About Antalya, Turkey

  

 

Once seen simply as the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, Antalya today is very much a destination in its own right. Situated right on the Gulf of Antalya (Antalya Körfezi), the largest city on Turkey's western Mediterranean coastline is both classically beautiful and stylishly modern. At its core is the wonderfully preserved old-city district of Kaleiçi (literally 'within the castle'), which offers atmospheric accommodation in the finely restored Ottoman houses on its winding lanes. The old city wraps around a splendid Roman-era harbour with clifftop views of hazy-blue mountain silhouettes that are worth raising a toast to. Just outside of the central city are two beaches and one of Turkey's finest museums.

Sights

Antalya's historic district begins at the main gate, Kale Kapısı, which is marked by the old stone Saat Kulesi and statue of Attalus II, the city's founder. To the north is the İki Kapılar Hanı, a sprawling covered bazaar dating to the late 15th century.

Walk south along Uzun Çarşi Sokak, the street that starts opposite the clock tower. Immediately on the left is the 18th-century Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Camii, a mosque built by the Beylerbey (Governor of Governors), Tekeli Mehmet Paşa, and repaired extensively in 1886 and 1926. Note the beautiful Arabic calligraphy in the coloured tiles above the windows and along the base of the dome.

Wander further into this protected zone, where many of the gracious old Ottoman houses have been restored and converted into pensions, boutique hotels and shops. To the east, at the top of Hesapçi Sokak, is the monumental Hadrian's Gate, also known as Üçkapılar or the 'Three Gates', erected for the Roman emperor's visit to Antalya in 130 AD.

The Roman Harbour at the base of the slope was Antalya's lifeline from the 2nd century BC until late in the 20th century, when a new port was constructed about 12km to the west, at the far end of Konyaaltı Plajı. The harbour was restored during the 1980s and is now a marina for yachts and excursion boats. An elevator descends the cliff to the harbour from the western end of Cumhuriyet Meydanı.

At the southwestern edge of Kaleiçi, on the corner of Karaalioğlu Parkı (a large, attractive, flower-filled park with panormaic sea views), rises Hıdırlık Kalesi, a 14m-high tower dating to the 1st or 2nd century AD. It was built as a mausoleum and later, due to its excellent position above the bay, played an important role in the city's defences as a watchtower and lighthouse.

 

Begin by strolling through the arches of Hadrian's Gate and taking the first narrow alley to your left into Kaleiçi's quiet residential district. You'll see some good examples of Ottoman mansions. Note the characteristic protruding shuttered cumba (oriel) windows, where the women of the house would host guests – being able to see out but not be seen themselves.

Turn right onto Kocatepe Sokak to visit the Suna & İnan Kıraç Kaleiçi Museum. Backtrack and continue along the lane until you arrive at a pretty square with a trickling fountain. Turn right here onto Zafer Sokak then left onto Seferoğlu Sokak to reach Sultan Alaadın Camii. At the far end of the ruined Kesik Minare, turn left again onto Kadirpaşa Sokak, noting the finely restored Ottoman mansion with a beautiful stone-pebble entrance. Until recently this housed the Antalya Kültür Evi, which covered Antalya's architectural history and may reopen.

You'll notice that nearly all of the houses are built of stone – a fire in 1895 destroyed much of the original timber housing. Turn right onto pretty Fırın Sokak with its mix of restored mansions now used as pensions and dilapidated houses awaiting restoration, and then right onto Hıdırlık Sokak.

As you walk up the road you'll see the crumbling remains of the Roman- and Byzantine-era walls that once encircled the town. Follow the road up until you come to a lonely, incisor-like wall chunk marking a split in the road. Take the left-hand road and follow tourist-shop-lined Mescit and Paşa Camii Sokaks; look out for another large chunk of the old city walls with derelict examples of complete timber-framed Ottoman houses incorporated.

End your walk by visiting 17th-century Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Camiibefore exiting the old town at Kale Kapısı, marked by the old stone saat kulesi (clock tower) and a statue of Attalus II, the city's founder.

 

Planning Tips Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/turkey) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Turkish Cultural Foundation (www.turkishculture.org) Culture and heritage; useful for archaeological sites.

Go Turkey (www.goturkeytourism.com) Official tourism portal.

Good Morning Turkey (www.goodmorningturkey.com) Turkish news in English and Turkish.

Hürriyet Daily News (www.hurriyetdailynews.com) The best English-language daily news site.

All About Turkey (www.allaboutturkey.com) Multilingual introduction from a professional tour guide.

 

Air - Antalya International Airport

Antalya's busy international airport is 10km east of the city centre on the D400 highway. In the arrivals hall there's a tourist information desk, and a number of car-hire agency counters.

Low-cost carriers operate plentiful direct flights to European cities as well as Middle Eastern destinations Amman and Tel Aviv during the summer months.

Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com) and Pegasus Airlines(www.flypgs.com) both operate extensive domestic networks from Antalya, serving several Turkish cities including several daily flights to/from İstanbul. For Cappadocia, Sun Express(www.sunexpress.com) offer regular flights to/from Kayseri.

 

Transport Options

Antalya's AntRay tram extended to the airport in 2017 making this the simplest way to travel between the airport and the centre of town. From the airport (Havalimanı) tram stop it's 12 stops (around 40 minutes) to İsmet Paşa tram stop, the closest stop to Kaleiçi.

Antalyakarts (rechargeble transport cards) are available for purchase at the airport tram stop.

A taxi will cost ₺40 to ₺50.

There is also an hourly Havaş shuttle, which runs from the 5M Migros shopping centre near Konyaaltı Plajı (about 45 minutes). Coming into the city, it meets every domestic flight and stops at the otogar (bus station) before following the ring road to 5M Migros

Bus

Antalya's otogar, about 4km north of the city centre, just off highway D650, consists of two large terminals fronted by a park. Looking at the otogar from the main highway or its parking lot, the Şehirlerarası Terminalı (Intercity Terminal), which serves long-distance destinations, is on the right. The Ilçeler Terminali(Domestic Terminal), serving nearby destinations such as Side and Alanya, is on the left.

Tourist Information

Antalya Guide (www.antalyaguide.org) A comprehensive website with info on everything Antalya-related, from climate to cultural events.

Tourist Office This office with city maps and bochures is located at the back of a garden (signposted from the street), just after the Jandarma building. Minimal English spoken.

Information is quoted from https://www.lonelyplanet.com/turkey/mediterranean-coast/antalya