And with nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, what’s not to love? There’s something to offer everyone: glamorous hotels and clubs, lovely Antalya properties, sports, historical sites, a gorgeous coastline, and natural wonders. Once you’ve sampled the city’s delights, why not head out and explore some of our favourite day trip destinations:
CiraliOne hour southwest of Antalya, Cirali is of the best unheralded coastal resorts in the region. This is the perfect place for those seeing a quiet refuge from the tourist masses. Nestled between two steep pine-covered mountains, Cirali is a peaceful village among citrus groves, eucalyptus, pine, plane, and mulberry trees. In lieu of high rise hotels and booming nightclubs there are charming family-run pensions and cafes. Tastefully rustic wicker umbrellas offer shade for lounging on the beach.
The coastline in this area is protected by the Turkish Forestry and Culture and Tourism ministries thanks to the loggerhead turtles who nest on the beach during the summer months. After sunset the lights are extinguished so as not to startle the baby turtles, and on moonless nights there are spectacular views of the Milky Way.
A short walk away from the village is a secret valley and the ancient city of Olympos. There are natural springs and a lagoon. Adventurous types can explore ancient ruins and maybe even find artefacts. Shooting from nearby rocks are eternal flames known as the Chimera, named after the fire breathing monster in Greek mythology. The flames are caused by the combustion of natural gas seeping out cracks in the mountain. Ancient mariners used the Chimera to navigate, and the flames are most dramatic at night.
DemreDemre is about 140 kilometres southwest of Antalya. Formerly called Myra, it was once a bustling Byzantine metropolis. It was where Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in the 4th century, lived and worked. He was revered for his charitable acts and humility, and later became the model for Santa Claus. His sarcophagus is located in an 11th century church which is also a museum where are beautiful recently restored Byzantine frescoes feature on the walls and ceilings.
About two kilometres inland are the Roman ruins of Myra. There you will find a very well-preserved amphitheatre - the largest on this part of the coast. The amphitheatre facade features elaborately carved theatre masks and mythological scenes. Above the amphitheatre and to the east are giant tombs carved in rock. Most of these tombs date from the 4th century BC, and feature scenes of life or funerals in relief.
Golfing in BelekBelek is only thirty kilometres east of Antalya, and most recently has gained renown as a golf paradise. Historical sites, beautiful beaches, mountain views, and outstanding golf courses coexist in a harmonious blend of the ancient and modern - golf lovers enjoy Belek properties. It is a prime tourist destination in Turkey and has attracted golf enthusiasts of all levels. The weather is mild year-round. Golf courses are located near the coast amid pines, pistachio trees, and crystal clear lakes. Golf tourism has inspired great investment in the area and a plethora of luxurious five-star hotels and resorts are available to accommodate even the most discerning traveller.
Duden WaterfallsThe Duden Waterfalls are sparkling blue cascades of natural beauty. The Upper Duden Waterfalls are located in a tranquil park about 25 minutes away from Antalya’s city centre and are a popular area for picnics. Surrounding the waterfalls is an abundant variety of plant life, making it a cool refuge from the heat as well as a botanical paradise. Take the spiral staircase down to a cave behind the waterfall. In this “Cave of Wishes” you will find enchanting views of a shimmering curtain of water. The lush valley below has promenades and trout restaurants.
The Lower Duden waterfalls are located near Lara Beach. They drop 40 metres off a cliff into the Mediterranean in a dazzling display of power and beauty. It is possible to view this breathtaking sight from the vantage point of the sea. Boat tours leave Kaleici harbour on a regular basis.
Rafting at KopruluA hundred kilometres northeast of Antalya, Koprulu Kanyon National Park is a great day trip destination for outdoor adventurers. Get your adrenaline fix on a whitewater rafting expedition on the river through the canyon. The rapids are relatively easy and accessible to whitewater rafters of all levels. This rafting course is 14 kilometres long and begins under an ancient Roman bridge. Revel in the beauty of clear turquoise waters as you float between dramatic high rock walls. Be sure to choose a reputable rafting agency with certified guides and safety equipment. You can arrange your excursion via a tour company or at the park.
PergeTap into your inner archaeologist and venture an easy 15 kilometres east of Antalya to the ancient Greco-Roman city of Perge. One of the most prosperous cities in the ancient world, it is now an archaeological site as well as a tourist attraction. Although excavations are still occurring most of the ruins are accessible to visitors. The Hellenistic gate, with its two towers and horseshoe shaped courtyard, is the most impressive structure and dates back to the 3rd century BC. Stroll through a collonaded avenue, an ancient fountain, baths, and the agora. Other highlights include the very well-preserved stadium and amphitheatre.
AspendosAspendos is 45 kilometres east of Antalya and boasts the best preserved amphitheatre in Turkey. Built during the reign of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, the theatre is still used for performances today, including the Aspendos Opera & Ballet Festival which can be enjoyed in this spectacular setting from June till August.
A few hundred metres from the ampitheatre over the Koprucay river is a medieval Seljuk Turkish stone bridge. This span was built on Roman foundations in the 12th century. It is a graceful engineering feat worth a look.
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