Turkey is a country that always intrigued me. Its rich history and reputable hospitality towards tourists makes it a favorite destination among many westerners. Most Americans find themselves visiting Istanbul and the rugged region of Cappadocia but many are still unaware of the beauty of the Turkish Riviera. Turquoise blue waters, ancient ruins, and scenic beauty are just a few reasons why so many Europeans are drawn to the area. Here’s a quick Turkish Riviera guide should you decide to visit the Turkish Riviera.
The Turkish Riviera Guide
When is the best time of year to go?
The best time to go is late spring into early summer. The weather is warmer, the rain showers are gone, and you won’t be competiting for beach space with every European on holiday.
Places You Won’t Want to Miss
Antayla is the largest city in the Turkish Riviera and a must-see destination in itself. It has a history that goes back to the times before Christ. Some of the city’s attractions include the Kaleici, also known as the Old Quarter. It’s a charming area filled with restaurants and shops and has a number of ancient ruins including Hadrian’s Gate. The city’s Kilinçarslan district is also worth exploring. Antalya’s famous minaret and mosque lies here as well as Ataturk’s first home.
The cities of Phaselis, Kemer, and Myra are also interesting stops. Phaselis used to be a thriving Greek and Roman city right on the Lycian coast. It has impressive ruins from both ancient civilizations and three scenic harbors. Kemer is one of the resort towns in the region of Anatolia. It has miles of beaches and a buzzing nightlife which makes it favorite among younger travelers. Myra is another one of the ancient cities in the Turkish Riviera. Its main draw include a necropolis carved out from the nearby mountain and the Church of St. Nicholas of Myra. The latter is said to be the original burial place for St. Nicholas.
Though technically not on the Turkish Riviera, Pamukkale and Hierapolis should be one of the top destinations on your list. These UNESCO sites are home to the Pamukkale travertine and the adjacent ancient city of Hierapolis. Travertines are formed by deposits of minerals (i.e. calcium, sulfur) from continuous running water. For hundreds, even thousands of years, visitors to Pamukkale were able to swim in one of its many pools, but in order to protect and maintain this natural wonder, the practice was discontinued. You can, however, dip your feet in the warm, cyan water, and travel down the cascading pools.
Once you’ve got your feet wet at Pamukkale, check out the adjacent ancient city of Hierapolis. It contains some of the best preserved Roman and Greek ruins outside of their respective countries. The site is massive and contains several areas of interest including a well-preserved Roman amphitheater still in use today, a temple to the Roman god Apollo, and a necropolis so large, it had to be divided into sections. Pamukkale is about 4.5 hours drive from Turkey so plan to stay at least one night to fully enjoy the scenery.
Where is the best place to stay?
The city of Antalya and the resort town of Kemer are your best bets for finding the best accommodations. Antalya’s best hotel is the Barut Hotel Lara. This all-inclusive hotel lies right on the beach and has a range of amenities such as both indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, multiple in-house restaurants, and its own nightclub. Rates begin at $250. If you choose to stay in Kemer, a town just to the west of Antalya, then consider the Orange County De Luxe Hotel. The hotel has a lovely pool, a happening bar crowd, a play area for children, and buildings artistically modeled after the houses lining the canals in Amsterdam. Rates average around $120 for an all-inclusive standard room.
For your stay in Pamukkale, look into the Herakles Thermal Hotel. The hotel is not a grand resort by any means but it does have a spa that makes it a worthy place to stay. It has a thermal pool that is kept at a balmy 97 degrees Fahrenheit and contains the same minerals produced by the travertine pools. The hotel is suitable for short-term stays. Rates begin as low as $30 per night.
Additional Tips for Travellers
If this is your first time in Turkey, consider joining a tour group. It will provide you with a good overview of this part of the country. Most of them include stays in fairly extravagant resorts at discounted prices and the itineraries often allow plenty of free time to explore the other parts of the region. Also make it a point to learn a few key Turkish phrases. Merhaba is Turkish for “hello” and tessekur (pronounced teshekur) is the word for “thank you.”
I hope you found this quick Turkish Riviera guide. Let us know what you think in the comments below!