kaleiçi for a complete historical experience.
3. Hıdırlık Tower
Hıdırlık Tower is a historic landmark located in the Kaleiçi district of Antalya. This Roman-era structure has served various purposes over the centuries, including a lighthouse and a defensive fortification. The tower offers panoramic views of the harbor and the city, making it a popular spot for photography.
Travel Tip: Visit the tower during sunset for breathtaking views, and consider exploring the surrounding old town area for a blend of history and local culture.
4. Düden Waterfalls
The Düden Waterfalls are a natural wonder located in Antalya, consisting of two separate falls: the Upper Düden and the Lower Düden. A lush park surrounds the Upper Düden, while the Lower Düden dramatically cascades into the Mediterranean Sea. Both offer picturesque views and opportunities for picnicking and relaxation.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes for walking, and consider taking a boat tour to see the Lower Düden Waterfall from the sea for a unique perspective.
Kaleiçi is the historical center of Antalya, known for its narrow cobbled streets, Ottoman-era houses, and vibrant nightlife. This area has been carefully restored to retain its historical character and is filled with hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops.
Travel Tip: Explore Kaleiçi on foot to fully immerse yourself in its charm, and don’t miss the chance to shop for local crafts and enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine in one of the many local eateries.
6. Antalya Aquarium
The Antalya Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, offering an exciting underwater adventure. Visitors can explore themed sections, including tropical reefs, shark tanks, and a long tunnel providing a 360-degree view of the marine life.
Travel Tip: Plan to spend at least a few hours here to enjoy the exhibits fully, and consider purchasing tickets online in advance to avoid long lines.
7. Termessos Ancient City
Termessos is an ancient city located high in the mountains near Antalya. Known for its well-preserved ruins and stunning natural surroundings, it offers a glimpse into the ancient Pisidian civilization. The site includes a theater, temples, and tombs, all set against a breathtaking mountainous backdrop.
Travel Tip: Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water, as the site requires walking and climbing to explore. A guided tour can provide valuable historical insights.
8. Lara Beach
Lara Beach is a sandy beach located east of Antalya’s city center. Known for its luxury resorts and clear blue waters, it’s a favorite spot for relaxation and water sports. The beach is also famous for its unique sand sculptures.
Travel Tip: Visit during the weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds and explore the nearby shops and restaurants for local flavors.
9. Perge Ancient City
Perge is an archaeological site located just outside Antalya, showcasing the grandeur of Roman architecture. Visitors can explore the ancient stadium, theater, city gates, and baths, which are remarkably well-preserved.
Travel Tip: Bring a hat and sunscreen, as the site has little shade. A guided tour can enhance the experience by providing historical context.
10. Olympos Cable Car
The Olympos Cable Car takes visitors to the summit of Mount Tahtalı, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The ride is an experience, and visitors can enjoy hiking trails and dining options once at the top.
Travel Tip: Dress in layers, as the temperature can be cooler at the summit. Consider visiting during clear weather for the best views.
11. Suna-İnan Kıraç Kaleiçi Museum
The Suna-İnan Kıraç Kaleiçi Museum is a cultural gem located in the old town of Kaleiçi. It showcases Antalya’s local history and culture through various exhibits, including traditional Turkish arts and crafts.
Travel Tip: Allow at least an hour to explore the museum, and consider joining a guided tour for a more in-depth understanding of the exhibits.
12. Karain Cave
Karain Cave is one of Turkey’s most significant prehistoric sites near Antalya. The cave has multiple chambers filled with fascinating stalactites and stalagmites and has been used by humans for over 25,000 years.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes with good grip, as the cave floor can be slippery. Guided tours are available and recommended to learn about the archaeological findings in the cave.
Unique Activities in Antalya
1. Ziplining, Rafting, Jeep Tour & Quad Safari
Experience an adrenaline-packed day in Antalya with a combination of thrilling activities. Start with ziplining through the trees and white-water rafting down the river. Explore the region with a jeep tour and end the day with an exciting quad safari.
2. Spa and Skin Care Experience with Massage and Drink
Indulge in a rejuvenating spa and skincare experience in Antalya. Benefit from personalized treatments, enjoy a relaxing massage and sip on a refreshing drink. It’s the perfect way to unwind and pamper yourself.
3. Scuba Diving
Dive deep into the waters of Antalya and explore the underwater world. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, this activity offers a unique opportunity to witness marine life up close. A delicious lunch is also provided to refuel after your diving adventure.
4. Quad-Bike Excursion in Forest
Venture into the forests of Antalya on a thrilling quad-bike excursion. Navigate through rugged terrains, enjoy the lush greenery, and feel the adrenaline rush. With hotel pick-up included, it’s a hassle-free adventure.
Day Trips from Antalya
Discover the natural terraces of Pamukkale, often called the “Cotton Castle,” and immerse yourself in the thermal waters that have been a source of healing for centuries.
Travel tip: Wear non-slip shoes, as the terraces can be slippery.
Experience the unique landscapes of Cappadocia, from its fairy chimneys to its underground cities, and take a hot air balloon ride for a bird’s eye view.
Travel tip: Book your hot air balloon ride in advance, as they sell out quickly.
Visit the ancient city of Aspendos, home to one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world, and be transported back in time to the days of gladiators.
Travel tip: Bring a hat and sunscreen, as the area can get hot and sunny.
Where to stay in Antalya
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, Antalya is a beautiful city that combines the old’s charm with the new’s vibrancy. It’s a popular tourist destination with golden beaches, blue waters, ancient ruins, and lively nightlife. The city offers many accommodations, from luxurious 5-star resorts to budget-friendly hotels. Antalya has something to offer whether you’re looking for a family-friendly stay or a romantic getaway.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Crowne Plaza Antalya, an IHG Hotel (★★★★★)
- Description: Set along the famous Konyaalti Beach, this luxurious 5-star hotel offers open views of the Mediterranean Sea.
- Price: €129 per night
- Rating: 8/10 (Very good)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Rixos Downtown Antalya All Inclusive – The Land of Legends Access (★★★★★)
- Description: Set in exotic gardens in Ataturk Culture Park, this 5-star hotel overlooks the sea and Taurus Mountains, offering three dining outlets and a lagoon-style pool.
- Price: €352 per night
- Rating: 8.6/10 (Fabulous)
3. Budget Hotel
Grand Gulluk Hotel & Spa (★★)
- Description: Situated conveniently in Antalya, this hotel offers air-conditioned rooms, a garden, free WiFi, and a shared lounge.
- Price: €106 per night
- Rating: 7.9/10 (Good)
4. Hotel for Family
Sealife Family Resort Hotel (★★★★★)
- Description: Directly facing blue-flagged Konyaalti Beach, this resort offers facilities and activities for the whole family.
- Price: €237 per night
- Rating: 8.8/10 (Fabulous)
5. Hotel for Couples
Porto Bello Hotel Resort & Spa (★★★★★)
- Description: This luxurious 5-star resort on Konyaaltı Beach offers an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and a modern spa.
- Price: €240 per night
- Rating: 8.6/10 (Fabulous)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Falcon Hotel (★★★★)
- Description: Set in the city center of Antalya, Falcon Hotel features a private platform beach, pools, and a garden lawn that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.
- Price: €234 per night
- Rating: 8.2/10 (Very good)
Did you know? Facts about Antalya
- Antalya is known as the “capital of tourism” in Turkey and is the largest Turkish city on the Mediterranean coast outside the Aegean region.
- The city’s history dates back to around 200 BC, and various empires, including the Romans, Seljuks, and Ottomans, have ruled it.
- Antalya is Turkey’s biggest international sea resort; a record 13.6 million tourists passed through in 2019.
- The city was founded as “Attaleia” and named after its founder, Attalos II, king of Pergamon, and has evolved through various names such as Adalia and then Antalya.
- The 13th-century Seljuk mosque in Antalya was originally a Christian Byzantine basilica from the 7th century, reflecting the city’s rich religious history.
- Arab traveler Ibn Battuta described Antalya as a beautiful city, with different sections for Christian merchants, Greeks, Jews, and Muslims, each walled off separately.
- The city was occupied by Italy for three years (1919-22) after World War I but was recaptured by a newly independent Turkey in the Turkish War of Independence.
- Large-scale development since the 1970s has transformed Antalya from a pastoral town into one of Turkey’s largest metropolitan areas, largely due to tourism.
- Antalya’s climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, with nearly 3,000 hours of sunlight yearly.
- The old center of Antalya, Kaleiçi, with its narrow cobbled streets and historic Ottoman-era houses, has been restored to retain much of its historical character and is a popular tourist destination.
FAQ about Antalya
What is Antalya Known For?
Antalya is renowned as the “capital of tourism” in Turkey. It’s the largest Turkish city on the Mediterranean coast and is famous for its beautiful beaches, historical architecture, and vibrant culture.
What Are the Must-Visit Attractions in Antalya?
Some must-visit attractions in Antalya include Konyaaltı Beach, Hadrian’s Gate, Hıdırlık Tower, Düden Waterfalls, and the historical center of Kaleiçi. These sites offer a blend of natural beauty and historical significance.
What is the Climate Like in Antalya?
Antalya has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, experiencing hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. It’s an ideal sun-seek destination, with nearly 3,000 hours of sunlight annually.
How Can I Explore the Historical Architecture in Antalya?
The walled city of Kaleiçi is the old center of Antalya, filled with historic Ottoman-era houses, mosques, madrasahs, and Turkish baths. Exploring Kaleiçi will give you a glimpse of the city’s Turkish-Islamic character.
What Are the Popular Beaches in Antalya?
Antalya is home to some of Turkey’s most beautiful beaches, including Konyaaltı Beach. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or water sports, Antalya’s beaches offer something for every traveler.
What Opportunities Are There for Shopping in Antalya?
Antalya offers a variety of shopping experiences, from modern malls to traditional markets. You can find local products, including citrus fruits, olive oil, handcrafted items, and international brands.
What is the History of Antalya?
Antalya’s history dates back to around 200 BC, with influences from the Romans, Seljuk Empire, and Ottoman Empire. The city has changed hands several times and has a rich cultural heritage that can be explored through its museums and historical sites.
How Has Tourism Shaped Antalya’s Economy?
Tourism has significantly transformed Antalya from a pastoral town into one of Turkey’s largest metropolitan areas. With large-scale development and governmental funding, Antalya hosted a record 13.6 million tourists in 2019, making it a major international sea resort.