Top 10 Reasons To Visit Antalya
One morning on your trip, hop into a rental car and just start driving out of town. Turn into the first village you find, park your car in the middle, and walk around until someone invites you in – it won’t take long. From there you’ll be taken on tractor rides, brought out into their watermelon fields, go back to the house to make bread with the ladies, look at the cattle with the men, and help shell peas for the afternoon. You’ll drink 100 cups of tea and probably eat the best food of your life (and it won’t make you sick!). This is Turkish hospitality. Even in the bustling city of Antalya, if you’re friendly, you’ll quickly be invited into homes or on excursions. There is a warmth in the people of Antalya that is unmatched. And it’s not aggressive at all – it’s so gentle, and you will feel the warmth of the people and their value for their guests. In many other cities globally, you are seen as a tourist and a target, but in Antalya, you are their “guest,” and most Turks will feel the responsibility for stewarding your experience in their lovely nation.
2. The Turquoise Coast
Words cannot articulate the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea – the bright shades of turquoise, and as you step in the water is so clear that you can swim out and still see the bottom of the sea below you. You’ll find pebble beaches, sand beaches, and platform beaches built into the cliffs of the city. It’s truly a magical experience.
In Kaş, you can stay at a hotel built into the rocky cliffs of the peninsula – enjoying your vacation in silence with only the sea and islands in front of you. It feels so secluded and peaceful. There’s a bus that drives through the peninsula every 30 minutes to take you into town for shopping and meals. But perhaps the BEST part of Kaş is the 20 minute boat ride over to the Greek island of Meis, uncorrupted by tourism. This sleepy little island seems to be stuck in time, with beautiful old Greek churches, a beautiful but easy hike to lookout points, and several little shops built along the harbor, where you can enjoy amazing gyros and Greek coffee. If you’re looking for a few days of serenity, THIS is where you want to go.
4. The Food
As city built on the Mediterranean, in Antalya you get the fusion of the Mediterranean diet and the rich, bold flavors of Turkish food. And as the agricultural hub of the entire region, Antalya boasts the most flavorful and vibrant fruits and vegetables you’ve ever tasted.
5. The Konyaaltı Boardwalk
This is a new sprawling park along the sea in the city. It has multiple walking trails, a running track (that’s soft and with track material), basketball/tennis courts, huge open fields, playgrounds, nice restaurants and coffee shops, plus a ropes course built into pine trees in the park. The park spills into the beach, and you could go spend the entire day there and then jump into pick up games in the evening.
This beach is protected by the government as a nesting site for sea turtles, and the construction in the village of Cirali has been very limited. There are several one story hotels with huge tropical green grounds along the beaches. These beaches have the best views in the area, nestled between two mountain peninsulas. You can rent bikes or walk almost anywhere you’d want to go – into the resort village for a good meal, to the ancient city of Olympus to hike through the ruins, or to Yanartaş, the mountain that has had flames burning out of vents in the rocks for thousands of years. Two of our favorite hotels in the WORLD are also in Çıralı and only make the experience more magnificent.
7. The History
If you’re a general history buff, there’s so much here – Termessos and Sillyon, two of the only cities Alexander the Great couldn’t conquer; Yanartaş, the source of the monster Chimera from Homer’s The Iliad; the walled citiy of Kaleiçi, complete with the monumental gate built for Emperor Hadrian. If you’re a church history buff, welcome to the place where Paul first set foot into “Asia.” If you want to see where Jesus walked, you can go to Israel, but if you want to see where He moved and where the church spread like wildfire, come to Turkey. In Antalya, you can experience Aspendos and Perge and can hike St. Paul’s trail – traveling along the paths that he took to get to Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. And Antalya is just the entry point to church history in Turkey – there’s so much beyond the city, from Nicea to Cappadocia to the 7 churches of Revelation.
8. The Beach and the Mountains...in the Same Day!
It’s a common “iceberaker” question to ask – “Mountains or Beach?” Antalya has both. The Taurus mountains spill into the sea, and driving along the coast is breathtaking. You can take a drive out of the city and stop at tiny little beaches nestled between where the mountains fall into the water. It’s also quite possible to spend your morning on the sea and then after a 30 minute drive, you can be skiing (for a fraction of the cost of skiing in America!).
Kaleiçi literally means inside the fortress. This is the ancient part of Antalya, built inside the city walls that date back 2500 years or more. The “Old City” is all cobblestone streets, and you can stay inside beautiful Ottoman style “pansions” or small boutique hotels in old Ottoman mansions. You can walk down to the harbor and take a boat ride, walk through Hadrian’s gate, and eat some of the best food in town.
10. Antalya's Bizarre Relationship with Stray Animals
In Antalya stray animals are community pets – they are tagged and cared for by the city, complete with mobile ambulances that drive around and check on them. You’ll find cat and dog houses provided by the city and local businesses. Many businesses also put out food, and sweet old ladies can be seen in the parks early in the morning setting out water and food. If you want to pitch in too, you can put a few coins into vending machines around the city, and turn the knob to drop dog or cat food into a bowl in the park. *Most* locals embrace these pets, and interact with them as a part of the community.