Antalya is well known for its turquoise sea, beautiful beaches and luxury holiday resorts, but I am not one for a traditional all-inclusive holiday lying on the beach all day so took a more traveller approach to discover this Turkish city with a lot of history.
I arrived very late in the day on a Saturday evening at Antalya airport so made my way to our hotel in the centre of town. It was no frills, no pool, no breakfast, just a simple place to rest our heads for a couple of nights until we moved on as this was our starting point for a much bigger trip around Turkey. I was so hungry by the time I arrived so actually went to the next door café, which was still open at 2am, yes Turkey never seems to sleep! Here in the UK you are lucky if you can find a café open after 6pm outside of London so it is a pleasant surprise to me.
In the morning, we had a short walk and went straight to the old town (Kaleiçi) which is right by harbour. It consists of a maze of winding streets mostly inaccessible to cars and filled with market stalls, botique hotels, mosques, independent bars & restaurants. But with plenty of historic artefacts, beautifully restored buildings and an old town feel the atmosphere has a real charm to it compared to the rest of Antalya’s modern crowded streets. The impressive Hadrian’s Gate stands on Ataturk Boulevard separating the two, it dates back to 130 AD to commemorate Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit. After walking aimlessly and getting very distracted with the unique craft shops, we arrived at the Roman harbour.
There are many yachts and tour boats, of which one was just departing. We were thinking of doing one of the tours, so hovered around to check the prices but were pretty much ushered onto one of the boats while the guide proclaimed it was free. Not wanting to turn anything down that is free we continued and set sail on this pirate style boat, it all happened in a matter of moments so looking back I would probably reconsider getting on a boat that I had no idea where it was going and what we were in for! But all turned out well, it was a short pleasant journey around the coastline taking in some stunning waterfalls, cliffs and caves. There was a bar, which I guess they were hoping to make the money from, and an offer to take a souvenir photograph, so guess we just found our way on to a nice free tour around the coast.
We found a toy museum just opposite the harbour, lets face it toy museums exist everywhere nowadays but I do really love them, there is something really nostalgic and cute about them. This one was filled with mainly Turkish and German toys, from war toys to scary looking Mickey Mouse’s! It is really interesting seeing the imagination that went into the toys and to see some that would absolutely not get past current safety laws!
It was time for a late lunch so we got a breakfast platter, never too late for Turkish breakfast and it was perfectly delicious! We were starting to feel our legs tiring so headed to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. Lara beach is on the east side and is one of the best in Antalya, Titanic Beach Lara Hotel is here too and lots more of the popular holiday resorts. I did notice though that the beach is very close to the airport and the flightpath is directly over the beach so it isn’t the most peaceful you will find, however, I do quite like plane spotting so it was an added bonus for me! Though later in the trip, we visited Olimpos, a beach paradise further down the coast, away from all the distractions of modern life, that post will be up soon.
In the evening we tried one of the many fish restaurants to end the day, in true Mediterranean fashion they offered raki too (Turkeys anise flavoured alcohol). It was a lovely outdoor restaurant decorated with twinkling lights and views out to the harbour though I think the cats ate more of my fish than I did as they circled us until we gave in to their cuteness.
Next we were off to Land of Legends, a new entertainment complex and then the day after in complete contrast, a secluded coastal village in the middle of nowehere which was one of the most peaceful places i have visited.