Things to do in Turkish Riviera: Attractions and places to visit

Beach at Belek, Antalya, Turkey (Alex Kulikov)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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The Turkish Riviera is the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey between the holiday resorts of Kemer in the west and Alanya in the east. Destination airport for this beautiful destination is usually Antalya. Other important holiday resorts are Belek and Side.

The area is especially popular with travellers because of its beautiful sandy beaches and the beautiful nature with the Taurus Mountains in the hinterland. With its varied landscape and millennia of history, the Turkish Riviera is far too good for a pure bathing holiday.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights on the Turkish Riviera.

Voyage Sorgun Beach (Omer Unlu)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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Antalya (Elena Pleskevich)  [flickr.com]  CC BY-SA 
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Antalya - Miracle Resort (Cristian Bortes)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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1. Old town of Antalya

Many holidaymakers only connect the airport with the largest city on the Turkish Riviera for their return flight. Antalya has more than 2000 years of history and offers an extremely interesting old town, in which Greeks, Romans and Ottomans have left their traces. A stroll through the winding alleys of the harbour with its many small souvenir shops and taverns is a must if you want to spend your holiday on the Turkish Riviera.

The Hadrian Gate and the Alaeddin Mosque with the landmark of the city, the 38 m high fluted minaret, should not be missing on any sightseeing program. The city’s Archaeological Museum is one of the country’s leading museums and impresses with exhibits from the Stone Age to the Ottoman period. Of particular interest are the gallery of gods from the Perge excavation site, several colourful mosaics and the gold treasure of the Byzantines.

2. Castle of Alanya

Alanya, one of the most popular seaside resorts on the Turkish Riviera, is surmounted by the Seljuk fortress, visible from afar, which was built on a rock outcrop 250 m above sea level. It is considered to be one of the most important medieval castles in the entire area and resembles an ancient city with market squares, houses and more than 400 cisterns.

The impressive city wall from Hellenistic times consists of resistant stone and limestone walls and has a length of 6.5 km. A visit of the wide complex with its 140 towers, inner, middle and outer fortress should not be missed by any holidaymaker.

3. Waterfalls at Side

The surroundings of Side are very rich in water and several waterfalls are especially on hot days wonderful destinations during a stay on the Turkish Riviera. The most popular waterfalls are the falls of Manavgat, which are only 8 kilometers outside the city. As this is one of the most important sights of the area, thousands of tourists come here every day during the high season.

At least as impressive but less well known are the Kursunlu Falls, situated in a beautiful nature reserve, and the Düden Selalesi Falls. Here you can even walk through a vault directly behind the waterfalls. Depending on the season, the amount of water varies greatly. In spring and at the beginning of summer, the cases are usually the most impressive.

4. Amphitheatre of Aspendos

The amphitheatre of Aspendos was probably built in the 2nd century A.D. and is considered to be the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world. The impressive stage house is completely preserved and the acoustics are still unique today. Aspendos is located about 50 kilometres east of Antalya and can be reached on well-developed roads.

A few years ago, the ancient theatre, which could seat up to 20,000 spectators, was regularly used for opera performances and concerts. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible today for reasons of monument protection. The excavation site of Aspendo’s city with numerous houses, an acropolis and ruins of the aqueduct is also worthwhile for travellers interested in history.

5. Roman ruin field of Side

The remains of the ancient city of Side are one of the most interesting sights on the Turkish Riviera. The ruin field is located in today’s Selimiye district and was largely built over by the new town. Even today the excavation work is still going on. Many buildings from different eras can be seen. These include an amphitheatre for 20,000 spectators, the Temple of Apollo and the Great Imperial Agora. Those who spend their holidays at the Turkish Riviera should in any case make a detour here.

6. Ancient city Myra and Lycian rock tombs

The ancient Myra was located where the town of Demre is today and has only been gradually excavated since the 1960s by the mud of the river of the same name, which had covered the important ruins for several centuries. The fascinating rock tombs, which were carved into the rocks of the mountain like little houses, are among the highlights of this excavation site.

The most famous inhabitant of Myra was the holy bishop Nikolaus, whose tomb church can also be visited and which is one of the most visited sights in Myra. He is known as Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus or Father Frost. The excavation sites inspire even cultural oases because of their beauty.

7. Trip to the Taurus Mountains

During a holiday on the Turkish Riviera, an excursion to the mighty Taurus Mountains with their up to 3000 m high mountains is definitely recommended. Many locals “flee” during the hottest season to the idyllic villages and enjoy the much cooler temperatures there. In the Taurus Mountains, hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers get their money’s worth. Various well-organized hiking trails cross the area and offer experiences away from mass tourism.

The most famous mountain of the region, the 2365 m high Tahtali Dagi, is located near the village of Kemer. If you want to enjoy a breathtaking view of the landscape and the coast, you can take the cable car up to the top, which opened in 2006. A very special experience is a canoe or kayak trip on the Köprülü Kanyon in the national park of the same name in Manavgat. Over a length of about 14 km, the river has dug itself 400 m deep into the mountains. A grandiose natural spectacle!

8. Antique Town Perge

The archaeological site of Perge is located about 16 km from Antalya in a vast plain inland. Whoever visits it gets a good impression of the appearance of a Roman city. There are various city gates, houses, streets, baths, an old market square and a necropolis.

This ancient theatre also has a very elaborate stage building and testifies to the craftsmanship of that time. For many visitors, a trip to this sight on the Turkish Riviera is one of the highlights of their journey. The Roman Theatre and the old stadium are particularly beautiful.

9. Sunken city of Kekova

Kekova is a small island with an area of 5.7 km², only 500 m away from the village Ü?agiz and can be reached by a short boat ride from the mainland. Today the island is uninhabited and under nature protection. It is known for its underwater ruins on the north side.

The ancient city of Dolichiste sank due to several earthquakes probably in the 10th century and was completely flooded. The clear water allows a good view of the foundations and building remains, which seem to come from a mysterious world. The sunken town of Kekova is a wonderful destination for the whole family.

10. Dim cave

The enchanting Dim Cave with its small 17 metre deep lake is the second largest cave in Turkey open to the public. It is located about 12 km east of Alanya and is a thrilling place with its four galleries and huge stalagmites and stalactites.

The age of the stalactite cave, which is climbed over stairs, is estimated to be over one million years. An excursion here is fun for adults and children alike and makes the Dim Cave one of the most beautiful sights on the Turkish Riviera.

More things to do and activities for your Turkish Riviera holiday

Best time to visit Turkish Riviera

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Turkish Riviera:

May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Turkish Riviera.

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