Things to Do in Side
The Manavgat River runs down from the Taurus Mountains all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s most scenic spot is the Manavgat Waterfall (Manavgat Şelalesi). Just outside of Side, the low, wide falls make a stunning backdrop for photos and serve as a popular recreation area, with visitors coming to swim, picnic, or cruise along the river.
In ancient times, Side was an important trading port on the eastern Mediterranean and by the sixth century BC, hundreds of Greek merchants had settled in the coastal town. It was still flourishing when the Romans gained ascendancy in the Med, and many of the ruins now excavated in Side date from around 100 AD–199 AD, bearing both Greek and Roman architectural characteristics.
Today it is a small beach resort sandwiched between its hillside Roman theater and a recreated Temple to Athena, whose columns stand guard by the harbor. Side Museum (Side Müzesi) is located in a Roman marketplace and baths complex that was built around the fifth century AD and converted into a museum in the 1960s. The ancient finds of weapons, sculpture – including torsos and animals dating from Greek to Byzantine times – sundials, tombs and mosaic fragments are all beautifully displayed in a series of halls that once housed the various steam rooms and pools of the Roman baths.
Along with the classical Greek remains uncovered at Seleukeia, there are further Roman ruins in the region including vast stone theaters at nearby Olukköprü and Selge, plus a 30-km (18.75-mile) water system complete with aqueducts and tunnels.
The most strikingly situated of Side’s ancient ruins, the grand Temple of Apollo stands perched on the edge of the historic town, overlooking the Mediterranean. Dating back to the second century AD, the temple was believed to have been a gift from Anthony to Cleopatra and still has five of its original Corinthian columns, towering over the seafront.
The biggest water park on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast sits southeast of Antalya in between Manavgat and Alanya, overlooking the sparkling turquoise sea. With 24 rides from family slides to Kamikaze chutes, the Water Planet Aquapark is a fun-filled day out for the whole family. There’s a splash pool full of interactive animated toys for toddlers to enjoy while all kids love floating around the Lazy Rivers and splashing in the wave pools. Several adrenaline-pumping slides are perfect for thrill-seeking teens, including the spiraling Black Hole and the Four Twisters. If that’s not enough, try Water Planet Aqua Park's 70-meter (230-foot) bungee jump or rafting on the wave pool (both extra charge). Lifeguards are on duty at all the rides and facilities include sun loungers, showers, changing rooms and lockers, several restaurant and bar options – from fast food to à la carte – a henna tattoo parlor and a few souvenir stalls.