Picture a landscape of crystal clear waters adjacent to forest-blanketed coastlines… and an ancient city full of history and culture sitting just several kilometers away. Now that is an image of Turkey you wouldn’t want to miss.Find out why it’s called The Turquoise Coast!
The Turquoise Coast (also known as the Turkish Riviera) looks exactly as its name suggests. Located in southern Turkey along the shorelines of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, it has become a popular destination in summer, exceeding some of Europe’s well-known beach towns in neighboring countries. But the Turkish Riviera is not just about beaches, especially in its main cities such as Antalya. Whether you travel for adventure, historical discoveries, or leisure, there are many things to do in Antalya that make it an ideal holiday destination for anyone.
For the adventurer
1. Canyon and raft through Antalya's beautiful landscape
There is no better way to connect with nature than to explore it through adrenaline-driving activities, such as canyoning and rafting. Become one with the landscape as you climb, swim, and row through it.
Even though the scenery alone is worth the tour, you will also gain a great experience of canyoning and rafting. If you are interested, check out Fortune Rafting. They provide canyoning and rafting tours, which include transport, lunch, and safety equipment.
Address: Karabük Mahallesi Köprülü Kanyon Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey
Duration: 1.5 hours for canyoning, 2 hours for rafting
Price: 40 EUR (44.80 USD)
Official Website: Fortune Rafting
2. Whizz around on water at Hip-Notics Cable Park
If you are planning to try a new water activity, there is no better place to start than in the Turkish Riviera. Known as a beach destination, Antalya is an ideal location for water sports like cable skiing.
To experience this thrill, visit Hip-Notics Cable Park, a resort that allows you to attempt cable skiing in 3 man-made lakes between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The entrance ticket includes basic equipment, such as beginner wake boards, life jackets, and helmets.
Hip-Notics Cable Park
Address: Burunucu Mevkii Çakış Köyü 07550, Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey
Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm (summer), 9 am - 5 pm (winter)
Price: 35 EUR (39.20 USD) for a day pass
Website: Hip-Notics Cable Park
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The Duden Waterfalls consist of the Upper Duden Waterfalls and the Lower Duden Waterfalls. They are a group of waterfalls created by recycled water that has become a major tourist attraction in Antalya.
The Upper Duden Waterfalls is backed by a natural cave where visitors can sit to admire the beautiful cascades of water pouring down. It is recommended exploring this waterfall by joining a boat cruise, which includes cave visiting and a swim at the waterfall. This will cost around 40 EUR (44.80 USD) per person, but it is the fastest and safest way to see both waterfalls.
4. Swim with the underwater creatures at Sealanya Dolphinpark Seapark
Located along the Turkish Riviera, a 1.5-hour drive away from Antalya, Sealanya Dolphinpark Seapark is a great day-trip destination. You can choose if you want to visit just one or both parks.
The fee for the Seapark includes swimming with stingrays and fish, among several other activities. You can also swim with dolphins, sea lions, or sharks for an additional charge.
Sealanya Dolphinpark Seapark
Address: Fuğla mah, Akdeniz Bulv.Türkler, Alanya, Turkey
Opening Hours: 10 am - 5 pm (May to October)
Price: 60 EUR (67.30 USD) for Seapark, 23 EUR (25.80 USD) for Dolphinpark, 75 EUR (84.10 USD) for both * Additional fees apply for certain activities
Official Website: Sealanya Dolphinpark Seapark
The Lycian Way is one of the world’s first long-distance trekking routes, running for 509 kilometers (300 miles) from Fethiye to Antalya. Most of the trail consists of Roman roads, old footpaths, and mule trails, making it unsuitable for mountain bikes. Hence, the best way to experience this ancient route is to walk.
For a short journey, join a day tour to trek along a small portion of the trail with a guide. Or if you are feeling particularly adventurous, multi-day tours that cover more ground are also offered.
Private Trekking Tour
For the laidback traveler
6. Relax by the beach
A trip to Antalya would not be complete without a day at the beach. The closest and main beaches are Konyaalti Beach and Lara Beach. Stretching for 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the Beydagğari Mountains, Konyaalti Beach is one of the closest beaches to Antalya. However, note that it is a beach with more pebbles than sand, so it may not be the best place to lie by the sea for a whole day. At 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) away from Antalya, Lara Beach is marginally further than Konyaalti. It is a stunning beach and extremely popular among tourists, so expect it to be crowded.Kick off your slippers, lie back and enjoy Konyaalti Beach.
If you wish venture further out along the Turkish Riviera, other recommended beaches include Side Beach or Olympos Beach. Located 75 kilometers (46.6 miles / 1-hour drive) east of Antalya, Side Beach is a resort town famous for its long, sandy beaches with water activities (e.g. parasailing) that you can do. It surrounds the ancient city of Side, which contains a lot of history as well. Likewise, Olympos Beach is a secluded beach known for its tree-house hostels. Just 86 kilometers (53.4 miles / 1.5-hour drive) away from Antalya, this small beach is popular primarily among backpackers.
7. See the world’s biggest sandcastles at the International Sand Sculpture Festival on Lara Beach
Since 2006, the International Sand Sculpture Festival (also known as Sandland) has been hosted in Antalya. It was initially held at Konyaalti Beach, but is now on Lara Beach (see #6). The sandcastles are created by sculptors from all over the world, who use around 10,000 tons (9,072 tonnes) of sand on 7,000 square meters (75,347 square feet) of area collectively.
The festival runs from April to October, the duration an average sand sculpture will last in Antalya’s mild weather conditions. If you visit at night, you will see the sandcastles decorated by a colorful lighting system that gives them an interesting atmosphere.
International Sand Sculpture Festival
Address: FIESA is located in the Algarve, on E524 road, between Pera and Algoz.
Access: From Highway, Via do Infante (A22), take Exit 8 – Algoz / Pêra and follow the directions to Pêra.From the EN125, at Pêra crossroad, follow the indication for Algoz.
Official Website: International Sand Sculpture Festival
8. Stroll along Antalya Marina
Get an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea from Antalya Marina. You will get one of the best views of the Turkish Riviera’s stunning coastline, while feeling the city’s history, as you walk through narrow streets and across old stone steps. For an even better experience, join a boat cruise that will take you around the bay. Prices vary based on the duration of the tour. You can choose between a 1-hour tour for 10 TRY (3.40 USD), a 2-hour tour for 20 TRY (6.80 USD), or a 6-hour tour for 50 TRY (17 USD).
9. Make snow balls in Snow World Ice Museum at Antalya Aquarium
One of the largest aquarium complexes, Antalya Aquarium is home to 40 thematic aquariums, and the world’s biggest tunnel aquarium at 131 meters (430 feet) long and 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide. Located by Konyaalti Beach, it is a convenient attraction to visit if you find yourself on the beach. Among its countless fun activities, you can make snow balls from real snow in Snow World Ice Museum, virtually sail the world in Oceanride XD Cinema, observe interesting reptile species in Wild Park, and more.
Address: Dumlupınar Bulvarı Arapsuyu Mahallesi No: 502 Konyaaltı, Antalya, Turkey
Opening Hours: 10 am - 10 pm (Sundays to Thursdays), 10 am - 11 pm (Fridays & Saturdays) [April to November]. *Closes 2 hours earlier in the winter season
Duration: around 2 hours
Access: eastern corner of Konyaalti Beach
Official Website: Antalya Aquarium
For the history-lover
10. Explore Antalya’s historic city center, Kaleiçi
Kaleiçi is the historic city center of Antalya that was confined within walls until the modern day. Apart from admiring its remarkable architecture and being impressed by how it has evolved since ancient Roman times, there are also restaurants and shops to explore in the old quarter. Don’t forget to visit its main attractions (for example Antalya Clock Tower, Hadrian’s Gate, Hidirlik Tower, Yivliminare Mosque, and Ataturk House & Museum) to find out more about the city and its past.
11. Educate yourself at the Antalya Museum
As one of the largest museums in Turkey, the Antalya Museum houses approximately 5,000 works of art within 13 exhibition halls and 1 open-air gallery. It features sculptures and artifacts from various times in history, such as the Stone Age and the Byzantine Empire. Walk through the museum, admire objects from centuries ago, and learn about Turkey’s history.
Address: Antalya Museum Konyaaltı Cad. No :1-07 050, Antalya, Turkey
Opening Hours: 9 am - 7:30 pm (April to October), 8:30 am - 5 pm (November to March). Closed on Mondays.
Price: 20 TRY (6.80 USD)
Duration: around 2 hours
Official Website: Antalya Museum
12. Admire miniature architecture structures at MiniCity Antalya
MiniCity Antalya is a park that celebrates the architectural works of various Anatolian civilizations. It displays 86 miniature versions of famous structures, such as Yivliminare Mosque and Aspendos Theater, at 1/25th of their original size. Located near the entrance of Konyaalti Beach (see #6), you get to tour all over the Turkish Riviera and all throughout history without leaving the city at all. The entrance fee is only 7 TRY (2.40 USD).
Address: Arapsuyu, Dumlupınar Bulv./600. Sok., Konyaaltı/Antalya, Turkey
Official Website: MiniCity Antalya
Contact: +90 242 229 4545
13. See the spectacular ruins of a nearby ancient city on a day trip
The Turkish Riviera is full of ancient cities not far from Antalya. Among them, Termessos, Perge, and Aspendos are the more well-known and popular day-trip destinations. Expect to spend approximately 4 hours in each place.
Termessos, one of the best-preserved ancient cities, is located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) north-west of Antalya. For 5 TRY (1.70 USD), you get to explore this Pisidian city famous for its theater. Similarly, Perge is an ancient Anatolian city just 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) east of Antalya. Now a site of ancient ruins, it was once home to a Bronze Age acropolis, and known for its remains of an ancient Hellenistic-Roman gate tower. Continuing further east, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Antalya, is Aspendos, an ancient Greco-Roman city that is home to the best-preserved Roman theater on the Mediterranean. Since 1994, the annual Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival has been held there. If you head out early, it is possible to visit both Perge and Aspendos in one day.
14. Heal in a thermal pool at Hierapolis & Pamukkale
Located 245 kilometers (152 miles / around 3 hours) away from Antalya, Hierapolis and Pamukkale are a little far for a day trip. The area is home to natural healing thermal pools and one of the world’s most fascinating geographical landscapes, which is worth a visit if you have extra time to spend a night there. With at least 2 million visitors annually, this is easily Turkey’s most-visited attraction.
Hierapolis is an ancient city along the Lycus River Valley, known since the 2nd century for its sacred hot springs. These baths are supposedly able to heal those who take a dip there. Swim among ancient Roman column remains that fell in the water after several earthquakes and enjoy Cleopatra’s Pool, a thermally heated Sacred Pool within the Hierapolis-Pamukkale complex. Other points of interest are the remains of the Temple of Apollo, Domitian Gate, and the Plutonium.
Adjacent to the ruins of Hierapolis is Pamukkale, or “cotton castle”. Known for its surreal white travertine terraces and hot springs that dominate the landscape, you can’t take a trip out there without bathing in its thermal pools. This practice has existed for thousands of years, but only artificial pools are left today after the original ones were damaged. It is a must-do for any trip to the Turkish Riviera.
For the night-owl
15. Watch belly dancers at a Turkish Night Show
The Turkish Night Show aims to celebrate Turkish music and dance through a lively performance. It focuses on dances from various regions of Turkey, with performers all dressed in traditional costumes. However, the main highlight of the show is the Turkish belly dancing performance, a more upbeat version of the traditional Middle Eastern belly dance. Vigo Tours offers a package that lets you experience the night show, with dinner and transportation included, from 49 EUR (54.90 USD).
Turkish Night Show with Belly Dancers (Vigo Tours)
Opening Hours: tour begins at 7 pm daily all year
Price: From 49 EUR (54.90 USD)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Website: Vigo Tours
16. A trip for everyone
Traveling with a group of people is never easy, because everyone likes a different kind of vacation. Some travel to have the time of their life. Some travel for leisure, a break from the pressures of work or their personal lives. Some travel to experience new cultures and learn about the history of a place. And some travel to get a taste of everything. Filled with striking landscapes and with a rich cultural background, Antalya is the perfect destination for a compromise. It offers tourists Muslim-friendly hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals. The list of things to do in Antalya is endless; it really is a destination for everyone.
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