In 2000, the southern Turkish city of Antalya reached the one million inhabitant mark. In the course of a series of area reforms, the administrative area belonging to Antalya was significantly enlarged after 2000 through the administrative involvement of suburbs and surrounding villages. About 2.2 million people live on more than 1,400 square kilometers (for comparison: Berlin has an area of almost 900 square kilometers). According to official estimates, around 1.2 million people have their home in the city itself with its steadily growing population. Antalya is the capital of the province of the same name, approximately 20,000 square kilometers in size.
Antalya extends on the 37th degree north latitude and the 31st degree east longitude on the southwest coast of the Anatolian peninsula. This bay, which is often referred to as the “turquoise coast” or more often “Turkish Riviera”, lies on the northern edge of the “Levantine Sea”, the eastern part of the Mediterranean. The large bay, which extends up to 75 km inland, on which Antalya is located, is called “Antalya Körfezi” (“Gulf of Antalya”). On the land side, the flat Antalya area, 30 m above sea level, with its wide sand and pebble beaches, some of which lie on steep coasts, is surrounded by the arched Taurus Mountains (Toros Dagları). Rising just a few kilometers behind the city limits, the canyon and cave-rich mountain range in the vicinity of Antalya reaches 2000 to 3000 meters.
What to See and Visit in Antalya? Antalya is the classic starting point for many travelers to Turkey. The city with an international airport also has a lot to offer for a holiday on site. The beautiful coastal location, the wonderful nature with waterfalls, forests, beaches and mountains in the area, as well as the numerous, partly ancient sights, give an idea of why Antalya is such a popular travel destination.
It is also possible to go on an excursion in the area. For example, go to another nice city like Alanya for a day. Here you can visit the medieval castle of Alanya built on a 250 meter high rock or admire the imposing tower Kızıl Kule (red tower). In Alanya you can also relax on the beach. Would you like to learn more about the history of the region? Then you can go to the ancient city of Sagalassos to admire the archaeological excavations. The city is home to an agora and a theater. If you would like to go on holiday to Antalya and discover all the highlights then you can take a look at the trips page in Antalya to book a fun trips.
We’ve rounded up some of our best suggestions for what to see and visit in Antalya, we think you will love it.
In Antalya you can visit the Hadrian’s Gate, one of the oldest buildings in the city. It dates back to antiquity and was built in honor of the emperor of the same name, who visited the city during his time in the 1920s. The unequivocal date of construction has not been clearly established. The architecture is similar to the so-called arches of honor, which are also typical from this period, but are free here. The two watchtowers that frame Hadrian’s Gate probably date from the same time.
One of Antalya’s secret landmarks is the Yivli Minare Mosque. The special thing here is the brick-red, and, similar to ancient temple pillars, minaret with furrows. The name means nothing more than fluted minaret. While the tower dates from the first half of the 13th century – presumably built under the rule of the Seljuk Sultan Kai Kobad I – the current mosque is over a hundred years older since the building was destroyed in the meantime. Other parts of the complex are two mausoleums and an Islamic school.
The 14-meter high, two-story Hıdırlık round tower is almost 2000 years old and is one of the landmarks of Antalya. From here there is a fantastic view over the coast of the city, as well as over the not too distant Taurus Mountains. The function of the tower once cannot be clearly clarified. It is said that it was temporarily a watchtower and lighthouse, and is also said to have served as a mausoleum in Roman times. At first only the lower part stood, and the tower was added later. A visit is worthwhile in any case, the view should not be missed.
Originally built in the 2nd century as a Roman temple, the Kesik Minare Cami (Broken Minaret Mosque) was either a church or a mosque. This was decided by the current ruler or conqueror of the region. Over the centuries it was severely damaged and then repaired several times, for example during the Arab invasion in the 7th century. In the 18th century there was a major fire that destroyed the main building. The minaret survived the fire and is still standing today. The ruins of the mosque can also be visited.
The large Karaalioglu Park is located in the southern city center and overlooks the coast and the sea. In addition to a fantastic view of the coast, there are numerous ways to spend your time here. Lawns and shady areas of the trees invite you to relax, there are also picnic areas. There are also numerous monuments, sculptures and fountains to discover. There is an extra playground for children where the little ones can let off steam. There are also numerous cafés where you can have a drink and eat comfortably. One of the most important sights of the city, the Hıdırlık Tower is in the immediate vicinity on the edge of the park.
The archaeological museum in Antalya is one of the most important and largest museums in the country with exhibits from prehistory to the Ottoman Empire. History is conveyed excitingly and extensively on more than 7000 square meters of space and 13 exhibition rooms. The museum also has an attached garden and an open-air museum where additional exhibits such as sarcophagi are exhibited. There are also separate areas for children, so a visit for the whole family is recommended.
The city walls of Antalya are impressive witnesses to the historical development of the city, and to the challenges posed by the various besiegers and attackers. Modified, strengthened and expanded over the centuries, they have their origins in ancient Greece and are therefore one of the oldest buildings in Antalya. Along the wall you can explore other parts of the old fortification that are still in good condition, such as the Hidirlik Kulesi defense tower. The city walls are also a good starting point for visits to other sights such as Hadrian’s Gate.
The Duden waterfalls are one of the most impressive natural spectacles in Turkey. The name is derived from the approximately 30 kilometers long river, which comes from the north, flows into the Mediterranean near Antalya. At the mouth is the lower Duden waterfall, which pours 40 meters along the imposing cliffs of Antalya into the Turkish Riviera. About 15 kilometers north of the city center is the upper Duden waterfall as part of the nature park, which in itself is worth a visit. In a few minutes you are out of the city in the forest and can, especially in summer, seek shelter from the sun and relax by the water. If you have the opportunity, take a guided tour of the falls and visit the caves beyond. Tours are often offered by the resorts.
Kaleici, Antalya’s well-preserved old town is an absolute highlight. When you visit Hadrian’s Gate, which is over 1,800 years old, you are practically at one of the city’s original entrances. Walk through this and hike along the narrow streets, between the sometimes centuries-old houses from the Ottoman period. At various points you can have a wonderful view of the old town. Bazaars invite you to stroll and walk. The beautiful marina is also highly recommended, as it offers a view of the city wall and the harbor promenade. There are also some very good cafés and restaurants nearby.
If you are looking for a place to relax and slow down, you are in the right place at the Kursunlu waterfall: 20 kilometers northeast of Antalya is the Kursunlu Waterfall Nature Park, which is characterized by old pine forests and extensive greenery. Here you hike along a romantic forest path. The sound of the waterfall helps you find your way around. The turquoise-greenish water of the basin and the surrounding rocks and forests create a wonderful natural oasis, which is definitely worth a visit. Take a picnic basket with you for this trip and enjoy an unforgettable moment that you share with many locals.