The Best Things to do in Antalya, Turkey

The 15 Best Things to do in Antalya, Turkey

Best known for its gorgeous beaches, ancient wonders, and luxury hotels, Antalya is a magnificent place to get away from it all and unwind. Hidden away on the southern coast of Turkey, the popular vacation resort is equal parts timelessly beautiful and stylishly chic.

This Turkish Riviera gem enjoys an excellent climate that makes it a year-round destination. However, if you’re not a fan of scorching hot summers, it’s best to avoid Antalya in July and August, when highs can reach 95°F (35°C).

From the cobblestone streets of Old Town Kaleiçi and excellently-preserved Roman amphitheaters to powerful plunging waterfalls and amazing watersport opportunities, you’ll never be at a loss for what to do in Antalya, whatever you’re into!

Whether you want to spend your days working on your tan at the beach or opening your mind in museums and your nights hopping between cocktail lounges or treating your taste buds at fine dining restaurants, Antalya ticks all the boxes every time. 

With so many cool things to see, do, and eat, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Antalya. Add these activities and attractions to your Antalya bucket list and get ready for an incredible vacation exploring one of the most beautiful resort towns in Turkey.

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15 Best Things to Do In Antalya

1. Walk through Hadrian’s Gate

Unique Things to do in Antalya: Hadrian’s Gate

The most interesting way to enter Kaleiçi is to pass through Hadrian’s Gate. Known as Uçkapılar in Turkish, this beautiful historic ruin dates back to 130 BCE. The gateway on Atatürk Boulevard was built in honor of Emperor Hadrian’s visit and has succeeded in surviving millennia of natural and human devastation.

Despite its age, Hadrian’s Gate is in surprisingly great shape. Today you can still admire its three marble arches flanked by stately towers and Roman-style decorations. See if you can spot the lion heads, leaves, and rosettes!

The towers that stand at either side of the gate are from different eras. The northern tower was built at the same time as the gate and is engraved with Arabic script. The southern tower was built independently of the gate centuries after its creation. This is why it looks different from the rest of the structure.

When you step through the arches, look above you and check out the ceiling. Underneath, you can see incredibly well-preserved carvings with intricate details.

2. Go whitewater rafting in Köprülü Canyon National Park

Fun Things to do in Antalya: Köprülü Canyon National Park

If you’re up for an adventure, one of the coolest things to do in Antalya is to go whitewater rafting in Köprülü Canyon National Park. One of the best places in all of Turkey for watersports, Köprülü Canyon National Park boasts a glistening azure river that snakes in between dramatic, rugged cliffs. 

The easiest way to have a go at this high-adrenaline sport is to sign up for a guided tour. Your tour guide will pick you up from your hotel and transport you to the national park for a full day of rafting.

During your trip, you’ll embark on a 1.5-hour off-road safari before hurtling down 7 kilometers of class II rapids surrounded by gorgeous landscapes. You’ll also get a chance to swim in the cool waters, reenergize with some lunch, and relax on the edge of the water before returning back to your hotel.

If you’re not interested in whitewater rafting, there are loads of other cool things you can do here. From zip-lining, hiking, and camping to nature photography, ruin exploring, and off-road safaris, there’s so much going on here! 

Book a Guided Whitewater Rafting Experience

3. Have the time of your life at the Land of Legends

What to do in Antalya: Land of Legends

The Land of Legends is one of the coolest parks you’ve never heard of. A giant complex made up of a theme park, waterpark, shopping mall, restaurant zone, and hotel, the Land of Legends really does have it all!

The theme park is an excellent place to spend the day, whether you’re looking for high-speed thrills for you and your partner or a cute ride that your toddler will love. As well as all the rides and rollercoasters, the park also puts on incredible shows, musical performances, fountain shows, and character meet and greets.

After a tiring day, spend the evening unwinding in the shopping mall and restaurant zone part of the park. Here you can treat yourself to some high-end fashion from designer brands before relaxing with a fruity cocktail from one of the many bars. When you’ve got your second wind, find a table in one of the gourmet restaurants and end your long day with a delicious feast. 

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4. Explore the mysterious Karain Cave

Unique Things to do in Antalya: Karain Cave

Head to the north of the resort for one of the most unique things to do in Antalya: exploring Karain Cave. This ancient natural wonder is where countless artifacts dating back to lower and middle Paleolithic times were discovered.

The cave provided people with a safe place to live for more than 25,000 years! There are hardly any other places on Earth that have been inhabited for that long, making it a truly one-of-a-kind Turkey attraction.

If you’ve never been inside a real cave before, you’re in for a treat here. The inside is covered in ragged stalactites hanging from the tall ceiling and uniquely formed stalagmites, which rise up from the ground. There’s clever lighting throughout to showcase the most interesting parts of the cave and give it an eerie atmosphere.

When you’ve explored the cave’s dark recesses, stop by the museum. Here you’ll find all kinds of treasures that were unearthed during the cave’s excavation, including bones and teeth that once belonged to Neolithic people.

5. Feel like a VIP at the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival

Antalya Bucket List: Golden Orange Film Festival

One of the best Antalya attractions takes place in the fall. Held every year since 1963, the star-studded festival showcases a jam-packed program featuring movie screenings, lavish parties, and art exhibitions. It’s certainly earned its nickname as the Turkish Oscars!

The festival aims to promote Turkish cinema and encourage local film producers to create masterpieces that will help raise awareness about Turkish movies around the world.

The movies are fascinating to see. And you don’t need to worry about not understanding anything because they’re all subtitled in English and Turkish.

If you get the chance, watch the opening ceremony to see the A-listers arrive. You’ll get to witness a 2.5-mile parade of glammed-up cars waiting in line to drop off glamorous people wearing floor-length gowns and tuxedos.

Events are held all across Antalya, including in the incredible Aspendos Amphitheatre, which is thousands of years old. There’s nothing like watching a movie under the stars, knowing you’re sitting in the exact same place people used to come to be entertained millennia ago.

6. Get a History Lesson in the Antalya Archaeological Museum

Antalya Things to do: Antalya Archaeological Museum

If you want to learn more about the ancient history of Antalya, spend a few hours exploring the Antalya Archaeological Museum. This fascinating place boasts a huge collection of artifacts from all the major excavation sites in the local area and sets them out in a way that makes everything easy to understand.

One of the top things to do in Antalya, the museum’s displays cover all periods from the Bronze Age up until the Byzantium period. There are more than 5,000 pieces to admire here, spread out across 13 individual sections.

If you’ve only got a short time to spend here, we recommend checking out the statues that were discovered in Perge, Xanthos, and Patara. They date back to the Hellenistic and Roman eras and are what the museum is best known for.

Other exhibits in the museum highlight ancient coins, beautiful sarcophagi, robust wine jugs, intricate jewelry, and handmade figurines. The 2nd-century marble sarcophagus with images depicting the 12 Labors of Hercules is absolutely phenomenal.

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7. Enjoy a chilled-out beach day

Best Things to do in Antalya: Beach day

When you need a break from all the Antalya sightseeing, have a lazy day at one of the resort’s beaches. Antalya is famous for its stunning bays, with powder-soft white sands, glistening turquoise waters, and gorgeous mountain backdrops.

Lara Beach is the main bay in the area and is hugely popular. The long stretch of golden sand has been awarded a Blue Flag and is an excellent choice if you want a lively atmosphere with plenty going on. Here you’ll find watersports, boats to rent, sun loungers, and umbrellas.

There are also several beach clubs where you can relax on plush Balinese beds while waiters bring you tropical cocktails and snacks.

For something a little more peaceful, spend the day at Patara Beach. At a whopping 11 miles long, this is the longest beach in Turkey and is probably one of the most beautiful in the world, too. Its platinum-white sands are lapped by gentle azure waters on one side and lined by the Lycian mountains on the other, creating a real paradise.

8. Swim around the Lower Düden Waterfalls

Fun Things to do in Antalya: Lower Düden Waterfalls

Limestone deposits have been building up across Antalya for more than 1.5 million years, making the region rich in waterfalls and springs. One of the most spectacular examples is the Lower Düden Waterfalls on the coast of the city.

The waterfalls begin almost nine miles inland in the southern part of the Taurus Mountains. The powerful water tumbles over the Antalya City cliffs and crashes into the Mediterranean Sea down below.

If you stand in the park on the clifftop to the west of the waterfalls, you can take some amazing shots. We suggest you go there in the afternoon or early evening. That’s when the lighting conditions are at their best, and you’ll get the most stunning pictures.

Sign up for a boat trip if you want to get closer to the falls and feel the spray on your face. This popular tour shows you the highlights of the city and then takes you as close as you can get to the waterfalls on a boat. Make sure you come hungry because you’ll get a chance to dine at a local restaurant after taking in the stunning views of the falls. 

Book a Guided Lower Düden Waterfalls Tour

9. Be awed by the International Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival

Antalya Things to do: Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival

One of the best things to do in Antalya at the beginning of summer is to marvel at all the amazing creations on display during the International Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival. One of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, the International Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival is held every year in May or June and sees more than 10,000 tons of sand turned into works of art.

There’s a theme for each year’s festival that artists must follow while creating their sand sculptures. They’re also restricted to using just water and sand to make their sculptures, nothing else. They’re so incredible you’ll find it hard to believe that’s all they used!

The sculptures are created on Lara Beach, and artists from all over the world travel to take part in the event. To make things even more exciting, there are also sand sculpting workshops for children, movie screenings that explain the ideas behind the sculptures, and all sorts of high-speed activities, like ATV safaris.

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10. Stroll through the ancient streets of Kaleiçi

Fun Things to do in Antalya: Ancient streets of Kaleiçi

Exploring Old Town is one of the must-do things in Antalya. Known as Kaleiçi, Antalya’s Old Town certainly lives up to its name, being more than 2,000 years old. As you walk through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, past cute cafes and street vendors, it’s easy to imagine the life that flowed through the town’s veins centuries ago.

Kaleiçi is a great place when you want to escape the purpose-built resorts and discover somewhere that’s a little more authentic. You can walk all over the town and enjoy the peaceful, relaxed atmosphere.

The Kesik Minare (also known as the Broken Minaret) is worth checking out. This mosque was badly damaged in a 19th-century fire, but it still stands proud in the town today. 

Other spots to add to your itinerary include Hadrian’s Gate at the entrance to the town, the Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Cami Mosque, and the ancient harbor that was built by Romans hundreds of years ago.

11. Take a ride on the Tünektepe Teleferik

Antalya Bucket List: Tünektepe Teleferik

One of the most fun things to do in Antalya is to take a ride on the cable car up to the top of Tünek Tepe hill. The cable car glides just over a mile up the face of the hill until it reaches the peak from where you can take in stunning panoramas all over Antalya. 

There’s much more than beautiful vistas at the top of the hill. Here you’ll also find a kids’ playground and small bazaar where you can pick up all kinds of traditional, local crafts. When you need a break, there’s a small cafe, as well as a fantastic rotating restaurant which allows you to see the gorgeous views from every angle.

If you want to stay here a little longer, there’s even a nightclub for late-night drinks and dancing, as well as a hotel where you can wake up to some of the most astounding views in Antalya. 

12. Dig into crispy börek 

Unique Things to do in Antalya: Crispy börek

Börek is one of those things you won’t be able to get enough of. Thankfully, you can find it all over Antalya, so you’ll never have to go without it!

This traditional Turkish dish is a type of savory pastry stuffed with all kinds of ingredients and baked to crispy, golden perfection. The contrast of the thin, crunchy pastry and soft, wholesome filling is incredibly addictive.

Börekçi Tevfik is one of the best places we found in Antalya for Börek. This tiny place is run by a single man who only offers two types of Börek – one with cheese and one with seasoned ground beef.

He makes the pastry fresh in front of your very eyes, and it tastes amazing! Börekçi Tevfik has been going strong for more than 160 years, so the family certainly knows what they’re doing.

If you want more choice, check out Fıtır Börek. This restaurant serves a range of different types of Börek with all kinds of Turkish fillings. A visit here is a great way to discover what makes your favorite Börek.

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13. Step back in time at Aspendos

Fun Things to do in Antalya: Aspendos

If you love exploring ancient ruins, you’ve got to visit Aspendos. One of the top historical things to see in Antalya, Aspendos is an archaeological site that boasts one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. 

The giant theater was built between 160 and 180 CE when up to 8,500 people would arrive to be entertained. Impressive theatrical and musical performances would be held in the center of the amphitheater and were performed by the town’s finest actors and musicians. 

You can still see the inscriptions on the amphitheater today that tell you about the Greek architect Zenon, who created the design and was born in Aspendos. There are also some details about the two wealthy brothers who funded the amphitheater and gifted it to the city.

Aspendos is staggeringly huge. It’s 315 feet wide with a vast stage measuring 150+ feet wide and an orchestra section that’s 75+ feet wide. The amphitheater is so impressive that it’s still used for its original purpose today. Each year it hosts the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival, which attracts thousands of people, just like it did millennia ago!

14. Walk through the longest shark tunnel in the world 

What to do in Antalya: Antalya Acquarium

Spend a day at the Antalya Aquarium to discover one of the best Antalya activities for families. Inside this stellar aquarium, you’ll find the longest shark tunnel on the planet!

At 430 feet long, you’ve got plenty of space to wander and spot all the magnificent creatures that live in the tank above. Look all around, and you’ll see sharks, rays, and tropical fish swimming over your head and through the complex wrecks in the aquarium. 

When you arrive, take a look at the leaflet and make a note of the feeding times. It’s fascinating watching staff put on their scuba gear and feed the sharks and stingrays by hand.

Antalya Aquarium boasts more than 60 themed tanks, the largest of which is absolutely huge and holds more than 5 million liters of water. As well as all the marine life, the aquarium also features a WildPark full of tropical reptiles and amphibians, plus a Snow World and Ice Museum where you can slide down snowy slopes in tubes. 

15. Cool down with Turkish ice cream

Cool Things to do in Antalya: Turkish ice cream

When you’re craving a sweet treat, one of the best things to do in Antalya is to treat yourself to a scoop of Turkish ice cream. This specialist frozen treat looks like any other ice cream, but it has a thick, almost chewy consistency that means it doesn’t melt straight away. This is really handy during Antalya’s scorching summers!

We had some of the best Turkish ice cream ever at Dondurma Dukkani. They specialize in fruity flavors using fresh, seasonal ingredients, so don’t be surprised if you find a few seeds in your scoop. 

If you’re a fan of nuts, you’ve got to try the honey and almond ice cream – it’s delicious! Be prepared to wait because there’s usually a long line.

Punto Dondurma is another great place to grab a frozen sweet treat. Here you’ll find a huge choice of flavors available for shockingly cheap prices. The dark chocolate and tahini flavors are superb. 

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Antalya. What’s your favorite thing to do in Antalya? 

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