Antalya, often referred to as the jewel of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, stands as a premier tourist destination that seamlessly merges the allure of pristine Mediterranean beaches with the grandeur of the Taurus Mountains. This ancient city, with its historical heart intact, offers a rich tapestry of experiences: from the well-preserved architecture of its old town to the modern marinas filled with yachts. Whether it’s indulging in traditional Turkish cuisine, exploring Greco-Roman ruins, or simply soaking up the sun on its golden shores, Antalya promises a unique blend of relaxation and exploration for every visitor.
Antalya can be compared to Barcelona, Spain. Both cities harbor a vibrant coastal atmosphere, a deep-rooted history visible in their respective old towns, and a cosmopolitan population drawn from diverse backgrounds. However, unlike the Catalan capital, which has a population of 5.5 million, the Turkish coast is home to 1.2 million locals. This is due to low-rise buildings and tourism, as during the season, the population doubles. The beaches are crowded, there’s nowhere to sit in cafes, everyone wants to profit from the tourists. But from here, one can embark on a journey and delve into the history of Ancient Rome or Greece. You can visit Antalya any time of the year: the sea remains warm until November, winters are mild and sunny, the surroundings are lush green, and fruits and vegetables are always fresh.
What else is good about one of the most popular cities in Turkey, where to find the best beaches, where to venture into the mountains for the canyons, where to buy a fur coat, and how to get to the local Disneyland – we will tell in our comprehensive guide.
Through the lanes of the Old Town
Kaleiçi (translated as “inside the fortress”) is the historical center of Antalya. In this part of the city, people have lived since the 2nd century BC, from the times of the Roman Empire. Kaleiçi is located in a bay, while on the other side the town was protected by fortress walls. Now a tall wall with Hadrian’s Gate separates Kaleiçi from the modern city. On the outside, there are cars, shopping centers, crowds of pedestrians and the noise of the city, while on the inside, there are narrow streets, trees in full bloom, leisurely strolling cats and great sea views.
To preserve the atmosphere of the Old Town, authorities prohibited the construction of new houses, and mandated restoration using materials identical to the original: stone, wood, red tile. On one hand, the historical layout and architecture of the Old Town have been preserved. But on the other, there are hardly any local residents left in Kaleiçi. And most of the buildings are meant for entertainment, which somewhat kills the area’s atmosphere.
Hadrian’s Arch was built in 130 AD in honor of the arrival of the ancient Roman emperor. It is mostly made of marble, but eight carved columns are made of granite. In the mid-20th century, during the restoration of the arch, archaeologists found that the gate had two levels, and the columns were built in different periods. The second tier has not survived, but a glass bridge was installed on the floor, through which traces of carriages on the lower tier can be seen.
Near the arch is the Yivli Minaret (from Turkish “fluted”) of an unusual shape – made of eight semi-cylinders. It was built in the 13th century as a symbol of the victory of Seljuk conquerors. Inside there is a small museum that can be visited (for free) when there is no Namaz (prayer). The tall 38-meter minaret can be seen from many points in Antalya, so it is sometimes called the symbol of the city. The Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque was built during the times of the Ottoman Empire, in the 17th-18th centuries. Inside hangs a huge chandelier, the windows are decorated with stained glass, and the walls have ceramic tiles with Arabic calligraphy. Another mosque is the small Iskele, built in the 19th century. Between its columns springs a fountain, and superstitious tourists throw coins into it.
If you wander aimlessly through the streets of the Old Town, you will eventually end up at the port. It has withstood dozens of enemy sieges and still operates to this day. From the dock, tourist ships, fishing boats, and even a river tram towards Kemer depart daily. It’s pleasant to stroll along the small promenade or enjoy a glass of Turkish tea on a cafe terrace. For those who wish to swim, there’s a small beach called Mermerli (Mermerli Plajı) on pontoons. The bottom here is sandy with large stones, there are no waves, but the entry via a ladder might not be suitable for those who aren’t good swimmers. Entrance to the beach costs about 150 lira (4.77 euros). This fee includes an umbrella and a sun lounger.
To view the city from above, you can ascend to an observation deck, which can be reached by a pedestrian path from the Old Town or by an elevator. A must-visit spot during the walk is the souvenir shops and the old market, where, besides the usual souvenirs, rare and vintage items are sold: antique spoons, coins, dishes, furniture.
Beaches in the City and Surroundings
Antalya boasts over 300 sunny days a year, so even in winter, locals and tourists sunbathe on the beach. Many even swim, as during this time of the year, the water temperature usually matches the air temperature and can reach up to 18-20 degrees Celsius. Within the city limits, there are three beaches.
The pebble-sandy beach in Konyaalti is a large municipal beach stretching eight kilometers in length and 50 meters in width. Due to the rocks, coral slippers are advisable for comfortable swimming. The beach has two zones – free and paid, differing not only in services but also in sea access. In the free zone, there’s a sharp drop-off, making it unsuitable for swimming with children. In the paid zone, a sun lounger with an umbrella is provided, drinks and food are served from a cafe, water entertainments are offered, and the descent into the water is more gentle. Toilets and changing cabins are available in both zones. The beach is located in a residential area, so there won’t be any problems buying something in a supermarket or grabbing a snack.
In this area, there are many cafes and bars, where lively open-air parties are held during the season. Also, there are a few cozy coffee shops (Özsüt Sahil, Roberts Coffee, Coffee’s) where you can grab a cappuccino and work on a laptop. There are many different rental spots for stand-up paddleboards, mopeds, and bicycles, as well as sports courts, a skate park, and an open-air cinema. Along the beach, amidst the green palms, there are bicycle and pedestrian paths. Locals love coming here for a weekend picnic with the whole family, setting up camping chairs and gazing at the sea. Even in winter, the weekend life on the beach here is active, unlike other areas of the city.
You can get here by bus (KC06, LF09) from the center, but a special treat is to take a ride on the red retro tram from the Old Town (stop at Kale Kapı) along the coastline and parks. Such a trip will take 15 minutes and will cost as much as a regular fare on public transport, the only thing is – the tram runs every half hour.
The sandy beach in Lara stretches for two kilometers, with a significant portion of it belonging to hotels. However, you can relax on some of the private beaches by paying 50 lira (1.59 euros) for an umbrella or a cocktail. The sea entry is gentle, making the place popular among families with children. The beach provides free toilets, showers, and changing rooms.
A wide walking path, lined with souvenir shops, bars, and cafes, runs along the beach. A distinctive feature of Lara beach, much appreciated by the locals, is the barbecue zone with stone ovens and tables extending for 700 meters. At 100 meters from the sea, among the pines, you can grill for free, just don’t forget to bring a grate and charcoal. During the summer, concerts and sports competitions are held here, and from May to October, the International Sand Sculpture Festival takes place.
The beach is far from the city center, so the bus journey one way will take 40-50 minutes. An important point to note: due to its proximity to the airport, planes constantly fly over the beach. Keep this in mind as during the season they will land or take off every five minutes. And no, they don’t descend low enough to take beautiful photos, but they do create a lot of noise. The good news is that you get used to it quickly.
Pier beaches in the Old Town. There is no access to the water in the central area because this part of the city is located on a cliff. There are only a few small pier beaches – artificial platforms – either private or public. Access to them is paid – 20-150 lira (0.64–4.77 euros) for a sunbed and umbrella, payment is in cash at the bar. Entry into the water is only via a ladder, so these beaches are not suitable for those who are afraid of water or cannot swim: it’s too deep to reach the bottom here. However, for those who love to watch the underwater world, this is a great place. Schools of fish swim on the surface, and sometimes you can see other sea creatures on the sea floor. It’s worth coming here at least for the photos against the backdrop of azure waters and white foam of waves crashing against the rocks. Here are some of the beaches: Mermerli (Mermerli Plajı), Muratpaşa (Muratpaşa Plajı), İnciraltı (İnciraltı Plajı).
Wild Beach outside the city. Another picturesque beach is located 15 kilometers from Antalya in the village of Beldibi. Locals call this beach wild due to its seclusion and lack of amenities. Rocks, blue-green tinted water—which is saltier and cleaner here—majestic mountains and pines, it’s like an uninhabited island from a favorite book. This is a popular place, so it is recommended to come here in the morning or at sunset to avoid the crowd.
You can get there from Antalya in 20 minutes by taking the KA07 minibus from Migros Antalya shopping center, don’t forget to bring cash and tell the driver where to stop.
At a distance of 30 kilometers from Antalya, mountain streams merge into the Düden River, which flows through the city and forms two cascading waterfalls. Both are open for visits all year round, with the best viewing time from January to April, during the rainy season.
The Upper Düden waterfall is located in the residential area of Kepez, eight kilometers from the center of Antalya. Locals spend their weekends here, enjoying nature without the crowds of tourists. The waterfall, which is 600 years old, is situated in the “Düden” National Park, with an entrance fee of ten lira (0.32 euros). The park has many pedestrian paths, staircases, and bridges to view the waterfall from various angles. An unusual perspective can be obtained from the cave behind the waterfall, where you can closely see the streams of water falling from a height of 27 meters. Another viewpoint is located at the base, where you can photograph the full height of the waterfall and the lake it forms.
Due to the turbulent flows, the park is moist, hence everything around is engulfed in greenery, resembling impassable jungles. If you follow the river’s flow further and ascend towards the entrance, you can feed the geese and ducks, have a picnic, or dine at a cafe. Buses from the center (MK80 and CV17) travel here, and you should alight at the Düden Şelalesı stop.
The Kurşunlu waterfall is an enlarged version of Upper Düden with even more wild nature. It is located in the “Tabiat” nature reserve, 25 kilometers from the center of Antalya. Excavations have shown that the park has existed since the 2nd-3rd century AD. Rocks have split the mountain river into several channels, forming an 18-meter waterfall. Two kilometers of pedestrian paths will lead through blue lagoons, overgrown boulder stones, and pines engulfed in greenery. If you go further along the narrow trails, you will find another small waterfall, an old mill, and a cottage. The park is home to ducks fed by tourists, turtles, and occasionally hares can be seen. Here, you can have a picnic at a table or dine in a cafe.
The park is usually a few degrees cooler than in the city, and humid. It’s better to wear comfortable shoes for a walk. It’s quite crowded here on weekends. The entrance to the park costs 28 lira (0.89 euros). You can get there by buses MK80, MK81 from the Meydan Aktarma Merkezi stop.
If you rent a car, you can have a great route for the whole day: Upper Düden waterfall – Kurşunlu – Perge ruins. All these places are located nearby.
The Lower Düden Waterfall, unlike the Upper, is a popular spot among tourists. From a 50-meter cliff, streams of water plummet with a roar into the Mediterranean Sea. On sunny days, a rainbow appears from the refraction of light on the sea surface. There are viewing platforms here, but the best view of the waterfall is from the water. Tourist boats with excursions to Lower Düden depart daily from the pier in the city center. The waterfall is beautiful not only during the day, but also at dark thanks to the colorful lighting.
The waterfall is located within the Düden Park which has a large green area, walking paths, benches for resting, a children’s playground, and a cafe. You can grab a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, admire the sea, and play with the local seals. Entrance to the park is free.
From the park, you can take a walk along the promenade towards the center. Along the way, there will be picnic spots (tables with benches), bike, and pedestrian paths.
The cable car to Mount Tunektepe (618 meters). During the ten-minute ascent in the cable car cabin, one can observe the city, the seaside, and the mountains. At the top, there are several cafes with ice cream and tea, and also a Turkish cuisine restaurant that serves large portions. Additionally, there are viewing platforms, a children’s playground, and a free toilet available.
The cable car operates daily except for Mondays; it’s better to check the timings depending on the season. It’s advisable to visit on a clear and windless day to avoid feeling cold at the height. After ascending the mountain, one can visit the public beach of Sarysu, which is a 200-meter descent. There is also a picnic park and a large children’s playground nearby.
The cable car ticket (ascent and descent) costs 400 lira (12.71 euros). Children up to six years old are allowed for free.
This is the fifth largest aquarium in the world. It houses 40 thematic aquariums and the world’s longest tunnel — more than 130 meters. The main attraction for tourists is the feeding of sharks and rays. However, there are quite a number of disappointed reviews online.
An adult ticket costs 850 lira (27.02 euros), a child ticket is 500 (63.53 euros), and admission for children under two is free. For an additional fee, you can visit the terrarium, a 3D cinema, a wax museum, and take a virtual city tour.
Aktur Amusement Park
Located 15 minutes walk from the aquarium is the Aktur Amusement Park. The amusement park has around 50 different rides for both adults and children: from high-speed centrifuge to a little train for toddlers. But the most unique feature is the Ferris wheel, the second largest in Europe after London’s “London Eye”.
Upon entering the park, you need to buy a plastic card, load any amount onto it, and use it to pay for the rides. They cost between 15 to 60 lira (0.48–1.91 euros). A ticket for the Ferris wheel costs 60 lira (1.91 euros), and children under ten ride for free. The cabins offer a view of the city, sea, and mountains, but dirty windows might spoil the view, making photography difficult.
The Archaeological Museum has been operational since 1985. It houses 13 thematic halls where you can see fossil remains of ancient animals, antique statues from the Roman era, ancient mosaics, coins, and household items. There’s a separate hall for children with ancient toys, and workshops are offered where clay figurines can be crafted.
But that’s not all — a part of the exhibition continues in the museum courtyard. Sarcophagi, statues, human-sized vessels, ancient cannons with cannonballs are on display, with peacocks and chickens roaming around them. More exhibits are stored in warehouses as even 7000 m² is not enough to display all items.
Entrance to the museum costs 340 Lira (10.81 euros), free for children up to seven years old.
Antalya Gokart Karting
The karting and children’s entertainment center are under one roof. The racetrack has broad turns, making it easy for even children to drive. Each lap is timed, so at the end of the set, you can check your record in the overall table. This place is favored by the locals, hence it’s crowded on weekends.
Sets are available for 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 minutes, prices range from 70 to 270 Lira (2.22–8.58 euros).
For little children, there’s a playground with mazes, slides, rides, and toys under nanny supervision. An hour costs 100 Lira (12.71 euros).
Antalya hosts quite a number of festivals throughout the year, so you can align your trip dates with the schedule — the likelihood of catching something interesting is quite high.
The International Film Festival, formerly known as the “Golden Orange”, has been held in Turkey since 1963. It’s the “Oscar” for Turkish films, where feature films of young and well-known filmmakers collide. Besides the national program, there is a contest dedicated to films shot in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. This year, the festival will take place from October 21 to 27, the venue is to be confirmed.
The Sand Sculpture Festival takes place on Lara Beach. Over three weeks, sculptors from around the world create about 100 artworks using sand and water, weighing several tons and up to ten meters high. The theme of the festival changes every year, in 2023 it is “Space Adventure”. The unique feature is that the exhibition is open all year round and even at night when the sculptures are illuminated. Workshops and documentary films about past festivals are provided for visitors. Entry costs 250 Lira (7.95 euros), for children – 125 Lira (3.97 euros), and it’s free for children under two years old.
The International Opera and Ballet Festival takes place in the amphitheater of the ancient city of Aspendos. Over seven to ten days, audiences are treated to performances by Turkish and foreign opera and ballet troupes. Classical operas such as “Swan Lake” and “Carmen,” as well as ancient productions like “Troy,” are staged. The festival has been held annually under the open sky since 1994. In 2022, the festival ran from September 10 to 24. In August 2023, a ticket costs 1095 lira (34.80 euros).
The Old Town Kaleiçi Festival is a four-day celebration where history, culture, art, and entertainment intertwine. The highlight is the costume procession that moves from Karaalioglu Park, along Atatürk Street beside the walls of Kaleiçi, and enters the ancient city. The festival takes place in October, but the exact dates for 2023 have not been released yet.
There are other events as well, including traditional oil wrestling tournaments, camel wrestling, motorcycle festival, triathlon, Gastro Antalya culinary festival, International Street Food Festival, and others.
Ruins of Perge
15 kilometers from Antalya
Perge is the ruins of an ancient city, founded after the Trojan War in the 12th-13th centuries BC. A fragment of an amphitheater, which accommodated 12,000 people, has been preserved to this day. From the last row, there is a good view of Antalya. Nearby are the remnants of a horseshoe-shaped stadium with numerous arches for entry and trading stalls. Through the Roman and Hellenistic gates, one would enter the city where the baths (Roman baths) have been preserved. Earlier, they were accessible only to the noble and influential people, and were richly decorated with marble, gold, sculptures, and mosaics. In the Roman Empire, this was a public and cultural center, where not only did people bathe in the pools but also discussed state issues. The city also housed churches (basilicas), agora — a market square with colonnades, a central street, acropolis, and other buildings. Entry to the ruins costs 250 lira (7.95 euros).
How to get there: Perge is located in the Aksu district, which is accessible by the T1 tram, alighting at the Aksu stop. After that, it’s a two-kilometer walk to the entrance of the park, or you can call a taxi.
Geyikbayiri Climbing Center
25 kilometers from Antalya
The vicinity of the village of Geyikbayiri is the main climbing center in Turkey. There are more than 700 routes of varying difficulty laid out – both for complete beginners and for pros with extensive experience. The place is unique in that in one day you can go through several very different routes. Some routes transition into others, changing the difficulty and direction. The mountain rock is of a reddish limestone, which varies from stalactites to smooth surfaces.
Another plus is that package tourists are not brought here, and one can enjoy tranquility and silence. There are no queues for climbing, as in the Alps. The best time for activities is in the spring and fall when it’s not too hot. For beginners, climbing schools organize tours and teach from scratch. But in the village in general, there is all the infrastructure for independent tourists.
35 kilometers from Antalya
Göynük Canyon is located in the Taurus Mountains, where in ancient times the Lycian Way for merchant caravans passed. Over time, water eroded the rocks and carved out a picturesque gorge, and now it’s a part of the “Göynük Canyon” national park with waterfalls, caves, rocks ranging from black and green to reddish and white.
At the entrance to the park, you are greeted by wooden sculptures, live peacocks, and a small waterfall. Not far from the entrance is the first lake with azure water and white swans. Further on, the path crosses a suspension bridge over the gorge, where a view of the mountain river surrounded by rocks opens up. The road will gradually ascend, changing viewing points, until it reaches a picturesque lake where there are picnic spots, cafes, and souvenir shops. The one-way route length is three kilometers, and it doesn’t require special physical preparation.
Entrance to the canyon costs 60 lira (1.91 euros), and can only be paid in cash. At the same ticket booth, you can also buy guided tours: jeep safari, quad biking, bicycle rides, rafting, and zip-line.
How to get there: Buses KA07 and TA08 go to the canyon.
The Land of Legends Amusement Park
40 kilometers from Antalya
The Land of Legends is an amusement park located in the city of Belek, cherished by children, teenagers, and many adults alike. In “The Land of Legends”, you can enjoy 70 different rides and 40 water attractions, catch an artificial wave on a surfboard, meet the characters from the cartoon “Masha and the Bear”, explore the underwater safari and aquariums or attend a dolphin show. The park’s main highlight is the daily performances with professional actors and special effects. Besides the entertainment, there are cafes, restaurants, spa centers, a boulevard with boutiques, and a five-star hotel where every room is decorated to resemble a fairytale. It’s easy to spend an entire day here.
It’s ideal to visit here in the summer to enjoy the water attractions. In the mid-fall, the water park is closed for the winter. In exchange, they prepare New Year’s shows, and the park is decorated with a Christmas theme.
The entrance fee for adults is 1850 lira (58.80 euros), for children – 1480 lira (47.04 euros), and children under four years enter for free. To avoid standing in lines for attractions, you can buy a fast-pass ticket for 700 lira (22.25 euros).
How to get there: From the Antalya bus station, you can reach the town of Kadriye, and then take a taxi or a minibus to Belek.
Saklıkent Ski Resort
50 kilometers from Antalya
The popular Saklıkent Ski Resort is located on Mount Bakırlıdağ (2558 meters). It’s a unique experience – in winter, you can ski and then drive 50 kilometers to Antalya and swim in the sea. There are four slopes suitable for beginner skiers and snowboarders. For children, there’s a safe slope with a baby-lift, a hill for tubing, and sledding. The resort is also loved by locals, but instead of skiing, they prefer to have picnics with family at the summit and admire the mountain landscapes. The skiing season begins in December and lasts until the end of April, but during other months, you can go trekking in the mountains.
Within Saklıkent, there’s a restaurant and cafe where you can warm up with hot drinks and have lunch with a panoramic view of the summit. To relax after skiing and spend the night, you can stay in the new Mountain Resort Hotel with a spa center, a bar, a conference hall, and a garden. There are also private homes, boarding houses, and motels at the resort.
How to get there: There’s no public transportation to the resort, so only by personal car or hotel transfer.
Ruins of the ancient city of Side
75 kilometers from Antalya
The ancient city, founded in the 7th century BC, now Side is one of the popular Turkish resorts. Throughout its history, Side served as a battlefield during the war between Rhodes and Syria, and as a trade center, and after being captured by pirates, it became a hub for slave trade. The misfortunes didn’t end there – excavations revealed traces of earthquakes and a fire. The city was burned down by the Arabs, and the residents moved to Antalya. However, thanks to excavations and restoration, remnants of Roman-Greek architecture were preserved, which tourists come to see.
Some of the attractions are located near the main entrance to the city, others are by the sea. In the past, the amphitheater hosted battles and water games, but now it’s a venue for national concerts. It’s well-preserved, you can sit in the stands or climb up to see the city from above. Another significant site is the Temple of Apollo, situated on a hill near the sea. Now, only five marble columns adorned with medusa head carvings remain. In Side Museum, where the thermal baths were located before, there are sarcophagi, statues of gods, ornaments, pottery, and coins on display.
Entrance to the ruins of Side is free, except for the amphitheater – 70 lira (2.22 euros) and the museum – 30 lira (0.95 euros).
How to get there: There are no direct buses to Side, so you’ll first need to go from Antalya’s bus station to Manavgat. Then catch a minibus to Side, they run every 15-20 minutes.
125 kilometers from Antalya
Tazy Canyon is located in the Köprülü National Park. The drive from the center of Antalya to the parking lot near the canyon will take about two hours. Along the way, you will encounter captivating mountain landscapes and rivers where you might want to stop to take photographs and breathe in the pine-scented air. At the endpoint, there is a viewpoint standing 400 meters tall, offering views of untouched nature and whimsical rocks. It’s important to exercise caution at the edge of the cliff, as the canyon is not equipped with barriers. To enjoy the beauty without crowds of tourists, it’s better to arrive before noon.
In the summer, you can also go rafting — there are many advertisements from local companies along the road to the canyon. They offer simple routes of 5-15 kilometers for 400-500 lira (12.71–15.89 euros) per person. The rafting journey takes you through ancient Roman bridges, rocks, and river rapids.
The food markets move from one place to another every day of the week. On Google Maps, the nearest market can be found by searching for the words “bazaar” or “market”. Typically, they are located in open areas, like car parks. The markets sell vegetables, fruits, cheese, bread, nuts, seafood, and sometimes clothing and shoes. The prices for products are the same or slightly lower than in stores, but the quality is significantly better. For instance, even in winter, they sell sweet strawberries for 60 lira (1.91 euros) per kilogram or cherry tomatoes for 35 lira (1.11 euros). Fresh-cut greens cost five to ten lira (0.64–0.32 euros) per bunch. Locals come here with large wheeled bags and stock up for the week until the next market. The market operates on cash in lira, but some vendors have terminals for card payment. Vendors might cheat, so it’s better to buy from those who display prices on their goods. Markets operate until sunset, and by evening, prices on many goods are reduced.
Cafes and Restaurants
Locals often eat out, so cafes serving national dishes are found everywhere. Primarily, Turkish cafes prepare shashlik, kebab, kofta (grilled patties), doner (similar to shawarma), and pide (also known as “Turkish pizza”). The largest selection of establishments is in the Old Town, although the prices there are higher. Dinner for two in the center with appetizers and hot dishes will cost 400–500 lira (12.71–15.89 euros). For this amount, you can order a vegetable salad, cheese plate, lamb kebab, and chicken shashlik with side dishes. In some cafes, water and appetizers (greens, bread, hummus) are brought for free. For dessert, it’s worth trying baklava with nuts, kunefe (prepared from special vermicelli and cheese), and Turkish delight. Sweet dishes are usually accompanied by Turkish tea or coffee brewed in a cezve, which locals often have several servings of at a time.
Pastorale is a family meat restaurant located in Kaleiçi with a secret inner courtyard featuring five tables. The establishment’s owner, who speaks Russian, personally serves the guests. Meat is cooked on a grill, so expect a wait time of about half an hour. The average price for a hot dish is 160 lira (20.33 euros), with generous portions served alongside garnishes. The ambiance here is homely, with the owner often treating guests to tea and fruits.
Hacı Saad Meat & Grill is a café in Lara for meat dish enthusiasts. This place is worth visiting for its shashliks, kebabs, köfte, and huge portions of fresh salads. Before the main dishes are served, complimentary greens, sauces, water, and hot Turkish flatbread are brought to the table. There’s a large terrace and an indoor area, with waitstaff who speak English. The clientele is mostly locals rather than tourists.
Çıtır Balık is a highly popular eatery located near the entrance to Kaleiçi. As a testament to its popularity, it has as many reviews on Google Maps as the Hadrian’s Gate. Its popularity hasn’t affected the quality of balık ekmek, which can be ordered for around 65 lira (8.26 euros).
Toast Kitchen – a small establishment in Lara for those who enjoy starting their day with a toast (with avocado and eggs, sujuk, cheese, vegan, on simit—about thirty variants). The toasts, by the way, perfectly fit the “Turkish cuisine” theme. Toast is a democratic dish that is prepared in dozens of establishments in every Turkish city, so don’t be surprised by places with names containing tost evi (“toast house”) or tostcu (“toast maker”).
Mari̇bo Çorba & Kebap & Pide – a very simple lokanta (eatery) with home-style Turkish cuisine. There are many such places in Antalya, and if you wish to have a simple, hearty, quick and cheap meal with lentil soup, pide, pilaf, and köfte, then choose the nearest establishment with a good rating on Google maps.
Ayar Meyhanesi – a fish restaurant in Kaleiçi, next to which is a showcase with seafood. You can sit at a table on the street, inside, or in the inner courtyard by the pool. Besides fish, they grill octopuses, shrimps, crabs and oysters. On weekends, there is live music in the evening.
Mermerli – a seaside restaurant in Kaleiçi, opened in 1933. Its specialty is the view from above onto the sea, the port, and the mountains, as well as its own beach on pontoons, where your order can be served. The menu includes Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine dishes, with vegetarian options available. Closer to sunset, there are fewer free tables, so it’s better to come early to choose a table by the window.
Bruschetta Coffee & Kitchen – a new place in Lara. Good decor, European/Italian cuisine, decent coffee, and friendly staff who don’t mind freelancers spending half a day with a cup of cappuccino and their laptops.
Salt Vegetarian and Vegan House – there are not many vegetarian places in Antalya (as well as those that understand the difference between vegans and vegetarians), so it’s worth mentioning these two. Salt is located in Lara, Vegan House in Konyaaltı. Both establishments are situated on the first floor of multi-story buildings on not the busiest streets, but they offer good food and tables are almost always available.
Ottobros Burger & More – a large burger joint on the promenade in Lara. On the downside: smoking is allowed inside the establishment. On the upside: the burgers are indeed excellent, and there’s a huge free parking lot on a vacant lot across the street (parking is almost always a problem on the promenade).
Road Burger & More – a small family burger place in Lara. Burgers start at 150 lira (4.77 euros). There are many reviews stating “these are the best burgers in Turkey,” and we can confirm this from personal experience. Although, also from personal experience: we don’t recommend ordering anything besides burgers.
Dubh Linn Irish Pub – a bar in Kaleiçi offering European beers in bottles and on tap. It features a spacious dark interior reminiscent of Irish pubs, and a terrace on a busy tourist street. Plasma TVs are available for watching sports matches. This atmospheric beer pub offers fast food, Guinness on tap, and tasty European cocktails.
Başka Ol — a café and art space located in the center of a bookstore. Amidst the ceiling-high shelves are comfy sofas with floor lamps and tables where everyone reads or works on laptops. They serve French toasts, avocado bruschettas, assorted breakfasts, desserts, and coffee. All of this in a calm atmosphere with background music from vinyl records. You can come with your furry friend.
Incommon Coffee Roasters — the only specialty coffee roasters in Antalya. The café is situated where the roasting workshop is. It’s a large bright space where the second floor offers a cool view of the mountains and surroundings. Café staff will always advise on which coffee to order. You can also buy beans here — 200–450 lira (6.36–14.30 euros) for a 250-gram packet.
Hayy Coffee — a coffee shop with an interesting interior: there’s a podium for freelancers, so the place is occupied by digital nomads. But the coffee is excellent, as it’s brewed from Incommon beans.
Vilanel Bakery is located in Konyaaltı, just a stone’s throw from Hayy Coffee. They make excellent croissants and have recently started making syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes).
Macropus Coffee and More — a coffee shop in Lara with a cozy courtyard. They make alternative coffee brews.
The Sudd — a specialty coffee shop with three locations in the city at key spots — Old Town, Konyaaltı, and Lara. They offer V60, flat white, and other classics brewed with good beans, along with fresh desserts.
Shopping and Souvenirs: What to Bring from Vacation
Shopping Centers. Popular European clothing and footwear brands are represented here — Levi’s, U.S. Polo, GAP, Zara, H&M, Nike, Adidas, and others. In stores of Turkish brands, which are still operating in Russia, prices will be two to three times lower — these are Waikiki, Koton, DeFacto, Mavi.
It’s better to buy electronics in brand stores rather than small shops in the city — Media Markt, Vatan, Tekno SA, to get Tax Free. For this, it’s enough to say Tax Free at the cashier, and if the store refunds the tax, they will provide a form. You need to fill it out and hand it over at customs at the airport. How to do this in Turkey is described in detail in the article. Don’t hope for a profitable purchase of an iPhone 14, the prices for them are even higher than in Europe. But this, for example, does not apply to some camera brands. In the official Turkish Fujifilm store, cameras and lenses are even cheaper than in Europe (and tax-free is provided there). Cosmetic stores, home goods, children’s products, bookstores, optics — all of this is also available in shopping centers, as well as food court areas, entertainment.
Shopping excursions at factories and productions are not only a fun activity for tourists from hotel guides, but also an opportunity to save if you know what you want to buy. These are trips to fur, leather factories, confectioneries, carpet salons, jewelry and watches. In them, you can (and should!) haggle to bring home a fur coat, sheepskin coat, boots that will last five to ten years. Trusted leather and fur shops — at Ottimo and D`enver factories. You can find and sign up for a tour through the hotel or a travel agency, usually factories provide free transfers for them. It’s necessary to clarify the time and place of the meeting, the duration and conditions, so there are no unpleasant surprises. With some factories, you can contact directly through the website or social networks.
In bazaars and small shops, various souvenirs, carpets, textiles, ceramics are sold. The widest selection is in the Old Town. Besides, there you can find vintage items from different eras (coins, dishes, jewelry). Don’t forget to haggle with sellers, especially if the purchase is expensive — a small discount is always given. There is a lifehack to save — buy souvenirs in grocery stores. For example, in the Tahtakale chain, Turkish textiles, jewelry, ceramic plates, tea, coffee, baklava and other sweets are sold at lower prices than in tourist shops.
Where to live: districts of Antalya
Antalya is divided into five administrative districts: Konyaalti, Muratpasha, Kepez, Aksu, Döşemealtı, which are further subdivided into micro-districts and quarters.
Konyaalti attracts with its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. It is also called the “Russian” district, as Russian-speaking individuals enjoy coming here, not only for vacations but also for winter stays and permanent residence. Here, there are comfortable residential complexes with swimming pools, gyms, and security, along with many restaurants, bars, and cafes. Konyaalti has a long and well-maintained promenade with a pebble beach, and an abundance of entertainment options—from beach volleyball to water parks. Due to the influx of tourists, the prices for housing and food here are inflated even in the off-season compared to the districts where the locals live. It’s easy to reach other districts of the city, Kemer, and popular natural attractions outside Antalya by public transport from Konyaalti.
Muratpasha consists of 64 sub-districts (alt bölge), with Kaleiçi and Lara being the most popular among tourists. Locals appreciate Muratpasha for its cozy residential complexes, proximity to the rocky promenade, and the abundance of cafes serving national food. Muratpasha is convenient for those who fly often as it is closest to the airport. There is access to the coast: a rocky promenade with a waterfall and the sandy Lara beach with barbecue spots. Additionally, Muratpasha hosts large shopping centers like TerraCity and Mark Antalya.
The basic infrastructure is also in order: public transport runs to other parts of the city, hospitals, private dental clinics (medical tourism is developed), schools, and kindergartens have been constructed. Prices depend on the proximity to the sea: the further away, the cheaper. There are two micro-districts – Kyzylaryk and Zeytinköy, where renting accommodation is not recommended as they are considered to be the most criminal.
Kepez is located ten kilometers from the sea to the north of the city. It is a young district inhabited by locals and is actively developing every year. Thanks to the distance from the sea, the real estate and rental prices are lower than in the coastal areas. In Kepez, there are many industrial enterprises and factories, but on the other hand, there are many coniferous forests, squares, and olive plantations. For tourists with children, there is a zoo, a Fairy Tale Park, and the Upper Düden waterfall. Kepez has large shopping centers: Mall of Antalya and Agora with an “Ikea” and a “Metro” hypermarket. Also, the main bus station is located here, from which buses depart to all major Turkish cities.
Aksu is named after the river flowing through it. The district is calm, with a lot of greenery, eucalyptus and pine plantations. There are expensive five-star hotels, a sandy beach with both paid and free zones, a national park with Kurşunlu waterfall, and nearby are the ancient ruins of the city of Perge. Apartments in this area are inexpensive, but due to the remoteness of residential buildings to the center or to the beach, one would need to take a taxi.
Döşemealtı is considered the quietest and calmest, located to the north of Antalya, 20 kilometers from the coast. The area is built with low-rise houses and villas overlooking the mountains, which are increasingly chosen by tourists for relaxation. Here, the air is clean, humidity is low, and it is cooler on hot days than on the coast. Locals engage in agriculture, livestock farming, and carpet weaving. Döşemealtı is the oldest center of applied arts in the region, many houses still use antique weaving looms. In this area, there is the Karain cave with excavations and ancient stalactites, which tourist groups on buses do not visit, so one can leisurely walk through the underground labyrinths.
Hotels. For a quiet stay in a five-star “all-inclusive” hotel, it’s better to consider the resorts of Kemer or Belek. Within Antalya, there are few hotels of this format with their own beaches. Rixos, SU & Aqualand in Konyaaltı are popular, a night in “all-inclusive” for two costs 190-300 euros. In Lara, there are several large hotels with their own beaches — Club Sera (sandy) and Akra (on pontoons). These are ten- and 15-story hotels, standing out against the low-rise residential buildings of Lara, with their green walking areas, swimming pools, spa centers, and buffet with an unlimited bar. Prices start from 130-270 euros for a standard room. It’s more profitable to book hotels in season in Antalya through tour operators.
Many tourists stay in new boutique hotels in the Old Town, where only breakfast is served, and independently explore Antalya and its surroundings, not being tied to hotel entertainment and food. But one should read the reviews carefully: many of such hotels are located near noisy bars. In White Garden and Villa Tulipan, there are bright rooms with several windows or terraces, a swimming pool, mandarin trees in the garden, and a lot of seasonal fruits are served for breakfast. All attractions of the Old Town are a five-ten minute walk away. The average price for a night for two with breakfast is 100 euros. Hotel prices vary greatly depending on the season. If traveling in the summer, the price tag can increase by two times or more.
There are about ten hostels in Antalya. The most popular among tourists are Lily Town Boutique and Hostel Vague, which are located near the Old Town. A bunk bed in a shared room costs 17 euros per night. Separate rooms for two start from 30 euros. In Lily Town, the room windows overlook the garden, the rooms are light and unpretentious. In Boutique, on the contrary, the rooms are painted bright green, with colorful carpets on the floor, and paintings and drawings on the walls.
Apartment. In Antalya, there is a wide selection of apartments in any area, including within walking distance from the sea. It’s easy to find an apartment on Airbnb for up to a month. If planning to stay longer than a month, it’s better to use Sahibinden, which only works from Turkey or with a Turkish VPN. Apartments have a unique feature: if the listing says 1+1, it refers to a two-room apartment. One-room apartments labeled as 1+0 or studios are almost non-existent.
Taxis in Turkey are expensive, the price for a ride is calculated by the meter, which is installed in the car’s front mirror. Boarding costs ten lira (0.32 euros), and each kilometer costs 12 lira (0.38 euros) during the day and 18 lira (0.57 euros) at night. This is all due to the expensive gasoline in Turkey.
Calling a taxi will be quite non-obvious – you need to find a yellow button on a tree or pole, which are located every 100 meters. On average, a taxi arrives in five to ten minutes during rush hour. Or you can walk to a taxi stand and leave from there – they are usually within walking distance in every district. To prevent the taxi driver from taking detours and increasing the price, it’s better to monitor the route on a navigator. If you live in a hotel, you can ask the reception staff to call a taxi for you. Note: not all taxi drivers understand English, so it’s useful to download an offline translator.
You can try ordering a taxi via Uber or BiTaksi apps. They work intermittently: they take a long time to find a car, drivers often refuse or still go by the meter, so the price in the app is approximate.
In Antalya, there are trams, buses, and dolmuş (shared taxis). Transit fares are paid with a bank card or an Antalya Kart. These cards are sold at special terminals at stops and cost 15 lira (0.48 euros). You can top up the card at these terminals or through a mobile app. The cost of a single ride is eight lira (0.25 euros), a transfer within one hour will cost two and a half lira (0.08 euros).
Trams operate on two routes — T1 and T3. They pass through all the important tourist spots in the city: the historical center, the bus station, the airport, the EXPO exhibition complex, and many shopping centers. Trams operate from six in the morning until midnight, with trams arriving every ten minutes during the day, adhering to a schedule, unlike buses. Additionally, in the central part of the city, a red retro tram T2 (also called “nostalgia”) operates every half hour. It travels from the center to the Konyaaltı district.
Buses in Antalya are modern and conductor-less, only the front door opens for entry where a payment terminal is installed. The driver does not stop at all stations, so if you need to get off, you need to press the “stop” button on the bus as it approaches the required stop. Accordingly, if you are standing at a stop, you need to wave to the driver so they will stop, otherwise, they might drive past. Buses can be tracked online on Google Maps (where you can also plan routes) or on the Antalya Kart app.
Dolmuş. Small buses, known as dolmuş, run to the neighboring districts of Antalya. You can reach Kemer, Manavgat, and other nearby towns with them. Payment is made directly to the driver in cash, and it’s recommended to carry your passport because dolmuş are often stopped by police at rural checkpoints, where passengers’ IDs are checked.
In Antalya, there are many car rental agencies, including at the airport. For payment at major rental companies that operate worldwide, a foreign credit card is required. If you don’t have one, you can rent a car from local offices, but it’s advisable to choose based on reviews. To save money, it’s better to book a car in advance, for instance, on the Localrent website .
In Antalya, you can get by without a car, but if you want to actively travel around the surroundings, it will be easier and more convenient with a car. And remember, the city is very large — it’s like traveling from “Parnas” to “Ulitsa Dybenko” (about 30 kilometers) from Lara Beach to the Tunektepe cable car. Car rental prices in the low season start from 8 euros for manual transmission to 16 euros for automatic transmission per day.
All street parking in the city is free. You can park anywhere where there are no prohibiting signs (even in the center). However, locals park even where it’s not allowed. Parking in the center is worse — you may have to circle around for a while to find a spot, but there are two convenient covered parking lots on either side of Kaleiçi (one, two). They are inexpensive: one to three hours of parking will cost 25 lira (0.79 euros), and 12–24 hours will cost 60 (1.91 euros).
In Antalya, you can manage without a car, but if you want to actively travel around the area, it will be easier and more convenient with a car.
From the Antalya bus terminal, buses go to all regions of Turkey. There is no unified schedule at bus terminals in Turkey since different transport companies serve the routes. Inside the terminal, there are their offices and ticket booths. Buses in Turkey are very comfortable, and tickets are inexpensive. For instance, a trip to the city of Fethiye will cost 120 lira (3.81 euros) for three and a half hours. To the youthful Marmaris, it’s 220 lira and six hours.
How to Get There
Getting to Antalya from Europe is a straightforward affair thanks to its well-connected airport, Antalya Airport (AYT), which is the gateway to Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. Numerous airlines operate regular flights to Antalya from various European cities, including budget carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet, and Pegasus Airlines, as well as full-service carriers like Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. The flight prices vary significantly with the season, with the high summer season (June to August) being the most expensive due to the influx of tourists seeking the sun-soaked beaches. During this period, round-trip tickets can range from €200 to over €500 depending on the airline and departure city. The shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) offer milder weather and fewer crowds, with flight prices averaging around €150 to €300. During the low winter season (December to February), the prices dip further, often ranging between €100 to €200, making it the most economical time to fly. It’s advisable to book your flights well in advance to secure the best deals, regardless of the season. Some of the popular routes include flights from London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam to Antalya. With a variety of airlines and seasonal price fluctuations, travelers have plenty of options to choose from to fit their budget and schedule.
Sometimes it happens that it’s cheaper to buy a last-minute package tour and not even use the hotel. Tour operators buy large blocks of seats on regular flights and have their charters, so buying a whole tour for two can often be more beneficial than the cheapest airfares.
When to Go
The beach season in Turkey lasts from May to the end of September: hotels are sold out, beaches are packed, buses bring crowds of tourists to attractions, and prices in restaurants and cafes increase two to three times. The air temperature holds at around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), so it will be hard for those who can’t tolerate the heat well.
In September-October, it becomes calmer, the air temperature equals the sea temperature — 25-27 degrees Celsius (77-81 degrees Fahrenheit). During this time, it is pleasant to walk around the city, go on excursions without the crowds, and explore Antalya and its surroundings. The tourist season ends in early November; some hotels close for renovation, while others offer beneficial discounts. This month resembles Russian August when it is still warm, but the evenings are getting cooler. Often during this time, many come here to winter.
In winter, the city experiences two kinds of weather — it depends on luck and the month of stay. The first scenario — sunny weeks, when the daytime temperature is 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit). During the January holidays, people come on vacation to sunbathe, enjoy the sea air, and ski at the ski resort. The second scenario — the rainy season, when it rains for several days in a row and stormy winds blow. The temperature drops to 5-10 degrees Celsius (41-50 degrees Fahrenheit), and it becomes cold inside apartments since there is almost no central heating here: homes are primarily heated with air conditioners.
How to live long and legally. Thanks to the climate and location, Antalya is among the top places for wintering. For residents of Europe, no visa is required, just a passport. One can stay in Turkey for 60 days. And another 30 days if you leave at least for one day to another country (even Northern Cyprus will do).
To stay in Turkey longer, one needs to obtain a residence permit through the immigration service. The most popular types are: a tourist permit by renting an apartment for six months to a year, by purchasing real estate, on the basis of marriage, or studying at a university.
Until January 2023, the local immigration service (geç) approved almost all cases if the documents were in order. But from this year, everyone is being denied with the note that the basis for tourism no longer applies. Therefore, many are leaving Turkey or staying beyond the allowed period and paying a fine upon departure for overstaying. It is calculated by the border guard from the date of the stamp of arrival in the country (deducting visa-free 60 or 90 days). How much fine will be charged and whether an entry ban will be imposed depends on the officer. Until 2023, everything was more clear and loyal. Now on average, for an overstaying of one to three months, the fine is about 600-800 lira (19.07–25.43 euros) per person. And now entry bans after overstays for a certain period are being imposed more frequently, which almost never happened before.
Work. You will only be able to work remotely or in your company’s office. Finding a job in Turkey is 99% unlikely because the country has high unemployment and inflation, and they hardly employ foreigners. Although you could try the tourism sector, it will only be seasonal work.
In the center of Antalya, you can work at the Work C coworking space. There, you have unlimited tea, coffee, fast internet, and various office services like meeting rooms and a printer. A monthly subscription costs 1950 lira (61.98 euros). Various events are held on Mondays: lectures, movie viewings, and yoga. In Konyaalti, there’s the Faces & Places coworking space with flexible rates (three hours, a day, a week, a month). Spacious loft-style halls with wood, a bar, and lounge areas for relaxation. A monthly subscription costs 4000 lira (127.14 euros).