Is Antalya worth visiting?

Shortly, yes, definitely Antalya is worth visiting with its natural wonders such as mesmerizing mountains, caves, and beaches. Antalya is a region that has a vast history of civilizations and a region that is unique among the famous travel destinations.

Red tower in Alanya District

See also: Antalya Travel Guide

See also: The best time to visit Antalya

In this article, the elements that will help you put this Turkish tourist hub on your travel bucket list will be elaborated upon. 

Beaches

Antalya attracts most of the tourists that come from all around the world firstly with its magnificent beaches. One of the reasons why this is the case for Antalya is that the swimming season in Antalya is relatively long, beginning from early May until the end of October. It would be best for someone who will go to Antalya for the beaches to plan such travel for the beginning or end of the season mentioned above to escape the crowds and the intense heat.

Below, I will be giving some of the best places that you can swim in Antalya. While some of these places have well-maintained facilities and services, some others are more remote and isolated. Nonetheless, all of them are known and favored by both the locals and the tourists. Here are some beaches that you should consider putting into your Antalya trip schedule:

Lara Public Beach

Lara beach possibly the most popular beach for both locals and tourists that among the ones located in the city center. It is a sandy beach, and there are always sunbed, umbrellas, and different services on this beach. There are also some places suitable for setting up tents on the beach as well. The water temperature is relatively hot on this beach, and its shallow for a long distance, thus also suitable for inexperienced swimmers. Lara Beach also has a blue flag which is the certification given by the International Foundation for Environmental Education showing that a beach meets certain international standards. 

Lara Beach
Lara Beach

Inciralti Public Beach

Inciraltı beach is located very close to Lara beach and is operated by the Antalya municipality, thus considered as a public beach. Even though it is a public beach, it is relatively calmer during all seasons compared to Lara and Side (you can see further below). Inciraltı beach is also a Blue Flag Beach.  

Konyaaltı Public Beach

This beach is known for having the longest shore in Antalya. It is not as sandy as the ones mentioned before, it has more pebbles. 

Olympos Beach

Olympos Beach, approximately 50 miles away from Antalya, within the boundaries of Kumluca district, with its kilometers long coastline, natural wonder bays, boat tours, and paragliding options, is a location that can be visited not only during summer but all seasons. The water in Olympos is azure color and cool during summer, while the coast is rocky.

One can feel the historical and natural trail throughout the whole place. Another attraction for a lot of tourists to Olympos is that Caretta turtles make their nests in the fine sand of its shores. Due to this reason, you may see that some places on the beach are not allowed to enter due to those nests and there is not an umbrella or sunbed service. Thus, if you are the kind of person who enjoys sitting under a sun umbrella and reading your book peacefully, it would be recommended to bring your own folding chairs and umbrella.

Due to its isolated location, you may have to walk 5-10 minutes in order to get to the beach. However, since the beach is considered inside the Olympos Ancient City, you will have to buy a ticket to enter the Olympos Ancient City first, and then park your car before you get to the beach and walk for the rest. Also, since it is an isolated place with a historical site on the mountain line, there aren’t many cafes or restaurants near the beach. Thus, it would be recommended to bring your own food in your backpack or in your car if that is the case. 

Cleopatra Beach

Cleopatra Beach is located in the Alanya district of Antalya which is approximately 1.5 hours away from the Antalya city center. Cleopatra Beach is a beach that goes for 1.5 miles covered with pure sand. The water level so shallow for a long distance and very clear. You would see the fish and the see formations even without needing a snorkel and diving. This beach has been a Blue Flag Beach as well for a long time. The name comes from a legend, in which Cleopatra and her lover swam here once. Because of its open view due to its location, it has a wonderful sunset too. Thus, it would be recommended to bring a camera and enjoy the sunset. 

Incekum Beach

This is a beach that is very special with its sand, located in the Avsallar Town of Alanya district. It is a very popular beach due to its fine yellow sand and long-distance shallow sea. Incekum Beach has free parking, sunbeds and umbrellas, and a free public beach section. On the beach, there are food courts, showers, changing cabins, and toilets. Incekum Beach is located at the 26th kilometer of the Antalya-Alanya highway. There is also Incekum Forest Camp in the area surrounded by a vast forest that is perfect for those who like to camp in the woods but still want to be close to the sea.

Side Beaches

Side is a district in Antalya that is very popular for its natural and historical sites and beauties alongside with its mesmerizing beaches and sunset views. There are several beaches such as Kumköy Beach, and Evrenseki which is a public beach. The water here is wavier compared to others, but yet it’s a clean sand beach. Also, there are plenty of hotels, venues, cafes, and restaurants all over Side. If you want to be close to the sea, but do not want to travel too far to swim and still want to be comfortable, this might be the place for you. 

Kaş Beaches

The first one and the most popular one among the beaches in Kaş District of Antalya that you should visit is the Kaputaş beach. It is a beach that enchants you with its color, which will increase your spiritual beauty and eye pleasure rather than swimming and sunbathing. This cove that is located in the middle of large rocks is one of the most popular coves in Turkey.

The second beach that you should visit in Kaş is Patara beach. Patara has very fine and thin sand. Here the beach is the most important breeding area for sea turtles in Turkey, therefore you can only use the beach to swim until 7 pm. This beach of Kaş, whose beaches are generally full of pebbles, consists of very soft sands and even dunes. Therefore, with the constant waves, the water is mostly cloudy and sandy. However, it has a spectacular sunset, and you can see the places where Caretta turtles make their nests and there is a historical site near the beach. 

Landscape

Antalya is a unique touristic city in Turkey due to its location and the formation of landscapes. The city is built across Taurus mountains that are covered with pine forests that extend parallel to the sea while forming a rocky landscape, and hidden bays and coves.

Oludeniz

Antalya is a unique region from the point that it is one of the less polluted and industrialized coastal areas of the Mediterranean region as a whole, thus being one of a kind for its incredible landscapes and sightseeing options as well. It can be ensured to the reader that this Turkish region will leave an ever-lasting memory in the mind of those who will visit it.

History

Antalya is very old in terms of the historical settlement. It is thought that the first settlement in the region belongs to the Lydians. The word Antalya hosted more than 10 different civilizations until it was captured by the Ottomans.

With a deep history of civilizations and settlements, Antalya can be considered as one of the most ancient cities of Turkey. For this reason, there are many places to visit in Antalya.

Antalya is believed to be founded with the order of King Attalos of Pergamon with the command “Find me a heaven on earth”. Since it is a very fertile region in Turkey, it had welcomed many different civilizations throughout time.

Karain Cave, which was considered the oldest settlement in Turkey for some time, ancient cities, mountain peaks, Turkey’s largest museum Antalya Museum, and the Lycian Way are some of the historical beauties that attract the most attention to Antalya.

Temple of Apollo in Side
Temple of Apollo

Some of the most beautiful historical cities of Antalya to be explored by taking your camera and taking your camera on the mountain slope with sea views are as follows: Side, Termessos Ancient City, Olympus Ancient City, Khimaira, Arycanda Ancient City, Xanthos

Nightlife 

Among the many reasons one can think of for visiting Antalya is its overwhelmingly alive nightlife that can be considered as one of the main motivations for one to plan a trip to Antalya. Nightlife in Antalya is very colorful and lively.

There are a lot of clubs and pubs in the city center and the surrounding districts, and it is very fun and crowded in the evenings. It is possible to find venues that appeal to every musical taste in Antalya. In addition to bars and clubs, there are plenty of alternatives for those who love taverns. Disco and bars around the marina and its surroundings are always busy, especially in summer. It is possible to come across various venues playing all kinds of music.

There are many taverns, folk bars, and English Pubs for those who wish to experience nightlife in Kaleiçi. Various dance performances are performed in nightclubs that are open until morning hours.

The rock bars here have a very rich drink menu. In addition to Kaleiçi, there are many discos, rock bars, taverns, and pubs in areas such as Side and Kemer. Nightlife in Antalya becomes much livelier and fun, especially during the International Golden Orange Film Festival. 

Hiking

Turkey’s beautiful Mediterranean coastline was the cradle of the Lycian civilization, whose ancient cities can still be seen as ruins along the coastline today. The best hiking routes are thus laid on the way called the Lycian Way.

It is worth to walk the Lycian Way when you come to Antalya if you are into hiking. You can visit the ruins and taste the almost untouched hill villages that lay above the coast.

Lycian Way
Lycian Way

The Lycian Way is on the list of the world’s longest walking trails based on its beginning to end distance, with its approximately 350 miles long beautiful Mediterranean landscape that extends from Antalya to Fethiye. The hike includes passing through harbor towns like Kaş and Kalkan, in which one can observe the daily rituals of small fishing towns and hamlets.

For inexperienced hikers and casual walkers, the complete 350 miles is not necessary to tackle as a whole route since you can find the sandy beaches and olive-grove hinterlands along the route in many places. At this point, if you plan to visit Antalya with the intention of hiking the whole Lycian Way, it would be better to check out the Lycian Way by Kate Clow, who is the creator of the trail.

Also, you do not need to worry about Turkish pension owners since they will most likely happily let you pass through their pensions and maybe even give you a ride to the next destination when you need to, making it easy to reach more convenient hiking destinations and routes along the Way.

Food  

The cuisine of Antalya definitely benefits from its location between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Antalya’s food culture and variety are a delight to explore for both internal and external tourists. Cuisine traditions from all cultures, Lydian time, Byzantine times, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires, have come together to influence the cuisine everyone experience when they visit Antalya.

Certain food-related religious restrictions are reflected in the cooking of different communities, however, due to its touristic characteristics as a city, it is possible to find exceptions easily. Antalya has been at the crossroads of the cultural traffic, receiving influences from both Arab, African, Greek, and overall Mediterranean cultures.

Turkish Breakfast
Turkish Breakfast

Thus, it is easy to see the reflections of such cultures’ cuisines into Antalya’s. Antalya cookery also carries out all the qualities that yet maintain in the general characteristics of Turkish cuisine. Today, the majority of the local population in Antalya is occupied with farming, especially in the rural plains and tablelands. Therefore, the city grows its own food to an extent. Although the majority of the people living in such areas grow vegetables, the people in the inner parts rather grow grains. Also, Cretan cuisine that is based on herbs is very vivid and common in Antalya.

Goat and sheep breeding along the Taurus mountains is also very common and the meat-related cuisines in Antalya are also very popular. Therefore, all-around Antalya, it is easy to find both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for dining.   

Culture

Antalya is a city that is not only known for its natural and historical beauties but also for its rich cultural activities. Annual Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival is one of the most rooted and known film festivals in the world outside Hollywood.

This festival was first organized to encourage Turkish filmmakers’ works and prepare the opportunity for Turkish Cinema to open to the international platform. Also, to contribute to the development of the television industry in Turkey and increase the opening of the international market to Turkish television, there are Ismail Cem Television awards being held in Antalya every year.

Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is also another cultural organization that is organized in an international dimension.

Finally, The International Antalya Piano Festival is held in November every year welcoming the most popular and talented pianists from all around the world. Besides these cultural organizations that one can attend to during their trip to Antalya, Antalya has approximately 40 museums and ancient sites that one should visit before leaving. 

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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