Are you heading to Antalya?
Awesome! If you’re undecided, I’ll try and convince you in this post. We will cover a variety of the top things to do in Antalya and at the end give you some useful tips to help you maximize your time in the city. Antalya, is known for its dramatic coastline and all-inclusive resorts. If you’re like me and avoid these resorts, don’t worry as there is plenty to do in and around the city. If people tell you otherwise, take inspiration from Jenny Finch who said one of favorite quotes: “Never limit yourself, never be satisfied, and smile… It’s free!”
This is a Guest Post by Jub, who writes at Tiki Touring kiwi.
Go wherever you want to go and enjoy it. I was in the city from October 31st – November 30th, 2017. I never expected to be in Antalya for so long after volunteering at the Turkish Airlines Open. But my first impressions were positive, so stayed on to train for the Mersin Marathon.
So what’s it like in Antalya during November? The post-summer shoulder tourism season has finished, accommodation is easily found and there are no crazy busy tourist attractions. With the temperatures during the day around low-mid 20’s, I would probably choose October to visit for the slightly warmer weather and more liveliness if I return.
The following are some of the things you can do in Antalya (there’s never a complete list, let’s be honest), not all of which you’ll see on the usual top 10 lists.
Visit Various Waterfalls In Antalya
There are four waterfalls in the Antalya area to consider visiting. If you’re short on time, the Lower Duden Waterfall is the no brainier to visit.
Lower Duden Waterfall
This one of the best waterfalls I’ve ever seen that flows straight into the ocean. The height is approximately 40 metres as the water shoots out over the rocky cliff. The scenery from the main viewing point is pretty epic too. Unfortunately you can’t get really close to the falls, but there is an option to take a boat from the marina and get up close that way. With only two days of any real rain during November, I was surprised how much water was flowing.
How to get there: Take the KL08 bus from the city center to Duden Park, enjoy a stroll around the park (cats galore) and you’ll find the waterfall soon enough.
Upper Duden Waterfall
This is connected to the above waterfall and is again, easy to reach on public transport. The entrance fee is 4 TL, and this one is sneaky good. There are various viewpoints to view the waterfall from as it plunges from 20 metres. You can even get right in behind the falls from a viewing platform, you’re basically in a cave. Take some snacks along with you, as there are some nice sitting areas if you don’t want to pay silly prices at the cafe inside the grounds.
How to get there: I took bus VC30 from downtown which dropped me off at the entrance of the waterfall.
This is the waterfall that takes the most effort to reach and for the 6 TL, I don’t think it was worth the visit. The main waterfall looked a little bit like a cenote, but you wouldn’t be jumping in here. Perhaps as it was the fall season, the waterfall might look epic in the springtime, but it was underwhelming. You will walk about a kilometre in a loop which is mostly paved, but there was no great views or the like on the walk.
How to get there: I walked from the tram which is about 7km, unfortunately I can’t tell you the bus number for certain. But the staff at the information centres can help you which I mention in the FAQ.
This is an awesome man-made waterfall with a big face carved into a rock right next to it for a dramatic effect. There’s no opportunity to swim and you won’t spend long at the waterfall, but given it is free to checkout, I prefer this one to Kursunlu. You’ll approach from the bottom of the waterfall, but you can also walk up to check out the view from the top as well where you get a nice view over the countryside. There are also a bunch of homely cafes and restaurants on the path to the top (no guarantees they’ll be open) and the zoo is across the road.
How to get there: Take the new tram to the last stop (Fatih), then walk north following the side of the road. There’s no path but there’s plenty of space to walk, so it’s safe.
Play With the Cats
Parnashree said in her Istanbul post: “They are literally owners of the city.”
The same goes with Antalya. There were some dogs hanging out around the city, but the cats were the boss. Some of the cats around town were hesitant of humans I found, but not if you head to this neat spot right by the old city. If you go in the afternoon or evening, when the sun is past its peak you should get a sweet chance to hang out with lots of cats as they come back from their day of adventures. Leave a donation too as the hangout spot is run by volunteers and all food and vet fees are paid for by donations.
Smile As You Wander The Toy Museum
If you have 30 minutes to spare and you’re nearby, this is a fun museum to have a look at. There are no stories to be told but I enjoyed the displays. The majority of the toys are from USA, Japan, and Germany dated from 1900 – 1980. The displays themselves are well presented and there are plenty of faces you’ll recognize such as Bugs Bunny, Marilyn Monroe, Popeye, and the ever present Mickey Mouse along with a bunch of others fitting the stereotypes of their relevant countries and eras.
How To Get There: The museum is located by the Marina and costs 6 TL according to the sign. For some reason they charged me 3.50 TL.
Alternative Museum: The Antalya Museum is massive and takes you deep into the history of the area. Based off the ratings of TripAdvisor and Google it must be great, but I heard otherwise from two people who visited. They both said the storytelling inside the museum was lacking and found themselves leaving sooner than expected.
Perge Ancient Ruins
Turkey does a marvelous job in keeping the ruins found throughout the country in good condition for tourism opportunities now and in the future. Perge is an Ancient City built around 1000 BC. If you go along, you can still see some of the walls intact and given it’s far enough away from Antalya and even Aksu, you get to immerse yourself in the place. My favourite was definitely the 12,000 seat stadium followed by the massive theater. 25 TL well spent if you are into this kind of thing.
How To Get There: Perge are located out past the airport, but are easily reached via the tram. Get off at the stop Aksu (towards Expo) and walk the 10 – 15 minutes from there.
Alternative: Termessos is another popular Ancient City close to Antalya. Both of them consistently get rave reviews. You can’t go wrong either way.
Wander About The Old Town
The Old Town in Antalya is interesting. Some of the massive walls exist, along with Hadrian’s Gate. Once you wander inside, there isn’t any OMG you must see this attraction in Antalya Old Town.
But there is some diversity within the walls. There are the bazaars with the Turkish classics, tea, nuts, and carpets sold among other things. The trendier area with pubs, clubs and Instagrammable cafes that wouldn’t look out of place in the most hipster of cities. Keep an eye out for a couple of epic viewpoints too.
Hang At The Marina
The marina isn’t large, but it’s definitely one of the fun spots to have a beer (and sunflower seeds) to enjoy the sunset with a mix of locals and tourists. If you decide you’d like to take a boat ride to the Lower Duden waterfall, this is the place to do so. You can also see the toy museum which I mention below.
Enjoy Time At The Beach
The Antalya region boasts about its sunshine, usually that’s over 300 day a year! That means, there’s plenty of beach time to be had. There is a beach by the marina but forget about that, it’s small, and the other two options are much better.
This is a sand beach that extends for a long way. It’s within walking distance of Lower Duden Falls, or you can take KL08 all the way to the beach front. There’s plenty of room on the beach, but for some reason this wasn’t an OMG beach for me.
This is my beach of choice. You can get there via the Old Tram (it’s a 5-minute walk from the last stop) or simply walk from the city in 30-40 minutes. The pebble beach extends for miles, so there is enough room for everyone and with the dramatic cliffs nearby, the scene is gorgeous.
Epic Views From The Tunektepe Cable Car
When you check out the viewpoint above, you can’t help but wonder what it’s like to explore that mountains you can see in the distance. Turns out it’s surprisingly easy, I’m just annoyed I waited until my last day to go explore a bit of the area. I explored the area around the base of the cable car by taking bus KL06 to the last station. There are two things to do out here, the beach and the epic view point from the top of the mountain. The beach is long, and again it is made of pebbles. There are a couple of cafes around, but also lots of picnic tables – the choice is yours. To get to the view point, the easiest way is via the gondola (15 TL return), or you can hike. The hike is steep however, and be sure to check it’s open (it’s part of the Lycian Way). Either way, you’ll be rewarded with epic views extending out to the other side of Antalya.
Wander The New Town And Explore
Outside of the Old Town, Antalya is like any other modern city. There are pedestrian streets, big intersections, cool little side streets with funky cafes, parks, the works. I liked aimlessly exploring different areas and seeing what I could find (a mandarin tree was never far away). Make sure to pick up a simit to snack on as well, they’re a Turkish bagel you can find on the street everywhere.
The Shopping Malls in Antalya
I normally love going to outdoor markets to buy fruit and vegetables, but for some reason I found myself going to Antalya Mark Shopping Center a lot. This is a popular shopping mall, and seemed to have everything you’d expect in a normal shopping mall. Two of the other popular malls are Terra City and Mall of Antalya.
Watch AntalyaSpor Football
I love watching football in other countries and was lucky enough to watch an International match, Turkey vs. Albania. While that’s great, you’re more likely to be able to watch an AntalyaSpor match. If you decide to go along, make sure to bring your passport and get to the stadium at least an hour in advance as there is a program Passolig you need to sign up to. I unfortunately took my expired passport along, meaning I didn’t get to see a match.
Play Golf On World Class Courses
About 30km from Antalya is Belek a.k.a. the best golf destination in Turkey with over a dozen golf courses within a 30 minute drive. These are world class golf courses, most of them aren’t cheap. There are a couple of public courses available, but from talking to expats in the area, you will want to book in advance.
The big tournament held in the area is the Turkish Airlines Open, held in early November (you can volunteer there, I recommend doing so if you like golf). I volunteered at the event, which you could look into. But it’s also a great chance to get close up action of the European Tour professionals too.
Where Are The Tourist Info Centres In Antalya?
They weren’t marked on Google maps, but there are two tourist information centres. I visited both a couple times and found the staff in the morning more helpful on both occasions (could be random of course). Here is one and the other one. They’re both big wooden buildings, can’t miss them.
How Does Public Transport Work?
You can pay for the bus when you get on wherever, or at trams stops there are ticket machines. But you should definitely get an AntalyaKart card. They’re much more economical and work for both trams and buses.
Is There A Free Walking Tour In Antalya?
The Turkish history is long and complicated making walking tours in the cities perfect. I tried to book a Free Walking Tour online a couple times in Antalya and both were cancelled. I’m guessing due to there being few tourists. If walking tours are your thing, make sure you do book in advance as the website mentions. Personally, I can’t say how good the tour is.
Is This A Good Solo Travel Destination?
Antalya is awesome, there’s plenty to do outside of the all-inclusive resorts for most people and with a good public transport system, the city is totally fine for solo travellers. Personally as a solo backpacker, I’d prefer to bring a friend next time as the hostel scene wasn’t thriving so there wasn’t an easy option for making friends. Perhaps in summer the chances to meet people would be a lot easier.
Where To Stay In Antalya?
Most of the accommodation options are in and around the Old City. If you’re planning to stay for a couple days, this is your best option, as it’s easy to get to everywhere mentioned above. If you want to play beach bum for a couple days, then start looking into accommodation at either Lara or Konyaalti.
Best Way To Get To Antalya?
Buses are can take you everywhere around Turkey reasonably comfortably. But I’d recommend you look into flights as they can often be cheaper than the buses. I caught a flight with Pegasus for 13 euro (including one checked bag) and that was booking just two days in advance. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!
Where To Go After Antalya?
As mentioned above, the buses can take you everywhere. Myself, I flew to Adana (yay for cheap flights) to run a marathon. Otherwise I would have gone to Pamukkale, which if you haven’t heard of Google them or headed further along the coast to Kemer, Olympos, and Kas.
Final Few Words
For those who were humming and harring about going to Antalya, I hope this article has helped you make up your mind (in either direction). The fourth largest city in the country isn’t jam packed with hotspots on every corner, but with a large population, there is plenty of things to do in Antalya to keep you busy for a few days.
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