Antalya, the Turkish Riviera is the most stunning part of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. It is typical of Turkey, a thriving modern city, with a historic heart in the centre of Kaleiçi, within the old city walls. This area has seen something of a renaissance in recent years, with many of the wooden Ottoman mansions being restored and turned into boutique hotels. No cars are allowed in the narrow streets of the old town so it is a good place to soak up the atmosphere around the charming harbour. The symbol of Antalya is the fluted minaret or Yivli Minare built by the Seljuks in the 13th century. There are plenty of interesting pieces in the Archaeological Museum, from the Palaeolithic Age right through to Ottoman times.
Antalya has a backdrop of stunning mountain scenery, and the city is set high on cliffs, with many of its grandest hotels overlooking the sea on the outskirts of the town. The beach area of Lara, approximately 12 km to the east is home to the best beach in the area, known for its golden sand, which is rapidly becoming a region in its own right. To the west, the long pebble beach of Konyaaltı is also popular. Heading up into the mountains, you can make the most of the beautiful scenery by visiting the spectacular Düden or Kurşunlu waterfalls. At Saklıkent, just 50 km away from the city centre, you can even ski, where they usually have snow on the slopes until early April.
The Altın Portakal (Golden Orange) film festival is held annually in the autumn. Antalya has a large number of 5 star hotels, many of which have meeting facilities, and this, together with the Pyramid Congress Centre, which can hold up to 3000 delegates make it a popular venue for conferences.
There are many holiday resorts like Alanya, Belek, Kalkan, Kaş, Kekova, Kemer, Olympos, Patara, Side within the borders of Antalya region.
The most popular Historic Sites of Antalya Region:
Aspendos: Just 50 km east of Antalya, Aspendos was an important centre of trade during the Roman times. Today, the most impressive aspect of Aspendos is her stunning theatre, which was built in approx. 162 AD. It seats 15,000 and has been beautifully preserved. Each year it hosts the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, which takes place in June and July and gives you the opportunity to see performances of classics in a magnificent setting. The aqueduct, which supplied water to the city is also still relatively intact and is an impressive sight.
Phaselis: The three harbours of this Lycian port city were once a major commercial centre. In the shelter of Mount Tahtalı, it is a popular stopping off point for yachts, and its clear waters and sandy beaches are popular with sun-seekers. The remains are mostly Roman and include a theatre, baths, aqueducts, Hadrian’s Gate, an agora and an acropolis.
Perge: Just 18 kms from Antalya, Perge was an important city in Pamphylia and was visited by St.Paul during his missionary journeys. Today, the city gate flanked by lofty towers, theatre and baths are of interest.
Demre: Also known as Kale, the ancient city of Myra, is mostly famous for its connection with St. Nicholas, who was bishop here in the 4th century. His church is the focus of the annual ceremony, which takes place to commemorate him on or around his feast day of 6th December. It is well worth seeing the Roman theatre, which remains here, overlooked by spectacular rock tombs, dating from the 4th century BC.
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Alanya is a beautiful holiday centre with its clean sandy beaches, modern hotels and motels, as well as numerous fish restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars. The cafes that ring the harbour are popular gathering places for tourists and locals. From the towns lovely park, the road runs along the coast to the harbour, lined with many small shops that offer handicrafts, leather clothes, jewellery, handbags and the amusing painted gourds that are unique to the area. There are three blue flag beaches and many sights including Damlataş Cave, Archaeology and Ethnography Museum, Dim Çayı Valley, three see grottoes: Fosforlu Mağara, Kızlar Mağarası and Aşıklar Mağarası and many more.
BODRUM & Gümbet, Yalıkavak, Turgutreis, Türkbükü …
A world-renowned holiday and entertainment peninsula, Bodrum is a paradise for its climate, sea, natural beauty, magnificent coves and history, as well as for its modern nightlife where the show goes on until sunrise. Its many resorts and hotels cater to the every need of their visitors. Since the dawn of time, Bodrum, known in antiquity as Halicarnassus, has amazed human beings, and carried the imprint of many cultures and civilizations, including the Carian, Leleges’, Persian, Dorian, Helen, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman.
Sights & Attractions:
The seaside villages, bays and coves of Bodrum, Gümbet, Bitez, Ortakent, Bağla, Aspat, Karaincir, Akyarlar, Turgutreis, Gümüşlük, Yalıkavak, Gündoğan, Göltürkbükü, Torba, Güllük, are world-famous, and each has its own charm and peculiarities.
Bodrum Castle, built by The Knights of St. John, has become a symbol of the peninsula. At present, it hosts the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which was awarded the “Certificate of Special Commendation” in the “European Museum of the Year Award” competition in 1995. For the history enthusiast, another must see place in Bodrum is the remains of the Mausoleum.
Blue Voyage: The Blue Voyage, also known as the Blue Cruise (“Mavi Yolculuk” in Turkish) is a term used for the recreational boating tours departing from Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Gökova and Antalya. These trips are a unique tranquil way to enjoy the beautiful bays and coves, which can only be reached by sea, to swim in unpolluted waters in a myriad of shades of blue, to visit magnificent antique sites such as Knidos.
The region known as Cappadocia includes the centres of Ürgüp, Göreme, Avanos, Üçhisar, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Ihlara. It is a stunning area of otherworldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings, the scale of which is over-whelming. The area is also famous for its carpet weaving, wines and the distinctive red pottery of the Avanos area. Cappadocia was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3000 rock churches in this region, not all of which are open to the public.
The village of Göreme itself is at the heart of the area’s tourist industry, and many of its villagers still live in cave dwellings, some of which have been converted into pensions. Surrounding the area are the amazing rock formations known evocatively as Peri Bacaları or ‘Fairy Chimneys’.
Located to the west of Niğde, is the stunning Ihlara Vadisi, a gorge that is 10 km long and some 80 metres wide. Popular for trekking, about 12 of its 60 churches are open to the public including the impressive Eğritaş Church.
There are hundreds of underground cities in the region. Two of the most impressive are Kaymaklı, which has 8 levels, and Derinkuyu, which reaches down 55 metres. They were used by the Christians fleeing persecution in the 7th century, who created a self-sufficient environment underground including bedrooms, kitchens and storage rooms.
DİDİM & Altınkum
Didim is one of the most beautiful holiday resorts on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Located on a peninsula, where the Büyük Menderes River reaches the sea, the resort has secluded coves, golden sand beaches, natural harbours and nearby Lake Bafa. The important Ionian cities of Miletos and Didyma, home of the famous prophet in ancient times, are also near Didim. The Temple to Apollo at Didim was one of the most sacred places of antiquity. Though many times looted and burned, the sanctuary still possesses elegant beauty.
Altınkum literally means ‘golden sand’, an apt description of the beautiful beach in this relaxed resort town. Popular with families it has a range of accommodation and plenty of restaurants and bars for entertainment. There are lots of shops and an attractive street market in the centre. It is popular with both Turkish and international holidaymaker.
FETHİYE & Göcek, Ölüdeniz, Ovacık, Hisarönü
Fethiye is a traditional market town set around a beautiful natural harbour. It is a big centre for scuba diving and boats leave from here for daily trips around the stunning coastline. There are number of hotels in the town itself, which mostly attract older couples, who enjoy the traditional lifestyle and also like the fact that it is flat and easy to get around. There is a greater variety of shops in the narrow of the bazaar area, Paspatur. In the evenings, head for this lively area for live music and bars.
Ölüdeniz has a typical postcard beach, backed by dramatic pine-clad hills. Literally translated as ‘dead sea’, the stunning lagoon is a protected area, ensuring that its natural beauty is preserved. There is a small entrance charge to use the lagoon beach and only non-motorised water sports are allowed on the lagoon itself. The main resort beach, which has free entry, is the long stretch of coarse sand and shingle, known as Belcekız beach. There is a strip alongside the seafront promenade with a number of relaxing bars, restaurants serving local and international cuisine and shops that stay open well into the night. It is a perfect family resort, great for a laid-back beach holiday, with plenty of facilities but not too much development. Boats leave from the bay for trips around the surrounding coast and paragliding is a big draw with the descent from the Babadağ mountains to land on Belcekız beach, recognised as one of the best in the world.
Göcek, a free motor traffic town, has numerous and beautiful coves, is the most popular spot for the yachts and Blue Cruise boats. It is a meeting point for international celebrities and has four marinas, small shops and restaurants.
Hisarönü and Ovacık
Twenty years ago there were only a few houses in Hisarönü but now it is a lively region in its own right. It is set in a stunning location, surrounded by pine-clad mountains, and hotels were built in the local style. The beach of Ölüdeniz is just a 15-minute ride away. Just a short distance from Hisarönü, is the newer resort area of Ovacık, which is essentially a collection of hotels and apartment buildings, blending in with the stunning mountain scenery.
İstanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents. Its fate has been determined by its vital strategic location and enchanting natural beauty. It had long been coveted by powerful empires; it served as capital first to Byzantine, and then to the Ottoman Empire. İstanbul stretches along the two shores of the Bosporus (İstanbul Strait) that links the Marmara Sea with the Black Sea. It is Turkey’s largest city with a population over 12 million. Istanbul is also at the heart of the economy of Turkey. The largest companies and banks, the media and advertising agencies all have their headquarters here.
İstanbul is also the capital for art and culture with a rich tradition in opera and ballet, theatres, concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, auctions, conferences and of course unique museums. Being an imperial capital for 1500 years, İstanbul has acquired a highly original personality. At every turn in the city, you are faced with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries, monuments, walls and ruins. Yet İstanbul is not a city living only on its past. It is a vibrant, modern and future-oriented metropolis. Bazaars and ultra-modern shopping centres and department stores, street vendors and stockbrokers, old crumbling buildings and skyscrapers coexist and this amalgam gives the city a multi-faceted outlook and flavour. İstanbul is like an intricately woven carpet, a subtle blend of eastern and western cultures
Having been the capital of two major empires, İstanbul today has many architectural monuments across the city, which reflects the past splendour. The area between the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn is sometimes referred to as the “Peninsula of History” because of its many Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman works. The Topkapı Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans, Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia), the jewel of Byzantine architecture, and the mosques of Süleymaniye and Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) which dominate the Skyline of Istanbul are all located here.
The area opposite the shore of the Golden Horn was formerly known as “Pera”, meaning “the other shore”. Settled by Genoese and Venetians in the 12th century, it became a quarter inhabited mostly by Levantines and represented the western face of İstanbul. The Galata Tower built by the Genoese, the narrow streets reminiscent of Italian cities, the stately consulates, which were the embassies before the capital moved to Ankara, and the “art nouveau” buildings along İstiklal Caddesi all reflect the very cosmopolitan character of ancient İstanbul.
Palaces, summer palaces, castles and large mansions built by the Ottomans continue to adorn İstanbul. The Yıldız Palace and Dolmabahçe, on the shores of the İstanbul Strait were once the residences of the Ottoman Sultans after Topkapı Palace. The shores of the İstanbul Strait are also famous for the elegant wooden houses and mansions (yalı) built along the edge of the water.
The city, known as “Beautiful İzmir” in Turkey, is located at the start of a long and narrow gulf, decorated with yachts, passenger ships and gulf steamers. It has a warm climate and the cooling sea breeze in the summer takes away the burning heat of the sun. İzmir, which enjoys a special cultural and historical identity, is the third largest city in Turkey.
Beaches and holiday resorts: 101km of golden sands. The Aegean coastal strip in the Province of Izmir runs for a length of 62 km. A 10 km section of this coastal strip is a natural beach. The geographical formation of Izmir’s coastal strip consisting of a peninsular and some small bays provide ideal opportunities for water sports as well as the use of the beach. The most popular beaches in the province include beaches at Pamucak, Altınkum, Gümüldür and Özdere in the south, Urla, Ceşme, Ilıca, Alaçatı in the east, as well as those at Dikili, Çandarlı, Foça, Ören in the north.
Historic Sights: : The cities of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse, mentioned by St. John in the Book of Revelation, are found in Turkey. All of these world known ancient cities, Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna (İzmir), Pergamum (Bergama), Thyatira (Akhisar), Philadelphia (Alaşehir), Sardis (Sart) and Laodicea (Eskihisar) are within the borders of İzmir except the last one which is in Denizli, an Aegean Interior city. Ephesus (Efes) and Pergamum (Bergama), in particular, are the cities of the ancient world that one should visit.
In recent years, Kalkan has become an ‘in spot’ for upmarket couples seeking a taste of authentic Turkey. It is a pretty village of stone-built houses set on a hillside around the attractive harbour. Narrow lanes lead down to the seafront, packed with shops, sophisticated bars and restaurants, mostly serving traditional Turkish fare, with some excellent seafood and fish restaurants on the harbour-front. The roads are steep so you need to be relatively fit to get around, but the hotels and villas set higher up on the hillside, benefit from stunning views down over the pretty bay. Due to the landscape, there is simply no room for large-scale development so most of the hotels are small and intimate. The region has expanded rapidly in recent years, however, and the buildings have extended beyond Kalkan itself to the bays on either side, such as Kalamar bay to the west – a long walk or a short taxi ride away from the centre. Most of the hotels on the seafront in this area and the ‘beaches’ have access to the sea via platforms or ladders, straight into deep water. Kalkan does have a small pebble town beach, but serious beach-lovers head out to stunning Kaputaş, approximately 6km away, a fine pebble and shingle beach, which has clear, stunning turquoise water. Others prefer the long stretch of sandy beach of Patara. Boats leave from the harbour here and from nearby Kaş, approx. 26km away, for trips around the bays and to the surrounding islands. Kalkan has
a unique ambience and is one of the most sophisticated of Turkey’s regions, but is not recommended for those who have difficulty in walking or for those with small children. The ancient sites of Xanthos and Letoon are within easy reach of Kalkan.
Kemer was one of Turkey’s made to order resort towns carefully planned to blend in with the surrounding scenery. At its heart is the attractive marina, a stopover point for yachts on the blue cruise. Around it are sophisticated shops, bars and restaurants catering for the resort’s well-heeled clientele. Kemer Beach is a clean pebble beach, but the main resort areas are on the beaches located a little further out, namely Kızıltepe, Göynük, Beldibi, Çamyuva and Tekirova. Surrounded by pine forests, they offer a range of accommodation including five star hotels, all designed to blend in to the natural environment.
Kuşadası is one of Turkey’s largest and most cosmopolitan seaside towns and a stopover point for big cruise liners. It is a good all round area, offering beautiful beaches, excellent shopping, great historical sites, and varieties of nightlife.
Kuşadası literally means ‘Bird Island’ and takes its name from the tiny islet known as Güvercin Adası or Pigeon Island, which is attached to the mainland by a causeway and boasts a 14th century Genoese fort. The old town, having an Ottoman built traveller’s inn (Kervansaray) in its centre, is a popular shopping and entertainment area.
Antique cities of Ephesus, Miletos and Didyma, Virgin Mary’s House, St. John’s Basilica are world-renowned historical sites near Kuşadası. Dilek Peninsula National Park in the south is another major touristic destination with its bewitching natural beauty, consisting of trees, canyons, inlets, beaches, picnic areas and pathways.
MARMARİS & İçmeler, Turunç, Bozburun
Marmaris is one of Turkey’s most popular resort towns, which attracts lots of British holidaymakers, many of whom return year after year. It is a favourite with families and young couples alike. It is in a stunning setting, its geography remarkably similar to that of the fjords, with pine-clad hills dropping steeply to the sea, jagged inlets and tiny rocky islets off the coast.
There is a wide choice of accommodation, from five star luxury to self-catered apartments, but the vast majority is of the three star standard. Most of the accommodation is built on either side of the main seafront road, some is on the seafront itself, but many of the newer hotels are on the hillside in areas such as Armutalan.
There are many water sports centres in Marmaris or at the coves, ready to assist you in surface or underwater sports adventures – including extreme sports. Akvaryum (Aquarium) Cove, Baca (Chimney) Sea Cave and reef area are the fascinating diving spots for domestic and foreign visitors. Nature and adventure sports such as rafting on Dalaman Stream, and trekking tours are organised by travel agencies. Jeep Safari is yet another alternative.
Some of the sites of ancient cities in the environs of Marmaris are as follows: Amos (Hisarönü-Turunç), Bybassos (Hisarönü), Kastabos (Hisarönü), Syma (Bayır Village), Larymna (Bozburun), Thyssanos (Söğüt), Phoinix (Taşça), Loryma (Bozukkale), Kasara (Serge Harbour), Cedrai (Sedir Island), Euthena and Amnistos (Karacasöğüt).
İçmeler is a popular resort with families. It is much greener than neighbouring Marmaris, with wide streets lined with trees and a relaxed ambiance. It nestles in the shelter of dramatic pine-clad mountains with a wide sweeping bay of coarse sand, where all kinds of water sports are available. The waters are shallow and calm making it relatively safe for children. There is an abundance of restaurants, serving a full range of Turkish and international cuisine, plenty of lively bars and lots of shops. For those who want serious nightlife, Marmaris is just a short dolmuş or taxi ride away.
Turunç is reached by a steep, winding road, which snakes around the mountains from İçmeler, a sleepy resort, full of character. The accommodation here is mainly small family-run hotels, with some good self-catered properties. The main street has a good selection of restaurants with a few music bars, and enough shops to cater for your immediate holiday requirements.
Bozburun has a stunning setting and is also famous for pine, flower and thyme honey. Its isolated location and peaceful atmosphere has attracted people escaping city life, and is especially popular with Turkish tourists. There are buses from Marmaris, 50km away, which makes it a pleasant day trip, and there are many interesting walks in the surrounding countryside.
The old town of Side is set on a peninsula with sandy beaches to either side, surrounded still by the ancient city walls. It boasts an impressive ancient Hellenistic theatre, the largest in the area, with seating for 17,000 overlooking the sea; a charming museum and the stunning Temple of Apollo, a romantic spot at sunset. The old town is limited by the walls and the sea, which has been a bonus, meaning that the accommodation here is mostly pensions and small hotels. The long stretch of sandy beach a few kilometres outside the old town, known with good reason as Kumköy (sand village) has become the centre of tourism development in the town and is now home to large four and five star hotels and good quality self-catered accommodation. Side has something for everyone: great beaches, history, an abundance of shops, lively nightlife and a good choice of restaurants.
The stunning white terraces of Pamukkale and the neighbouring site of Hierapolis are situated inland, close to the town of Denizli. They can be reached from most of the coastal resorts on a one-day trip but Kuşadası is the closest – approximately 4 hours drive away.
Pamukkale literally means ‘cotton castle’ and is one of Turkey’s most impressive natural wonders. It is made up of a series of white travertine terraces cascading down a cliff, which is almost 200 metres high. The hard, white mineral deposits, which from a distance resemble snow, are caused by the high mineral content of the natural spring water, which runs down the cliff and congregates in warm pools on the terraces. This is such a popular tourist attraction that strict rules had to be established in order to preserve its beauty, which include the fact that visitors may no longer walk on the terraces. Those who want to enjoy the thermal waters, however, can take a dip in the nearby pool, littered with fragments of marble pillars. It was the thermal waters, which lead to the founding of the spa town of Hierapolis at the end of the 2nd century BC by the dynasty of the Attalids, the kings of Pergamon. The remains include the ancient ruins of the baths, temples, the well-preserved theatre, and the largest necropolis or graveyard in Anatolia containing over 1200 tombs.