Known as one of the most beautiful summer destinations in Turkey, Antalya impresses with beautiful beaches and historic ruins. If you happen to find yourself in this amazing city for a day, make sure to follow our list of essential experiences.
One of Antalya’s most important historical sights, Hadrian’s Gate dates back to 130CE and was built to commemorate the visit of powerful Roman emperor Hadrian. Back then, Antalya was known as Attaleia or Attalia, and the marble-and-granite gate’s ornate friezes with floral motives and cornices are all visual reminders of an entirely different era. The fact that the gate is the entrance to the city’s old town is also quite befitting.
Speaking of the old town, you must discover every corner of Kaleiçi, Antalya’s most popular neighbourhood. Walk along the narrow cobblestone streets and admire the old stone and wooden houses, do some shopping in the many souvenir shops, and visit the Broken Minaret Mosque (formerly a Roman temple built in the second century). When you’re ready to walk to the seaside, take the famous Kırkmerdiven, an ancient staircase built by the Venetians to connect Kaleiçi to the harbour.
When you’re in Turkey, every morning should begin with a hearty Turkish breakfast, including different varieties of cheeses, olives, marmalades and pastries with endless rounds of Turkish tea. One of our favourites is the Big Man in the Lara district, which, despite its interesting name, offers a delicious breakfast with an amazing view of the sea and mountains.
If you’re an enthusiast for the historical side of things, then the Antalya Museum is a must-visit to get a real sense of the city’s past. It’s one of the largest museums in Turkey, and you’ll find an excellent collection in 13 exhibition halls, including statues from the Roman era, mosaics from the Byzantine period and Ottoman-era inscriptions, to name just a few. You can visit as part of Culture Trip’s epic 12-day Turkey tour, led by our Local Insider.
When lunchtime rolls around and you’re getting hungry, make sure to try the famous börek (filled pastries) of Tevfik Bey, whose shop has been open since the 1930s. Very thin dough, rolled out expertly by hand, is filled with such ingredients as lor cheese, white cheese with parsley or minced meat before being baked to crispy perfection. The sweet börek topped with powdered sugar is also a favourite.
Of course, no Antalya trip would be complete without a cool dip in the sea and some time relaxing under the warm sun. One of the most popular beaches is Konyaaltı Plajı, which stretches out in a haze of white sand and light blue water. You’ll also find lots to do in the nearby bars, cafes and nightclubs.