1) Lara Beach
Take time on your holiday to explore the bustling resort of Lara Beach and experience all the fun that it can add to your holiday. Turkey’s answer to Las Vegas; the main draw to the resort, as the name would suggest, is its stunning golden beach which stretches for an impressive 12km. It doesn’t cost a penny to pick the best spot on the sand and spend hours enjoying some quality time with your family. The beach actually boasts Blue Flag status, so you can rest assured that it’s both safe and clean for your little ones to play on and splash among the waves.
2) The Old Town and marina
Otherwise known as Kaleiçi, Antalya’s Old Town should be one of the top things on your to-do list when on holiday, regardless of the fact that it’s free to wander around. A maze of narrow streets, brimming with independent shops and restaurants for you to browse and visit; you can easily fill a day or two exploring all the sights of this picturesque corner of Antalya. It’s home to a number of fascinating historical sites, too, which I’ll explain in more detail below. Plus, time your visit right and you can experience a beautiful sunset down by the glistening waters of the harbour.
3) Hadrian’s Gate
Grab your camera and capture a shot of Antalya’s Hadrian’s Gate; one of the most iconic sights within the city. It can be found right in the heart of the city centre, on Atatürk Boulevard, and just so happens to be one of the main entrances into Kaleiçi, the Old Town. This historical ruin dates right back to 130AD, when it was built to commemorate the visit of Emperor Hadrian. But it’s successfully stood the test of time and can still be enjoyed by everyone who visits the popular resort of Antalya today.
4) Chimaera Flames
For something a little different, head towards the town of Çirali, southwest of Antalya, and visit what can only be described as a fascinating, mythical mountain. Located around 1km up Mount Chimaera (or Yanartaş), you’ll find a number of ever-burning fires coming out of the rocks. There are many myths surrounding this magical phenomenon, but in reality, these constant fires are caused by a mixture of methane and other gases igniting as they emerge from the surface. It’s a bit of a rocky path up to the flames, but well worth it, especially around twilight hours.
5) Lycian Way
Now, this one is something I’ve always wanted to do. The Lycian Way is a popular and picturesque footpath that runs the full length along the coast, from Ölü Deniz near Fethiye to Antalya. Boasting stunning views of Turkey’s breathtaking Lycian Coast and the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, it stretches for around 540km and gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the area either by foot or on two wheels. A day of hiking or cycling could be just what you need if you’ve been making the most of the All Inclusive buffet. But, of course, you don’t have to travel the full distance!
6) Clock Tower
One of the main focal points of Antalya’s Old Town, you can’t miss the impressive clock tower, otherwise known as Antalya Saat Kulesi. Many people use it as a meeting point or a starting point for exploring the bustling Old Town, but not everyone realises that you can actually head inside and take in the incredible views from the top. Soak up the atmosphere from a prime position and take the opportunity to get some superb photos while you’re up there. It offers some excellent views down to the harbour and is surrounded by a great choice of cafés and restaurants.
7) Duden Falls
The Duden Falls are a must-see sight for anyone going on holiday to Antalya and there are a number of different sightseeing tours you can book in order to see them and learn all about them. But you don’t have to book on a tour if all you want to do is see them. There are two parts to the falls: The Upper Duden Falls are located inland, about 30 minutes from Antalya and the Lower Duden Falls flow straight off the clifftops and into the sea, near Lara Beach. The best way to see these ones is from a boat at sea, but both are accessible by road (either car or bus), where you can capture that all-important photo for your memories.
8) Konyaalti Beach
Another excellent beach that is well worth your time to visit (maybe more than once?) is the beautiful Konyaalti Beach, which is on the western side of the city. This one and Lara Beach are the two main seaside spots in the city, so take your pick as to which one you like the most. Konyaalti boasts a stunning, mountainous background as it stretches 7km along from the Beydağları Mountains, so it gives the perfect backdrop to a great holiday photo with the family. You can make a whole day of it here, as it has plenty of facilities such as toilets, showers and changing rooms and lots of restaurants nearby.
9) Antalya Bazaar
No trip to Turkey would be complete without experiencing the incredible bazaars and markets that the country’s so famous for. Even if you don’t plan on spending any money, it’s a great way to indulge in the local culture and get a taste for the Turkish way of life. Head to the Antalya Bazaar and spend time wandering down the narrow aisles and take in the enticing sights, sounds and smells that surround you. Maybe you’ll end up buying something after all!
10) Karaalioglu Park
This slice of tranquillity amongst such a vibrant city is an idyllic spot to enjoy a bit of calm on your holiday. It’s a beautiful park situated right on the coast, which gives you unrivalled views of the ancient harbour, as well as the wider city and out to sea. Take a walk around under the warm Turkish sun or, better yet, pack a picnic and find a relaxing spot to sit down and while away your time for an hour or two. There’s plenty to see in the park, from the Hıdırlık Tower to the buskers and street vendors that frequent its grounds. Don’t miss this hidden gem of Antalya.
11) Yivli Minaret Mosque
When you visit Antalya’s Old Town, there are a couple of stand-out sights that you can see from every turn. One is the clock tower, as I’ve already mentioned, and the other is the distinctive Yivli Minaret Mosque, standing tall above the terracotta rooftops. The fluted minaret of the mosque is a landmark and iconic symbol of the city, so you won’t struggle to find it, that’s for sure. Admire its impeccable architecture from the outside, then venture inside to learn of its history, dating back to the 13th century.
First published 2018. Reviewed and republished 2021
About the author
Sadie Geoghegan is a freelance travel writer who, when she’s not exploring the world, can be found writing at home with her dog in Cambridge.