Antalya, Turkey

7 Reasons Why I Love Antalya, Turkey

Located on Turkey’s southwest coast is the country’s fifth largest city and one of my absolute favorite places to visit, Antalya.

Why’s it so special, you ask?

Gorgeous (free) beaches, one of the most amazing archaeological museums in Turkey, city shopping, a weekly pazar (market) and the artsy, quaint and characteristic old city of Kaleçi are just a few things that make Antalya an awesome destination worth exploring for a few days.

Antalya is the perfect combination of the old and new. Backed by the Taurus Mountains and cradled by crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Antalya proper is a modern city with an extensive bus and tram system, making it easy to get around, along with the availability of all modern world comforts that one may need in their travels.

The real gem of Antalya, however, is it’s old town, Kaleçi, which has been passed through many hands in its history, from Roman, to Byzantine, to Seljuk and then Ottoman. Scattered throughout the old town’s tiny streets, you can still see parts of the city’s diverse historic past today.

What’s Cool about Antalya

1. I love a city with a sense of humor!

Let me start by saying, any city with a sense of humor is my type of city. Posted throughout Cumhuriyet Caddesi, the city’s main artery, are statues of ancient Romans using modern technology.

Ancient Roman using an ATM, Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Antalya

Ancient Roman using an ATM

I like to call this one “Caesar on a cell phone”

2. Kaleçi, The Old Town

Contained within ancient stone walls is Kaleçi, the pretty old town of Antalya. This is where I stay when I visit. I love it’s artsy vibe. The picturesque streets are small, and within them you’ll find historic buildings, guesthouses, cafes, restaurants, bars, galleries, tattoo shops, fortune tellers and many types of carpet and artisan shops. Artisans sit outside and show off their work, locals enjoy their coffee at the open air cafes, and virtually no one will bother you for being a “tourist.”

The streets of Kaleçi, Antalya
The streets of Kaleiçi, Antalya
Street Art, Kaleiçi, Antalya
Kaleçi, Antalya
Windows of an old house, Ottoman style, Kaleçi, Antalya

Windows of an old house, Ottoman style

3. Hadrian’s Gate

In order to enter the old town of Kaleçi, you first must pass through Hadrian’s Gate, also know as the “Castle Gate” or Kalekapısı in Turkish. This ancient gate was erected in 130 AD to commemorate the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city. It is composed of three triumphal arches (only two shown in the photo below) and you can pass through the middle arch to enter into the old city.

However, do be careful – the transparent walkway can be a little slippery. And don’t forget to look down! It’s transparent because it shows off grooves made by the wheels of carts that passed in and out of the city in ancient times. Pretty cool, huh?

Hadrian's Gate, Antalya

Walking through Hadrian’s Gate into the old town of Kaleiçi

Hadrian’s Gate Detail

4. Diverse Landscapes and Amazing Views

Just take a walk around and discover the many different landscapes this city offers. It’s just beautiful. From the snow-capped Taurus mountains and Antalya’s pretty harbor to the beaches of Lara and Konyaaltı, everywhere you turn there is something beautiful to see.

Antalya Harbor, Antalya Turkey

View of the old town Kaleiçi, Antalya

View of the old town Kaleiçi, Antalya

Antalya, Turkey

Antalya Harbor

Antalya Harbor also known as the old Roman harbor

5. Green & Blue – The Colors of Antalya

I love breathing in the fresh sea and mountain air and smelling the scent of jasmine flowers everywhere I go. Although it is a city, Antalya gives off a vibe of peace and serenity. You won’t find too much of the kind of noise that generally accompanies big city living. Instead you’ll find green oases scattered about the city, seafront parks, free and clean beaches with crystal blue waters, hypermarkets for all of your shopping needs, and anything you could ever need is right there.

Antalya, view of the mountains

Park Bench, Antalya, Turkey

Park Bench, Antalya

Park, Antalya, Turkey

Colors of Antalya

The Colors of Antalya

6. Antalya Archaeological Museum

As a lover of anything from ancient Greek and Roman times, the Antalya Museum is by far my favorite museum in the whole of Turkey. Inside there is a big concentration of finds from the nearby ancient city of Perge.

TIP: I do recommend you visit the site of Perge before you go the museum, instead of going to the museum first, like I did. You will appreciate the sculptures even more!

The statues from Perge are stunning, and just to give you a sneak peak…

Antalya Museum

Statue of the god Hermes, Antalya Museum

Colossal statue of the god Hermes, Antalya Museum

There are 13 exhibition rooms to see. Anyone into ancient mythology would really love this place! I would allow 1.5-2 hours for a full in-depth visit, or longer if you’re like me and like to read all of the placards!

7. Konyaaltı Beach

Near the museum is one of Antalya’s famous beaches called Konyaaltı Beach. It’s a walk down a hill from town to get here, which means it’s a walk back up too. But relaxing in the the pebble beach’s crystal blue water definitely makes the walk worth it! (Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo to share as my camera broke the day that I finally got to the beach! So, my apologies about that.)

Antalya is a great base for exploring the south central coast of Turkey. The city’s tram system makes it easy to get to places of interest like the museum, Kaleçi, and to the otogar (or “bus station” in Turkish). The stunning scenery of the Taurus mountains, Mediterranean sea, and greenery combined with a number of culturally interesting things to do makes it a destination that appeals to any taste. And it will always be one of my favorite destinations in Turkey.

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