One of Antalya’s most important historic sight is Hadrian’s Gate which dates back to 130AD and was built to commemorate the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Past the gate, you can walk right into Antalya’s old town, also known as Kaleiçi and explore the narrow cobblestone streets, old stone and wooden houses, the Broken Minaret Mosque (formerly a Roman temple built in the 2nd century AD), and do some shopping in the many souvenir shops all around.
If you’re a fan of börek (fine layers of dough filled with various fillings and baked to crispy perfection), then make sure to stop by Börekçi Tevfik to eat the best börek in Antalya. Open since the 1930s, the thin dough is rolled out expertly by hand and then filled with ingredients such as lor cheese, white cheese with parsley, or minced meat. The sweet börek topped with powdered sugar is also a local favorite. After lunch, delve a little bit more into Antalya’s rich history by visiting the beautiful Antalya Museum. One of Turkey’s largest museums, the Antalya Museum’s thirteen halls include stunning statues from the Roman era, mosaics from the Byzantine period, and Ottoman era inscriptions, to name just a few.
No visit to Antalya would be complete without trying the delicious seafood, Turkish-style. One of the city’s best seafood restaurants, Antalya Balık Evi is the perfect place to choose from the day’s freshest catch and enjoy it all while looking out over the Mediterranean.
After a day of getting to know Antalya, it’s time to travel to the area’s most beautiful and remote beach town: Çıralı. About a 1.5 hour drive from Antalya’s city center, you can either rent a car or take the dolmuş (small bus) that goes to Kumluca, Finike, Demre, or Kaş and ask the driver to get off at the Çıralı intersection (where another bus will be waiting to take passengers down to the town center). You can stay at one of the many family-run pensions and take the bus back to Antalya in the morning (and then the airport).
After spending the day getting lazy on the beach and swimming in the crystal clear water, head to the end of the beach to explore the ruins of Olympos, an ancient city that belonged to the Lycian Empire, built during the Hellenistic Period. After walking along a river studded with flower bushes and small streams, you can follow the signs to see the ruins of the historic city including the remains of a Roman temple, bathhouse, and more.
One of the best places to have a quick lunch on the beach is Karakuş Restaurant that has a pretty large menu including everything from pasta to grilled meats, fresh fish to homemade pide varieties. Make sure to order an ice cold beer to cool down in the summer sun. Çıralı’s other famous sight is the eternal flames of Chimera (Yanartaş) but be forewarned – the hike up to the flames themselves is quite arduous (but worth it). The sight gets its name from the rocky landscape from which natural gas escapes from small holes and catches fire immediately. Especially stunning at night, the site inspired the Greek myth of Chimera, a creature that breathed fire and had the body of a lion, goat, and snake.
After that challenging hike head to Yörük Restaurant to really indulge in classic Turkish dishes. We’re talking about pide that’s as long as your table, countless kebab varieties, fresh fish and all kinds of meze, all of which are so delicious that it’s no wonder Yörük is a local favorite.