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What to see and do in Antalya – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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Set against the backdrop of clear blue waters hugging the coastal shores, Antalya is adorned with ancient relics scattered across its lands. What was once seen as a simple costal town that lead to the Turkish Riviera is now the largest city on the western coast of the Mediterranean.

Mehmet Gozen

My Destination local expert on

Antalya (Aegean Coast)

Antalya is a stunning city that offers an exciting mix of classic traditional beauty and modern lavish styling. The Roman ruins and the old district of Kaleici are a playground for cultural exploration while the sandy white beaches complete with hanging palm trees can provide relaxation and relief.

 

Kaleici

 

The Old Quarter, locally known as Kaleici, is the picturesque heart and soul of Antalya. With its narrow winding streets, ancient stone walls, and traditional Ottoman-style houses, bars and restaurants, Kaleici is a place that will seduce you with its subtle beauties. A majority of the city's landmarks are within the Kaleici district. The best way to experience Kaleici is to enter from the charming Hadrianus Gate. Other wonderful landmarks include the tall mosque Yivli Minare, the 18th-century clock tower Saat Kulesi, the ancient ruins of the old Roman temple Kesik Minare and Hıdirlik Kulesi which offers sublime views of town and harbor.

 

Museums

 

Antalya boasts an amazing collection of museums including the prize winning Antalya Archaeological Museum. Awarded ‘Museum of the Year’ by the European Council in 1988, The Antalya Museum is considered one of Turkey's finest and most important museums, housing a vast collection of historical artefacts. Deep in the heart of Kaleici lies the small but informative Suna Inan Kirac Kaleici Museum, housed in a wonderfully restored Antalya mansion. The museum displays an interesting collection of traditional ceramics, old photographs of the city during the 1800s and several vignettes showing a traditional Turkish tea party, a traditional wedding ceremony and a young boy's circumcision ceremony.

 

Turkish Baths (hammam)

 

A visit to a hammam (bath) is quintessential to your Turkish holiday. Enter the humid steam rooms, turn off your mind and relax as the professionals painfully pound your body into relaxation. It may sound agonising and torturous but the end result will leave you at one with the universe. Balik Pazari Hamami is a 700 year old establishment with stunning white marble architecture. Sefa Hamami is another local favourite with an atmospheric 13th-century Seljuk architecture that also incorporates some classic Roman architecture.

 

Cave exploring

 

With a geographical make-up of the mountain regions bearing a limestone structure, Antalya is a playground for cave exploring. The Karain Cave is one of the most interesting caves in the region. Comprising of three interconnected large halls, Karain Cave was once used by humans as far back as 50000BC. Other caves open to visitors include Altinbesik Dudensu Cave, Damlatas Cave, Kocain Cave and Beldibi Cave, known for its early prehistoric paintings.

 

Waterfall viewings

 

Southeast of the town lies the majestic waterfalls of Duden Falls, an impressive 15 meter tall waterfall that provides breath-taking scenery complete with a charming natural cave behind the falls. Located only 20 minutes northeast of Antalya is the much smaller yet equally tranquil Kursunlu Waterfall. Locals enjoy the pleasant walk along the river to the waterfall and often come here for a picnic.

 

Boat trips

 

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and further explore the beautiful surrounding areas of the Antalya region. Excursion yachts operate out of the harbor area in Kaleici. Boat trips sail out to neighbouring sights such as the scenic natural beauties of Kemer and Olympos, the ancient Roman ruins of Phaselis and the jaw-dropping Myra Rock Tombs in Demre. Some boats even sail as far as Kas, known for its quality diving spots.