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(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya

Antalya is a city on the Mediterranean coast of southwestern Turkey. It was the world's third most visited city by number of international arrivals in 2011, displacing New York, and had a population of 1,001,318. Antalya is the eighth most populous city in Turkey and country's biggest international sea resort.

(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya
(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya

1. Konyaaltı Beach (Konyaaltı Plajı)

Konyaaltı Plajı (Konyaaltı Beach), on the west side of Antalya, Turkey, is a long strand of pebbles and rough stand backed by park, some hotels, and residential areas. It's closer to the center of Antalya than is Lara Plajı on the eastern side of the city.

Take the tram westward from Kalekapisı at the center of Antalya to the end of the line near the Antalya Museum and the Hillside Su and Rixos hotels, then walk downhill 10 minutes to reach Antalya Beach Park and the eastern end of Konyaaltı Plajı.

The easiest way to reach Konyaaltı from the center of Antalya at Kalekapisi is to step aboard the tram, pay the fare in cash, and get out at the last stop. Be sure you're boarding the westbound tram (toward the mountains).

(Turkey) - Konyaalti Beach - Antalya
(Turkey) - Konyaalti Beach - Antalya

2. Lara Beach (Lara Plajı)

Lara Plajı (Lara Beach) east of Antalya is a l-o-n-g beach of gentle waves, darkish sand, and some small pebbles. The real sand beach starts on the east side of the point and extends for several kilometers. The first major installation is Lara Halk Plajı, with beach services organized by the city of Antalya.

You can reach Lara Plajı from the center of Antalya by dolmush minibus (No. 18, 30 or 77). The minibuses run all the way along the beach to the end of the public access area. The ride from Antalya city center near Kalekapisi to the eastern end of the beach takes about 45 minutes, a few minutes less if you're only going as far as Lara Halk Plaji.

3. Kalekapısı (Antalya City Center)

The center of Antalya, "capital" of Turkey's Mediterranean coast, is an ancient stone tower in the old city walls marking Kalekapısı (KAH-leh-kah-puh-suh, Castle Gate). It's right next to the city's well-known symbol, the Grooved Minaret (Yivli Minare).

Kalekapısı is where Antalya's trams cross tracks in the middle of their run.

Because Kalekapısı is a pedestrian zone (except for the tram line), you must walk a block or two west, north or east to catch city buses.Two useful tram lines pass near Kalekapısı.

The easiest way to reach Kalekapısı inexpensively from Antalya's otogar (bus terminal) is to take the tram. Board an AntRay tram at the otogar and get out at the İsmetpaşa stop, just north of the intersection of İsmetpaşa Caddesi and Cumhuriyet Caddesi (map). Kalekapısı is only a block away, to the west.

4.  Hadrian's Gate (Hadriyanüs Kapısı, Üçkapılar)

One of the many building projects of the great Roman Emperor Hadrian, this three-portal marble gate in the city walls is still an Antalya landmark.

(Turkey) - Hadrian gate - Antalya
(Turkey) - Hadrian gate - Antalya

5. Kaleiçi (Old Antalya)

Also known as Old Antalya, the small historic section called Kaleiçi (KAH-leh-ee-chee) at the center of the sprawling modern city was the Roman town, then the Byzantine, then the Seljuk Turkish, and finally the Ottoman Turkish town.

Kaleiçi surrounded and protected the old Roman harbor, which was Antalya's reason for being: even in Roman times, this was the outlet for the produce of the rich alluvial plain that stretches east from the city beneath the southern slopes of the Taurus Mountains.

There are several entrances to Kaleiçi, but the most convenient is Kalekapısı, and the most picturesque and historic is Hadrian's Gate.

(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya
(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya

6. Broken Minaret Mosque (Kesik Minare, Korkut Camii)

Enter Kaleiçi through Hadrian's Gate, follow Hesapçi Sokak and soon you'll see this Antalya landmark. Built as a Roman temple, it was a church in honor of Mary, then converted to a mosque. Now it's just a picturesque ruin.

Antalya's broken wonder is the Broken Minaret (Kesik Minare) of the Korkut Mosque (Korkut Camii), which itself was built originally as a Roman temple in the 2nd century AD, and thus did not have a minaret at all.

(Turkey) - Broken Minaret Mosque - Antalya
(Turkey) - Broken Minaret Mosque - Antalya

7. Hıdırlık Kulesi (Old Stone Tower)

Antalya's Hıdırlık Kulesi is a landmark tower of tawny stone where Kaleiçi (Old Antalya) meets Karaalioğlu Parkı.

Its purpose is something of a mystery. Some think it was built as a tomb for a great leader, and bits of fresco within encourage this conjecture. But its situation is perfect to serve as a lighthouse of signal tower or lookout for shipping in Antalya's ever-important harbor, so that was probably its purpose.

This is a fine place to stop for a drink, a snack or a meal.

8. Karaalioğlu Parkı

Antalya's major park with the all-but-unpronouncable name is just east of Kaleiçi in the city center, easily reached on foot or by tram.

This is where Antalyalılar come in the heat of the day for shade and a breeze, or for a stroll in the cool of evening.

The mayor's office is here, and a city theater, but of more interest to visitors is the ancient fortress tower overlooking the Roman harbor, the falez (cliffs) and the broad blue expanse of the Gulf of Antalya.

9. Roman (Yacht) Harbor (Eski Liman)

Antalya was founded two millennia ago because of its good harbor. It became a major Mediterranean port of Asia Minor in Roman times.

The Romans strengthened the city's fortifications and improved the harbor's facilities. Through Byzantine times, and the empires of the Seljuk Turks and Ottomans, daily life in Antalya centered on the harbor.

Today the harbor is still at the heart of Antalya, at water's edge in the historic core of the city called Kaleiçi (Old Antalya). It's now surrounded by restaurants and cafes, and is a favorite place to gather in the afternoon or evening to sip tea, coffee or a drink, or to share a meal and conversation with friends.

The boats in the harbor now are not cargo ships but private yachts and the broad-beamed gulets that take visitors out into the Gulf of Antalya on fishing trips or day-long excursions along the coast.

10. Bazaar (Çarşı)

Just inland from Kalekapısı is the center of Antalya shopping, Antalya's old, historic bazaar (çarşı), with lots of jewelry shops. Here, at the beginning of Kâzim Özalp (Şarampol) Caddesi is also the place to find lots of bank ATMs and currency exchange offices.

Antalya's traditional market area (çarsi) is conveniently located just inland from Kalekapisi along Kazim Özalp Caddesi (formerly—and still sometimes nowadays—called Sarampol Caddesi).

(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya
(Turkey) – What to see and do in Antalya

11. Antalya Museum (Antalya Müzesi)

Board the westbound tram at Kalekapisi or Hadrian's Gate and take it to the western end of the line for Antalya's excellent archeological museum. Artifacts from the many rich cities in the region, including lots of Roman marble statuary and sarcophagi, are preserved here.

The excellent Antalya Museum (Antalya Müzesi) is a must-see for anyone interested in the rich archeological history of Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

The modern province of Antalya includes dozens and dozens of important ancient Hellenic, Hellenistic and Roman cities and towns, and other prime archeological sites, and the best artifacts from most of them have been brought here to form the museum's outstanding collection.

The museum is open daily except Monday.

An easy, inexpensive way to reach it from Kalekapisi is to take the tram westward (toward the mountains) to the end of the line.

12. Day-trips & Excursions from Antalya

Antalya is the most convenient base for excursions throughout the region, from Olimpos in the southwest to Alanya in the southeast.

Düden & Kurşunlu Waterfalls

Two of the easiest and most pleasant excursions are to these two cool, shady, green waterfall parks only a few kilometers northeast of Antalya. They may be crowded on summer weekends, however.

Perge, Side & Aspendos

Perge, only a few km from Antalya, has impressive Roman ruins. Side too, along with fine beaches and a resort atmosphere. Aspendos has the best-preserved Roman theater on the Mediterranean, still used for performances.

Termessos & Karain Cave

A perfect day-trip by car or tour from Antalya is to this breathtaking ancient ruined city high in a mountain aerie, so well defended that Alexander the Great passed it by. You can visit fascinating Karain Cave, inhabited for 25,000 years, on the same trip.

Bridge Canyon National Park & Selge

Bridge Canyon National Park (Köprülü Kanyon Milli Park) is a beautiful, dramatic river gorge spanned by a stone Roman bridge. At the top of the valley is the ancient Roman city of Selge. It makes a great day trip from Antalya whether you go white water rafting or not.

Kemer, Phaselis, Olimpos & Çıralı

Kemer is a modern seaside resort southwest of Antalya, but Phaselis, a bit farther down the coast, is an ancient port now in a national park, and Olimpos just beyond it is a strange and wonderful mix of forest tree-house camps, tidy small hotels, secluded beach resort and ancient ruins. At nearby Çıralı, the famed Chimaera natural eternal flame still burns as it has for millennia.
 (Wiki, Turkey Travel Planner)

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