Turkey has seen a considerable increase in tourism in recent years. The country has actively been trying to attract new tourists, and the combination of natural beauty, historic sites and traditional food has been driving its popularity up.
One of the most visited spots in this beautiful country is Antalya, a Mediterranean city brimming with history. People flock in to visit every year, thanks to its proximity to the sea and mountains.
Let’s have a look at why Antalya is the perfect spot for a long weekend and how you can get around.
The cascading Düden Waterfalls
A trip to Antalya isn’t complete without drinking in the sight of the Düden Waterfalls. This impressive natural feature punctuates the Düden River. The falls are located in the northern part of the city, from which the river runs down to meet the sea at the city’s southeast coast.
The Lower Düden Waterfall is the most-visited one as it has the most dramatic scenery. You can appreciate it from an observation terrace with a café and picnic area and get up close to it on a boat tour.
See Antalya’s Old Town
There’s a charming old town in Antalya named Kaleiçi. Located down on the seafront, it dates back to the Roman period. It has seen its fair share of history and this shows in the architecture, which has influences from the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine era.
The narrow cobbled streets mean that traffic in the old town is minimal. This makes the experience feel all the more authentic as you stroll along.
One of the old town’s interesting sights is Hadrian’s Gate. This perfectly preserved Roman gate was built to commemorate the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 130 AD. It comprises three gates flanked by two towers on either side.
You can also walk inside many of the old town’s traditional buildings, which you’ll find aplenty lining the cobblestone streets. Some have been converted into restaurants and hotels, so it’s easy to immerse yourself in Kaleiçi’s historical past.
Go down to Kaleici Harbour
The harbour in the old town sits on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and is the perfect place to enjoy a meal with a view. It’s a steep descent from the main part of the town, but there’s a lift for those who prefer not to walk.
Yachts and fishing boats alike fill this harbour as they have done for centuries. It holds a special place in the history of Antalya, as it was a major Mediterranean port for the whole region of Asia Minor during the Roman period.
Walk in history’s footsteps in Perge
You can reach the ancient city of Perge in less than an hour from Antalya, and it’s not a place to miss. Weave your way around the ruins in the footsteps of famous figures like Alexander the Great, who conquered the city in 333 B.C., and the apostle Paul, who preached there in 46 A.D.
In fact, from here you can hike the St Paul Trail if you’re so inclined, a challenging hiking route that spans from Perge to Antioch. It’s deemed to be the second-oldest hiking route in Turkey.
You can sit in a remarkably well-preserved Roman theatre from 1000 B.C. It’s capable of seating 14,000 people. You can also see a Roman stadium built to seat 12,000 people and walk along the striking pillar structures of the Hellenistic gate.
See historical wonders at Aspendos
Another ancient city within reach of Antalya is Aspendos. It homes an amphitheatre judged to be the best preserved of its kind from the ancient world. In summer, you can catch a 2-hour production of the two-hour “Fire of Anatolia” show at this outdoor theatre. This spell-binding production celebrates the history and mythology of Turkey through an award-winning mixture of dance mediums and live Turkish music.
And that’s not all. Aspendos contains an impressive water system from the Roman era, an aqueduct that brought water from the hills into the city from around 19km away. This was achieved with the help of a 1,770m inverted siphon which was an exciting discovery, due to its unusually well-preserved state.
How to Travel around Antalya
Because there is so much to do in and around Antalya, the easiest way to get around is by renting a car. The city is great for long weekends, but it’s even better if you’ve got a few more days to spare. To make the most of your time here, make sure you arrange your Antalya Airport transfer in advance, so you can get your holiday started as soon as you land.
Antalya combines the summer resort vibe with the satisfaction of being able to explore a colourful cocktail of historical sites. Stunning scenery, relaxing boat rides and excellent food are all readily available to you in this Mediterranean haven on the south Turkey coastline.