One of the most famous classical sites in Turkey, Side is now a pretty resort town located just a 30-minute drive from Antalya. Pronounced ‘sea day’, this former fishing village is fortified with ancient walls and set on a small cape with long, sandy beaches on either side. It’s often compared to an open-air museum, but don’t worry, because there’s plenty of things to do in Side, even if you’re not into ancient history! From playing golf in nearby Belek to wandering around the historical sites, here’s how to really get the most out of your Side holiday.
Built in the middle of an ancient Pamphylian city, it’s no surprise Side still has its past on show in among the low-rise developments. Wander around the cobbled streets to see the well-preserved amphitheatre and the temples of Apollo and Athena. Situated in the restored Roman bath is the Side museum, where you can discover more about the town’s history and view the archaeological relics that have been found nearby.
East and west beaches
Let’s be honest, you’ve probably booked a Side holiday for those fabulous beaches, and we don’t blame you! Side has two main beaches; one to the east and one to the west. While both are beautiful, you’ll find they differ greatly on what they offer. Lined with holiday resorts, the west beach has lots of water sports for the family such as boat rental, diving and banana boat rides. Certain parts of the beach are owned by some of the surrounding hotels, so you may need to watch where you lay your towel.
If you prefer something a little quieter then you’ll find the east beach is less busy with only a few sun loungers, as the archaeological ruins beneath the sand dunes mean that this side is protected from development. To reach the beach, you’ll walk through the library gate and pass the toppled marble pillars. Sorgun, Kumkoy and Colakli are other fantastic beaches that are only a walk or short taxi ride away.
Take a 10-minute trip outside of town and you’ll see the breathtaking Manavgat waterfall. So beautiful it once featured on Turkish banknotes, this is one natural wonder that can’t be missed and should definitely feature on your list of things to do in Side. There are cafés nearby for snacks and drinks for the family, cool waters to swim in, and plenty of stunning background spots for your selfies. It’s well worth an evening visit too; it’s free after 8pm and the falls are lit up with fairy lights.
Leisure and shopping
Take a break from the sun-soaked Side beaches and sightseeing to enjoy all the leisure activities nearby. Hop on a shuttle bus to the aqua park in Okurcalar or travel half an hour to play golf on one of Belek’s renowned courses. For shopping, you can pick up some mementos and souvenirs in the old centre of Side or head to the Saturday local market for some fresh produce.
Although quieter than other Turkish resorts, there are still lots of things to do in Side to keep you busy in the evening. Take in the sunset view as you enjoy dinner at one of the open-fronted restaurants lining the west-facing harbour and after dark, head to main street for cocktail bars, karaoke and clubs.