At Secret Antalya we’re passionate about the place we live. To share this passion with you, we’ve decided to put together this guide which contains all the insider tips you need to know about to make the most of your trip.
Booking your Trip
The first step to your trip to Antalya is booking the trip itself. This part of the guide covers when is the best time to visit, the best places to stay, tips about booking flights, renting cars and much more.
Best Time To Visit
First things first. If you want to come to Antalya for a great holiday experience you first need to decide on the period of the year for your trip. Here is a summary our top recommended periods to visit Antalya.
The best time to visit Antalya is autumn. This may sound strange for a place that is known for summer holidays but trust us, it’s true. The reason why Autumn is the best place to visit is mainly because the hottest part of the year is over. July and August are the hottest times of the year in Antalya with temperatures up to 40°C+ (104° F). A little too hot in our opinion to do anything other than sitting by to pool.
If you want the best weather to enjoy Antalya and its region to the fullest September onward is the best time. The sea is still at its warmest point, the weather is great and the high season has been left behind which means fewer crowds and lower prices. Perfect!
If you love hot weather and are looking forward to spending most of your time sipping cocktails at the the pool of your five star all inclusive hotel, we’d recommend summer. This period is definitely the time of the year when everything is happening in Antalya. Nightlife is bustling, the resorts are full and things to do are plentiful.
Coming to Antalya in summer is the best time to leave the daily stress of your life at home behind and relax to the fullest. Antalya has a wide range of all inclusive resorts on offer in all price classes for the perfect lazy holiday. If you decide to come in this period we would recommend you choose the resort with the most amenities as you will be spending most of your time there. We wouldn’t recommend you plan many activities or day trips during the day as it can get very hot.
The weather in spring is great, it is not crowded yet and the sea is starting to warm up. If you want an early escape from the gloomy weather at home the spring can be a great option.
Winter is by far the least popular time of year to visit Antalya. It can still be a nice time to go on hikes, golf, enjoy reasonable weather and do some shopping. There are even 2 ski resorts in Antalya’s vicinity, don’t expect great skiing like in the alps however!
For more details about the best time of the year to visit Antalya check out Antalya Weather – When is Best to Visit?
Places to Stay
If you decide to come to Antalya you really need to choose from two options. Either you decide you want to relax in which case we would recommend an all inclusive holiday, or you decide you want a holiday full of exciting activities in which case we have different recommendations.
All Inclusive Resorts
So you’ve decided you want to relax and have everything taken care of? Well Antalya is the perfect choice for that. There is an insurmountable selection of all inclusive hotels to choose from. The most popular destinations for all inclusive holidays are Lara, Belek, Side Kemer and Alanya.
All of the destinations mentioned above are great. The place we would recommend in particular to look for all inclusive resorts is Lara. The reason being that it’s close to the airport, close enough to to the city center for a visit by taxi and it has some of the best beaches and resorts.
If you decide for a resort in Side, Kemer or Alanya, keep in mind that they are all at least an hour drive from Antalya airport.
Antalya City Hotels
If you are looking for a holiday with more variety where you get the opportunity to explore all the amazing things to do in Antalya we would recommend staying in one of the many exquisite hotels in Antalya proper.
Hands down the best hotel in Antalya, it offers many amenities and is centrally located. Its proximity to Konyaalti Beach Park makes it great to go to the beach and enjoy many of the great cafés and restaurants in its surroundings. For those who like to go for walks it is next to Falez park which offers breathtaking views and a friendly purrs from the many local cats. Ataturk park and even the old town are within walking distance for those who want to explore the best parts of the city.
This hotel is close to Rixos Downtown and shares many of the advantages with Rixos. The price is more competitive than Rixos which makes it a great option for those who prefer to spend their money on other things.
Top notch facilities. Close to Lara which offers amazing nightlife and great shopping. This hotel has amazing views from both its restaurants. Pablito has a casual atmosphere with an extensive choice of drinks and cocktails. Asmani is located at the top floor and offers a more high-end experience.
Once you have decided where to go you have to decide how to get there. Antalya is generally quite easily reachable by plane. There are a few things to keep in mind however.
Make sure you book a direct flight if there are any available. If you plan to travel to Antalya during the high season there will almost certainly be a choice between direct and indirect flights. In case of an indirect flight you will have to make a stopover at one of the airports in Istanbul.
This may seem like a minor inconvenience but it is not. Your total travel time could more than double compared to a direct flight, especially if there are delays. It also introduces the risk of missing a connecting flight. These seemingly minor things could have a huge effect on your holiday for a usually relatively small savings. We would therefore strongly advise against it unless there is no other option.
Our favorite budget airline is SunExpress. They don’t charge extra for luggage and have comfortable, modern planes. It is a joint venture between the Turkish and German airlines, Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, which makes them more trustworthy than other budget airlines. They offer direct flights from many European cities to Antalya and domestic flights within Turkey.
Last Minute Deals
During the high season many tour operators are offering all inclusive holidays plus flights for very competitive prices. These may be a good option if you are looking to save the most you can on your trip. We would however recommend you to think twice before taking the plunge.
Last minute deals area usually offered by tour operators to fill flights and hotels that they otherwise weren’t able to sell. They could be offering a great deal with great savings for you. Usually however the hotels and flights included in these deals are not the best.
Make sure that there aren’t any better flights with more reasonable departure and arrival times. Check that the reviews of the hotel are reasonable on TripAdvisor or Google Maps. It is also important to check that the hotel is not in the middle of nowhere in case you want to visit some places and don’t want to spend a fortune on taxi fares.
Renting a Car
Renting a car is a great way to discover the areas around Antalya. There is a plethora of historical sites, hidden beaches, canyons, mountains, islands and other interesting places to visit. We therefore highly recommend renting a car.
The easiest way to rent a car in Antalya is probably through an international agency that is present at Antalya Airport’s International Terminal. We advise you book your car online through a website like SkyScanner. If you are looking for special deals on cars delivered to your hotel, you can get in touch with us via e-mail and we will find a tailor made solution for you.
Preparing for Your Trip
Once everything has been booked it is time to prepare for your trip! This section is a comprehensive guide of all the things to consider to prepare for your trip.
The first thing to check before you leave is whether you need a visa to enter Turkey. Whether you need one or not will depend on your nationality. In some cases no visa is needed at all, in other cases you can either buy an e-visa online or get one at the border. You can find official visa information from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
In case you need to a visa to enter Turkey we highly recommend you to apply through the e-visa program. The last thing you want to do after your arrival is to wait in a queue to obtain a visa!
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira. The Turkish Lira has been depreciating considerably in value against other currencies in recent years. This has made Turkey a very competitive destination price wise. There are a few things to keep in mind in order to get the best exchange rates when making payments or exchanging currency.
You can pay by card practically everywhere in Turkey and Antalya. In some cases they have a separate point of sale machine for foreign cards. If the payment machine shows a price in your local currency ask to pay in Turkish Liras. The exchange rate is unfavorable and there there will be a 3% commission on top.
The same applies to ATMs to withdraw cash. Do not use the currency conversion the ATM offers. Make sure you always get charged in Turkish Liras. Also try to find ATM machines that don’t charge a commission. We found QNB Finansbank and Halkbank to be the best to withdraw cash.
Nowadays there are many banks that offer travel cards that do not charge extra fees for foreign currency payments or cash withdrawals. We would highly recommend you find your local equivalent of the UK Starling Bank.
Travel and Health Insurance
If you’re traveling from the European Union it is important to note that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is NOT valid in Turkey. It is therefore important to make sure you have the appropriate medical coverage before you travel.
Health care is generally good in Turkey. If, God forbid, you are in need of medical assistance while in Antalya, try to go to a private hospital over a public one. Some of the best hospitals are Memorial and Medical Park.
If you are planning to stray from the tourist hot spots you will find that the level of English in Turkey is quite poor. Here are a few Turkish phrases that will help you on your adventures.
Merhaba – Hello
Nasılsın? – How Are you?
Evet – Yes
Hayır – No
Ismin ne? – What is your name?
Check out Omniglot for a comprehensive list of Turkish phrases.
Turkish cuisine = kebab right? Sure, but there is so much more too it! And kebab may actually not be what you think. You will find döner kebab joints all over the world which has made the word kebab synonymous with döner. In reality kebab is any kind of grilled meat and döner is basically the fast food variant of kebab.
It is most likely you will be eating at your hotel or at a restaurant so we will focus on that here. We like to divide Turkish cuisine up in three categories.
- Street Food – Fast Food
Döner Kebab, Tantuni and Kokoreç are the most popular street food dishes. Döner Kebab is the famous rotating meat rotisserie, Tantuni is a spicy beef wrap and if you want to try something more hard-core Kokoreç is the way to go. Kokoreç is made from spicy grilled lamb intestines and is popular as a bite after a night of drinking.
Kebab restaurats are basically grill restaurants. Here you can find a large variety of regional meat dishes
For fish we recommend you head out to a meyhane. A meyhane is a Turkish drinking den where alcoholic drinks like Rakı are served accompanied by small dishes called meze and fish as a main course.
Turkey is a very diverse country with a very rich history. Some of the earliest cultures originated in the lands that form modern day Turkey. It is a surprise to many people that much of early Christianity developed in Anatolia (Anatole means ‘East’ in Greek).
In fact both Saint Paul of Tarsus and Saint Nicholas of Myra were born and lived not far from Antalya, on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean. Saint Nicholas is the saint that eventually evolved in the modern Santa Claus and his church is about 2 hours by car from Antalya.
Modern Turkey is a secular state which is predominantly Islamic. You will find that Turkey is quite Westernized. Many people drink alcohol and people dress and behave in Western fashion. That does not to apply to everyone however and you will also find many places where conservative values are more widespread and for example alcohol is not served due to Islamic practice.
Arriving in Antalya
Once you have arrived in Antalya you will need be taken to your hotel. Taxis are a great choice. They are quite affordable and we found that taxi drivers are generally quite fair with how much they charge to tourists and foreigners. If you want book a transfer in advance at great rates you can do so here or you can ask your hotel or tour operator whether they offer hotel transfers.
Things to do
The first thing many people think of when they hear “Antalya” is huge all inclusive resort hotels. We won’t deny their existence but we want to make sure you realize Antalya has much more to offer.
Antalya has many great restaurants to offer and we will write a detailed guide to the best restaurants in Antalya. But we’re going to cut to the case right now and reveal our two favorite restaurants that are guaranteed to not disappoint.
Our favorite fish restaurant and meyhane in all of Antalya is located in the old town. Get a bottle of rakı and order a few mezes. In particular we like the grilled octopus, calamari and oven cheese when it’s available. Leave some room for some grilled sea bass which is beyond delicious. Make sure you make a reservation if you’re planning to come here on weekends, it can get busy!
Urfa Sofrası is a family-run Kebab restaurant which has been our favorite for more than 10 years. This restaurant is located in a residential area which makes it virtually unknown to tourists. The owners are people with traditional values originating from the Eastern provinces of Anatolia, alcohol is not served at these premises. It may be a bit far depending on which area you are in Antalya but the trip here is definitely worth it.
Hands down our favorite theme park in Antalya is The Land of Legends. Land of legends features a water park, a luxury hotel, a shopping mall and various thrilling rides and a handful of restaurants. At first sight it looks a bit like a Disneyland knock off but we found both the water park and the theme park to be great fun for the whole family. Prices can be a bit steep in high season but it’s definitely worth the fun. Expect some huge adrenaline rushes!
The nightlife in Antalya is bustling, especially in summer. There two hots pots in Antalya with respect to night life. The first is the old town also known as Kaleiçi.
The old town is located within the ancient Roman city halls. There are many steep streets filled with bars, restaurants and street food joints. The atmosphere is laid back and the average age is relatively low. Expect to see many students and young people sitting on terraces. The quality of the restaurants and bars is high. We would recommend The Old town if you’re looking for a laid back atmosphere with an ice cold beer.
The other option is Lara. Lara is the upscale neighborhood of Antalya. Here you will be able to find clubs, upscale restaurants catering to a slightly more mature and affluent clientele.
Antalya is home to the famous Lycian way which is a trail through the heartland of ancient Lycia. It is a 540 km long stretch along the coast from Antalya all the way to Ölüdeniz.
The Lycian way is a very long hike however. If you are looking to experience a small part of it we would advise you drive to Karaöz and walk up the Gelidonya Lighthouse, which has an outstanding view of the three islands across the sea.
The Antalya region has seen the Lycian civilization flourish, was subsequently Hellenized and absorbed into the Roman empire. This rich history has left many marks in the form of ancient ruins. There are many historical sites to visit, here we will focus on our two favorites.
Termessos is an ancient Psidian city which is in relatively good state for a ruin. It is located at the top of a mountain with a theatre at is summit which makes it truly unique. It can be reached in around 40 mintes from Antalya by car and it takes another 20-30 minutes to hike there from the parking lot. Termessos makes for the perfect day trip for those who like to combine activity with culture.
Phaselis is an ancient marine city located at the coast on the road from Kemer to Antalya. Its origins can be traced to 700BC. The site has a harbour, a main road, squre and a theatre. There is also a nice beach inside the bay, making Phaselis a nice place to combine sunbathing and exploration. It can be reached in about one hour from Antalya by car.
If shopping is your thing there are plenty of options in Antalya. The four main shopping centers we would recommend are Terracity, Migros Shopping Center, MarkAntalya and Mall of Antalya. Check out The Best Places to Shop in Antalya for a complete shopping overview in Antalya.
We hope this guide was useful for planning your trip to Antalya. If you have any questions whatsoever don’t hesitate to reach out.