Side in Turkey doesn’t receive as much attention as its neighbouring counterparts of Alanya and Belek, yet it has a magnificent story to tell. Backed by the Taurus mountains, and as part of the illustrious Mediterranean coast, its inclusion on the diverse Turkish Riviera proves its worth. Even Roman Emperor Marc Anthony and Cleopatra enjoyed many romantic swims in the cool, calm waters lapping the coastline. So, whether you are looking for a beautiful holiday destination, a family resort, or a place to move for expat life in Turkey, there are many reasons to visit Side in Turkey.
About Side in Turkey
The archaeological importance of Side would make an unusual plot line for a blockbuster film. Side’s impressive historical timeline boasts of habitation by humankind as early as the 7th century BC. The Hellenistic era saw its popularity boom to around 60,000, but as in every good versus evil story plot, unsavoury pirates, and slave markets took over the town earning it a reputation as a place where only the brave would tread.
Most locals also flocked to other areas, when a series of minor earthquakes made their lives even more miserable. The town remained quiet until the Byzantine era when Saint Paul then whipped up new Christians into a frenzy of excitement over pagan worshippers. Their time was short-lived as well though because Arab raiders burnt a massive part of the town to the ground in the 7th century.
Ottomans came to rule in the 15th century, and for hundreds of years, visiting Side stepped back into the shadows as a small village relying on fishing and sponge diving for income. That is until they embraced mainstream tourism and the cobbled streets soon filled with pensions, hotels, bars, souvenirs shops and restaurants. The remarkable history of Side makes an interesting story to tell but even better is to see it with your own eyes because remains of the past still sit on every corner.
5 Reasons to Visit Side in Turkey
1: Explore Side and the Ancient World
All modern developments and changes have taken place around the well-preserved Byzantine and Roman ruins and monuments, so Side has kept much of its village charm and ancient relics. Roman politicians and fierce gladiators used the 20,000-seater amphitheatre, still standing in the middle of the town, making it the centre of political discussions and the amusement arena of that time. These days, the mood is lighter thanks to performances and sell-out concerts for people eager to listen to music in an atmospheric setting with brilliant acoustics.
Further, up the road, the impressive agora ancient ruins depict what the old city marketplace was, but the jewel of them all is Apollo Temple, standing proud and tall on the rocky headline. The few standing columns, appearing magnificent at sunset project a romantic vibe thanks to its story as a gift of love from Marc Anthony to the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Out of all the ancient cities on the Turquoise coast, Side is one of the best.
2: Head to Manavgat Waterfalls
Manavgat, a neighbouring district of Side is a traditional farming town unaffected by tourism, yet many people travel there to see the scenic waterfalls. The waterfall’s low height may cause the odd tourist or two to call it unspectacular, yet it has a full outlet that provides a picturesque factor. Mighty rushing water over the unmovable stones produces a white foam that on scorching summer days gives off a refreshing temperature, while shaded tea gardens surrounding the fall also highlight its reputation as an ideal place to chill out and relax.
3: Sightseeing Galore in Mediterranean Turkey
Side’s position sitting near the main coastal D400 road makes it easy to get around and explore nearby sites, attractions, and resorts – visiting Side has never been easier. Golf lovers drive just 45 minutes west to reach Turkey’s golfing capital, Belek. As home to luxurious golfing villas and green courses, it has hosted in luxurious style, some world’s most famous players including Tiger Woods. A 1-hour drive in the opposite direction, Alanya, home to the famous Red Castle and Cleopatra’s beach, is the most popular holiday resort of them all. If you don’t mind crowds, a glorious day trip is the famous landmarks in Antalya’s bustling city centre include Kaleici, aka the old town, Duden waterfalls, and the 3 kilometres of sand at Konyaalti beach. A hire car makes getting about to other neighbouring attractions and coastal resorts accessible, but local public transport is also cheap and frequent.
4: Hang Out at the Harbour
What can you do if you just want to relax and soak up the Mediterranean region vibes? Head down to the harbour, otherwise known as the old part of town. Maintaining vibes from its sleepy fishing village past, harbourside restaurants and cafes defining traditional Mediterranean Sea vibes sit in front of small and large docked in boats.
Fish dishes and seafood in these restaurants are a speciality. Don’t expect lively nightlife here, but summer evening alfresco dining themes, giving couples enjoy the romantic edge. In the mornings, though, this is also the place to board a daily boat trip to the mentioned Manavgat waterfalls. It is also where yachting fans should hire their vessel. Sailing the breath-taking Turkish Riviera to explore small bays and coves is grand fun whether you charter the boat yourself or hire a captain and crew.
5: Holidays to Side: Hotels, Bars, and Restaurants
Thanks to Antalya’s dedication to tourism and hospitality, any traveller can choose from an overwhelming collection of hotels; large and small. From small room-only pensions to all-inclusive holiday resorts, budget, and luxury, holidaymakers are taken care of. If you book B&B or room only, dining out is cheap and affordable, while family entertainment happens most nights in bars around touristic areas. Locals take their trade, and this is clear from the number of loyal travellers who return year after year to their favourite Turkish coastal resort.
How to get to Side?
Getting to Side from other countries is easy because of Antalya international airport. With frequent flights all year round and just an hour transfer time, it makes Side a popular holiday resort for many nationalities. It also sits on the D400 highway from the west to east of Turkey, hence getting there by car or bus is also easy.
Side is a delight to explore, but it belongs to Turkey’s Antalya region, that is also the start of the famous Lycian Way. Read our destination guide about the Antalya area to learn more about locations, tips, and things to do. Highlighting the diversity and exciting aspects of living and holidaying here, it is a brilliant resource guide for anyone who plans to visit Side in Turkey.
Historical Attractions in Turkey: Side is just one of many ancient cities, and monuments that make up a treasure chest of historical attractions. From the Aegean ruins of Ephesus to the Ottoman old city part of Istanbul, we look at top ancient attractions to visit and what makes them stand out.
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