Things to Do in Antalya
The Duden Waterfalls sit at the end of the river of the same name, which winds its way through the Taurus Mountains before tumbling from a cliff into a valley next to the Mediterranean. The falls consist of two cascades, and the upper part is nearly 50 feet (15 meters) tall and 65 feet (20 meters) wide.
With a 5-star hotel, a gigantic water park, a luxurious shopping avenue, and plenty of amusement park rides, the Land of Legends is a one-stop-shop for family entertainment. Open to both day visitors and Land of Legends hotel guests, the theme park is one of the largest of its kind in Turkey.
Marking the eastern entrance to Kaleiçi—Antalya’s historic Old Town—Hadrian’s Gate is the last of the city’s ancient gates, dating back to AD 130. Named in honor of Roman emperor Hadrian after his visit to the city, the triple-arched gateway is decorated with marble columns and is one of Antalya’s most distinctive landmarks.
Running for 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) between dramatic rock stacks and sheer cliffs—reaching up 1,312 feet (400 meters) high in places—Köprülü Canyon is one of Turkey’s most spectacular natural wonders. Carved out of the limestone cliffs by the Koprucay River, the canyon is the centrepiece of Köprülü Canyon National park.
Antalya’s Old Town (Kaleiçi) remains the heart of this modern Turkish city. Home to a number of historic monuments, it’s also the city’s most atmospheric district—a maze of narrow winding streets dotted with traditional wooden houses, bars, restaurants, and Ottoman-style boutique hotels.
The remains of the ancient city of Perge (Perga), lie just 17km (11mi) northeast of Antalya and is the region’s most significant Roman ruin.
Dating as far back as the Bronze Age, Perge was originally settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC and under Roman occupation grew to become one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world. An important city for Christians during the Byzantine period, Saint Paul is said to have preached his first sermon here in 46 AD.
Excavations began on the site in 1946 and have since uncovered a large Greco-Roman theater with fine marble reliefs, a stadium that could seat over 12,000 people, a Hellenistic-Roman city gate flanked by ruined towers, a long colonnaded street, a large agora (central market), public baths and a gymnasium. Of these ancient remains, the theater and the stadium are Perge’s best-preserved sites.
Many ancient scholars came out of Perge, including the physician Asklepiades, the philosopher Varius, the famous mathematician Apollonius (a pupil of Archimedes) and the female Roman ruler of the city Plancia Magna.
Founded around 1000 BC, the ancient Greco-Roman city of Aspendos is best-known for its impressive Roman theater, one of the most remarkably preserved in the world. Designed by Greek architect Zeno and built in the second century AD, the theater seats up to 7,000 people and is still used as a venue today.
The Kursunlu Waterfalls (Kurşunlu Şelalesi) are a small cascade set amid a cool, pine forest. While not as impressive as the more visited Duden Waterfalls, the Kursunlu falls feel a little more remote due to their setting and access via a short and pleasant walk through the forest.
Only 20 minutes from central Antalya, the surrounding area offers plenty of walking opportunities, especially along the Aksu river. While the falls are more of a trickle in the summer months, it is sometimes possible to spot trout and turtles in the pools that form here.
Best known for housing the world’s largest underwater tunnel exhibit, Antalya Aquarium is a family destination on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. In addition to its 430-foot (131-meter) by 10-foot (3-meter) tunnel and 40 themed tanks, the attraction center houses a tropical reptile house, 3D cinema, and a snow-themed museum.
Antalya Marina (Kaleiçi Yat Limanı) is the heart of the city. It stretches along the waterfront beneath the steep cobbled streets of Antalya’s Old Town, known as Kaleiçi. With cruise ships, ferries, yachts, and fishing boats constantly arriving and departing, this historic harbor is buzzing with activity at all hours and is a popular hub for both locals and visitors.
More Things to Do in Antalya
Originally built in AD 343, St. Nicholas Church in Demre is one of Turkey’s most important Christian pilgrimage sites. Rebuilt by Constantine IX, the church is known for its stunning Byzantine frescoes and mosaics and houses the sarcophagus of St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus.
The Clock Tower is a classic landmark in Antalya and is one of the few remaining Roman towers dating back to the second century. While the tower was once part of the city's fortifications, the clock was added later and today stands as a commandeering structure in the neighborhood area known as Kaldekapisi (Castle Gate).
Kaldekapisi marks the border between the old city and the new and hosts many stalls set up in front of the Clock Tower selling handicrafts and fresh pomegranate juice. The tower is typically seen on walking tours in Antalya.
Born out of an attempt to prevent the country’s archaeological treasures from being plundered after World War I, the Antalya Museum (Antalya Müzesi) first opened in 1922. Exhibiting over 12,000 artifacts relating to the history of Anatolia’s Mediterranean and Pamphylia regions, it’s one of the largest and most important museums in Turkey, and is sometimes called the Antalya Archaeological Museum.
One of Antalya’s two main city beaches, Konyaalti Beach (Konyaaltı Plajı) is a popular spot for both locals and travelers. Stretching for 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) west of the city, Konyaalti has a mix of pebble and sand beaches, where sun worshipers can swim and enjoy water sports against the dramatic backdrop of the Beydağlari Mountains.
Dramatically situated high in the Taurus Mountains and part of Gulluk Dagi Termessos National Park, the ancient city of Termessos is as notable for its impressive location as for its remarkably preserved ruins. The star attraction is the 4,200-seat theater, built right on the cliffside and affording stunning views over the mountains below.
Having begun as one of the world’s largest sand sculpture festivals, Antalya’s Sandland is now a year-round sand sculpture museum. Artists use tons of sand to create gigantic sculptures along the shores of Lara Beach, with up to 100 artworks centered on a different theme each year.
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