The Antalya region of Mediterranean Turkey is a popular tourist hub offering holidaymakers glorious sunshine, unlimited scenic landscapes, plenty of crisp evenings and a laidback lifestyle reflecting a new utopia.
Stretching along the coastline, it signifies the eastern point of the Turkish Riviera and includes a large bustling city centre and smaller coastal resorts. Such is its popularity, over the last 15 years, many expats of various nationalities have purchased property in Antalya and now live permanently in the area. Indeed, one could even remark that the city is a mini United Nations.
No doubt, seasoned travellers to Turkey and Antalya know the best things to do, how to behave and where to go. However, if you are a first-time visitor, our suggestions below, make a massive difference between good holidays and fantastic life experiences that will make you want to move there.
Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting Antalya
1: Do Get Out the Hotel and Explore
Large all-inclusive themed hotels in Antalya, especially in the Lara District nicknamed Turkey’s equivalent of Las Vegas, are renowned for expert five-star hospitality. Copious amounts of food, drinks, and activities such as spa, wellness and sports are enough to keep everyone occupied for weeks, but we urge you to get out and explore because Antalya is about so much more than all-inclusive hotels.
Each district of the Antalya region is known for a unique characteristic, such as Kaleici old town of the city centre with its landmark Hadrian’s Gate and Ottoman houses. Belek, the golfing capital of Turkey, has hosted famous players such as Tiger Woods and Barrack Obama while urban legends say the historical gem of Side and Apollo Temple landmark was a secret rendezvous point for Cleopatra and her lover Marc Anthony.
Visit the gorgeous waterfalls of Manavgat, Duden and Kursunlu or go white water rafting in Koprulu Canyon. At the furthest point of the Antalya coastline, Alanya is home to the stunning Damlatas cave, Cleopatra’s beach and the Red Tower watchpoint giving a fantastic coastline view. Drop by a travel agent to discover plenty more things to do or check our suggestions here.
2: Don’t Ignore Local Dress Customs
Antalya seems like an anything goes destination, where rules and social etiquette are not part of daily life, but they are, especially in traditional rural areas so paying respect to them goes a long way. Around beaches, large nightclubs and hotel pool sides, there is a relaxed dress code but in all other places, wear suitable clothing, so men should avoid being bare-chested and women should cover their cleavage, midriff and knees.
Don’t wear just bikini tops if sitting in a restaurant or browsing through a shopping mall, and when visiting a mosque, men wear trousers and women cover their hair. Dressing appropriately when away from touristic areas, makes interacting with locals easy-going and fun.
If in doubt, look around to see what everyone else is wearing, and if you are invited to spend time with Turkish people, this list of unspoken Turkish rules will guide you through the occasion.
3: Do Indulge in Everything Turkish
One reason Antalya’s popularity has soared is its ability to move with modern times and trends. This has, in turn, offered extreme diversity to tourists who can shop for international brand names and taste a wide range of worldly cuisines in Antalya restaurants. However, indulging in traditional food, drink and experiences give greater insight as to why Turkish hospitality is gaining worldwide recognition.
Instead of using modern five-star Turkish baths in plush hotels, find out which hamam the locals use. Instead of nipping into McDonald's for a quick bite to eat, try traditional Turkish street food such as kokerec or midye.
Swap Nescafe for a cup of strong Turkish coffee and wholeheartedly indulge in mezes, the Turkish equivalent of appetisers. To break up beach time, book a village tour or join a jeep safari travelling gruelling mountain roads to rural villages and communities. To further indulge in everything Turkish, these phrases for beginners are great fun to try.
4: Don’t Leave Common Sense at Home
Antalya is a carefree destination, but it is far from being an 18 to 30s holiday hotspot where anything goes. Excessive partying is only done in large nightclubs so don’t drink on the street or while driving. Lewd behaviour in public is also strongly frowned upon by the police.
The city centre is also the fifth busiest metropolis in Turkey, and naturally in large cities crime does happen. Prevent opportunity crime by adhering to the same rules you use in your home country. Only catch licensed taxis and keep an eye on drinks at all times. Check the bill in restaurants and pay particular attention to money when receiving change. Solo female travellers might like this article with tips and advice.
5: Do Come Back
While Antalya attracts its fair share of first-time visitors, many are repeat holidaymakers who come back because they just can’t get enough Mediterranean vibes. The vast size of the Antalya region, as well as various destinations to stay means every holiday, will be different, with new things to do, new people to meet and more of those stunningly beautiful landscapes to be in awe of.
Antalya airport is open all year round and although flights scale down in winter, connecting flights from Istanbul also make it easy to get there. From low-key rustic vibes in Cirali to upmarket indulgence in Kalkan, the Antalya region really is a place that you can never get tired of. Read more about why it is one of our most favourite places in Turkey here.
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