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Is Antalya Worth Visiting? 12 Reasons to Visit Antalya, Türkiye

Many people think of Antalya, Türkiye, and associate it with sprawling resorts, Russian tourists, and markets selling dubious ‘designer’ goods, but is that a fair judgement?

Earlier this year, I visited Antalya for the first time, and it didn’t take long for me to learn that there is so much more to Antalya than fancy hotels and fake designer watches.

My friends and I spent almost a week discovering ancient ruins, eating at fabulous high-end restaurants, ambling around the charming streets of the old town, and marvelling at how much this sun-kissed coastal city has to offer.

Is Antalya worth visiting?

I believe so, and in this blog post, I’ll share my reasons why.

the welcome to antalya sign at the airport
Blue skies in Antalya in February

Is Antalya Worth Visiting?

Antalya at a Glance

Antalya is a major city on the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast due to its stunning azure waters. It’s a popular tourist destination, with a mix of modern resorts and a historic centre called Kaleiçi.

The whole province of Antalya boasts remnants of its Roman past, while the city itself is home to charming Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, a harbour filled with yachts, and a lively nightlife.

There are also scores of beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and the natural beauty of the Taurus Mountains, the Western side of which forms an arc around the Gulf of Antalya, creating a dramatic backdrop for the city.

antalya port
The beautiful port of Antalya

Who Should Visit Antalya?

The number of resorts in Antalya make it a popular destination for families and international tourists whose idea of holiday bliss is relaxing by the hotel pool with a piña colada and a good book.

The stylish resorts are also a great draw for couples and honeymooners, who want a holiday where they can relax and indulge in the luxurious experiences provided by the hotels.

invitation to join the author's facebook group

With that being said, you don’t have to be someone who loves resorts in order to love Antalya.

Food and culture lovers (I’m definitely in this category!) will fall in love with Antalya’s quaint old town, history buffs will go crazy for the ancient Roman ruins, and for the adventure travellers among you, there’s the Lycian Way hiking trail, which is one of the best long-distance hiking routes in the world.

Antalya is also popular with golfers, as the resort town of Belek is considered one of the best places in the country to play golf.

azumare restaurant in side
Azumare restaurant in Side, Antalya

12 Reasons to Visit Antalya

1. The food

Food is a huge part of why I travel, and Antalya did not disappoint in that regard.

Food in Antalya ranges from Mediterranean classics like fresh seafood served with local vegetables and olive oil, to traditional Turkish delights such as grilled meats, mezze platters, and sweet baklava that melts in the mouth.

salmon sashimi in nemo antalya
I think about this salmon sashimi everyday
In Nemo restaurant, Anyalya

Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of overpriced tourist restaurants and kebab shops in Antalya that aren’t anything special, but if you know where to go, you’ll eat like a king.

When I was in Antalya, our group had a local tour guide named Volkan to show us around, and he took us to the best restaurants in Antalya, where we experienced excellent service and even better food.

My top recommendations for Antalya restaurants are 7 Mehmet, Nemo, and Seraser Fine Dining Restaurant.

Fun fact: 7 Mehmet is actually number 43 on Taste Atlas’s list of the 150 Most Iconic Food Places in the World!

7 mehmet antalya
One of many dishes we enjoyed at 7 Mehmet

2. Ancient ruins

Cities like Rome and Athens are (quite rightly) what people think of when thinking of ancient ruins, but Antalya is a treasure trove for anyone interested in ancient ruins!

The city itself was founded by the Greeks in the 2nd century BCE and has been inhabited ever since. Over the centuries, it has been conquered and ruled by various empires, each leaving their mark on the landscape.

Some of the most impressive ancient ruins you can visit in the province of Antalya include:

Aspendos – One of the most well-preserved Roman theatres in the world, built in the 2nd century AD. I’ve been to many Roman theatres on my travels, and this stands out as one of the most impressive to me.

Aspendos theatre

Perge – An ancient city founded by the Greeks in the 8th century BC. Perge boasts impressive ruins including a theatre, an agora, a stadium, and Roman baths. I highly recommend visiting Perge with a guide, so that you can learn as much as possible. That’s what we did, and it was fascinating.

the author posing in perge antalya
Couldn’t resist a cheeky pic in Perge
perge antalya

Termessos – High in the Taurus Mountains, Termessos was a Pisidian city that fiercely resisted Roman rule. The ruins here are not as well-preserved as some of the other sites, but the setting is spectacular. Unfortunately, the weather was too bad for us to visit Termessos, but Volkan told us that the views from here are breathtaking, so I recommend getting there if you can!

Side – This Greco-Roman city located on a peninsula has a beautiful harbour, a well-preserved theatre, and an agora. One of the most interesting sights here is the Temple of Apollo, a magnificent Corinthian temple overlooking the sea.

side antalya
Side, Antalya
side antalya

Side is also home to lots of lovely bars and restaurants with sunset views.

I recommend having dinner at Azumare Lounge (Google Maps link) after you’ve finished sightseeing!

wine in side antalya
Enjoying a glass of wine before sunset

3. Old Town (Kaleiçi)

After the food, my favourite part of Antalya was its charming Old Town, known as Kaleiçi, which has some magnificent Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, chic boutiques, cafes serving çay (Turkish tea), as well as glorious sunset views from the harbour.

To enter Kaleiçi, walk under the arches of Hadrian’s Gate, a monumental gateway built to honour Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Antalya in 130 AD. You can actually see the deep grooves, created by hundreds of years of carts making their way into the Old Town.

You also shouldn’t miss the striking Yivli Minare Mosque, and Antalya Clock Tower, located near Kaleiçi’s main square.

hadrian's gate antalya
Hadrian’s Gate, Antalya

What I loved most about Antalya’s Old Town was how laid back it felt. I also loved the fact that while there are certainly some very lively parts, you can find plenty of picturesque streets where there isn’t a soul around.

We only spent one afternoon in Kaleiçi as we were staying in nearby Belek, but I’ll definitely stay here when I return to Antalya in the future.

If you aren’t a beach bum, I highly recommend choosing your accommodation in Kaleiçi.

antalya mosque
The Old Town in Antalya

4. Luxury resorts

As I mentioned in the intro, Antalya is famous for its sprawling resorts, and you can rest assured that if you’re staying at a resort hotel in Antalya, it will come with all the bells and whistles!

I stayed in a 5-star resort called the Titanic Deluxe Golf Belek (which I reviewed in a previous blog post), and it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

package holiday in antalya
The view from my balcony in Antalya

As well as the 36-hole golf course, the hotel also boasts 10 swimming pools, an Aquapark with 9 adult slides, a spa and fitness centre, and its very own private beach!

There are also multiple bars and restaurants, a patisserie, Turkish tea house, nightclub, and an Irish pub that shows live sports.

Resorts in Antalya are places that you could spend a month and still end up getting lost!

If you’re travelling as a family, I especially recommend Antalya’s resorts.

a luxury hotel room in antalya
My hotel room in Antalya

5. Cats!

Now, look.

I’m not saying that I would travel somewhere specifically for cats, but I AM saying that the cats in Antalya made the trip INFINITELY better, and my phone storage was seriously put to the test with the amount of cat videos it can hold!

Cats in Türkiye are well taken care of, and SO friendly – I had several cats jump right into my lap, even when I had no food to offer them!

the author holding a cat
One of my favourite cats in Antalya

6. Affordable package holidays

Türkiye has long been famous for package holidays, and for good reason!

I visited Antalya on a package holiday with Jet2, and it couldn’t have gone better.

From the generous baggage allowance to the airport transfer and the overall quality of the hotel, everything was amazing.

a welcome platter of turkish sweets
The welcome platter that was waiting in my hotel room!

This was actually my third package holiday with Jet2 (I also visited Rome and Athens with them), and each trip has been seamless.

I can’t speak for other package holiday providers, but I always find Jet2 to be great value for money as well, which is definitely a plus.

swimming pool at a luxury resort in antalya
One of the swimming pools at my hotel. There were even swim-up villas!

7. Beautiful beaches

As I visited Antalya in February, I didn’t spend much time on the beach, which is a shame as Antalya is home to some gorgeous beaches.

If you don’t mind pebbles, Konyaalti Beach stretches for 7km and has a beautiful mountain backdrop, or for soft golden sand, Lara Beach is the perfect place to soak up the sun or enjoy some water sports.

Kleopatra Beach is near the centre of the Old Town, making it a convenient choice if you’re staying in Kaleiçi, or for rugged beauty and fewer crowds, head to the beaches of Çirali and Kaputaş.

antalya old town beach
The small beach near the Old Town

You can also head a little further afield to Side, which not only has historical ruins, but also beautiful beaches with golden sand.

Below is a picture I took of a beach in Side.

side beach
A beach in Side

8. Land of Legends

If you’re travelling to Antalya with kids, be sure to make room on your itinerary for a visit to Land of Legends.

Land of Legends is possibly the most famous theme park in Türkiye, and it’s one of the most unique places I’ve ever been!

Within the Land of Legends complex are a variety of different parks.

These include:

  • Adventure Land: Rollercoasters for all ages, plus performances by world-famous DJs and special concept shows.
  • Aqua Land: Swimming with dolphins (this isn’t ethical so I don’t recommend it), water slides, rapids, and shark observations, plus the opportunity to feed tropical fish.
  • Tropic Lagoon: Water slides, wave pools, and lazy floats.
  • Masha and The Bear Land of Laughter: A place for the kids with Bear’s Funhouse, a circus, and fairground games.

Land of Legends also hosts regular shows, including live music performances, light shows, fountain shows, and shows for kids featuring Masha and The Bear.

Even if you don’t want to go to the theme park itself, you can still wander around the complex of Land of Legends, which is an experience in itself – I passed through here while walking to Nemo Restaurant, and it was certainly interesting!

land of legends antalya
Land of Legends

9. Nightlife in Antalya

As I stayed in an all-inclusive in Antalya, my friends and I made the most of the bars inside our resort, but nightlife in Antalya Old Town comes highly recommended (Volkan, our guide, waxed lyrical about it!).

We did enjoy some evening beers in the Old Town one night, and I could definitely see things getting busier as we left!

While Antalya’s Old Town is home to an abundance of bars and pubs, there are also plenty of glamourous nightclubs in Antalya where you can dance all night.

drinking a beer in antalya old town
There’s no shortage of bars in the Old Town of Antalya

10. Hiking

Antalya isn’t all resorts and nightclubs; it’s also full of natural beauty.

The Taurus Mountains create a stunning backdrop to the city, and the Lycian Way is considered one of the best long-distance hiking routes in the world!

Our guide, Volkan, told us that he has been hiking the Lycian Way for over 20 years, and he was actually one of the people to mark the red and white signs along the route!

The Lycian Way stretches for 510km, and has 28 stops along the way (22 of which have accommodation options).

Volkan has completed the entire thing at least 20 times, and he also runs hiking tours along the trail (either partial or the whole way).

It is estimated that about 30,000 people walk a portion of the Lycian Trail every year.

Note: Volkan does not currently have a website, but if you want to get in touch with him, please reach out in the comments section, and I will share his contact details!

11. Shopping

Many people love visiting Türkiye to shop, and Antalya is a shoppers’ paradise.

Not only are there tonnes of Western-style shopping malls, but Antalya’s Old Town is full of cute boutiques and souvenir shops where you can buy gifts for friends back home.

turkish boutique in antalya old town
I was so tempted by this ‘evil eye’ cover-up!

Some of the most popular malls include MarkAntalya, TerraCity, and the Mall of Antalya, and there’s also a shopping mall inside the Land of Legends complex!

If you’re looking to haggle at a traditional Turkish bazaar, be sure to check out the Antalya Bazaar. This large, open-air market is a great place to find carpets, spices, leather goods, and just about anything else you could wish for!

a turkish carpet maker
Turkish carpets are gorgeous!

12. Antalya is a year-round destination

If you’re wondering which is the best month to visit Antalya, you’re in luck, because there really is no wrong answer!

While peak season is the summertime, with temperatures averaging from 27°C to 31°C (81°F to 88°F) between June and September, Antalya’s Mediterranean climate ensures mild winters.

beach in antalya turkiye
Antalya in February

I visited Antalya in February, and while we had one rainy day, the rest of the trip was lovely and sunny, and we only needed a jacket in the evenings. with hot summers and mild winters.

Although visiting Antalya in February did mean that some of the attractions were closed (like the water park at our hotel for example), it was great being able to wander around Kaleiçi without being surrounded by other tourists!

Although the weather in Antalya in February is nice, the water park at my hotel was closed

Useful Information

Know before you go

  • Although Antalya sees a lot of tourism, not everybody in Antalya can speak English. I recommend learning a few basic Turkish phrases, and downloading a translation app on your phone, just in case.
  • The currency in Türkiye is the Turkish lira (TRY). You can exchange your currency for lira at banks, exchange offices, or ATMs. While most places accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand if you’re visiting smaller shops and bazaars.
  • Citizens of many countries, including the UK, most European countries, the US, Canada, and Australia, do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days in Türkiye.
  • There isn’t a tipping culture in Türkiye, although tips are always appreciated.
  • While the majority of Turkish people are Muslim, you can dress in a Western style with no problems. If you plan on visiting religious sites, however, it’s important to dress modestly.
  • Antalya airport is only 13km away from Antalya city. If you don’t want to take a taxi, you can opt for a tram or public bus, both of which take about 40 minutes to get to Antalya from Antalya airport. If you’re staying in a resort, you might want to arrange a pick-up or take a taxi, as these are not as well-serviced by public transport.
  • The electrical sockets in Türkiye are Type C and Type F. If you’re travelling from the US or the UK, you’ll need a travel adapter.
antalya port
The port, just on the edge of Antalya’s Old Town

Is Antalya expensive?

Antalya is not expensive, but it’s not cheap either – helpful, I know.

Inside the Old Town walls, I’d estimate that food and drink is about 25% cheaper than in the UK, but you can certainly find cafes outside of the Old Town that are significantly cheaper.

You should also look out for Happy Hour deals in the Old Town, as I noticed quite a few places offering these when I was walking around.

When researching for this article, I asked several friends whether Antalya is cheaper than Istanbul, and every single person agreed that it was.

Is Antalya safe?

Antalya is a safe destination, even for families and solo female travellers (although for the latter, I will say that Turkish men can be quite pushy, so if you’re planning on enjoying the nightlife in Antalya, I recommend travelling with a friend).

As Antalya is a resort city, tourists are very well looked after here, and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Naturally, you should be aware of your surroundings and exercise the same caution you would anywhere else.

antalya old town
Antalya is a safe city

Who should visit Antalya?

Antalya has something to offer many different types of traveller.

I especially recommend Antalya if you’re a:

  • Family with young children
  • Couple
  • History lover
  • Golfer
  • Hiking/climbing lover
  • Fan of package holidays

How many days in Antalya?

I spent 4 days in Antalya, which was the perfect amount of time to take some day trips around the province, explore the Old Town, and relax at my hotel.

Personally, I think that 4 days in Antalya is the minimum amount of time you should spend, because there is so much to see and do here!

Of course, if you’re a beach bum, you could spend 2 weeks in Antalya and not get bored!

Best area to stay in Antalya

There are lots of beautiful resort towns in the province of Antalya.

I stayed in Belek, which has beautiful beaches and some of the country’s best golf courses.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive holiday in Antalya, I really recommend staying in Belek.

titanic deluxe golf belek turkey
Loving my all-inclusive in Antalya!

However, if you want to do a bit more independent exploring, I’d recommend staying in Antalya’s Old Town. There are lots of lovely restaurants here, and you can also book tours to travel to Antalya’s ancient ruins and natural wonders.

If you stay in a resort and want to travel to the centre of Antalya, you’re looking at an expensive taxi ride. My hotel had no public bus routes to Antalya, and Volkan estimated that taking a taxi into town would cost about 50 EUR.

Is Antalya Worth Visiting? | Final Thoughts

I really liked Antalya.

I think that it’s a destination that has a lot of things to offer to a lot of different travellers.

While beach bums and resort lovers are certainly Antalya’s biggest fans, Antalya is also fantastic for history lovers, adventure travellers, and culture vultures.

A trip to Antalya is what you make it, and the experience that you’ll have if you stay in the Old Town is totally different to staying in a large resort.

You May Also Like

Titanic Deluxe Golf Hotel Review

Antalya Package Holiday Review

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but as always, let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below!

Until next time,


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