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ANTALYA

The Big Orange                            Population: 2,222,000

Antal1Old name: Attaleia

Of all of Turkey’s mega-resorts, Antalya has to be one of the finest - it's certainly one of my favourites not least because the tourism industry grew up around what was already a thriving town with a life of of its own that continues today.

Right at its heart is the delightful quarter inside the old city walls called Kaleiçi, where a collection of restored and rebuilt Ottoman houses are grouped together to give a good idea of what a Turkish town would have looked like in the 19th century.

Since many of them house atmospheric hotels and pensions, visitors get the chance to dream themselves back to the days before modernism. Squeezed in between the houses, old mosques and towers offer passing reminders of the Selçuks and Ottomans. The even more distant past lingers on most conspicuously in the landmark Arch of Hadrian that rises from rutted marble flagstones at the bottom of a flight of steps.Antal2

Kaleiçi stands beside and above Antalya’s lovely old fishing harbour, where choice restaurants dish up pricy fish suppers.

Afterwards you can walk off your meal with a stroll in the park on the headland and imagine yourself a mariner about to set out on a voyage around the Mediterranean, an endless vista of dappled turquoise and green water flowing around rocky islands.

The Kaleiçi is far from all that Antalya has to offer. Out east and west the Lara (shingle) and Konyaaltı (pebble) beaches attract sunworshippers in their thousands. A short tram ride to the west the Antalya Museum houses one of the finest collections of Roman statuary in Turkey, including many statues taken from the site of Perge.

Antal3But what really makes Antalya stand out from most of the other resorts is that it is a sizeable town in its own right with all the shops, restaurants and other amenities that go with that. If you want to get a taste of the real Turkey to top up your holiday experience, this is one of the best places to do it.

With the summer temperature and humidity at wilting level, most August visitors won't want to drag themselves far from their hotel pool and air-conditioned bedroom. Come October, though, and the town makes a great base for excursions to the surrounding attractions, including some of Turkey’s finest archaeological sites.

Antalya Museum

Antalya has one of Turkey's best museums (closed Mondays, admission fee) largely because of its proximity to the important archaeological sites at Termessos, Side, Perge and Aspendos.

The most impressive room is the so-called Hall of Gods, where statues of 16 Ancient Roman gods and goddesses, mainly found at Perge, are beautifully displayed. More poignant is a room which shows off sarcophagi and other ancient pieces recovered from overseas museums over the last decade or so.Antal4Attalus II of Pergamum (160-139BC) is credited with founding Antalya

Eating and drinking

Dotted about the Kaleiçi are other inviting places to eat such as the garden restaurant at the Villa Perla. Or there’s the Demlik (Teapot), hidden behind a high wall and very popular with the cool crowd who hang out here no matter what the time of day.

Just outside the walls near Hadrian's Gate the colourful Le Man Kültür restaurant has a cool vibe in part because its decor reflects the cartoon paper after which it's named. Nearby a branch of Kahve Diyarı (Coffee Country) puts the adjacent Starbucks in the shade with its sails and delightful presentation. 

The Dönerciler Çarşısı, a covered area full of döner and İskender kebab restaurants midway between Kale Kapısı and Hadrian's Gate, is nothing like as alluring as it used to be. You can find döner just as good for lower prices elsewhere.

Sleeping

After Safranbolu, Antalya probably boasts the best choice of Ottoman-house hotels hidden away in the old, walled Kaleiçi district. There’s something to suit every taste here, with some of the hotels lavishly decorated in Ottoman style while others favour a modernist look.

Most of the package-holiday hotels line the beaches on either side of the city centre. You are more likely to get a good price for a room at any of them if you book through a tour company before coming to Turkey. 

Hillside Su Hotel Design-driven hotel within easy reach of Antalya Museum and Konyaaltı beach. Some people will love it, others will feel as if they're strayed into a magazine photoshoot. Tel: 0242-249 0700

The Marmara Antalya Out near Lara Beach, this hotel is also very design-driven, although here colour and detail take over from the minimalism of the Hillside Su. Tel: 0242-249 3600

AntrayWelcoming AntRayTravel info

Daily Turkish Airlines, Onurair and Atlasjet flights to Antalya depart from İstanbul’s Atatürk Airport.

Antalya Airport (www.aytport.com) is 10km east of the city and connected to it by Havaş buses.

The otogar is on the western side of the city and has two sections, one for inter-city buses, the other for local services to Kemer, Phaselis, Çıralı, Olympos etc. Infuriatingly, although there are servis buses from the otogar to town none of them goes to Kaleiçi.

The new AntRay tram line from Fatih to Meydan stops at the otogar. To get to Kaleiçi alight at the İsmetpaşa stop and walk straight ahead. At the crossroads walk straight ahead for Hadrian's Gate or turn right for Kale Kapısı. The tram does not yet run to the airport although an extension is being built (Oct 2014).

An older tram line trundles past Kaleiçi on its way to the museum (Müze), the last stop which is just as well as none of the others are labelled.

For a town that receives so many visitors Antalya is not good at providing public transport information for outsiders. The new tram service, for example, offers no information about ticketing even though most locals use a rechargeable Kentcard. Worse, if you arrive in the evening you may find no one staffing the ticket office and no machines where you can buy a ticket either!

Day trip destinations

Aspendos

Karain Mağarası (Cave)

Köprülü Kanyon

Kurşunlu Şelalesi Tabiat Parkı

Perge

Phaselis

Side

Termessos

Read about the nearby attractions: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-255144-out-and-about-in-antalya.html

"Without doubt Antalya is the most beautiful place on earth."

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1930

Antal5

 

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