Is Antalya worth visiting? A city guide for Antalya

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If you’re wondering whether Antalya is worth visiting read on to find out why we think it is well worth your time. A lively city, with an abundance of history, surrounded by sparkling sea.

The Lotus Eaters Travel city guide to Antalya is found below.

Is Antalya worth visiting?

Antalya is the gateway to the stunning Turkish Riviera. The airport, situated just 13km from the city centre, is a popular hub with holiday makers heading to the coast. But many skip Antalya, opting instead for the beach resorts away from the city.

On a recent trip to Turkey walking the Lycian Way, we wondered whether Antalya was worth visiting. We were so pleased to have taken time to spend a few days in the city of Antalya.

Antalya has everything we love in a city – coastal, small enough to explore but big enough not to get bored, a thriving food scene and lively nightlife.

If this sounds like something you would like, then read on to find out more about the best things to do in Antalya.

Is Antalya safe?

On our visit to Antalya recently we felt very safe. I walked around alone quite often, and as a woman, felt very comfortable. There were many females exploring the city solo. The evenings in the old town can get quite rowdy, but there are always lots of people on the streets so it feels quite safe.

The most common crime in Antalya that may impact tourists is pick pocketing. It’s best to keep an eye on your belongings in bars, shops and busy areas of the city and avoid leaving things unattended.

Otherwise, most visits to Antalya are trouble free. The area is well protected by police and security, there’s even a tourist police station in the old town should you need any assistance during your trip.

Is Antalya expensive?

In our experience of visiting Antalya (October 2023) it was not generally expensive. In context, Antalya is a little more expensive than more remote coastal areas, but cheaper than Istanbul.

For dinner in the old town at a restaurant, you can expect to pay similar prices to an average European city. Between £10 and £20 for a main course. However, local cafes and low key eateries – especially those outside of the walls of the old town – are much cheaper.

When it comes to nightlife, the cheapest alcoholic drink you an buy in Antalya is beer. You can get beer in supermarkets for around 40 TL (around £1.50) per drink or in bars for between 80 and 120 (£2.50 to £4). Wine is a little more expensive, but we found a bar offering a glass for 90 TL (£3). Cocktails range from around 120 to 250, on the pricier end. But, do look out for happy hours in Antalya old town where cocktails and beer are often discounted.

Hotels range from around £30 per night for a budget double room to much more for something luxurious (more on that below.)

Is Antalya worth visiting: Shopping

Antalya is a popular destination for shopping fans. There’s a large shopping mall, Land of Legends, directly next to a theme park. The shopping centre itself is full of attractions, like colourful fountains, as well as a ton of shops. In the old town and beyond the city wall, you can find plenty of the typical “discount goods” shops and of course a number of bazaars. The largest is the old bazaar, found here.

Is Antalya worth visiting: Beaches

The largest beach in Antalya city is Konyaalti Beach, found to the west of the city and opposite the Archeological Museum. It stretches for 13km and is neatly framed by the backdrop of the Taurus Mountains.

Konyaalti is a popular beach, with umbrellas and loungers for hire and a range of amenities such as toilets, cafes and showers. The beach is a dark mix of sand and small pebbles. If you’re after an adrenaline rush, try paragliding high above Konyaalti beach.

The other options in Antalya are:

LARA BEACH – a large sandy beach dotted with hotels and sun loungers for hire. Found to the east of Antalya.

MERMELI BEACH – found here slap bang in the middle of the old town next to the harbour. Not strictly a beach, but a private access deck with loungers and a calm swimming spot.

Antalya is of course the gateway to the Turquoise Coast. If you have time, explore further west to Cirali, Kas and Fetihye.

Is Antalya worth visiting: Food

Turkey is a bit of a foodie paradise, particularly the buzzing city of Istanbul. But does Antalya compare? Is Antalya worth visiting for the food?

Fans of fine dining will enjoy 7 Mehmet, a chic eatery with sea views set a little way back from the beach. A favourite of locals and tourists alike. Nearer to the Old Town, Armar Restaurant has to be the best restaurant in Antalya for decadent seafood and wine with an incredible waterfront balcony perched over the harbour.

For more laid back fare, head to Can Can serving freshly baked Pide covered in hot cheese, or succulent and juicy kofte kebabs. The restaurants in the Old Town are pleasant, but a little overpriced and staged for our taste, best to avoid and eat just outside of Hadrian’s Gate.

If you are in the Old Town however and hankering after some delicious food, our favourite hidden gem is this bakery. Open 24 hours with seats outside so you can kick back and enjoy with a slice of backlava or some burek.

Is Antalya worth visiting: Nightlife

Is Antalya worth visiting for the nightlife?

The nightlife in Antalya is excellent, particularly around the old town. This was one of the most pleasant surprises for us when we recently visited Antalya. There are lively pubs, chilled out bars, romantic restaurants and plenty of bars hosting live music. If you want to, you could stay out all night.

Filika Cafe Bar was one of the best relaxed bars that we found. There are plenty of bars in this area, but look out for some that are little overpriced.

Best things to do in Antalya

A few days is the perfect amount of time to explore Antalya city. Here are some of the things that you won’t want to miss.


Kaleici is the Old Town of Antalya and where most tourists to the city choose to stay. A maze of streets showcasing Turkish architecture. Today the old town is purely for tourists, locals live outside of this area. But thankfully Kaleici still feels like an interesting place to explore and not too dominated by tourist traps.

Spend a few hours meandering around each street, stopping for coffee or a cocktail. There are souvenir shops selling local crafts and providing the perfect opportunity to nose around. Plus wonderful cool courtyards where you can relax under the shade of a pomegranate tree.

Stop by Kesik Minare Cami, a beautiful Mosque which was originally built as a Roman temple. Be sure to stroll through Kecili Park, a favourite for sunset. This is a clean park overlooking the harbor and is frequented by friendly stray dogs.

😌If you want to relax even more, why not go for a traditional Turkish bath and massage in the Old Town? When in Rome….


By day, take a walk around the old town harbour perhaps stopping for a coffee to watch the world go by. For the best views, take the panoramic elevator and enjoy the scenery from high above the harbour. There’s also a small town beach next to the harbour – unfortunately it is privatized and you need to pay to access it.

The harbour really comes alive in early evening as the sun sets. Grab a perch on the wall and take it all in. Locals and tourists alike come out in droves to enjoy the sun setting over the water, jumping in during summer months or quaffing a drink from the shore.


The largest beach in Antalya city is Konyaalti Beach, found to the west of the city and opposite the Archeological Museum. It stretches for 13km and is neatly framed by the backdrop of the Taurus Mountains.

Konyaalti is a popular beach, with umbrellas and loungers for hire and a range of amenities such as toilets, cafes and showers. The beach is a dark mix of sand and small pebbles. If you’re after an adrenaline rush, try paragliding high above Konyaalti beach.


With miles of bright blue ocean surrounding Antalya, it would be a shame not to get out to sea at least once during your stay. There are lots of boat trips that you can take from the city to explore bays, islands and coves nearby.

Boat trips in this area are relatively in expensive too. Why not take a boat trip to nearby Saluada island, where you can swim in the turquoise waters and enjoy a three course lunch onboard – all for only £15.


Antalya, originally called Attalia, was a seaport founded in the second century BCE. The city was soon taken under Roman rule, later changing hands to become part of the Ottoman empire and eventually gaining Turkish independence. In short, it has a complex and interesting history.

One of the most interesting historical sites in Antalya is Hadrian’s Gate. An imposing memorial built in celebration of the Roman emperor Hadrian’s visit to Antalya. Today, you can walk through the gate, which serves as the entrance to the Old Town.

In addition to the splendid Mosques around Antalya, you may also want to visit the Attaturk Statue in Republic Square and Hidirlik Tower.


Yivili Minare Mosque is the large 38m minaret that you can see from Antlya old town. The Mosque has six domes and dates back to the 13th century. This Mosque is a really important local monument and is free to visit (just avoid prayer times).

Women can borrow a scarf to cover up before entering the Mosque. For more advice about what to wear as a woman in Turkey, you can find our post here.


The archeological museum in Antalya was such a wonderful surprise. We visited and spent around two hours here and felt thoroughly entertained and informed. You will mainly find Greek exhibits in the two story museum, many of the exhibits have been recovered fairly recently and the story of this is told well.

It costs 300 TL (around £10) to enter the museum. We thought this was quite good value compared to other museums in Turkey, especially as it is well curated.

The museum is towards the west side of the city, around a 30 minute walk or short tram ride from the old town. You’ll find the large Konyaalti Beach just opposite the museum. A perfect opportunity for a lunch overlooking the sea or a spot of sunbathing after your archeology explorations.


Although we couldn’t find an organized street food tour in Antalya, we decided to go on a frollick of our own and try as much street food in the city as possible.

Be sure to try Simit (a Turkish pretzel), Pide (Turkish pizza style bread with toppings) and Kofte and Donor Kebabs. The best places for this sort of Turkish fare are the low key eateries outside the gates of the old town. Try Can Can and others in the vicinity.

For sweet things, you can find lots of Baclava around the city but our favourite was in a 24 hour bakery in the Old Town (found here.) Ice cream topped with warm semolina halva is also a popular sweet treat in Antalya and you can find it here.


The nightlife in Antalya really surprised us. The old town has a buzzy vibe in the evening, especially on the weekend. You can enjoy drinks in the park or head to a bar. When it gets later, head to one of the bars in the Old Town to listen to some live music. Many have bands or singers performing every night but the weekend is when things get a bit more spicy. We loved Delicious Bekir Gastro Pub which has live music and a strong margarita cocktail.


Breakfast is a highlight of any trip to Turkey. You can expect freshly baked bread, eggs, cheese, fruit and jams accompanied by oodles of fresh herbs. Whether you get breakfast at your hotel or need to head out to the Old Town to find it, be sure to take time to enjoy a long and languid breakfast with plenty of sweet Turkish tea (cay.) Speaking of, Cay Tea’s is the best cafe in town for breakfast.


No trip to Turkey is complete without wandering around a Bazaar, haggling with vendors and taking home some souvenirs. There are a couple of Bazaars in Antalya city. We headed to the Old Bazaar, the biggest of them that can be found here.

This Bazaar has a hodge podge of everything you might need and plenty of stuff you do not. Although it is perhaps a little overpriced and aimed at tourists, it is nevertheless a fun place to browse and allow your senses to be amused. It opens until 11pm every day.

How to get to Antalya

Antalya is a popular tourist destination located in South West Turkey. Antalya has it’s own airport which is a short taxi or bus ride from the city centre. Therefore Antalya it is an easy place to get to for a long weekend or a full vacation.

Cheap flights are operated between the UK and other European destinations on a regular basis.

Where to stay in Antalya

Antalya is a region, but if you’re planning to visit the city of Antalya then you will want to find accommodation in the city itself. There are broadly three areas in Antalya that you could choose to stay in:


Kaleici is the old town of Antalya. Stay here if you want to be amongst it and in prime position to explore by day and enjoy the nightlife. We stayed in this area and really enjoyed it, but do note that some of the bars in the old town can be quite noisy – stay in the outskirts of the old town if travelling with kids or looking for a quiet break.

BUDGET: For a hostel, try Kuyu Beergarden Hostel located in the old town. There is another hostel in the old town, but it’s attached to a very noisy pub, best to avoid that one and choose Kuyu. If you want a private room, one of the best budget options is Sultan Pension, where rooms start at around 900TL/ £30.

MID-RANGE: Most of the properties in the old town of Antalya fall into the mid-range category, so there’s plenty of choice. A good option is Atelya Art Hotel, a nicely designed hotel with a swimming pool.

LUXURY: La Casa Carina Butik Otel is a 4 star hotel in the centre of the old town. There aren’t really any “luxurious” hotels in the old town, with most buildings being quite small but if you want to be in the centre of things, this comes highly recommended.


Lara Beach is a stretch to the east of the city of Antalya. Here you will find the large, all-inclusive and often luxurious hotels. The bus and tram network is good in Antalya, so it is possible to stay here and visit the centre of the city too.

MID-RANGE: Esperanza Boutique Hotel offers a swimming pool and a perfect location just 50 minutes from the beach. A solid 3* hotel with great reviews.

LUXURY: The Marmara Hotel is a popular luxury option on Lara Beach. Guests love the food, the facilities and the beachfront location.


Konyaalti Beach is the largest beach in Antalya, a sprawling sandy beach with mountains as a backdrop. This side of town (the west side) also houses the Aquarium and the Archaeological Museum. It can be a good area of Antalya to stay with children.

MID-RANGE: Golden Orange Hotel is a 3* property located close to Konyaalti Beach in Antalya. A popular choice for those looking for a comfortable hotel with a pool.

LUXURY: 5 minutes from the beach is Sirena Apartment and Spa. A luxurious hotel offering 5* facilities.

Written by Emma

Wine Lover. Yogi. Hiker. Writer.

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