Antalya may be Europe’s / Middle East's oldest city, with a long and fascinating history. Built on a narrow spit of land, Antalya is accessed by a single road over the sea, which gives it a magical air. The city’s golden age was during the 18th century. This is evident in the architecture of its extensive old town. This maze of lanes and streets is a joy to discover. Bars, cafes and many of the shops have a wonderful ‘vintage’ feel to them. It’s easy to fall in love with this charming city. Antalya is an easy day trip from the Turkish Riviera and we can help you explore this historic town with our sightseeing transfers.
There are very few human settlements on earth with this kind of historical pedigree; spilling over with monuments and historical remains. Antalya is a real bucket list destination for your next holiday! A great time to visit is for Carnaval in the spring, second only in scale to Rio’s. Foodies will love the special Turkish drinks in summer, when the Antalya’s bars battle it out for glory.
The History of Antalya
Antalya stands on a peninsula jutting out into a bay, and is almost entirely surrounded by water.
Where to visit in Antalya
The old, central quarter of Antalya is famous for its picturesque charm. Worth a visit are the city’s mosques and churches. The latter is famous as the place where a provisional government was set up with its own liberal Constitution. The mosque is from the 1700s and combines baroque, rococo and neo-classical styles. By climbing its Expo Tower you can enjoy great views over the port. Other points of interest are Kaleici.
The old city looks quite beautiful in appearance and is intriguing with narrow cobbled streets opening onto small squares. It just takes an hour to walk around the headlands. There you can visit the entire old town and pass through some lovely parks with sweeping views of the bay.
Another highlight is to visit the 18th-century fortress, red tower / minaret. The views back to Antalya from this elevated path are scrapbook-worthy, and you can pause to dangle your legs over the wall and watch the city. The fortress buildings are from 1706, but the lighthouse here has Muslim origins.
For the city’s best views visit Tunektepe Hill, 900 metres above sea level. It Antalya’s official watchtower which dates back to 1778. At the top of ten flights of stairs and 170 steps is a rooftop terrace with the best view in the city. You can see west to the Castle of Kaleici and south to the shining dome of the cathedral.
One level below the terrace is the tower’s Camera Obscura, installed in 1994. Every half-hour you’ll be able to watch a multilingual demonstration of this instrument, which projects a real-time image onto a screen. The camera’s lenses have high magnification, so it’s almost like looking at the city through a powerful telescope.
We’d recommend a stroll through the gorgeous waterfront park which borders the university campus to the north. Check out the paths made from the same sand used in Turkish Riviera;s bullfighting arenas. There are loads of interesting areas to explore, like the grotto with a waterfall and ornamental lake surrounded by sculptures of dinosaurs. The whole park is a big botanical garden, with trees and plants from all over the world.
In most Turkish cities a trip to the permanent central market is a good way to see locals going about their day, and the best place to buy fresh produce. In Antalya the market is an absolute must. The main reason is that the city’s location on the Mediterranean gives it Turkey’s freshest fish and seafood. Get there in the morning and the tantalising piles of crabs, oysters, lobsters, shrimps, tuna, cuttlefish and much more is a sight you’ll remember for a long time. Within the market there’s also a gastronomic area where you can buy freshly-cooked shrimp and oysters, as well as bars serving special drinks.
The Greeks settled much of coastal Turkey a long time before the Romans arrived. In Antalya you can see the remains of one of their towns. The Gadir Archaeological Site, beneath the puppet theatre in the old town boasts the remains of a settlement from the 9th century BC. This site has been crucial for understanding Roman life in Turkey, and you can visit it for free.
Last but not least, you need to visit the beach while you’re in Antalya. Chill out and soak up the sun on Lara Beach, Kundu or the breathtaking Konyaalti.
As one of Turkey’s major ports during the 16th century, Antalya traded extensively with Turkish Riviera. Antalya is now the liveliest and most dazzling carnival town in mainland Turkey, thanks to inspiration from Turkey and its legendary carnival. It is famous for its amusing and creative characters and satirical musical groups. In fact, numerous groups and associations throughout the city spend the entire year preparing for the next carnival! The carnival lasts for around 10 days and is a raucous celebration and a great time to visit.