Antalya, Turkey on the Turquoise Coast is the perfect spot when I hanker for adventure but need relaxation. This beautiful coastal city in Southwest Turkey was relished by rulers for centuries due to its beautiful beaches, lush vegetation, good harbour and strategic position. Now, Antalya is the perfect spot for alternating sight-seeing with relaxing beach days while filling the nights with food, fun and frolic!
The Turquoise Coast is known for being a gateway to the southern regions of the Mediterranean. Antalya is renowned for its old town, ancient marina, spectacular seaside cliffs and Ottoman mansions. This attractive palm-lined city was founded in 200 BC by the King of Pergamon.
Antalya is known for its flowers and vibrant colours!
Surrounded by magical forest, the Taurus Mountains, and shimmering coastline, Antalya pleases both the urban explorer and the adventure-seeking nature enthusiast! Antalya is well known for its nature. From winter sports on Bakirli Mountain to hiking in the Duzlercami Park, there’s plenty of outdoor excursions on offer for every sporting type! So really, Antalya has something to offer everyone: history and culture, outdoor pursuits and wonderful beach lounging!
Here’s a Pro Tip: The currency used is the Turkish Lira. About 10 Turkish Lira is equal to one British Pound, though the rate regularly fluctuates. However, it is good to have a mix of currencies to obtain the best deals. British pounds, US Dollars and Euros are all accepted in Antalya. It is best to have Turkish Lira for small purchases and use Euros or Pounds for larger expenses.
Antalya has two airports, Antalya International Airport and Gazipasa Airport. Most international travellers touch down at Antalya airport, which is located just eight miles northeast of the city. From the airport, travellers can make their way to the city by shuttle bus, public bus, car hire, or taxi. The shuttle bus operates between the hours of 6am and 10pm daily, and the journey takes roughly 45 minutes. For as little as £2 one-way, you’ll enjoy a safe and efficient trip! Alternatively, there are two public buses operating between the airport and Antalya city centre. Bus number 600 departs every 30-minutes and drops passengers at Antalya bus terminal (in just 40-minutes). Bus number 800 departs every two hours and stops at Lara, Terracity Mall, Kaleici, and Antalya City Centre before heading on to Sarisu.
Hadrian’s Gate: there’s nothing like “Rome, sweet Rome”!
Here’s Another Pro Tip: Don’t forget to tip! It’s common practice to tip at least 5-10% of the total bill when dining in a cafe or restaurant. It’s also good practice to tip your taxi, hotel porter and maid too.
From pebbled beaches to historic landmarks honouring Roman emperors, Antalya has so much to offer! Here are my must-see attractions in and around the city:
- Hadrian’s Gate – This triumphal archway honours the Roman emperor Hadrian who visited the city in the year 130. Fun fact – Hadrian’s Gate is the only gate still standing in the city.
- Kaleici – This charming old town centre is a great place to start your adventures. Explore the winding alleys on foot, stopping to shop at family-run antique shops and boutiques while admiring the old Ottoman era houses. It is packed with bars, cafes and has been lovingly restored to retain its historical character!
- Cumhuriyet Square – This is the main square of the old town and is a place for both residents and tourists to mingle while taking a break from shopping and sight-seeing.
- Yivli Minare Mosque – The “Fluted Mosque” was built by the Seljuks and is decorated with dark blue and turquoise tiles. This minaret became the symbol of the city.
- Antalya Museum – Explore Antalya’s rich history as you uncover archaeological relics and ancient artefacts. There are over 13 exhibition halls in the museum, each housing thousands of treasures. One of those treasures is a casket of bones reputed to be the relics of St. Nicholas!
Life’s a beach in Antalya!
- Konyaalti Beach – There’s plenty of beaches to choose from on Antalya’s surrounding coastline, but Konyaalti is one of the closest to the city centre. Set up camp on the beach and enjoy an afternoon of rest and relaxation in the sun! Don’t forget your bathing costume.
Antalya’s is known for its fresh produce including citrus fruits, olives and bananas as well as cut flowers. This means its cuisine is largely centred around seafood, vegetables, bread, and pastries (you must try a traditional baklava pastry while in town). When it comes to picking a restaurant, there’s plenty of options to choose from. Below are my three favourite eateries in the city:
- Club Arma – Housed in a former industrial factory, Club Arma is arguably one of Antalya’s best seafood restaurants. Enjoy sea views while dining on fish curry, fresh lobster, or grilled grouper!
- Patio Bistro & Restaurant – Nestled in the heart of Antalya’s old town, Patio Bistro serves hearty Turkish cuisine in a rustic setting. Order the roasted lamb with shallots for a a wonderful taste of Turkish culture!
- Il Vicino Pizzeria – If you fancy a fabulous pizza made with fresh produce, head to Il Vicino, Antalya’s most visited Italian restaurant. Traditional Venetian pizzas, handmade pasta dishes, and stuffed calzones make up Vicino’s mouth-watering menu.
Baklava is like me: super-sweet and habit-forming!
From loud and bright discos to quiet bars, Antalya offers a variety of nightlife for all visitors. Here are my favourite bars in the city:
- Cello Cafe Bar – Favoured by the locals and found only by tourists in the know, this lively little bar is one of Antalya’s best stops. Prepare for a late-night filled with live music and laughter!
- Sheffield Pub – If you’re craving craft beer and strong ales, make your way to the Sheffield Pub on Mayis Street. The bar is designed like a traditional old-English pub and has a cosy feel.
- Up Shot Bar – This slightly-hipster, slightly punk bar-turned-nightclub is where the “cool kids” hang out. Expect local DJ’s playing contemporary sets late into the night!
Antalya is home to a mix of contemporary 5-star hotels and boutique properties passed down through generations. Here are my top three accommodation options in the city:
- Akra Hotel – This 5-star city centre hotel has a beachfront location and enjoys spectacular views over the Mediterranean Sea. Rooms are contemporary and spacious, and onsite facilities include multiple restaurants, a wellness centre, and tennis courts.
You’ll fall like water for Antalya!
- DoubleTree by Hilton – Set in the heart of Antalya, the Hilton offers a 5-star stay in a contemporary hotel. The spa and wellness centre is particularly fun to return to after a day exploring the city!
- Char me Boutique Hotel – If you’re after something a little different, this chic adults-only hotel has a seasonal outdoor pool, a small bar, and is within walking distance of Antalya town centre.
While Istanbul might reign in the north of Turkey, Antalya is the queen of the South. It is the perfect spot for mixing sight-seeing with beach-lounging. You’ll leave refreshed, happy and ready to return again and again!