For many people planning a cultural tour of Turkey, the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya often doesn’t make it to the final list of places to visit, as for some people, it conjures up images of 5 star all inclusive resorts and beach clubs. However, there is much more to this city than meets the eye. It successfully blends the old and the new, and has really good infrastructure – so good in fact that it will host the G20 summit of world leaders in November this year. Whether you are a history buff or a sun-lover, Antalya has something to offer everyone. Here’s 5 reasons to visit Antalya on your trip to Turkey:
- It has a charming old town which features lots of narrow, cobblestone streets filled with old wooden Ottoman houses, art galleries and restaurants. Like all good old town quarters in Turkish cities there are even some ancient city walls. The old town also features a medresse (theological college), Karatay Medrese which is a great example of Seljuk period architecture and carvings. Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque is also worth a visit because of its beautiful interior. When you are finished wandering through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets, the nearby old harbour provides a great place to relax and have a coffee and watch the world go by.
- There is lots of history here. Antalya has been continuously inhabited since the second century B.C. when it was founded by the Pergamon King Attalus II. At that time the city was named Attaleai after himself, and was later changed to Antalya. Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and then the Ottomans all have left their footprint here. Antalya is also home to a great museum, displaying artefacts from the Bronze Age to Byzantium, which a particular emphasis on local sites. Even if you are not mad about history, it is a worth a visit because it does a great job of presenting some fairly complex information in a really simple manner, making it easy to understand.
- There are some truly wonderful ancient ruins nearby including Perge, Aspendos, Side, Termessos, Phaselis, Letoon and Xantos to name just a few of them. Of note, is the ancient city of Aspendos which dates back to around 1000BC. It was a very wealthy and important city and had a thriving trade in wool, salt and oil. Today the still intact ancient theatre of Aspendos hosts the annual Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival which draws visitors from all over the world.
- The area surrounding Antalya includes some incredible natural beauty. The breathtaking Taurus Mountain range towers in the background and there are some beautiful waterfalls nearby. Of particular note are the Upper and Lower Düden Waterfalls, Kursunlu Waterfalls, Manavgat Waterfalls and Nilüfer Lake. Our favourites are Manavgat Waterfalls which include a viewing platform where you can sit and drink tea and chill out and enjoy the tranquility. Other notable natural beauties include the Beydagi National Park and Topcam Beach.
- It has some great beaches. When you are worn out from all of that sightseeing, hit one of Antalya’s many great sandy beaches which make up its 640km of coastline. You can have a simple day out at the beach with just you and your towel and sunscreen, or for a treat, try one of the many beach clubs which offer a bit of pampering, food and drinks.