Antalya is a beautiful city in Turkey, located on the Turquoise Coast in the south of the country. It is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning Mediterranean beaches, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions.
This Antalya travel guide will give you all the information you need to plan your trip to this coastal city and make the most of your visit.
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Where Is Antalya and Why Visit?
Located on the southwest coast of Anatolia, Antalya is Turkey’s largest international coastal resort city. The area is known as the Turkish Riviera and is popular with holidaymakers. The city is bordered by the Taurus Mountain range to the east.
Antalya is home to a rich history dating back to the ancient Roman and Greek empires, and many of these historical sites can still be visited today. In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Antalya is also a great place for outdoor enthusiasts, with various activities such as hiking, water sports, and golf.
Whether you want to relax on the beach, learn about the city’s rich history, or experience the great outdoors, Antalya has something for everyone.
The Best Time To Visit Antalya
As a city in the Mediterranean, Antalya has hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
The hottest months are June to September where the temperatures sit in the early 30s (Celsius). This is also peak season for Antalya where the prices are at their highest and popular locations at their busiest.
The colder months are from November to March where the average temperature sits in the mid-teens. (Celsius) January is the coldest and wettest month. This precipitation will fall as snow in the surrounding mountains, so if you want to travel to Antalya and experience winter sports, January is the best month to visit.
Spring & Fall
The best months to avoid the hot temperatures and busy crowds are in spring, from mid-March to June and in fall from mid-September to December. The sea heats up all summer, so the warmest waters for swimming are from August to October.
The Best Things To Do In Antalya
1. Relax on a beach
Situated on the Turquoise Coast, Antalya is home to many beautiful beaches where you can relax and soak up the sun. One popular option is Lara Beach, known for its fine sand and crystal-clear waters.
You can also visit Konyaalti Beach, a Blue Flag beach with a long promenade where you can enjoy a variety of water sports. At the end of this 13km you can take the Tunektepe Teleferik cable car for views over the city.
The best way to reach the beach is by taking the tram from the old town to the Antalya Archaeological Museum, and walking the short distance from there.
2. Visit Antalya Museum
The Antalya Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in history and culture. Located close to the city centre of Antalya, the museum houses a collection of artefacts from the areas rich history, including ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, ceramics, and coins.
The museum is divided into several galleries, each showcasing a different period in the region’s history. Visitors can see exhibits on the ancient city of Perge, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman period, among others. The museum also features several temporary exhibitions highlighting different aspects of the region’s culture and history.
In addition to the exhibits, the museum also has a library and research centre, offering a wealth of information for scholars and researchers.
To get to the Antalya Museum, you can take a tram from the old town. You can also join a guided tour from Antalya, which includes transportation and a visit to the museum. The museum also has a free car park if you have your own transport, which was conveniently where our campervan decided to have a break down during our last visit!
The museum has a small entrance fee and is closed on Mondays.
3. Go horseback riding
If you enjoy spending time outdoors on horseback, consider riding in the surrounding countryside. Several stables and guided tours are available, allowing you to explore the beautiful landscape of Antalya on horseback.
The guided tour below provides the opportunity to explore the beaches of Antalya on horseback.
4. Stroll the streets of the old town, Kaleiçi
Kaleiçi is the old town of Antalya, known for its narrow streets, colourful houses, and historical landmarks. It is a great place to wander and explore, with various shops, cafes, and restaurants to discover. Although the old town doesn’t have a designated bazaar, the are a large selection of souvenir stores that line the cobblestone streets.
Within the old town there are a few important historical sites that should’t be missed which include the Yivli Minare, Hadrian’s Gate and Antalya clock tower (Saat Kulesi). The old town is easy to navigate independently, however if you’re interested in learning about the history and landmarks as you wander, consider joining a guided tour.
5. See Yivli Minare
The Yivli Minare is a beautiful 12th-century fluted minaret located in Antalya’s old town. It is a popular tourist attraction known for its eight stone channels and blue-tiled dome. Inside the mosque there are 800 year old water channels which were filled with hot water from the hamam and cold water from the mountains. The mosque is free to enter outside of prayer times.
6. Visit Hadrian’s Gate
Hadrian’s Gate is a well-preserved Roman gate built in the 2nd century AD to honour the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It is located in the city centre and is a popular tourist attraction due to its historical significance and beautiful architecture. Hadrian’s Gate is the only remaining gate from the old city walls and serves as the main entrance to Kaleiçi. This is the perfect start to a walking tour of the old town.
7. Hıdırlık at Karaalioglu Park
The original function of Hıdırlık tower is often debated, however in its later years it was certainly used as part of the city’s defences. The views from Hıdırlık tower are hard to beat as they stretch right across Konyaalti beach to the Taurus mountains beyond.
Behind the tower is Karaalioglu park which is a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon, with walking paths designed to explore the green spaces and places to enjoy a picnic.
8. Relax at Duden Waterfalls
There are two Duden Waterfalls in Antalya. The Duden River forms the falls, which flow from the Taurus Mountains and into the Mediterranean Sea. The Lower Duden falls spill dramatically off a cliff into the sea and can be viewed from the clifftop or by taking a boat trip from the harbour to the base of the falls. This is the Duden waterfall you’ll see posted on social media.
North of the city, in the Varsak District are Upper Duden falls, which are located in a lush green forest. There are caves behind the falls which can be accessed for alternative views of the waterfall. Multiple public buses run here as well as the Varsak minibuses. There are also many guided tours which visit both waterfalls of Antalya in their trips.
The Duden Waterfalls are a must-see attraction for nature lovers and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The peaceful setting and beautiful surroundings make it a perfect place to relax and recharge.
9. Go scuba diving
The Mediterranean coast of Antalya is home to various marine life and is a great place for scuba diving. Several dive centres and guided tours are available, allowing you to explore the underwater world and see the colourful fish and coral. There are tours for experienced divers and tours for complete beginners. The crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean offer great underwater visibility, ensuring a fabulous diving experience.
Here are some guided scuba diving tours.
10. Take a boat trip from the harbour
Antalya’s harbour is a pretty place to wander and a great place to take a boat trip which explores the coast of the Mediterranean. There are a variety of boat tours available, ranging from short sightseeing trips to longer excursions to nearby islands.
The harbour is connected to the old town via an old stone staircase which has 44 steps and was built by the Venetians. You feel every one of these steps when climbing up in the summer sun!
11. Ride the Tunektepe Teleferik
The Tunektepe teleferik is a cable car that takes you to the top of Tunektepe Hill, offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding coastline. At the top of the hill, you can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or take a walk through the park.
The cable car ride takes around 10 minutes and is closed on Mondays. The following tours include a ride on the Tunektepe teleferik.
12. Go Golfing
Antalya is home to many golf courses, including the world-renowned Gloria Golf Resort and the Lykia Links course. If you are a golf enthusiast, consider spending a day on the greens during your visit. Click here for more information on golf courses in Antalya.
13. Visit the Antalya Aquarium and/or Zoo
The Antalya Aquarium and Zoo are popular choices for families. At the aquarium there are over 10,000 marine animals and over 50 different-themed tanks and at the zoo there are over 1000 animals the see.
10 Places To Visit Near Antalya
1. See Kursunlu Waterfalls
Kursunlu Waterfalls are a beautiful natural attraction located just outside of Antalya. There are a series of waterfalls surrounded by lush green forest and are a great place to take a refreshing dip or enjoy a picnic. There are multiple trails to wander providing several viewpoints of the waterfalls, with the main waterfall being 18 metres high.
There is a small entrance fee to the area and a few park cafes serving snacks and refreshments.
2. Wander the sites at Side
Located 73km to the east of Antalya, you can find the Greco-Roman harbour city of Side. Side was one of the most important cities of Pamphylia, believed to have origins in the Bronze Age. Side has a number of ruins dotted around the resort city which is interspersed with houses, restaurants and shops.
Most of the locations are free to enter, with the exception of the large 2nd century amphitheatre. Take time to appreciate the well-preserved Hellenistic main gate as you enter the city, be sure to walk out to the peninsula to visit the Temple of Apollo and Athena and get lost amongst the temples and agora located next to the theatre.
3. Go rafting in Koprulu Canyon
Rafting in Koprulu Canyon is popular for adventure seekers visiting Antalya, Turkey. Located about an hour from the city, the canyon is home to the Kopru River, which offers a thrilling rafting experience for beginners and experienced rafters alike.
A beautiful canyon landscape surrounds the Kopru River with towering cliffs and dense forests. During a rafting trip, you can take in the stunning scenery and enjoy the thrill of the rapids. A variety of tour operators and rental companies offer rafting trips on the Kopru River, ranging from half-day excursions to multi-day adventures.
Rafting in Koprulu Canyon is a great way to experience the great outdoors and enjoy the adventure. It is suitable for visitors of all ages and fitness levels, and no previous rafting experience is required.
4. Marvel at the amphitheatre in Aspendos
Aspendos is an ancient city located about an hour from Antalya, known for its well-preserved amphitheater. The amphitheater isn’t as large as some other sites in Turkey, such as Ephesus, but it is unique because it’s fully intact. There is a modern stage at the front of the theatre with regular performances of plays and concerts.
However, there is more to see at this site than just the theatre, with remains of a basilica, nymphauem, acropolis and citadel to explore. There is also an aqueduct located a short drive from the main site. For a great view of the whole theatre, follow the footpath up to the hill just behind it.
You can join a guided tour from Antalya or take a taxi to reach Aspendos.
5. Explore Karain Cave
Karain Cave is a prehistoric cave located in the Taurus Mountains, about an hour from Antalya. It is known for its well-preserved artefacts from the Palaeolithic era, including tools and jewellery. You can join a guided tour from Antalya or take a taxi to reach the Cave.
6. Take an adventure to Thermessos
Thermessos is an ancient Turkish city located in the Taurus Mountains, about an hour from Antalya. It is known for its well-preserved ruins, including a theatre, an agora, and a necropolis. The theatre here lies partially in ruin however the location is incredible. It sits at the top of a hill overlooking the beautiful landscape of the Taurus Mountains.
A short hike up the hillside takes you to the main part of Thermessos, so an average level of fitness is required to reach this site. The paths around the site are signposted but they’re not always clear to follow. I used maps.me to help with navigation and had to help a few lost tourists along the way!
7. Explore Myra and St Nicholas’ Church at Demre
Myra is an ancient Lycian site near the town of Demre. This archaeological site is famed for its incredible rock-cut tombs which are decorated by intricate carvings. There is also a large amphitheatre at Myra with intact entrance corridors.
In the town of Demre you can also visit the Church of St Nicholas aka Santa Claus. This 9th century church is a place of pilgrimage for many Christians and inside it’s possible to see the remains of wall paintings and mosaic tile floors.
Demre has a fabulous Friday market with the fresh local produce, so try and plan your visit on this day if you want to experience an authentic Turkish market.
Read more about visiting Demre in this guide.
The easiest way to get to Demre is through renting a car, however there are sailing trips from Antalya which visit Demre alongside a tour of the sunken city of Kekova Island.
8. Go skiing in the Taurus Mountains
The Taurus Mountains, located just outside of Antalya, offer a variety of winter sports activities, including skiing and snowboarding. There are several ski resorts in the area, allowing you to enjoy the slopes and the beautiful mountain scenery.
Saklikent Ski Resort is the closest to Antalya which is about 1 hour away, longer on weekends when the Turks head to the mountains for picnics. The resort only has two lifts so it’s quite limited and wasn’t blessed with great snow during our visit, however it is ideal for beginners. There is a shuttle service between Antalya and Saklikent if you don’t have access to a car.
However, it you are happy to drive further afield, Davraz Ski Resort near Isparta offers a larger ski area at a higher altitude, which is a better option for intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
Watch our visit to Saklikent Ski Resort in the video below.
9. Visit Perge
Perge is an ancient city located about an hour from Antalya, known for its well-preserved ruins from the Roman and Byzantine eras. It is home to several historical landmarks, including a theatre, an agora, and a stadium.
10. The Land of Legends Theme Park
For the adrenaline junkies, no trip to Antalya would be complete without a visit to the Land of Legends Theme Park. In the adventure park there is a selection of roller coasters to get your heart pumping and in the aqua park, cool off with thrilling water slides and rapids.
How To Get To Antalya
Antalya International Airport is located 13km east of Antalya city centre. The airport offers direct flights to many major cities around the world and there is also the option of flying via Istanbul. The flight time from Istanbul to Antalya is around 90 minutes and flights run daily.
If you are travelling to Antalya from Cappadocia, there are direct flights from Kayseri (ASR)
The airport is 25km from the city centre and is serviced by two public buses (600 & 800). Taxis are also available from the airport (around $10) or you can pre-book an airport transfer through your hotel.
Alternatively you can take a bus to Antalya from Istanbul which takes around 13 hours or take the train which takes around 14 hours.
There is also a direct bus from Goreme (Cappadocia) as well as other major cities such Ankara, Izmir and Fethiye.
If you’re embarking on a road trip of Turkey you may prefer to rent a car and drive to Antalya. Localrent offer great deals on car rentals ensuring you get the best price. You can pick up a rental car from the major city airports.
Be sure to read this guide to driving in Turkey before you set off.
Getting Around Antalya
Antalya has excellent public transport so getting around the city via tram or bus is easy. If you plan to travel around Antalya on public transport, pick up an AntalyaKart card from the airport or from a kiosk in the city and enjoy discounted fares. The red trams are a fun way to see the city.
Most destinations outside of the city are serviced by dolmus (minibus) which leave from the city centre.
If you plan to travel to several destinations outside of the city and you don’t want to join a tour, then the best option is to rent a car. Car rental in Turkey is straight forward and quite affordable.
Accommodation In Antalya
As a popular tourist destination in Turkey, there are no shortage of places to stay in Antalya from all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and apartments. You may want to choose your accommodation based on where your interests lie, for example are you mostly interested in relaxing on the beach or exploring the old town?
For a family friendly resort, located right on the beachfront, try the Sealife Family Resort Hotel. This resort has everything you possibly need on your Antalya vacation, including swimming pools, a spa, use of snorkelling equipment, kids club and a traditionally Turkish bath.
The Megasaray Westbeach is another hotel overlooking the Mediterranean sea. This elegant hotel is all inclusive with two swimming pools and a spa.
For those on a budget, check out Camp & Hostel Antalya which offers shared accommodation with a traveller-friendly vibe.
The Atelya Art Hotel is a gorgeous, traditional ottoman house is located just 5 minutes from Hadrian’s Gate. The rooms feature traditional furniture and woven carpets. There is also a small outdoor pool in the courtyard.
If you’re looking for an apartment in the old town, then try the Mavi Avlu apartments. These apartments have all the amenities you would expect along with a patio overlooking the city.
Final Thoughts On This Antalya Travel Guide
Antalya is a beautiful and diverse city located in the southern region of Turkey. With its stunning Mediterranean beaches, rich history, and cultural attractions, Antalya offers something for everyone.
Whether you want to relax on the beach, learn about the city’s past, or experience the great outdoors, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy. From visiting historical landmarks and museums to experiencing the local cuisine and culture, Antalya is one of the prettiest places in Turkey and an unforgettable travel experience.