The last stop in my coastal drive was Antalya, a large city located in the SouthWest of the coast. Driving from Kas, it took about two hours to reach this fifth-most-populated-city of Turkey. The drive was perhaps the most beautiful out of the entire trip, long winding roads wrapped along the coastline, with absolutely stunning views of the sea and cliffs. Along the way you’ll find even more small, secluded beaches, and some of them even have sunbeds arranged beautifully by the water. As you approach the city, you’ll realise that it’s much more vibrant and much more crowded that everything else you’ve driven into so far, and so begins your adventure in this seaside city.
There is plenty to do in Antalya, but these are some of the top things I did and would recommend.
1. Take a Walk Around The Old City
The Old City is much larger in Antalya and a lot more elaborate compared to other places along the coast. That being said, it’s a great idea to find hotels close or inside the Old Town if you’re staying in Antalya, as everything else is walkable within the area. You could see Hadrian’s gate, a large stone entrance extended by giant ancient walls that were built in honour of the Roman Emperor Hadrian during his visit here.
Antalya was once ruled by the Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Selcuks, Ottomans and even Italians, so walking around the Old Town is a great opportunity to see the mix of all kinds of influences throughout these eras, through gorgeous old architectures and food. I easily spent almost an entire day exploring the cobbled streets, main square and old ruins in this area, and you should too.
2. Witness the majestic Duden waterfalls
It’s magnificent. Really. It’s a gigantic waterfall spewing freshwater from a high cliff right into the ocean. A sight to behold, Duden waterfalls is located at the edge of the city in a beautiful stretch of park. A short walk should lead you to a beautiful view of the waters gushing out of the cleavages of the rocks, into the dark sea below. There are plenty of corners for you to stand in to marvel at it, despite the consistent crowd. And once you’re done, get your appetite in order and walk towards…
3. Eat at Sirali Kebap
Sirali Kebap. I implore you to eat here if you’re in Antalya. Look, there are plenty of delicious cafes and restaurants around the city, sure. But Sirali Kebap was just a step above. Known for its meats, the place uses exclusively orange tree wood for grilling, giving off a beautiful fragrant smokiness to all your carnivorous endeavours here. The menu is long and extensive, the waiters are well informed about what’s being served in each dish, and everything I ordered was meticulous and delicious (and there was a lot of food!).
I’d recommend sampling a few different mezes (try the ones that you don’t usually see in other places), and go for the Chef’s Special Kebap. It was everything and more - charred meat with a medium rare interior, pickled vegetables on the side, and warm bread to wrap your meat with.
Sirali Kebap is slightly more expensive than average, but I assure you - worth it.
4. Hang out at Konyaalti Beach
Konyaalti Beach is a little outside the city and a bit of a drive, but it is Antalya’s most famous beach. Well, it’s more of a seafront playground that beach. Sure you can hang out by the water, but there are also plenty of cafes and bars lined up along this very long stretch of shingle beach. The view is also quite something, as at the edge of the beach is an impressive range of mountains that could be enjoyed fully from the viewpoint.
Konyaalti is a popular hangout spot for locals especially in the evenings, so expect some crowd.
5. Hike up Chimaera Mountain and see the natural fire vents
Now, this is not exactly within Antalya city, but I'd be remiss to not share my experience seeing the natural fire vents in the Chimaera mountain. Located about an hour from the city, these fire vents are the result of natural methane released from the subsurface, causing consistent fire vents scattered around the forest floor of the mountain. You'll need to hike up the well paved trail to see them, and they are best seen at night as the contrast between the darkness, the fires and the starry sky is a sight to behold.
The bonus would be the cats putting up a residence near these fires, acting like they own the place!
Now that I’ve wrapped up my Turkish coastal drive experience, it’s time to board the flight and head towards somewhere much, much cooler - East Turkey!