The beaches of this ancient paradise are just waiting to be discovered.
Antalya is the fourth largest city in Turkey, much of it is a typical urban sprawl, but the old centre, Kaleici, is an utterly delightful maze of steep narrow streets lined with carpet shops and boutique hotels in restored Ottoman houses, curving down to the ancient harbour, while the Konyaalti seafront is a wonderful place to take the evening air.
Konyaalti Beach, to the west of the old city, is a sweeping shingle beach, more a seafront playground than a bathing beach, with plenty of restaurants and cafes, shops and snack bars – as well as several very glamorous hotels and beautiful self catering apartment complexes. It is in the location the locals come for their evening stroll. Lara, the main tourist hotel strip on the far side of the town, is actually on the cliff top with artificial bathing platforms built onto the rocks below.
Ok Konyaalti can be a bit too shingled for some tastes. But don’t despair Antalya has something for everyone to get real sandy beach, you need to head out of town about 11km (7 miles) west to Buyuk Calticak and Kucuk Calticak. Or the magical Phaselis, with its scented mix of pine forests, where you sense of wonderment will slip into overdrive. You will wonder why it took you so long to discover this ancient city and golden sand. Or maybe you wish to journey along this pristine coastline to the white sands of Belek’s beaches which are within easy day-trip away.
Beyond the beach: Kaleici The old quarter
Kaleici, has narrow, winding streets enclosed in ancient city walls, which now protect the peaceful quarter from the noise of the concrete metropolis of a million people. The northern part (Seluk and Tuzcular sections) of Kaleici is mostly touristy shops and restaurants lining the narrow mazelike streets. The Killingarslan section is a little more quiet and still charming. Although there are other entrances, it is best to enter and exit the old quarter from charming Hadrianus Gate, built by the Roman emperor Hadrianus as the entrance arch to the city. When visiting this ancient place start at the top near the 13th century clock tower and statue of Ataturk and work your way down the hill past the Fluted Minaret and Karatay Medrese to the old harbour, now a ritzy marina with its quay lined by restaurants and cafes. On the cliff at the far side of the harbour, an ancient lighthouse, the Hidirlik Kulesi marks the edge of another historic district with a web of tiny alleys of old wood-framed Ottoman houses, around the triumphant Roman Hadrian’s Gate, and the ruined Kesik Minare Camii. Hadrian Gate will lead you to Kilingarslan district.
Antalya Museum on Konyaalti is a world-class archaeological collection housing the finest exhibits from classical sites right along the Mediterranean coast, including the ancient city of Perge and Aspendos, with its superb Roman theatre, both easily reached near Antalya airport.
The local beaches may not be everybody’s cup of tea as there may not be sandy beaches in town, but there are two great water parks with spectacular slides – Aqualand (near Konyaalti) and Aquapark (Lara), which also has dolphin shows, while the museum has a brilliant children’s section if you want to try and cram a little culture into them in passing. There are plenty of boat trips from the harbour. Inland the Taurus Mountains offer excellent hiking and the dramatic setting of the ancient city Termessos.
Since the 1970 this region has seen extensive tourism development. Accommodation to suit everyone holiday budget has been included. Self catering accommodation in particular has been tastefully developed and it is possible to lease a home from home in this wonderful location. Over a period of time www.goholdaylets.com is building an extensive portfolio of quality properties in sought after Turkish resorts.