12 Best Sights in Antalya, The Turquoise Coast

Antalya Müzesi

Fodor's choice

The province of Antalya has a rich array of archaeological sites and their assembled finds means a first-rate collection at the Antalya Müzesi. The star is Perge, statues from which fill gallery after gallery here, including one just for the gods, from Aphrodite to Zeus. There are also Turkish crafts, costumes, and prehistoric artifacts from the Karain Cave, with bits of Byzantine iconography and some fossils thrown in. One gallery is filled with fine Roman sarcophagi from the 2nd century AD, including a wonderful one illustrating the labors of a steadily aging Hercules. Upstairs are several coin hordes; the large one from Elmalı was recently returned to the museum after being smuggled to the United States. If you have the time, walk to the museum from the center of town along the clifftop promenade, which has a fine sea view.

Antalya Oyuncak Müzesi

With an international collection of nearly 3,000 toys dating from 1870 through 1980, this cheery little museum near the yacht harbor is a favorite with young families.

Deniz Biyologisi Müzesi

Just off the yacht harbor is this small and eccentric collection of sea creatures (mostly local) preserved in tanks under spooky blue lights in what's set up to look like the interior of an old wooden ship. With its Damien Hirst-esque sharks, fish, squid, and even a sea turtle floating in formaldehyde, it's part charming-local-natural-history-museum and part aquarium-of-the-damned.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Hadrian's Gate

One way to enter the old town is via Hadrian's Gate, a short walk from the main Saat Kulesi intersection along pleasant palm-lined Atatürk Caddesi. The gate was constructed in honor of a visit by the Roman emperor in AD 130 and has three arches (hence its Turkish name, Üçkapılar), each now restored, with coffered ceilings decorated with rosettes. Ruts in the marble road show where carts once trundled through. From here, turn left onto a straight road that leads through town past Kesik Minare Camii (Şehzade Korkut Camii) to the Hıdırlık Kulesi and the sea.

Karaalioğlu Parkı

Shady Karaalioğlu Park is a traditional green space with trees, grass, benches, simple cafés, and children's play areas, as well as a dramatic view of the Mediterranean. It's enlivened by small circus rides in summer and by an open-air market during Ramadan. At the northwest end is a stone tower, called Hıdırlık Kulesi, which dates from the 2nd century AD. At sunset, sip a drink at the Castle Café and Bistro next door and enjoy an unforgettable panorama of the Bey Mountains across the water.

Karatay Medresesi

Built in 1250 by a wealthy Seljuk official during the reign of Sultan Izzedin Keykavus II, this beautiful stone courtyard was once a medrese, or religious school. Follow a winding lane up from the old city's harbor, and enter through the towering carved archway into this peaceful haven. A simple café serves tea inside, sometimes with musical accompaniment from old men who've gathered to practice traditional instruments. If you've overloaded on Antalya's more touristy side, this is the perfect antidote.

Konyaaltı Beach

For many Turks, Antalya is synonymous with the thick crowds of vacationers on Konyaaltı Beach, and the packed pebble strand is a hot, somewhat off-putting sight in high season. The city has worked hard to improve the quality of the beach experience, though, with especially impressive results on the 1-km (½-mile) section starting after the museum and ending under the Hotel Su. The beach is largely divided up by concessions, each with its own restaurant, deck chairs, umbrellas, and showers. Energetic and often noisy, this is not the spot for a quiet, solitary swim. The city-run "nostalgic tram" from just outside Kaleiçi will take you right above the beach, or you can take a cab. Amenities: food and drink; parking; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; swimming; walking.

Mermerli Beach

If you didn't know that Mermerli Beach was there, you'd never guess it. This tiny strip of sand and pebbles outside the harbor wall is reached via the Mermerli Restaurant, halfway up the hill east of the harbor. If you're staying in Kaleiçi, this is the ideal way to escape the bustle. The admission price to this quiet oasis in the heart of town includes loungers and umbrellas. Lovely as it is, do be aware that the beach is accessible only by several flights of stairs. Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: swimming.

Antalya, 07100, Turkey
Sights Details
Rate Includes: TL40

Old Harbor

Another way to enter the old town is via the Old Harbor, now overflowing with yachts, fishing vessels, and tourist-excursion boats; stroll up and take your pick, but be prepared for heftily inflated prices. If you're in a car, follow the signs to the yat limanı (yacht harbor), and you'll find a convenient parking lot behind the quaysides. From here you can head up any of the lanes leading north and east from the harbor to reach the heart of the old town. On foot, wander down from the Saat Kulesi, forking to the right past the T-shirt and perfume shops, until you reach the bottom of the harbor.

Saat Kulesi

At some point, one of the city's Roman towers gained a clock and was dubbed the Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower). Several of the old town's cobbled lanes pass through the wall here. The area, also known as Kalekapısı (Castle Gate), serves as one of the interfaces between the old town and the new.

At the junction of Uzun Çarşı Sok. and Cumhuriyet Cad., Antalya, 07100, Turkey

Suna and İnan Kıraç Kaleiçi Müzesi

Fifty yards inside Hadrian's Gate, turn left to find this small museum, an oasis in a group of restored buildings with an unusual painted exterior that experts say reflects the way most Antalya houses looked in Ottoman times. The main display area has interesting pictures of old Antalya and a couple of rooms with costumed mannequins that re-create Ottoman wedding scenes and other traditions. The best part of the museum is the restored church in the garden, where there are rotating displays about different aspects of local history. The museum is part of a privately funded research institute and has an excellent library (accessible with special permission), plus a shop that sells a good range of guidebooks.

Kocatepe Sok. 25, Antalya, 07100, Turkey
Sights Details
Rate Includes: TL5

Yivli Minare Mosque

A few dark blue and turquoise tiles still decorate the Yivli Minare (Fluted Minaret), a graceful,13th-century cylinder erected by the Seljuk sultan Alaaddin Keykubat I; the imam once climbed its narrow steps five times daily to give the call to prayer. The adjoining mosque was converted from a Byzantine church, and the remains (displayed under glass) of an 800-year-old water channel can be seen if you step inside. Within the pretty complex are two türbes (tombs) and an 18th-century tekke (lodge), which once housed a community of whirling dervishes and is now a small free museum devoted to the traditions of their Mevlevi Order. The old medrese (theological school) adjacent to the minaret has been covered under an unattractive bus-station-style roof and is a tourist-oriented shopping center. It sells standard Turkish knickknacks (think pottery, copper work, carpets, and tiles), but prices are better than at most other resorts along the coast.