Antalya, this Turkish metropolis, is a must on the bucket list of many travelers worldwide. It is after Istanbul, the second most visited destination in all of Turkey.
In addition to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, Antalya also has many incredible sights and looks back on a lot of history. In this article, we would like to introduce you to this magnificent city on the Turkish Riviera.
You will discover in the following article why you should definitely include Antalya on your personal bucket list, which historic background Antalya has, and what the culture of the Mediterranean metropolis is like.
Why You Should Definitely Visit Antalya
To be honest, we would write an entire book about why this amazing city on the Turkish Mediterranean is favored by its many visitors.
Of course, the beaches that are located near the city probably play a big part in this. In total, the entire Antalya region has an impressive 600 kilometers of coastline; there also hides one or the other extremely popular sandy beach with guests.
You can also visit numerous interesting sights in this beautiful Turkish city. In fact, the eighth-largest city in Turkey is so versatile that with you certainly at no time boredom arises.
This major city on the southern coast of the country also enjoys a decisive advantage. Getting there is extremely easy from almost anywhere in the world, especially from Europe.
There are flights from all corners of the world directly to Antalya throughout the year, while for many other cities, you often have to change planes in Istanbul.
You can find a lot of cheap flights to the south of Turkey at Skyscanner.
Of course, a trip is twice as much fun when the weather also plays along.
So, to make sure you don’t arrive just when it’s raining almost continuously in the city, be sure to check out our overview of Antalya weather beforehand!
A Brief History of Antalya
When visiting the city, especially its ancient landmarks, you will definitely find it an ancient city. We can confirm this, as the first evidence of settlement in the region dates back to the 12th century BC.
Antalya was first settled by Greeks from Mycenae. They called this town “Attaleia.” The name comes from the king of Mycenae, Attalos II of Pergamon. Over the times it changed to its name the city nowadays has.
Of course, we can not reproduce the complete history of the city. This would certainly go beyond the scope because in the change of time, so much has changed. We can give you at most a short and concise overview.
If you want to know more details about the past of Antalya, then you best take a look at Wikipedia. Throughout history, the city on the Mediterranean coast has been ruled by ever-changing powers.
After it had been under the influence of the Persians and Alexander the Great, among others, the Mediterranean city later also became part of the Byzantine Empire.
At that time, it grew into a real trading power, which also tempted many enemies to bring Antalya under their control.
For this reason, a wall was built around the entire city, and a fortress was built to defend it. Despite this, it was conquered by the Seljuks in the late 11th century.
Later, the city on the Turkish Riviera came under the wing of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, Islam became the leading religion throughout the empire.
Since the disintegration of the empire after World War I, it has been a Turkish city.
The Culture of Antalya
In general, while Antalya locals are not strict believers, they also understand that not everyone shares the same faith.
This means that you don’t have to face any special restrictions during your stay or even in the time of religious festivals such as Ramadan.
However, out of respect for the customs of the predominant religion, you should still be considerate of that tradition. So that you do not accidentally step into one of the numerous faux pas, we have already written an article about how you behave best during Ramadan.
We would also like to point out the good things that Islam causes. For example, hospitality, in particular, plays a significant role in the Muslim faith.
You are not regarded as a stranger but as a friend, which no one knew before. There it is even quite difficult to say goodbye to all the warm people again.
One of the most unique events you can attend during your visit to Antalya is a Turkish wedding. These are celebrated over several days and are basically nothing more than a wild party where even the most distant friends and relatives are invited.
The customs regarding a possible marriage in Turkey already start with the application. For detailed information about the process of a Turkish wedding, check out this post from Goturkiye.
Local Cuisine and Food Customs
In this Turkish coastal city, be sure to try the many delicious dishes of Turkish cuisine.
The Indians, Arabs, and Persians strongly influenced the typical food in Antalya and Turkey.
Be it breakfast or dinner, you can enjoy typical specialties of the country at any time of the day.
However, due to the high temperatures that prevail here, lunch is often canceled. You can find a selection of excellent restaurants on TripAdvisor.
Of course, you don’t have to eat in a restaurant to try typical Turkish dishes. In the markets, you will also find some stalls to taste your way through the local cuisine.
It is not uncommon in Turkey to treat yourself to a snack in between; after all, you still have to somehow bridge the time from breakfast to dinner.
Already at breakfast, you will be overwhelmed by the variety of local cuisine. Although this turns out with many families relatively simple and consists only of bread with some cheese, in addition, as a rule, Turkish coffee or tea is served.
But you can also treat yourself to a more unusual breakfast in Turkey’s eighth-largest city. Particularly popular specialties, which come here in the morning on the table, are Sigara Boregi and Sucuklu Yumurta.
Locals eat a lot of soups. Especially popular is the Turkish lentil soup “Mercimek Corbasi,” which uses red lentils. Since this is a traditional dish in every household, you will find it in every restaurant.
A variation of this soup is “Sehriyeli Yesil,” in which the red lentils are replaced by green lentils.
The main meal in Antalya is dinner. This begins with a so-called “Meze,” a selection of cold and hot appetizers. For the main course, the locals regularly consume bread, which is called Ekmek in Turkish.
Most of the main dishes in the beautiful world of food in Turkey include meat. Kebab is one of the dishes that enjoys high popularity even outside the country.
This is grilled meat, which, together with other ingredients, makes various Turkish dishes.
Do not confuse the kebab you can get in Germany on almost every street corner with the kebabs in Antalya.
Here, the ingredients are a bit more straightforward, while the German versions are often stuffed with sauces, thus becoming pure calorie bombs.
Nevertheless, both variants taste very tasty and have their raison d’être.
However, if kebabs don’t appeal to you because you can eat them anywhere in the world, there are plenty of other dishes.
For example, Burdur Şiş Köfte or Pide is also often present on the menu of the locals.
The Indian influence on Turkish cuisine might be Pilav, a dish with rice as the main ingredient.
Of course, we would also like to mention the delicious desserts. Above all, Baklava belongs to the absolute classics among the sweets, which the Turks love to eat. It is a syrupy puff pastry filled with pistachios or walnuts.
Sights You Can Discover
For sure, you will want to do some sightseeing during your visit to this Turkish coastal city. Sights and architecture leave a completely different impression when you see them in real life and not just in a picture.
Especially the well preserved old town of this major city in southern Anatolia is definitely worth a visit. For this alone, you should take at least one day, better even two.
If you want to view the historic center from higher up, you can also visit one of the numerous viewing platforms in the city.
The old and new bazaars are particularly impressive. If you just stop by for the atmosphere, you can visit the old bazaar without a guilty conscience.
However, some sellers might be aiming mainly at tourists, which is reflected in the price. If you want to buy something, you can go to the new bazaar, because many of the products are much cheaper.
In addition, you will also find locals here rather than on the old bazaar. Surrounding the old town is a city wall, which still comes from when the Greeks lived here.
The Romans have drawn another wall to protect the city even better from possible attackers. Although the wall was renewed entirely under the rule of the Seljuks, Hadrian’s Gate was decorated with ornaments, and the towers have remained exactly in the same condition as they were built by the Romans.
The peculiarity of the two towers that stand next to the gate is that both date from different eras. The left tower was built during the reign of the Romans, but the one on the right was built during the 13th century by Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I.
You should also visit the Alaeddin Mosque. This was built by the Byzantines on the foundation of a church. Especially the Kannellierte minaret, which towers high above the mosque, is considered the undisputed landmark of the southern Turkish city.
Of course, there are numerous other sights to discover in Antalya. Check these 17 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Antalya by planetware to take a deep dive.
Besides the city itself, there are also many interesting places to discover in the surrounding area. If you have the time, we recommend that you take one or two-day trips outside of Antalya.
Among other things, you can visit smaller cities such as Ephesus, which also has numerous historical sights to inspire. A little further away, but also worth a visit, are the region of Cappadocia and Pamukkale.
So, as you can see, Antalya is definitely worth a trip. It’s a diverse city, and you’ll have great experiences. Of course, it’s no wonder that the largest city in Anatolia is so popular with all its visitors.
And Antalya, in our opinion, has it all.