Antalya is far more than just another beach resort destination.
Antalya, located in the southwest region of Turkey, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea is a glamorous resort city worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. Being the largest city on the Turquoise Coast, it is a city to die for with its stunning beaches, rich historical ruins, magnificent museums, breathtaking waterfalls, and vibrant culture.
Go there for the spectacular beach resorts and amazing food and ubiquitous shopping, but while you are there, don’t overlook the rest of the sights and experiences that Antalya has to offer. We think you’ll agree that there is plenty to explore that makes Antalya worth visiting.
Best Places to Visit in Antalya
Amazing Places that Make Antalya Worth Visiting
From exploring ancient ruins to the natural beauty of the area, there is something for everyone in Antalya. Here are the 15 best things to see and do in Antalya.
Explore Kaleici, the old town of Antalya
You cannot come to Antalya and miss this incredible old town. Kaleici, the picturesque old town is a perfectly preserved charming neighborhood that dates back to the Roman era. You will love its narrow streets, colorful houses, and historic landmarks. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets and you will get a feel of what this old town was like back in the olden days with the old Ottoman mansions lining the streets.
The streets are now dotted with cozy cafes, fancy restaurants, boutiques and interesting art galleries for you to explore. Don’t forget to explore Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque belonging to the 18th century and appreciate its ornate details of tile work and the clock tower right opposite it. You shouldn’t miss Kesik Minare along Hesapci Sokak too. It was a Roman Temple converted into a Byzantine church and later converted to a mosque. Today you will find stonework from the Roman Temple after it was badly destroyed by fire in the 19th century.
Admire the Hadrian’s Gate
Before leaving Antalya’s old town Kaleici, spare some time to admire the impressive Hadrian’s Gate. It is a well-preserved stunning piece of Roman architecture built in 130 AD to commemorate the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This impressive gate serves as one of the main entrances to the Kaleici neighborhood.
This white marble gate is a testament to the enduring beauty and skill of ancient architecture, featuring three arches, intricate carvings, and reliefs. Whether you’re a history buff or someone who simply appreciates impressive design, this gate is a must-visit attraction in Antalya. Make sure to take a good look at the carvings on the ceiling as you stroll through the arches of Hadrian’s Gate.
Discover Yivli Minare
Yivli Minare is an iconic landmark located in the historic heart of Antalya. Also known as the fluted minaret, this 38-meter high historical monument built in the 13th century, is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city and is one of the many sites that makes Antalya worth visiting.
The tower’s intricate carvings and ornate decorations are a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship of the Seljuk Turks who built it and the tower rightly deserves its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. You can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy breathtaking views of Antalya’s old town and the surrounding mountains.
Explore the artifacts at Antalya Archaeology Museum
If you’re a history enthusiast, the Antalya Archaeology Museum is a must-visit attraction in Antalya without a doubt. The museum showcases an extensive collection of over 5000 artifacts from Turkey’s rich history, including ancient coins, jewelry, wine bowls, and weapons across 13 halls.
You’ll also find exhibits featuring stunning mosaics, sculptures, and sarcophagi that offer a glimpse into the lives of ancient civilizations. The museum’s collection is well-curated and covers a wide range of periods; Roman, Byzantine, Greek and Ottoman.
The building itself is also a sight to behold, with modern architecture blending seamlessly with the ancient artifacts on display. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out Roman carvings of Hermes, Zeus, and Artemis and the marble sarcophagus belonging to the 2nd century with reliefs that depict Hercules’s Twelve Labors.
Enjoy the beauty of Duden Waterfalls
Located just outside of Antalya, Duden Waterfalls are a stunning natural wonder that should not be missed. The falls are actually two separate cascades, Upper Duden and Lower Duden. The Lower falls will surely take your breath away. It cascades 40 meters down from the cliffs to the Mediterranean Sea offering breathtaking views.
The adventurous ones can take a boat ride behind the Lower Duden Falls to feel the power of the water up close. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing nature walk to witness the falls or an adrenaline-pumping boat ride, the Duden Waterfalls offer an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
Visit the Alanya Castle
Located in the Alanya district of Antalya, Alanya Castle is a magnificent castle that dates back to the 13th century. A 2-hour ride from Antalya will take you to this castle, which sits atop a rocky hill 250-meters above sea level, overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea, offering awe-inspiring views.
As you wander through the castle’s walls and towers, you’ll discover a world of ancient history and architecture. The castle’s architecture is a blend of Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman styles, showcasing the influence of different civilizations over the centuries. Take your time to explore the castle’s many rooms, courtyards, and tunnels, each with its unique story and character. Don’t forget to climb to the top of the castle for panoramic views of the city and the sea.
Koprulu Canyon National Park
For those seeking an outdoor adventure, a visit to Koprulu Canyon National Park is a must-do. Located about an hour’s drive from Antalya, this fascinating park features a deep canyon carved by the Koprulu River. The park is popular for its crystal-clear waters, ideal for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and swimming. For those who love hiking, hiking trails wind through the park’s lush forests and rugged terrain, offering jaw-dropping views of the canyon and surrounding mountains. If you don’t feel like getting onto the water or hiking, sit back, relax at a riverside cafe in the main village and enjoy the beautiful views of the canyon.
Take a day trip to Aspendos
Located about 47 kilometers east of Antalya, this ancient city is home to one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world. You will be amazed by the size of the amphitheater, 100 meters in diameter with a seating capacity of over 12,000, and by the inspiring surrounding structures.
Even though the highlight is the theater, there are other ruins to explore including ruins of basilica, Roman Bridge on the Eurymedon and nymphaeum.
Relax at Lara Beach
If you’re looking for a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Antalya’s city center, head to Lara Beach, a lovely blue flag beach. This stunning coastline is located just east of the city and is easily accessible by bus or taxi.
Apart from its fine sand and crystal-clear waters, Lara Beach is great for water activities such as jet-skiing, parasailing, standup paddle boarding and windsurfing. You will also find fancy beach clubs, restaurants, and cafes along the coast, making it an ideal spot for a fun day out with family or friends.
Perge is a rich archeological site located 15 kilometers east of Antalya. You will come across ruins of temples and columns scattered around in Perge, the previous capital of Pamphylia. The highlight of the site is the stunning Roman stadium, which could seat up to 15,000 people.
The intricate details of the stadium are still visible today, giving visitors a glimpse into the grandeur of ancient times. Don’t miss the chance to explore the impressive city walls, beautiful Roman baths, and towering Hellenistic gate.
Wander around Karaalioglu Park
Located in the heart of Antalya, Karaalioglu Park offers scenic views of the Gulf of Antalya, and historic landmarks. You can take a stroll through the park, explore the Hidirlik Tower, a historic landmark dating back to the Roman period, and grab a bite to eat or relax with a cup of Turkish tea at a cafe or a restaurant here.
Make a visit to Termessos
Nestled in the Taurus Mountains, 34 kilometers northwest of Antalya, the ancient city of Termessos offers you a unique experience to explore the ruins, including the remains of the theater, agora, and temples. The highlight of the site is the stunningly preserved amphitheater.
But getting to Termessos is not for the faint of heart, the site is only accessible by hiking up a steep mountain trail, which can take up to two hours to reach. But for those who make the journey, the rewards are well worth it. The sense of awe and wonder that comes from standing in the midst of such incredible history, coupled with the stunning views, makes for an unforgettable experience.
Antalya Aquarium is a perfect family-friendly attraction that should be on your list of things to do in Antalya. Located very close to Konyaalti Beach, the aquarium is the world’s longest tunnel aquarium, which is 131 meters long featuring over 40 themed tanks.
Experience the beauty of the incredible underwater world with sharks, tropical fish varieties and rays swimming around a submarine and an aircraft wreck. You can also experience the Wildpark and the Snow World at the aquarium.
Explore the ancient city of Myra
Located near Demre in the Antalya Province, the ancient city of Myra is a must-visit destination for history buffs and anyone who wants to journey back in time. This Roman and Byzantine city is famous for its well-preserved Lycian rock tombs, carved into the cliffs that surround the city.
You can also explore an impressive Roman theater, a Byzantine church, and other ruins that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich past. You can visit the Church of St. Nicholas in Demre, where the saint’s bones were kept for centuries.
Visit the nearby village Olympos
Located 84 kilometers southwest of Antalya, Olympos is perfect if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. This ancient Lycian city is located on the southern coast of Turkey, nestled among lush greenery and stunning landscapes. Explore the ruins of the city, including the impressive amphitheater, and wander through the winding streets to get a sense of what life was like in ancient times. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike to the nearby Chimaera, a natural phenomenon where flames emerge from the ground. It’s a truly unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Is Antalya Worth Visiting?
Antalya is a city to admire, with a lot to offer first time visitors beyond the requisite fun in the sun. From exploring ancient ruins to hiking through stunning natural parks, there is a great deal that makes Antalya worth visiting and we feel that is has something for almost everybody. So, don’t hesitate to book that ticket to Antalya for an unforgettable vacation!
Both G Adventures and Intrepid offer a number of very compelling small group guided tours that include a Antalya, along with Izmir, Ankara, Istanbul and a number of other incredible cities in Turkey that you’ll want to explore. Check out the list of tours that include Antalya here.
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