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6 reasons we LOVE Side, Turkey

Side is in Antalya, Turkey, on its Mediterranean coast. It's a cheerful, lively town that's become popular with visiting Brits and Germans, looking for a beach holiday within reach of some pretty superb leisure activities. It's also easy to get to: Side is served by Antalya airport, and you can get direct flights to it from the UK. 

The first foreign tourists went to Side in the 1950s when holidaymakers were really travellers eager to go to new places. Package deals hadn’t been invented. So why did those first tourists go to Side? 

Ancient history is right on your doorstep 

The first tourists visiting Side were attracted by the history and archaeology, but great beaches were (and are) plus points too. Greek historian and geographer Strabo, who lived in the first century BC, writes that Side was founded at some time in or round around the 7th century BC by Greeks from the Aeolis region. 

It was an ideal trading centre and attracted Alexander the Great, who occupied Side, briefly, and introduced the local people to Hellenistic culture in 333 BC. Later, Side became a part of the Roman Empire and its archaeological sites attest to its Greek and Roman history. Before the Greeks got to the area the Hittites were present and there are some artefacts which demonstrate this, such as a basalt column base. Side lost its importance in the 4th century BC and it was totally abandoned in the 12th century AD. 

However, traces of its long history remain, and tourists can visit the ancient sites such as the theatre complex, the agora (market place), and the temples of Tyche, Apollo and Athena. The museum is worth a visit. It’s set in the ancient town’s Roman bath complex, which dates from the 5th century BC. It’s pretty cool to be able to wander around archaeological sites and then to emerge into the realisation that you are in the 21st century. What makes it even better is the fact the ruins are right on town - almost on your doorstep.

Side beach, Turkey

It's child-friendly beaches mean it's ideal for families

The east beach or the Big Beach as it is known, really is big. The sand is golden brown, and the sea is deep blue and turquoise. It’s just what you dream of when planning a beach holiday. Enjoy watersports, build sandcastles or simply laze on the sand. When the mood takes you, you can wander into one of the beach bars or cafes and eat at one of the many beach clubs. The beaches are child friendly as the beach slopes gradually into the sea. There are lots of activities for children too. They can enjoy playing one of the children’s playgrounds or play volleyball. 

Kuzu tandir, Turkish roast lamb

It's a foodie’s paradise 

Turkey in general has some of the world’s healthiest and tastiest food. Fried and grilled food is cooked with olive oil, and the vegetables are always fresh and seasonal. 

Veggie dishes: Try the sea samphire for a veggie dish with a difference. Than there are grilled vegetable dishes – all the veg are fresh and seasonal of course. There’s no problem finding veggie or vegan dishes at any time of year. 

Meat feast: For meat eaters there are the shish kebabs, the amazing lamb dishes such as slow-cooked lamb (kuzu tandir) and roast veal. Borek are crispy fried pastries usually filled with minced meat or cheese. If you have a hangover, and it’s winter, or late at night, you might want to try the paca, a hot, thin soup made from small pieces of sheep’s brains, trotters or the head. Of course, it might make you feel worse, but Turks swear by it as a hangover cure. Restaurants and fast food joints specialising in this dish are open until the wee small hours. 

Fish and seafood : The fish and seafood are fresh and delicious and not as expensive as in other Mediterranean countries. In fact, Turkey is much cheaper than its neighbours. 

Desserts: Turkish sweet pastries are to die for. Try the baklava and ekmek kadayifi, which you may have had in Turkish or Lebanese restaurants in the UK and elsewhere. If you are feeling more adventurous, why not sample the real Turkish Delight – lokum. which comes in many flavours. It’s totally different to the mass-produced stuff that’s sold in other countries. There’s also dondurma (Turkish ice-cream), which traditionally has mastica in it. This makes it stretchy, and the ice cream can be stretched across a road (as long as there isn’t any traffic using it). 

If you aren’t very adventurous, that’s not a problem in Turkey. If you go to a restaurant that caters to tourists, you can have British food if you want it. The Turks are very accommodating. It’s much appreciated if you leave a tip in a restaurant as wages are not high and waiters work long hours. 

Read more: 26 incredible Turkish foods you just have to try.

It doesn't cost a lot to stay (or live) there

Side, and Turkey in general, is a much cheaper place to live than many other Mediterranean centres, especially if you have foreign currency. Property for sale in Antalya towns like Side is generally priced low, and the result of that is that there is a large expat community who live in the town year round. Thanks to its settled weather and excellent amenities, it's a comfortable and easy place to reside.

You can take some pretty incredible day trips

There’s lots to see but where you choose to go will depend on your interests. Parasailing, off road jeep excursions, hiking, visiting nearby beaches like the beautiful Patara Beach, a round of golf - or check out a golf property in Belek, a trip to go shopping or peruse museums in Antalya - the list is just about endless. 

Read more: Incredible Antalya day trips


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