Antalya

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Situated on the southern coast of the Turkish peninsula, Antalya is part metropolis, part resort town. The growing city of over 1 million inhabitants is perched on a rocky plateau and backed by snowcapped peaks. The beach town is chock full of five star hotels—more than in the entire country of Spain.

It’s a fairly recent addition to the upscale travel scene; just 30 years ago it was still a sleepy fishing town. Today, tourists flock to this area of the Turkish Riviera, though they come for more than just the beaches. Antalya’s proximity to big mountains, waterfalls, canyons, and diving reefs draw skiers, hikers, divers and adventurers from around the world.

It’s also home to world class golf courses, so there’s plenty to do here. The Duden Waterfalls are popular and close by, as are the Kursunlu Selalesi Waterfalls. Antalya and the surrounding region hold their own with history buffs, too. The old town is home to the Yivli Minaret, part of the Alaadin Mosque, built on the foundation of a 7th century Byzantine basilica. The Archaeology and Ethnography Museum is one of the best in Turkey and documents the region’s rich history.

 The city is a great jumping off point for visiting the nearby architectural sites of Termessos, Aspendos, and Perge. Antalya itself still has pre-Roman, Roman, and Byzantine ruins present. The Kaleici quarter of Antalya has benefited from a recent trend towards historical preservation.

The old Ottoman section of town is now well-preserved, its charming villas and verdant courtyards a nice example of Antalya before it was “discovered.” There’s also the historic area of Konyaalti along the beach, where an amble along the cafe- and shop-filled promenade at sunset is a nice way to end a day in the city.