Antalya, a beautiful city on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is a holiday paradise. Much to someone’s surprise, unlike other Turkish cities, Antalya doesn’t attract the mass of tourists. On one hand, I was amazed to see the lack of interest that people showed in the aforementioned wondrous city. The other half of me was too happy to frolic without some shoulder rubs. Here is the ultimate Antalya guide – Best things to do In Antalya, Turkey.
If you are heading to Turkey for a vacation, there are plenty of reasons to add Antalya to your list. Whether you are a history buff or a nature lover, this city has something to offer you. From well-preserved history ruins to blue beaches, Antalya has it all.
BEST OF ANTALYA IN ONE DAY – HOW TO SPEND A PERFECT DAY IN ANTALYA, TURKEY.
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How to reach Antalya
By Flight: Antalya has an international airport which makes it easy for domestic and international visitors to visit the city. The airport is approximately 12 km away from the city centre.
The Antray tram a.k.a Light rail takes you from the airport (Havalimani) to the city centre in about 45 minutes.
By Road: If you are a budget traveller like me, you should take a bus. The bus service in Turkey is one of the best in the world, therefore there is no need to worry about your comfort. My bus ride to Antalya was pleasant and did I mention CHEAP? It is always better to pre-book the tickets to avoid any last-minute rush. I travelled by Pamukkale Tourism Bus Company. You can book your tickets here.
How to travel within Antalya
If you are in Antalya for more than a few hours, then buy an Antalya card. You can buy it easily from any of the tram station or special kiosk made to sell and recharge Antalya Card. The card can be used in Tram and buses. You can enjoy discounted public transport with this card, therefore it’s a great way to save some money.
The trams connect almost all the important places in Antalya including the major tourist attractions, airport and the bus station.
Cabs are also easily accessible in the city and can be used if you do not wish to use public transport.
Best places to visit in Antalya in one day
Old Town (Kaleici)
Kaleiçi is the historical centre of the city. This little heart of Antalya is full of small hotels, restaurant, colourful houses, mosques and cobbled streets. Take some time to wander the narrow car-free streets of Kaleiçi and enjoy the essence of Antalya.
Kaleiçi is absolutely gorgeous and perfect for café hopping and souvenir shopping. It gets better and better as the sun goes down. During the night you can enjoy dinner with live music performances at most of the restaurants.
HOW TO REACH: The nearest tram station to Kaleiçi is Muratpasha and Ismatpasha. You can get down at any of these stations and reach Kaleiçi after 5 to 10 minutes of walk.
Hadrian gate is a beautiful monumental gate leading to Kaleiçi.
It was built in second century A.D, to honour Roman Emperor Hadrian, who visited the city.
The gate consists of three archways of the same size. Except for the pillars, the gate is entirely made of white marble.
HOW TO REACH: If you are staying in Kaleiçi, you can easily reach Hadrian gate on foot. But if you are staying at a place other than the old town, then get down at Ismatpasha Tram station and take a 5-minute walk to reach Hadrian Gate.
A trip to Antalya without a visit to Dudenfalls is incomplete.
There are two Dudenfalls in Antalya: Upper Dudenfall and Lower Dudenfall.
Both the waterfalls are heavenly. If time permits, you should visit both.
I chose to visit Lower Dudenfalls as it is said to be the highest waterfall in Europe, with the water falling directly into the ocean from a height of 40 metres. If time is an issue with you too, then this is the waterfall you should choose.
The entry to this waterfall is free, unlike the upper Duden waterfall. There are small restaurants and a huge park near the waterfall from where you can enjoy a beautiful view. Take a stroll in the park to find a quiet space overlooking the ocean to spend some time.
Unfortunately, it is not allowed to go near the waterfall but many people climb down the cliff to get some pictures, which is extremely risky as there is no paved path. Also, the water flows with enormous speed and it gets extremely windy.
So, please don’t get tempted to climb down the cliff as it can prove to be fatal.
HOW TO REACH: Take the bus KL08 from Hadrian gate bus stop (Üç Kapılar – Muratpaşa) and get down at Duden Park. The ticket costs only 2.40 TL. Take a stroll through the beautiful park to reach the waterfall.
Ancient ruins of Perge
There are two ancient cities in Antalya: Perge and Termosses
I chose to visit Perge because firstly it is possible to reach there using public transport and secondly it is closer to the city centre as compared to the city of Termosses.
This well preserved ancient city of Perge is worth a visit. It is not very famous amongst tourists and therefore you can enjoy it without much disturbance.
There are no audio guides available, so you have to read the boards near the structures to know their historical significance.
The most well preserved and impressive structure of all the ruins is the great theatre which is on the other side of the road of the entrance.
Entrance Fee: 35 TL
HOW TO REACH: Get down at the tram station Aksu and walk for 10 to 15 minutes to reach the ancient city of Perge.
There are two main beaches in Antalya: Lara Beach and Konyaalti Beach.
Lara Beach is a long sandy beach. It is a well known beach and therefore remains crowded throughout the day.
It is very famous amongst the tourist due to availability of many hotels and entertainment venues near the beach. If you are looking for accommodation near a beach then this is the place for you.
You can take a stroll along the coast or simply enjoy the beach sitting on a beach chair.
HOW TO REACH: Bus KL08 from the city centre goes to Lara Beach. But if you are at Lower Duden Waterfalls, then there is no need to ride the bus as it at a walkable distance from there.
Konyaalti Beach is another famous beach in Antalya. If you want to visit only one beach in Antalya, then this the one you should visit. I found it more pleasant and engaging than Lara Beach.
It is a beautiful pebble beach with dramatic mountains in the background.
Beach chairs and sun umbrellas are available on rent, and the water is safe for swimming.
HOW TO REACH: Take the Nostalgic Tram going towards Antalya Müzesi and get down at the last stop. Walk for 10 minutes to reach Konyaalti Beach.
Have more time to spend in Antalya?
If you have more than a day to spend in Antalya, consider vising the following places.
Karain Caves, also known as Black Caves are situated 30 Km of Antalya. Researchers have confirmed the presence of human beings in the caves for more than 25,000 years. Due to accessibility issues, the caves are often given a miss by tourists. But if you have more than a day to spend in Antalya, do not miss the opportunity to visit the enthralling caves.
The ancient city of Aspendos, which is approximately 50 km away from Antalya, is a hit amongst the tourists. It is believed that the city was founded around 1000 BC. For obvious reasons, today the city stands in ruins but the famous Aspendos theatre is one of the best preserved theatres of the Roman era. The theatre was built in 2nd century AD and has a seating capacity of up to 15,000 people. If you happen to visit Antalya in summers, do not miss the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival which takes place at the theatre.
Best time to visit Antalya
The best time to visit Antalya is from March to October. The winters in Antalya are wet and humid, therefore it is the least preferable time of the year to visit. Because of chilly winds and rain, one cannot enjoy the outdoors, especially the beaches and waterfalls.
Summers in Antalya are hot and dry, with July and August being the hottest months of the year. These two months are also the busiest in terms of tourist influx and therefore also the costliest when it comes to hotel bookings.
For a comfortable visit and cheap stay, consider visiting Antalya in the shoulder season of April to May and September to November.
Day trip from Antalya
Antalya is a great base to visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Pamukkale and Hierapolis. The white travertine that looks like snowy pools seems to have come straight out of a fairy tale. The thermal springs were used for years by the Romans for health and beauty.
Very close to the travertine you can find the ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis. The ruins are well preserved and therefore can give you a sense of time travel. Book your tour here.
Visiting more places in Turkey?
If you plan to explore more of Turkey, check these out.
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