Traveling the Turkish Riviera: Antalya Travel Guide
Not gonna lie, my expectations for Antalya were quite low. Most of the fellow travelers I met along the Turquoise Coast didn’t have much to say for the city. But after a mere few hours wandering the streets I realized they were totally wrong. Antalya is in fact, a dope little city!
My first impressions were almost a New Orleans meets Ottoman with its cute cafes, thriving nightlife and live music everywhere. As a gateway to the Turquoise Coast, many travelers fly into Antalya but don’t seem to spend much time here.
Unlike the hectic Istanbul, Antalya has a very laid back, artsy vibe. Because it has all the amenities as a big city but with cheaper prices, many artists have flocked to Antalya in recent years. It’s created a very cool, down to earth scene here.
Even though we were in Antalya during Republic Day, a national holiday celebrating Turkey’s national independence, it still felt relaxed and easy going. I only spent 2 days in Antalya but wish I could have stayed longer.
Turkey Travel Snapshot
FOOD TO TRY:Traditional Turkish breakfast
TIPPING:5-10% left in cash
ANTALYA Travel Guide Covers:
– WHERE TO EAT IN ANTALYA
– TOP THINGS TO DO IN ANTALYA
– ADDITIONAL PLACES TO SEE
– ANTALYA NIGHTLIFE
Where to Eat in Antalya: Best Restaurants and Cafes
I love Turkish food. Manti, gözleme, döner, bulgar, you name it and I probably ate it with delight during my month in Turkey. But after being on a strict Turkish diet for almost 3 weeks, my tastebuds were craving a change.
Although small compared to cities like Istanbul or Ankara, Antalya is still a metropolitan city. And that means you can find a variety of cuisine here, unlike in the smaller seaside towns along the Turquoise Coast.
Where to Grab Coffee & Breakfast in Antalya: Luna Garden
One thing I loved about Antalya is the amount of adorable cafes, bars and coffee shops scattered throughout the city. One such cafe was Luna Garden, an actual garden with tables situated across a wooden terrace in the middle of the city center.
Not only is the place a plant lovers dream, but it’s quirky af too. They served my friends latte with pink cotton candy and gave me a coffee business card for my nitro cold brew, imported from Ethiopia! We also thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast items we ordered along with our coffee. 10/10 would recommend for ambiance on a nice day out.
Where to Eat in Lunch in Antalya: Rokka
I loved Rokka so much. We went for what’s hailed as the best falafel in town, but stayed for the charming decor and incredibly nice staff. Everything on the menu is priced well for the quality of food you’ll get and has several vegan options.
I looked down at the card only to see an ominous JW.org written on the front and back of the card with nothing else. Later I looked up the website. Low and behold, it’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses website. No shame in the Jehovah’s Witnesses game. Even in on holiday in the middle of Turkey. Now that’s commitment.
Where to Get Dinner in Antalya: Vanilla
We needed a change from the typical Turkish food we had been stuffing our faces with for for weeks now. After a quick search on TripAdvisor, we were led to a highly rated French cuisine restaurant close to our hostel in the Old Town called Vanilla.
Not knowing what to expect from a French restaurant in the middle of Turkey, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the high quality of food that came out and the delicious cocktail I ordered. It’s a bit on the expensive side for Turkey, but well worth it if you’re craving something a little different.
Tops Things to Do in Antalya
Explore the Old Town of Kaleiçi
Kaleiçi serves as the Old Town for Antalya and was once the city center, with most of Antalya confined to the ancient city walls. Now it’s the perfect place to explore the Ottoman flair Turkey is known for. Structures here can be dated to several eras including Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman along with some new modern buildings.
If you want to be in the center of everything and surrounded by history, the Old Town is the perfect place to stay during your time in Antalya. Several boutique hotels and a number of budget friendly hostels can be found here.
Walk Through Hadrian’s Gate
There’s nothing like exploring a modern city and then BAAM! You quite literally walk under ancient history. As the only remaining entrance gate to the old city center, Hadrian’s Gate was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian who walked under its archways in the year 130 when he visited Antalya.
Shop at the Old Bazaar
Although far less impressive than other markets found in Turkey, the Old Bazaar is worth a visit if you’re in need of last minute gifts or souvenirs.
Watch the Sunset at the waterfront Karaalioğlu Park
Although I enjoyed exploring the city itself, watching the sunset at Karaalioğlu Park was by far my favorite thing we did in Antalya. The boulders of the park that border the sea make for the perfect sunset watching spot. Get here early though as it tends to get crowded. To escape the crowds in the park, head down to the boulders to watch the sun drop behind the sea.
Additional Things to Do In Antalya:
- Old Marina
- Hıdırlık Tower
- Relax at Lara Beach
- Visit the Antalya Archeological Museum
- Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque
- Düden Waterfalls
Nightlife & Bar Scene
I love me a good night out with live music and a few brewski’s. Until Antalya, the only night out I had in Turkey was in Kaş. What made Antalya so great in my eyes was the abundance of bars and clubs with live music venues. You’ll find something for everyone with a range of anything from electronic to punk rock here.
Favorite bars in Antalya:
- Odin Pub – If you like a sorta funky music vibe
- Sponge Pub – Variety but a punk rock band was playing while we were here
- Roots – For those who want a more club scene with electronic music
Although Antalya was the last stop on my route through the Turqouise Coast, the city plays the perfect gateway into or out of the area.
As always, if you have any questions on my Antalya travel guide, drop them in the comments below!
Check out my first stop on my Turquoise Coast Itinerary here:
Antalya, Turkey Travel Guide
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