Antalya: The Perfect City In Turkey?

If you’ve been following our story you know that almost 4 years ago we sold our home so that we could become full‐time travelers.  But after 4 years we’re feeling like we are ready to have a home again.  We want to continue traveling extensively, but also want to be able to have a place where we can have long term connections with the community.  And that brings us to Turkey (also known as Türkiye). We have come here to explore the possibility of making a home base in this country.

But where in Turkey?  That is the question we are trying to answer.  We are visiting several cities in the country with the hope that one of them will be the right place for us.

In this article we’re going to evaluate our time in Antalya, which is Turkey’s biggest beach resort.  We’ll explain what we like and don’t like about the city and also provide some tips for both the short-term visitor and long-term resident.

(Go to this link if you would like to watch a video with the same information: ANTALYA TURKEY The Good, The Bad, and Some Tips)

The Good

The Beaches

Two of Turkey’s best beaches are here in Antalya. This one is Lara Beach.

Let’s start with the beautiful beaches because this is the reason many people come to Antalya.  There are two main beach areas.  The first is Konyaalti Beach on the western side of the city.  This beach has a vibrant feel, with a lot of activity going on.  There are some nice restaurants lining the shore where you can chill and take in the views.  (One tip we have for Konyaalti Beach is to wear water shoes because the beach has some small rocks and pebbles).  And then on the east side we’ve got Lara Beach.  We think the sand was a little nicer on this side and probably a better beach for relaxing in the sun.  Lara Beach also has more of a resort feel (more on that later).  The water at both beaches is just beautiful. It’s got that deep turquoise color that just makes you want to jump right into the water.

The Old Town

Hadrian’s Gate is the most notable landmark in the Old Town section of Antalya.

The second thing we really like about Antalya is the old town section of this amazing city.  The old town adds something more to Antalya so that it’s not just all about the beaches.  Antalya’s old town district is located right in the middle between Konyaalti and Lara Beaches.  Hadrian’s Gate is the heart of the old town.  It dates all the way back to the year and was built to commemorate the Roman emperor’s visit to the city.  After you enter the gate we suggest turning off Google maps and simply wander around the ancient streets and passageways without trying to follow a specific route.  Once you’re done exploring find your way to the marina because it is a great place to relax.  We just took a seat on the jetty and enjoyed watching the people and the boats come in and out of the harbor. 

To really go back in time, head over to Perge.  This is an ancient city that dates back even further.  It was a prosperous trading port going all the way back 3000 years ago.  Some of the most notable people with connections to this city are Alexander the Great, St. Paul the Apostle, and the mathematician Apollonius.  The best structures to visit are the stadium and the theater.

The Outdoor Spaces

There are many great outdoor areas for walking.

The next thing about Antalya that impressed us is the outdoor spaces that are available in the city.  We know every city has parks, but here in Antalya there seems to be more of them and they seem to be more vibrant compared to other places.  And in addition to the parks there are city squares and plazas, and there are plenty of playgrounds if you have kids.  We think the best way to spend time outdoors here is by taking a stroll on the walking paths. The paths go on for many kilometers, both along Konyaalti Beach, in parts of the old town, and also along Lara Beach.  We think the most beautiful outdoor space in Antalya is the amazing Duden Falls.  The water from these falls splashes down directly into the Mediterranean

The Weather

Antalya is one of the sunniest places in Turkey.

The next thing on our list of things we like about Antalya is the weather because it is fabulous for most of the year.  The winters are nice compared to many parts of North America or Europe.  Spring is normally perfect but was unusually cold this year when we were there.  Summers are hot and not much rain during that time of year.  Autumn is another great time of year to be in Antalya.  The city is surrounded by mountains that can get snow in the winter, even while it’s mild down in the city itself.  You could go to the beach and go skiing on the same day.

The Food

Piyaz is a bean salad that originates in Antalya.

You won’t go hungry in Antalya, and the food is delicious.  Of course there is the typical Turkish cuisine, but there are also some unique dishes local to Antalya as well.  One of those dishes that originates in Antalya is piyaz.  This is a delicious bean salad made up of white beans, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and my favorite ingredient of this salad which is the tahini sauce, along with lemon juice and olive oil.  We recommend getting this salad at Dikkat Et, a great restaurant near the old town. Another restaurant we want to recommend is Yenikapı.  The thing we like about it is that it’s a family run restaurant that caters to locals and not really the tourists.  There’s no menu, you just look at the food behind the counter and tell them what you want.  And don’t miss Luna cafe, a great place to chill, and when you order coffee it comes with cotton candy!

The Public Transportation

The trams make it easy to get around.

We think the public transportation is pretty good for a city this size.  There is a great tram system which has stations at both the airport and the long-distance bus station. (And speaking of buses and airports, Antalya has great connections to the rest of Turkey by either bus or air).  The city buses go all over and they are easy to use.  Taxis are another common way to get around. If you want a taxi, look for the taxi buttons that are attached to fences and trees all around the city.  Just push the button and a taxi should arrive at your location soon.  And an interesting mode of transportation to get between the old town and the marina is on the public elevator on the side of the cliff.  One tip for public transportation in Antalya is to get the transport card.  It gives access to both the trams and the buses with a simple tap to the reader machine.

Safety

 We felt very safe here and we just took normal precautions.  We never felt in danger or worried about security.  But the security situation anywhere in the world can change quickly, so you always want to do your research to get updated information.

Communication

Communication is a little bit easier here.  English is spoken more widely than other parts of Turkey.

The Bad

There were just a few things that would make us hesitate about calling Antalya Turkey’s perfect city.

It’s Very Touristy

Yeah I know, we are tourists too.  But Antalya is a resort city, and the atmosphere can reflect that.  It didn’t always feel like genuine Turkey.  In some ways it felt a little like Turkey’s version of Cancun or Miami Beach.  One tip is to come before or after the peak summer season, which is what we did.  We did take a visit to the more inland area of the city, just to get away from resorts, and if we were to live in Antalya, I think we would live away from the water.

The Cost Of Living

We debated whether the cost of living should be on the naughty list or the nice list.  It’s kind of a toss up.  Compared to other beach resorts, prices are reasonable.  But compared to other parts of Turkey, it is a bit expensive.  Our spending averaged $46 per day for the two of us for our one-week stay.  This was before the peak summer season and our Airbnb apartment was very basic at $28 per night.  This apartment was renting for $800 per month if we had stayed longer.  And if we were living here, rent for a small apartment on a one year lease away from the resort areas is around US$500 to US$600 dollars per month.  Prices are increasing very quickly at the moment, and also keep in mind that the exchange rate with foreign currencies and the inflation rate here in Turkey can change quickly and drastically.

Is Antalya Turkey’s Perfect City?

We think it’s pretty darn close.  The weather, the people, and the natural beauty, are all quite amazing.  But for us, the cost of living is more important than having a nice beach.  So, we are going to continue our search in Turkey to find that special place for us.  Stay tuned for future blog posts! 

Thanks for traveling with us.

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