With its rich history and culture, mesmerizing coastline, and affordable prices, Antalya attracts millions of visitors each year. When people decide to book their vacation here, they know that the fun is guaranteed. Many luxury resorts and hotels offer all sorts of entertainment and the highest possible comfort. A good part is that Antalya is a very affordable tourist destination when compared with other locations in Europe. That is why many tourists have high hopes when traveling to Antalya.

There are many amazing and free things to do in Antalya and every traveler can expect a great experience. But not everything can be perfect even while being on vacation, right? Just to help you make the most out of your trip, I have created a list of things to be aware of before traveling to this city.

City’s traffic

Let’s start with the most obvious one. Traffic in Antalya can be…. hm, well…sometimes chaotic! People drive very fast and sometimes traffic rules are not respected. You should be aware of it, especially if you are coming with children and planning to rent a car there.

If you are not a particularly skilled driver and not used to dealing with other angry “traffic participants”, I would advise you to consider other ways of getting around. Why would you waste your good mood and energy on something so trivial when you are on vacation? Finding a parking space is another challenging task as well, specifically in the city center. If renting a car is something you insist on, planning is a really important thing.

Public transportation in Antalya

One thing you will notice while traveling to Antalya – it’s not a small city! It’s, in fact, quite large. That is why – how to get around Antalya should be an important question to ask before traveling to Antalya.

Public transportation in Antalya consists of trams, buses, small collective buses (“dolmus”), and taxis. Taxis are the most comfortable way to travel, and the price of taxi fare is quite affordable. Unfortunately, a subway does not exist. This is why buses, as the most used way of commuting, are super crowded over the summer!

Bus punctuality is not something that you should count on, as well. Not a “biggie”, someone will say. However, if you’ve made some plans for the day, being late is the last thing that you need, right? Besides, you might end up calling a cab each time when you realize that the bus is not coming. This might be an attack on your well-planned budget for traveling to Antalya.

How to use the bus system in Antalya?

If Taxi is not your preferred way of moving around Antalya, I have some tips for you:

  • Buy AntalyaKart. It’s a card valid on all public buses and trams and it works on the “top-up system”. Buying and loading up the card is possible at the many vending machines located throughout the city and at the airport. Optionally, you can buy a ticket from the driver. The price is 16 TL (around 50 Cent).
  • Download the same app. For some unfamiliar reason, Google Maps in Antalya doesn’t provide always accurate information about bus schedules and arrivals. On the other side, the AntalyaKart app works quite okay. You might need some time till you figure out how the app works, but in any case AntalyaKart app is well worth it.

Prices are sometimes a mystery

When strolling around Antalya’s shops or restaurants you will soon notice something strange – prices are not always displayed! Only supermarkets, clothing stores, or drugstore items have a regular price tag that we normally expect to find when we walk in. However, if you wish to look at the menu in a restaurant, you will be offered the menu depending on whether you are a tourist or a Turkish citizen.

Let’s quickly “unlock” the mystery! There are two product prices in Antalya: one for the locals and one for the tourists. Seems shocking and unfair? Certainly, it does!

Unfortunately, as the temperature in Turkey rises, so do prices. As in any tourist place, businesses here are solely dependent on tourist dollars, collected during the most popular season – summer. They try to get the most out of it by hiking up the prices that they offer to visitors, keeping the regular prices for those who aren’t. Some things are done “differently” in Antalya. Is it a cultural thing? Might be! If it is unacceptable to you to pay a different price, you might ask upfront about the “original” price.

Restaurant “traps”

 We are not done with the topic of “tourist scams” in restaurants, I am afraid!

Tipping in a restaurant is a desired and normal thing – same as everywhere in the world. There is no rule as such – how much you should tip the guy who served you. The confusion occurs when some restaurants will have a “service charge” added to your bill and some will not. Why? Again, no idea! I guess, it’s a business owner’s decision.

Service charge is usually from 5 – 10 % and it is the money that goes to the serving staff and hopefully, the kitchen. This means that tips are already included in your bill, no matter if you liked the service or not! The best it is to ask the restaurant if they will charge for the service provided, before even choosing the table. This will prevent any uncomfortable situations upon paying the bill.

Another thing to note is that “extra cheese” or “extra butter” that you politely asked from the waiter will mostly mean an “extra charge”. “No free lunch” is taken seriously in Antalya, therefore do not expect free things! Again, it’s better to ask before ordering the item if it’s free or not.

A third thing to note when in a restaurant: check the bill accuracy before paying. You do not want to pay for a “kebab” that someone else in the restaurant had, right?

Always-changing currency exchange rate

Having cash will be highly necessary as credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere.

A currency valid in the country is called the Turkish Lira (TL). As expected exchange from foreign currency to Turkish one is required when traveling to Antalya. The first thing to note is to avoid exchanging currency at the airport, as soon as you arrive because the rate there is the lowest.

You might want to wait till you reach your hotel and do the exchange over there or at any of a large number of exchange offices. Some of them are private and might charge an additional provision so it might be better to ask beforehand about it. 

You need to be aware that the rate might vary a lot depending on where you exchange. My general recommendation is that you plan the vacation budget and exchange a larger amount at once instead of doing it whenever you run out of money. This will prevent spending money on fluctuating currency exchange rates and unnecessary expenses. Another option is to check with your bank, which might offer an even better rate than in Turkey.

Plan and book your tours in advance

Antalya and Turkey are relatively affordable tourist locations, in general. For the same reason, booking a tour or a side trip should not be a big attack on your wallet. Also, it can be an unforgettable experience if you decide to include them in your travel to Antalya.

City tours and day trips normally include visits to at least 3 – 4 of the most iconic landmarks in Antalya or outside the city. This might come cheaper than planning all the trips on your own. Besides, it’s so much more comfortable when someone else does all the planning and ‘brain work’, right?

My advice is to plan and book all tours, preferably, weeks in advance because you might get even more discount, and who doesn’t like that?! This is important if you are intending a trip to Cappadocia or Pamukkale, especially a hot air balloon ride. As the two most popular tourist places in the country, a trip to them can be expensive (not to mention, overwhelming) if not well planned.

Side trips are a must-do when traveling to Antalya

Buying a SIM card is a necessary

If you are in particularly ‘enthusiastic” traveler and you like arranging things on your own there are a couple of things to make note of even before traveling to Antalya.

The first thing is to get a SIM card with Internet Data if you wish to use public transportation. Asking locals for directions can be helpful, but not always, as many of them still do not speak English. Plus, you will figure out soon that using the AntalyaKart app is much more convenient and time-saving.

The three main Internet providers are Vodaphone, Turkcell, and Avea. Their stores can be found all over the city and the Old Town. Make sure to have a passport with you when buying. Alternatively, many smaller shops sell SIM cards with data, as well.

Buying data immediately at the airport is possible, but not recommendable, simply because those stores will try to upsell the most expensive package. Unfortunately, even in other places, salespeople will only offer the most expensive SIM card. For example, after lots of searches, I ended up buying a card with 40 GB of data for a price of 30 EUR even though I did not need that much data. I’m not sure if the “sold out” situation was true or not, but I somehow wished I ordered it online before traveling to Antalya.

You need to bargain a lot

If you are planning to do a shopping spree in Antalya, my advice is to avoid going straight to Old Bazaar. When it comes to clothing, local shops have way better deals than vendors in Old Bazaar, plus the quality of the items is pretty satisfactory. These shops can be found at the beginning of the Old Bazaar streets. Just follow the sign “Indirim” (Sale) and you will be able to buy a modern T-shirt for just 1 EUR! How cool is that!?

 If you, however, have the intention of buying some authentic and handcrafted items, such as carpets, home goods, and gold and silver jewelry you should know that these items are quite famous in Turkey. Their quality is impressive but they can be also very expensive. In that case, one thing you need to always remember – bargain, bargain, and bargain! Some things have a set price, but everything else has more or less flexible prices. This is especially true at the Old Bazaar where nobody expects you to accept the first price.

If possible, travel off-season

Not a new advice, I know. But traveling to Antalya in less popular times can be crucial when it’s about “saving your wallet”. Not to mention, more enjoyable! Prices of hotels and food are far lower if you plan your vacation in, let’s say, April or September. This is especially important if a trip to Pamukkale is among the plans. You can find millions of tourists in June-August and that is why this site is suffering greatly because of mass tourism consequences. Not to disappoint with the fact that those turquoise travertine springs that you so eagerly wait to see are empty during those months.

So….when is a good time to travel to Antalya?

 Antalya has a typical Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. This means, that traveling to Antalya outside of the busiest period can be equally enjoyable, but without too much crowd.

March and April are months when trees and flowers are blooming. This means perfect for all outdoor activities and city exploring.

May with the temperature of 22 degrees is the time when people start visiting beaches but without summer crowds. Avoid June, July, and August and jump to September or even October if you wish to get the most out of the trip plus save a lot of “coins”.

In the end, traveling to Antalya knowing some hidden secret can turn into a memorable trip!

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