It was between Greece and Turkey. The office in Greece took a million years to reply, so I went forward with an internship to teach English in Antalya, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
After staying there for a month, I fell in love with the town. From the weather to the food, Antalya was everything a beach city could ask for. It’s definitely the works of all that sunshine, but those who live by the sea are always super friendly.
Antalya is the capital city of Antalya province, a beautiful sphere encompassing party town Kemer, bungalow-filled Olympos, historical Side and beautiful Alayna.
A tourist hot spot, Antalya has a beautiful beach and a busy bazaar running through Keleici (Old Town) leading to a beaming harbor. As a historical site, Old Town has infrastructures dating back to the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman Empires. For those looking for a great night out, Keleici has some small, but great bars and clubs.
The marina is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, with Gluets (old wooden boats) looking to draw people in for a rocky ride. As a large group, we were able to bargain a boat ride for 5 lire. It lasted an hour into the dark sea, with Turkish music and dancing throughout the whole trip.
Later, a few of us spent some time near a seating area by the beach. There were numerous vendors walking around offering ice-creams and plates of fresh mussels stuffed with rice – a must have. There is also a free elevator around the harbor that will definitely save some leg work, and do not miss the view from the observation deck when you leave the lift!
Kemer has two of the best clubs in Antalya–Inferno and Aura. The entry is around 30 lira including a free drink. The clubs are fancy, with a large number of tables surrounding a small dance floor. Unlike Istanbul’s deep house, clubs in Antalya often blast your typical top-40. As a large go-to city for tourists, there were a lot of all-inclusive hotels and resorts in the area. However, prices for alcohol and other items are relatively higher than Antalya. You can either take a bus from Antalya, which costs 10 lire, or a taxi, which is around 50 lira.
Olympos is a beach paradise! This is where most locals go for vacation as the sea is visibly clearer than ones in Antalya. It is famous for its tree houses and bungalows, as well as its Greek ruins. The small town consists of numerous guesthouses that lead toward the beach/ruins.
The beach has a 5 lira entrance fee but is free when late at night or early in the morning. The ruins are off a beaten path and usually deserted.
There are buses to Olympos leaving Antalya every half an hour. It is around a two hours ride, costing 8-10 lira. Make sure to take public buses such as Bati Antalya, Kumluca Seyhat, Bati Antalya or Antalya tur from the main Antalya bus station and TELL THE DRIVER that you want to get off at the Cirali Olympos junction! If not sure, ALWAYS ask!!
I ended up Couchsurfing in Olympos in a bungalow. The place was beautiful, as the bungalow was located a few kilometers away from the touristy spots. However, the stay wasn’t the greatest and I ended up spending a night in a treehouse after the first night.
I decided to start my travels right after my internship. Side was the first on my list. Famous for its ruins and long beaches, it is 14 lire and an hour and a half away by bus from Antalya.
Side is a small, ancient town inside the larger city of Manavgat. If you are traveling by bus from another town, take it to Manavgat and ask around for a shuttle!
Convincing two of my teaching friends to come along and couch surf for the first time, we were lucky to have one of the best hosts I’ve encountered!
Founder of a school for disabled children, my host was extremely passionate about his city. He tirelessly drove us throughout Manavgat, showing us Oymapinar Dam, the city of Side, took us on ATV tours, jet skiing and go karting.
The Oymapinar Dam is a must see if you are able to find a car or hitch hike. The Dam is huge and the water reflects a deep turquoise. There aren’t many tourists due to the 30-minute drive up a mountain, so it is truly nature at its finest.
In comparison, Side is much busier. While the ruins were not as crowded during the evening, the enclosing streets were full of packed restaurants, bars, clubs and a colorful bazaar.
Following Side, I continued on my 9-city Turkey venture by tapping into the beautiful landscape of Alanya. Although Alanya is also a city within the province of Antalya, its beauty deserves a post of its own.
Although Istanbul remains the most known Turkish city among tourists alike, I’d recommend anyone to dabble the beauty of Antalya, even just for a few days. From beautiful beaches to mesmerizing ruins, Antalya provides tons to see and more to do. These mini trips around the Antalya province are definitely worth the time
Traveling in Turkey is extremely cheap. Since I couchsurfed in all of the cities, I spent no money on accommodation. Otherwise, there were a few lire here and there for food and tourist sights. I didn’t end up buying anything in Antalya since Izmir and Istanbul are known spots for shopping ;). I believe I spent less than US $100 during my month in the province.
- The buses between different cities in Antalya vary between 10-20 lira (US $3-6).
Happy Travels xx
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