The deep blue color of the Mediterranean Sea, breathtaking views at every step, affordable prices, flavorful dishes, and the kindest people…These are just a few of the reasons why Antalya is one of the most popular travel destinations in Turkey.

Antalya is a perfect gateway for all sorts of travelers – families with kids, solo travelers, business people looking for some peaceful “time off”, etc. If your goal is a well-balanced vacation with lots of “downtime” and a little “action” when required, then this list of the best things to do in Antalya can serve as inspiration.

Dive into the Mediterranean Sea

We are all there for the beaches – I get that. A swim in the sea after months of being “up and running” is all we dream of, right?

Discovering Antalya beaches is unquestionably one of the most fun things to do in Antalya. As a resort town, Antalya has a variety of beaches to do so! Having in mind that the Turkish Riviera is one of the most beautiful in the world, each of these beaches offers various choices of entertainment, restaurants, and shops.

The best beaches in Antalya

Mermerli Beach is a paid beach perfect for those who want to relax near many landmarks. If you are coming with family and want to surround yourself with a green oasis – then head straight to the Moonlight beach.

The two most visited beaches in Antalya are Lara Beach and Konyaalti Beach.

Konyaalti Beach is a beautiful spot on the west side of the city. You’ll find a mix of pebbled areas, stunning views of the Beydaglar mountains, and lots of water parks, lounges, and cafes. It’s a fantastic place for visitors to relax and have a great time!

If your wish is a traditional beach experience with the sand melting under your feet and refreshing sea waters, Lara Beach is a logical choice. Just a few miles from the city center, Lara Beach is a 10-kilometer-long space to satisfy your “sand and sea” cravings. 

Explore Old Town

You will not miss it, anyhow. As an epicenter of all the city’s happenings, Kaleici or Old Town is an inevitable stopover. Even if you are in Antalya for a day or two.

What makes this place so special? A combination of the sea marina where you still find old traditional boats anchored, and many historical landmarks dating back to Roman times. The bubbling hive of people is what makes strolls here one of the ultimate things to do in Antalya.

Old Town landmarks

The best time to walk around is when the Sun is setting and the night time. Start by visiting Clock Tower and Yivli Minaret, located right next to each other.

Continue strolling through the narrow streets, with their charming Ottoman-style houses and buildings. You’ll come across cozy pubs, inviting restaurants, and relaxed shisha lounges. Keep walking and you’ll see locals enjoying small evening chats outside their houses. Don’t miss the path leading down to the seafront! Here you can relax on a sunbed at the beautiful Mermerli Beach and take in the breathtaking view. Wrap up your evening with a delightful dinner at one of the many fish restaurants. Enjoy!

Extra tip – try some of the mussels sold by the locals for 5 TL (around 1 EUR) per piece. They taste here delicious!

Practice your bargaining “skills” at the Old Bazaar

The next stop is just a few corners up, right in the middle of Kaleici. Even small purchases at the Old Bazaar is one of the best things to do in Antalya!

Old Bazaar is a dreamland for shoppers! Those who love high-quality, handcrafted items such as rugs, leather clothes, and gold and silver jewelry will surely be happy.

If you don’t have anything against wearing copies of luxury pieces – then this will be a treat for you. There are hundreds of vendors selling dupes! An important part of shopping is bargaining, even if this is not “your thing”. It is what makes this activity fun to do! Plus, you go home with a “goodie” that costs you around 10 – 20 bucks! Cool, right?

My Tip: Some vendors might get too “pushy’ in their effort to sell you their goods. Try not to get easily annoyed! It’s the way things are “done” here sometimes, perhaps is a cultural thing – who knows! The best thing to do when someone is too aggressive is to ignore them.

Best things to do in Antalya – Hadrian’s gate

Wondering what is the most iconic historical site in Antalya? Hadrian’s gate, unmistakably! If you are already strolling the Old Town, surely you will stumble upon it. This is where all tourists are headed to, at the end, to get some cool pictures.

This structure, made of three double arches, was built in the 2nd century AD to celebrate the visit of Emperor Hadrian to the city! It’s a small landmark compared to other famous landmarks such as Hierapolis or Perga, for example. What fascinates me is that the décor on the gate are in excellent condition even after so many years!

It’s very interesting to see carvings in white marble made of carriages passing through the gate over thousands of years. This makes one conclude that historically, Antalya was a very important merchant place for all visitors around the world.

Get on a cable car!

Does having a panoramic view of the entire Antalya from a height of 5,000 feet sound exciting to you?

If yes, a ride to the top of the mountain is surely one of the must things do to in Antalya. This can be done from two points in the city: Tünektepe Teleferik Tesisleri and Olympos Teleferik cable car stations.

You can buy tickets either on the spot or online. The price is around 15 EUR and a ride starts when the car is filled with passengers. You might ask staff if you can have a cabinet entirely for yourself, as we did. Sometimes they do that! It takes around 10 minutes to reach the top of the hills.

Enjoy the best of the Mediterranean Sea

As the cable car ascends further up passengers are treated to mesmerizing views of the azure Mediterranean Sea, and the surrounding mountains. It is an exhilarating journey through lush greenery, creating a sense of tranquillity and awe. 

When you reach the top of the hill, you’ll discover charming shops, talented photographers, and delightful restaurants. Since it’s a popular tourist spot, prices can be a bit high. I suggest visiting early in the day or during sunset to steer clear of the crowds. Treat yourself to a lovely Turkish tea, pick a cozy spot on a bench, and soak in the serene mountain scenery.

Visit the famous Düden Waterfalls

Just imagine a river that flows underground 15 km along southern Anatolya, then rises to the surface in a place called Düdenbaşı. Then it reaches the Mediterranean Sea and falls into it creating waterfalls 40 meters high – how amazing sounds that? I mean, don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen yet such a powerful picture of nature!

What is important to know is that there are two Duden Waterfalls – Upper and Lower, as a part of the same river. Visits to both sites are very interesting for all travelers to Antalya.

Upper and Lower Duden Waterfall

Upper Düden Waterfalls are located around 12 km northeast of Antalya and are perfect for those who like spending time in nature surrounded by green landscapes. Exploring caves hidden behind the waterfalls, numerous trails in green, and plenty of cafes and restaurants – it seems like an adventurous thing to do in Antalya, doesn’t it?

Lower Duden Waterfalls are near Lara Beach and part of a larger Duden Park area. Entrance to the park is free of charge and it includes many ways of entertainment – rafting, boating, taking pictures with a parrot (if this is your thing), or just enjoying delicious ice cream. This area is perfect for spending a pleasant evening strolling around with family or friends.

Indulge in Turkish food

Going on a food tour or, even better, making your own is one of the ultimate things to do while in Antalya. The variety of Turkish cuisine will not leave your cravings unsatisfied.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, a bad news for you! You may find it a bit challenging to find suitable options in Turkish cuisine, as it’s mainly meat-based. Most restaurants offer barbecue dishes, which can make it tricky to find options. However, if you’re open to trying different flavors and don’t have specific dietary restrictions, you’ll find a wide range of savory dishes to enjoy. Most of them include lamb or beef, along with vegetables and rice cooked in a “tava.”

“Lahmacun” (a flat dough with lamb meat), “borek” (a pie stuffed with cheese and eggs), “kofta”, “sarma“, or “kebab” are just some of the dishes that you need to try while in Antalya. My favorite was Turkish breakfast, which often included “menemen”– red capsicum and tomatoes pan-fried in eggs, olives, different types of cheese, breads, sausages, etc.

Antalya is a paradise for those with a “sweet tooth”! Turkish baklava with pistachio will melt in your mouth. Same as “kunefe”, “halva”, “and “lokum”. The choice of delicious pastries and desserts is endless! I highly recommend trying out “tabak tatlisi”. Its a dessert made of baked pumpkin in syrup garnished with tahini sauce and walnuts. It tastes incredible!

Experience traditional Turkish Hamam and Spa

If you haven’t been to a Turkish spa yet, you’re missing out! Getting an authentic massage and bath in the place where they originated is a one of the mandatory things to do in Antalya.

Even though these kinds of “spas” exist nowadays in almost every world city, having an authentic massage and bath in the crib of their origin is an unavoidable thing to do in Antalya.

A hamam (Arabic: ḥammām) or Turkish bath is a type of steam bath or a place of public bathing associated usually with the Islamic world. The principle of the Hamam is simple: you sweat in a steam room before being scrubbed of at least five layers of skin and bathed again. Since Turkey is an Islamic country, there are separate areas for Ladies and Gentlemen as a part of the same building.

Most of the time, Turkish baths are part of beauty salons where you can find some other “beauty treatments”. I must say that the prices of salon treatments in Antalya salons were so tempting (read: low) that I wanted to do so many of these while I was there!

Book a boat trip

There are many options to choose from when it comes to booking a boat tour . Each of them offers an opportunity to unwind in a peaceful setting or set on an adventure.  Boat trips to some of the islands along the shore are trendy, but also cruising down the coastline. Prices are typically very affordable and often include lots of activities and entertainment, such as snorkeling, barbecues, belly dancing, etc.

If you are a “party person”, then a foam party should be on your list “to be done in Antalya”! A most popular boat tour is to Suluada Island. It is sometimes called the “Maldives of Turkey” due to its sandy beaches and the color of the waters. Although tiny in size, gives a perfect chance to have a spectacular day. Have fun by umping into the sea, all day swimming, or simply appreciating the beauty of the scene.

Day trips from Antalya are simply a must-do!

Day trips are nowadays an inevitable part of the travel experience. Antalya’s position gives a perfect starting point to many side trips. The most popular are trips to the nearby cities, Cappadocia, or boat trips to some of the islands.

Pamukkale

A day trip that almost everyone should have on his list is Pamukkale. It is the most visited place in the country, even more than Cappadocia, and on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. People have traveled over the centuries to Pamukkale. It is believed that these naturally formed spas are cures for many skin diseases.

Hierapolis

The great thing is that Pamukkale is a part of the huge antique city Hierapolis, located right above the terraces. A trip here is a perfect opportunity to explore two major landmarks.

Are you interested in history and culture? The ancient city of Hierapolis is another must-see destination for you. The city existed back in the Iron Age and during the Roman and Greek Empires. It was developed into one of the largest cities in the Aegean Region of Turkey.

It’s astonishing how many parts of this city are still in excellent condition. The Roman Ancient Theatre, Plutonian’s Devil Gate, and the Temple of Apollon. By the way, this place is still enormous, hence be prepared for a long walk!

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