Antalya is a huge city and Turkey’s top travel destination, offering an outstanding balance of luxury hotels, stunning beaches, and the city and surrounding area full of history and beautiful nature ready for exploring.
Best things to do in Antalya
Let’s jump right in and see what Antalya has on offer for you.
1. See Lower Duden waterfall (Karpuzkaldıran)
Lower Duden waterfall, or Karpuzkaldıran in Turkish, is one of Antalya’s highlights because it falls directly from the cliff into the ocean. You can easily see this unique sight from a sidewalk in Duden park.
To get to the Lower Duden waterfall, you can use bus lines KL08, KL21, LC07, and LC07A from Lara Beach and Kaleici, the old town of Antalya.
Tip: There are two Duden waterfalls, the upper and the lower, so don’t confuse them. The lower one is the one falling into the ocean.
The coolest way to see the Lower Duden waterfall is by boat tour, which takes you directly in front of the waterfall from the ocean.
Book your tour: Antalya City Tour & Boat Trip to Lower Duden Waterfalls.
We had to skip the boat trip this time, but it seemed like a fantastic experience, judging from the boats approaching it on the water.
Photo tip: There is a fence along the cliff for safety reasons, and you need to cross the fence to get the best photos. Many people do this, and it’s not dangerous because there are a few meters of grass between the viewing platform and the cliff’s edge. If you’re comfortable with stuff like this, go ahead, but we didn’t do it. 😀
2. Explore Kaleici, the Old Town of Antalya
Kaleici, the Old Town of Antalya, has a long, rich history and many preserved ancient ruins and artifacts from the Roman era. Take a stroll around and enjoy the beautiful streets full of stunning architecture and colorful shops.
Check out these important landmarks while wandering around the Old Town:
The 14 meters high Hidirlik Tower was built in the second century, during Roman Emperor Hadrian, but is unfortunately closed to the public, so you can only watch from behind the park’s fence.
Yivli Minare Mosque
One of the first Islamic buildings in Antalya is the Yivli MInare Mosque, built at the beginning of the 13th century and its fluted minaret is a perfect example of minarets in Anatolian Turkish Architecture.
The entrance to the Yivli mosque is free, and you can visit it anytime except during prayer.
Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower)
Karaaliouglu Park is a beautiful seaside park, full of greenery and statues, which offers stunning views of the mountains and Antalya city.
Antalya’s harbor was one of the most important ports on the Anatolian south coast. Today, it serves as a modern marina full of restaurants and cafes and a starting point to many boat tours.
Tip: Start your walk at the harbor, climb the city walls, and walk around the Old Town of Antalya towards the Karaaliouglu Park for sunset. You can also park your car near the harbor.
3. Enjoy the beaches of Antalya
The Turkish coast is breathtaking, and Antalya offers beautiful beaches. However, to enjoy the best ones, you’ll need to stay in a resort with a private beach or drive outside the city.
The most famous beaches in Antalya are:
- Konyaalti beach: long pebble beach with lots of water activities and rich nightlife
- Lara beach: the closest one to Antalya airport
- Mermerli beach: a small beach located right next to the marina
4. Explore the waterfalls
Antalya’s surroundings have some beautiful waterfalls that are worth checking out. So, if you’re a nature fan, make sure to include these on your list.
- Kursunlu Waterfalls, located about 20 km away from Antalya. You can combine it with the visit to the Ancient City of Termessos.
- Upper Duden Waterfalls, where you can also go behind them in a cave to get a unique perspective.
- Uçansu Waterfalls: located around 60km away from Antalya, where you can even swim in one. There is also an upper waterfall to which you’ll need to trek for about an hour.
We had these waterfalls on our list but didn’t have enough time, so we decided to skip them. However, they’re pretty small or even dry in the summer, so this is something to keep in mind. 🙂 The best month to see the waterfalls of Antalya in their full power is in April and during more rainy months (autumn, winter).
5. Day trip to Pamukkale and Hieropolis
Pamukkale and Hierapolis are two fascinating attractions in Turkey and are easily reachable from Antalya. Pamukkale is a natural site known for its incredible white travertine terraces and hot springs, while Hierapolis was once a significant center of trade and culture.
In addition, the ancient city sat atop hot springs which release mineral-rich water into pools below, forming an unusual structure that looks like a cotton castle! These two wonders have been attracting tourists for centuries.
Pamukkale is around 3,5 hours (approx. 240 km) drive from Antalya. You can drive to Pamukkale by yourself or book a tour that includes Hierapolis and a buffet lunch.
Book your tour: Full-Day Pamukkale & Hierapolis from Antalya
Important: Keep in mind that the photos of Pamukkale going around social media are mostly heavily photoshopped and don’t show a realistic picture of the place. While we think it’s still very much worth seeing Pamukkale and Hieropolis, if you only plan to visit for “the Instagram shot,” it’s better to skip this place.
6. Day trip to Salda Lake
Salda Lake or Salda Golu in Turkish is often referred to as Maldives of Turkey because of the white sandy beach and crystal clear turquoise water. Locals even refer to it as Saldives.
The bathing season in the Salda Lake is between June and September, but you can still visit it outside those months because the scenery is gorgeous even with being too cold and windy to swim.
Salda Lake is around 160 km away from Antalya, and if you’re driving by yourself, you can combine a visit to Pamukkale and then Lake Salda on the way back. It will be a lot in one day, but it’s manageable and definitely worth it.
7. Day trip to Kas
Kas is one of the cutest coastal towns in Turkey and should definitely be added to your Turkey itinerary. It’s home to one of the most stunning beaches in Turkey – Kaputas beach. The drive from Antalya to Kas is also spectacular, and you can add Kemer to stop at as well.
If you visit Kas, make sure to take one of the fantastic boat tours through the stunning bays.
8. Day trip to Aspendos
Aspendos holds one of the best-preserved ancient Roman theaters. Even though it’s the highlight of the archeological site, you can also walk around to see a few more ruins around (agora, castle, basilica).
The ticket price for Aspendos is 60 TL or around $4.
Aspendos is 50km away from Antalya, and it takes about 40 minutes to get there by car.
Book your tour: Aspendos Tour (includes Perge and Side)
We wanted to see Aspendos on the way to our next stop, Konya, but unfortunately, we only managed to get in front of the theater. Unfortunately, we got followed by a storm and heavy rain from Antalya, so we didn’t go in.
9. Day trip to Termessos
Termessos Ruins are 40 km away from Antalya. It’s a much less visited attraction than some other archeological places around the area, but there is no public transport to take you there.
The easiest way to get to Termessos is to drive there in a car or on a tour.
The ticket price for Termessos Ruins should be approximately $2.
Book your tour: Termessos Tour
10. Day trip to Alanya
Alanya is another resort town with beautiful beaches and historical landmarks on the Turkish coast. Alanya is a popular day trip from Antalya, located around 130 km away from Antalya’s center (about 2 hours drive).
We didn’t manage to visit Alanya last time we were there, as we plan to visit the city next time and stay for a few days to enjoy the area thoroughly.
Alanya is famous for scuba diving, and we plan on doing that on our next visit, as there are some really cool dive sites to check out.
Book your tour: Scuba Diving in Alanya
Best time to visit Antalya
Antalya has a Mediterranean climate which means summers are hot and dry, and winters cool and mild. Therefore, the ideal time to visit Antalya is in spring, from mid of March till June and fall, from mid-September to mid-November when the temperatures are pleasant, and the area isn’t too busy, like in the peak summer season.
June to September are the hottest months in Antalya, Turkey, and temperatures average from 21 Celsius (the lowest) to 35 Celsius (the highest). Summer is the most popular time for tourists to visit Antalya, which means the area will be crowded and the prices will be the highest.
Colder weather in Antalya starts in November and lasts till the end of March. January is the coldest month in Antalya.
We swam at the Konyaalti beach at the end of October, and we’ve heard of many people enjoying the beaches even further into the end of the year, up until January.
Where to stay in Antalya?
In Antalya, you can stay at one of many beachside resorts or base yourself in Kaleici, the old town. If you want some better deals or bigger apartments with a kitchen, opt for going a bit outside the central area. Even though Antalya is a resort city, it’s pretty big, so there are plenty of accommodations for all budgets.
We chose Arya Apart Hotel with a big kitchen, living room, and bedroom during our trip. It also had a parking lot and a washing machine for only $35 per night (end of October).
Where to eat in Antalya?
Antalya offers a lot of restaurants of all kinds and for all budgets. It’s easy to find something just by walking around Kaleici, the old town, from cheap and tasty food in local restaurants to exquisite meals in fine dining restaurants.
There are even a few vegan options in Antalya, such as Vegan House. We really wanted to go, but it was closed on a Sunday when we wanted to visit, so we didn’t manage to. If you’re vegan (or not) and you go there, let us know how you liked it. 😉
How to get to Antalya?
The best way to get to Antalya is by flying directly to the Antalya International Airport (AYT), located about 25 kilometers away from the city center, easily reachable with bus line 442.
Getting to Antalya (AYT) from Istanbul (IST) is very easy on many daily flights in just 1 hour and a half.
Reaching Antalya from Cappadocia is also easy, as you can fly directly from Kayseri (ASR) to Antalya (AYT) in about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Roads in Turkey are great, so it’s easy and efficient to rent a car and get to Antalya from Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Cappadocia, or other places.
We rented a car in Istanbul and did the Turquoise coast road trip all the way to Antalya. Itinerary for that coming soon!
Book your Bus to Antalya (from: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Fethiye, Kayseri, and more)
How to get around Antalya?
The best way to get around Antalya is by renting a car. That way, you’re the most flexible, and you can do some day trips by yourself as well. Renting a car in Turkey is pretty cheap, and the roads are great, so don’t hesitate to rent a car if you’re a driver.
If you aren’t driving while in Antalya, you can always use its public transport or taxis to go around the city. Antalya has excellent public transport, and you can take a bus, tram, or a dolmus (minibus) to get to your desired destination. Public transport is also the most convenient way to get around Antalya in the peak season as you don’t have to worry about parking.
Like any bigger city, Antalya also offers bike rental, and you can rent a bike for as low as ??. We found one bike rental spot at the Konyaalti beach, and we’re sure there’s plenty around the major spots of the city.
How long should I spend in Antalya?
One or two full days in Antalya is enough to see the city’s main highlights. However, if you plan to base yourself in Antalya and explore some fantastic towns and nature spots, count on spending at least four or five days here. But, of course, everything more than that is perfect if you also want to relax a bit.
Prices in Antalya
|Hotel: $30 – $70 / night||Inexpensive meal: $3 – $5||Taxi 1km: $0.3 – $0.5|
|Resort: $100 – $150 / night||Mid-range meal: $5 – $10||Car rental: $30 – $45|
Is Antalya safe?
Antalya is a very safe place and one of the top tourist destinations in Turkey. Many solo travelers, including female solo travelers and families, visit Antalya, so there’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure to follow standard safety procedures as you do anywhere else, and you’ll be fine.
Is Antalya worth visiting?
Antalya is absolutely worth visiting for its beautiful beaches, turquoise water, nature, historical attractions, many fun activities and nightlife, shopping, and closeness to other beautiful coastal cities are just some of the reasons you should visit Antalya. There’s something for everyone.