Adventure or Relax.
Antalya is a welcoming city for both a short or a week-long getaway. The weather in Antalya rarely gets below 10 degrees in winter and will get as high as mid-30's in summer. With tropical-like weather, it is a desirable location for holiday-goers and adventure enthusiasts.
This stunning city has the most beautiful backdrop of mountain's, ocean and palm trees. With an extensive history awaiting to be explored, Antalya really has so much to offer to anyone lucky enough to spend time here.
I am pleased to be able to write this post as I feel like there is a slight negative wrap on Antalya from reading other people's reviews on staying here. I had little expectations and assumed that sitting on the beach would be our main activity. In fact, we were absolutely blown away on the number of activities that we could do in Antalya, and as a result, we are desperate to go back to do the things we did not get to do.
Below, in no particular order, are our top recommendations when visiting Antalya.
1. Snorkeling or Scuba diving
There is plenty of tours that can take you to the luscious beaches of Antalya and surrounding areas to allow you to paddle in their crystal clear waters. It comes highly recommended as one of the top things to do in Antalya.
It would be recommended to book a couple of days in advance, or if you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb, your hosts may be able to assist you. We were offered by our host to book snorkeling for us, but sadly we had already made plans for the days we were in Antalya. This is something we would love to return to do.
2. White water rafting
Calling adrenaline junkies! For a quite reasonable price of 25 euros you can experience white water rafting just outside of Antalya at the stunning Koprulu Canyon National Park. Most trips leave early in the morning so again, book a day or two in advance. The activity will take at least a half day so make sure you leave sufficient time.
Our Airbnb host offered to book for us but sadly we did not have the time. Our host was able to offer us a price that was reduced from the tour guide websites so again I would recommend getting in contact with your hotel/host before booking anything.
3. Visit the Ancient Ruin City of Aspendos
This amazing Ancient theater is just under 50km from Antalya; 40km from Antalya airport. It was founded in 1000 BC and is still occasionally used for theaters and shows today, which is quite incredible. You can climb up the stairs of the theater and sit in awe of its view. It is said to be able to seat 7,000 people.
We shared a taxi with another couple to Aspendos before heading to the airport. The taxi waited for a hour while we spent time at Aspendos and in total paid approx £25 (£13ish per couple). Our host did speak with our taxi driver to ask for a reasonable price and to wait for us. This was quite an incredible experience and one that we were pleased to do last minute.
4. Chill out on the beach
A must do in Antalya and hopefully part of the reason you've chosen to visit.
In the town there is not a lot of opportunity to sit and relax on the beach itself unless you take public transport West to Konyaalti or South East to Lara beach.
If you do wish to enjoy some relaxing sunshine and seaside in Antalya visit Plaj beach which is situated within Kaleici in Antalya's old town. They charge a small price per person to use their reclining beach chairs and have access to the refreshing cool sea. Food and drink is served here, and we spent a good 5+ hours soaking in the sun and forgetting all of life's stressors.
5. Get lost exploring Kaleici - and its Historic sites
Kaleici is the city center of Antalya and contains the souks, historic sites and absolutely stunning buildings and streets. It is a must to spend time walking around Kaleici whether you want to shop, dine or just explore...you could not be disappointed.
Historic sites include Hadrian's gate, Yivli Minare (and it's mosque), Clock tower and the old city marina. There are many sites that sit beyond Kaleici's city walls (ancient theaters) and museums loaded with interesting information.
I would encourage you to stop and eat at least one of the restaurants in Kaleici to enjoy the buzz of the old town in the evening. Personally we can highly recommend Kaleici Meyhanesi were we enjoyed delicious fresh seafood.
6. Take a day trip to Pamukkale
Pamukkale, 400km from Antalya, is certainly an unforgettable day trip that was at the top of our list of things to do. This UNESCO site is relatively cheap day out if you do not mind sitting on a bus for some time. If you want to know how to get to Pamukkale from Antalya (or surrounding regions), have a look at our do-it-yourself guide.
7. Take a boat trip to view waterfalls When walking around the marina you will be offered with trips to visit the nearby waterfalls, springs and sinkholes. You can choose to take a boat to one or two of the waterfalls, however as there are so many you can visit it might be worth considering hiring a car.
Turkey truly has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes that we have seen. Antalya certainly is home to so much natural beauty it is surprising that it is such a hidden tourist destination.
Just outside Antalya is one of Turkey's most popular waterfalls, The Duden. Following this you also have the luxury of visiting the spectacular Ucansu, Kusunulu and Manavgat Waterfall's. Hire a car for a day, pack a picnic and enjoy nature’s beauty.
8. Visit the cat village
Something we certainly was not expecting, but was a unforgettable experience in a 'different' kind of way was Antalya's cat village. Yes, it is quite literally a thing.
There are sadly a lot of stray cats and dogs that wander the streets of Antalya. The cat village was set up by locals to house over 100 stray cats to provide sheltered homes and a cat playground. If you notice that the cat village is empty when you visit, take a stroll through Tophane park where you will undoubtedly see hundreds of cats and their kittens. They are friendly, but keep caution of getting too close.
9. Experience a Hammam (Turkish bath)
Not something you necessarily have to do in Antalya, but more so at some point during your Turkish experience. If Antalya is your only Turkish destination, then either book into a hammam or many do offer walk in treatment.
10. Enjoy the nightlife
Antalya is the city that never sleeps. Surprisingly to us, the people in Antalya are up at all hours of the night and appear to be some of the most relaxed people we have come across (which is saying something as an Australian). Locals sit at shisha bars, kebab restaurants, pubs or just wandering the old town. It is safe, it is bizarrely quiet and the weather is just perfect.