Things to Do in Turkish Riviera - page 4
One of Antalya’s two main city beaches, Konyaalti Beach (Konyaaltı Plajı) is a popular spot for both locals and travelers. Stretching for 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) west of the city, Konyaalti has a mix of pebble and sand beaches, where sun worshipers can swim and enjoy water sports against the dramatic backdrop of the Beydağlari Mountains.
The Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus is one of the highlights of the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey. It was built around 118 AD and is actually more of a monument to Hadrian, Artemis, and the people of Ephesus. Hadrian's temple is small, but there is a beautiful arch on the outside, a porch, and a small main hall. The porch is supported by pillars and Corinthian columns. A statue of Hadrian once stood on a podium in the temple, but it has been lost. On the front of the porch are bases with the names of Galerius, Maximianus, Diocletianus, and Constantius Chlorus inscribed on them, indicating that the bases might have once held statues of these emperors.
Panel reliefs on the inside depict Medusa warding off the bad spirits, the mythological foundation of Ephesus, and various religious scenes. The reliefs seen today are plaster replicas, while the originals are protected in the Ephesus Museum.
The Library of Celsus is the most famous part of the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey. It was built between 110 and 135 AD by Gaius Julius Aquila in honor of his father, Celsus Polemaeanus. Unfortunately his father died before the Celsus Library was completed, and his tomb was placed in a special room beneath the ground level of the building. A statue of Athena was placed at the entrance to the tomb because Athena was the goddess of wisdom.
The Library of Celsus was two stories high and had three entrances in the front. The entrances were designed with exaggerated height in order to give the building the overall appearance of being bigger than it was. The building faces east which allowed plenty of morning light to shine into the reading rooms. The Celsus Library was once the third largest library in the ancient world, after Alexandra and Pergamum, and could hold more than 12,000 scrolls.
Less than an hour from the beaches of Antalya, Dinopark is a dinosaur-themed family attraction, where the prehistoric creatures have been brought “back to life” through a series of animatronic models. With swimming pools, play areas, and a number of different activities, the park is a fun day trip for those with younger children.
Şirince, a small village of just 600 inhabitants, has a long history that is intrinsically linked to Ephesus; indeed, rumor has it that it was founded by freed Greek slaves who named it “ugly” in Turkish to deter others from following them after the fall of Ephesus. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the name was changed to Şirince, which means ‘pleasant.’ Nowadays the mountainous village is mainly known for its many preserved whitewashed stucco homes, bucolic and lush setting, as well as its fruit-based wineries and olive groves. The Church of St John the Baptist, although neglected by Turkish authorities, still houses fantastic Byzantine frescoes. Most tourists tend to visit for one day as part of excursions to nearby Selçuk, but there’s a handful of guesthouses and cafés for overnight guests as well. Visitors should be aware that Sirince gets very crowded on the weekend.
Dramatically situated high in the Taurus Mountains and part of Gulluk Dagi Termessos National Park, the ancient city of Termessos is as notable for its impressive location as for its remarkably preserved ruins. The star attraction is the 4,200-seat theater, built right on the cliffside and affording stunning views over the mountains below.
Akyaka is a small seaside fishing village about 20 miles from the city of Marmaris, Turkey. It is located on the edge of the Bozburun Peninsula along the Aegean Sea. Akyaka is bordered by forested mountains on one side, and the beach and Gokova Bay on the other side. The Azmak River runs through the middle of town. The town has a relaxed, laid back vibe and is much less developed than nearby Marmaris. It's a very traditional town where you'll see farmers at work in their fields and fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
Akyaka has a wide sandy beach along Gokova Bay. The water is shallow, which is perfect for a relaxing swim. There are pedalos and kayaks for rent at the far end of the beach. Near the beach you'll find several bars and restaurants where you can try fresh seafood and other traditional Turkish meals. Another popular activity is taking a river boat trip along the Azmak River through the village. You'll have the chance to see frogs, dragonflies, turtles, and a wide variety of birds. There are also several restaurants along the banks of the river.
Just inland from the main port area and east of the ancient amphitheater is Fethiye’s old town, known as Paspatur. The narrow streets here are filled with shops and street stalls selling everything from Turkish carpets, jewelry and antiques to edible goodies like spices and Turkish delight; there are also touristic knick-knacks aplenty.
Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, Paspatur is a great place for wandering around and people-watching, or for getting a bite to eat at one of the many cafés and eateries. Thanks to a canopy of vines above, its shaded streets are pleasant even during the height of summer.
Nearby is Fethiye’s main fish market, where you’ll see local residents shopping and where you can even purchase your own fish and have it cooked up for you to eat at one of the nearby restaurants.
While you’re in the area, you may also want to stop by the Eski Cami, Fethiye’s oldest mosque, or the Eski Hamam, a Turkish bath dating back to the Ottoman period, for a traditional scrubdown.
Knidos(Cnidus) was an ancient Greek city near present-day Datça, Turkey. The town of Datça is located on the Datça Peninsula, which juts out into the Aegean Sea. Knidos was an important cultural and political center by the 5th century BC and, due to its location on the sea and large harbor, it was a major trading hub as well. The city was a member of the Dorian Hexapolis, which was a federation of six cities of Dorian Greek origin. Over time the city became part of the Roman empire and survived into the Byzantine era.
Eventually the city was abandoned. Excavations began in the 1800s, and many ruins have been uncovered. Today you can see the ruins of temples, an altar, a sundial, a theater, a sanctuary, the agora, and churches, including the remains of a Byzantine church. The biggest find is the necropolis, which is almost four miles long. The theater could seat 5,000 people and was built with an impressive panoramic view of the sea. Although many statues and artifacts are now housed in the British Museum, there is still a lot to see here, and even just for the view, it's worth a visit.
The Atlantis Waterpark Marmaris is an amusement park located directly on the seafront of one of Turkey’s largest resort towns, Marmaris. It features nine eye-catching and thrilling slides, like the Space Bowl, the Free Fall, the Black Hole, and the Wild River. It also comprises a massive wave pool, which entertains guests with a variety of waves from ultra-gentle rollers to six-foot-high waves. There is also a less extreme, more accessible space reserved for the little ones named Kidsland. The park can be enjoyed for a few hours or a full day, as it includes access to mini-golf, four restaurants, bowling and more.
More Things to Do in Turkish Riviera
Perched on a rocky promontory above the lively harbor, Marmaris Castle is one of the city’s most memorable landmarks, offering expansive views along the Mediterranean coast from its lookout towers. Although the present-day castle was built by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1522, archeologists estimate that a castle has stood on the waterfront plot since as early as 3000 B.C., making it one of the region’s oldest landmarks.
Marmaris Castle is also home to the city’s principal museum, the Marmaris Archaeology Museum, which retells the story of its construction and one-time military prominence while also displaying ancient armory, sculptures and other artifacts excavated from Marmaris, Knidos and Hisarönü.
Curving around the mountain-backed bay of Icmeler just west of Marmaris, Icmeler Beach offers some of the best scenery and waters on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. The dark-sand-and-shingle stretch is lined by Icmeler’s shops, restaurants, and watersports—making it ideal for whiling the day away in the sun.
Turunç is a small coastal village about 12 miles south of Marmaris, Turkey. It was once primarily a fishing village, but today it is also a quiet resort town. The village is small enough that you can walk from one end to the other in about a half hour. It's relaxed, small town atmosphere give it a completely different feel from the larger resort cities in the area, making it a great place for a vacation away from the crowds. Turunç is located on the edge of a bay with sandy beaches and calm, sheltered waters. Tree-covered mountains provide a picturesque backdrop.
Despite its size, Turunç has several hotels and guesthouses, as well as restaurants and cafes serving traditional Turkish food. There is a market on Mondays where you will find fruit, vegetables, other local foods, and gifts. Visitors can also buy souvenirs at a variety of local shops in the village. Popular activities include swimming, sunbathing, fishing, water sports, horseback riding and jeep rides into the countryside. You can also join a boat tour to see more of the coastline and some bays that are only accessible from the water. There are also day trips to nearby villages or to Dalyan to see the endangered loggerhead turtles on Turtle Beach.
One of the greatest ancient Roman cities was Ephesus, and its ruins are located in Selcuk, Turkey. It is one of the most popular sites to visit in Turkey. Near the ancient Agora, visitors can see the remains of the Temple of Domitian and Domitian Square. The Temple of Domitian, formally known as the Temple of the Sebastoi, was built in honor of Emperor Domitian's family, and it is the first structure here known to be dedicated to an emperor. Though not much remains of the temple today, archaeologists have learned much about its structure.
Visitors can see the remaining foundation of the temple and imagine what it might have once looked like. It was approximately 165 feet by 330 feet and sat on vaulted foundations. The northern end was two stories tall and was accessed by stairs, which can still be seen today. There were also several columns on each side of the temple. Reliefs from some of the columns can still be seen here as well.
Having begun as one of the world’s largest sand sculpture festivals, Antalya’s Sandland is now a year-round sand sculpture museum. Artists use tons of sand to create gigantic sculptures along the shores of Lara Beach, with up to 100 artworks centered on a different theme each year.
The Baths of Varius was a bathhouse built in the 2nd century AD in Ephesus in present-day Turkey. The north and east walls of the original building were carved from natural outcroppings of rock. Several renovations over a few centuries gave the building a unique look, including the addition of a hallway that was 130 feet long and covered in mosaics from the 5th century. The baths covered a large area and had several different rooms, including separate rooms for cold, warm, and hot water. There were also private rooms for a few wealthy citizens of Ephesus. It is believed one section functioned as a gymnasium.
The Romans place a high value on personal cleanliness, so the Baths of Varius would have been an important building in ancient Ephesus. Most but not all sections of the baths have been excavated, and no restoration work has been done yet. Some sections are in decent shape, but it might take some creativity to imagine what other sections once looked like.
Scattered around the town of Fethiye are a number of stone sarcophagi left by the Lycians. While in ancient Greek culture the dead were usually buried outside of inhabited areas, the Lycians preferred to bury their dead amidst the living; hence the presence of these sarcophagi so close to other ancient monuments. The Fethiye Lycian stone sarcophagi have been left in their original locations, and the modern town was simply built up around them – one sarcophagus has even become a traffic island, and you’ll see vehicles speeding past it on either side.
Like the monumental tombs in the cliffside above town, Fethiye's Lycian sarcophagi are thought to date to approximately the 4th century BC. They were carved out of local limestone and decorated with carved reliefs, and some are two or three stories high.
The most impressive and best-preserved Lycian sarcophagus is located in the garden of the town hall. Built to look like a two-story wooden house, it features intricate carvings on both sides and on the crest of the vaulted lid that depict soldiers carrying shields in battle.
Overlooking the main road that runs along the Fethiye harbor is Fethiye Roman Theater (also known as Telmessos Theatre, from the city's name in classical times). Built into a hillside, the semicircular theater, occasionally described as an amphitheater, was constructed in the Hellenistic (Greek) style and could once hold some 5,000 to 6,000 spectators. During the Roman period, in approximately the 2nd century AD, a stage building was added, and Fethiye's theater remained in use until about the 7th century.
Unfortunately, after an earthquake struck the town in 1957, many pieces of masonry were removed from the theater by local residents for use in rebuilding, and even after excavation by archaeologists in the 1990s the site remained in a poor state of preservation. Fethiye theater is currently undergoing an ambitious restoration, after which it is expected to host open-air performances again – just as in ancient times.
Fethiye Museum (Fethiye Müzesi) is a small but interesting archaeological museum that displays a variety of findings from Telmessos (the ancient Lycian city over whose remains Fethiye was founded) and several nearby sites, including Tlos and Kaunos. There are statues and stone fragments, a fairly well-preserved mosaic from Letoön (an ancient Lycian religious center about 65 km south of Fethiye), and artifacts including ceramics, jewelry and grave stelae.
The most significant piece in the Fethiye Museum's collection is a trilingual stele from Letoön that is inscribed in Lycian, Greek and Aramaic and was a key finding for archaeologists in deciphering the Lycian language.
An important new addition to the museum is a group of five statues – including those of the Roman emperors Hadrian and Antonius Pius and the goddess Isis – that were unearthed in just 2011 in excavations at Tlos.
The garden of the museum is dotted with an assortment of ancient statuary, architectural fragments and amphorae from the Lycian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods.
Çalış Beach (Çalış Plajı) is conveniently located a short ways up the coast from Fethiye and offers a laid-back vibe, a variety of watersports and some of the most spectacular sunsets to be seen in the area.
Stretching for about 2 km of coarse sand and gravel, the beach is lined with hotels, restaurants, shops and other trappings of mass tourism, meaning that you’ll never need to leave – but if it’s solitude you’re after, this isn’t really the place to come. Just a stone’s throw from the beach, Sultans’ Aqua City water park is a good activity option for families with kids.
A 20-minute walk further up the coast is Koca Çalış, a relatively more secluded beach with far fewer commercial enterprises and more of an atmosphere of natural beauty, thanks also to the beautiful mountain scenery behind it. The formerly sleepy beach has become more famous in recent years after a scene in the James Bond movie Skyfall was filmed here.
Because of often high winds that can make for choppy waters, Çalış and Koca Çalış are not the most ideal destinations for swimming but are excellent for windsurfing and kite surfing. Several outfitters provide rental equipment and offer instruction for people of all experience levels.
Dotted along the coastal cliffs of the Bodrum Peninsula, the white-brick towers and wooden sails of the Bodrum windmills paint a pretty picture, set against expansive views of the windswept coastline. Dating back to the 18th century, the historic windmills were once used to grind flour for local communities and remained in use up until the 1970s, after which they fell into ruin.
Today, restoration work is underway on many of the mills, with the most notable including a trio at Yalikavak on the northern side of the peninsula and a row of seven that line the hilltops between Bodrum and Gumbet. Hiking the coastal path between the windmills makes a popular day trip from Bodrum and provides access to a romantic spot to watch the sunset over Bodrum Bay.
With its crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful corals and sweeping coastal cliffs giving way to sandy beaches and secluded coves, the Bodrum Peninsula (Bodrum Yarımada) is one of Turkey’s most scenic destinations, stretching for 174 km along the northwestern Aegean coast. Bodrum, built on the site of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, is the main gateway to the region and the most developed of its towns. Legions of tourists are steadily drawn to Bodrum’s lively waterfront and numerous archaeological gems, including the ruins of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Touring the peninsula makes a popular day or multi-day trip from Bodrum. Heading west along the coast, the bustle of city life soon gives way to sleepy fishing villages, hilltops capped with whitewashed windmills and ancient olive groves. There’s plenty to see and do around the peninsula - explore the underwater ruins of ancient Myndos in Gümüslük; take a boat cruise around the islands; try your hand at windsurfing in Akyarlar or Bitez; or escape the crowds for the pristine beaches of Yalikavak, Torba and Türkbükü on the peninsula’s north coast.
Often nicknamed the St Tropez of Turkey, Bodrum has earned itself a stellar reputation among cruise travelers. The lively Bodrum Marina, a well-equipped and modern harbor with space for up to 500 boats, is at the heart of its sailing community. Even if you won’t be docking your private yacht in the marina, a stroll along the scenic waterfront provides an atmospheric introduction to the city with its line of designer shopping outlets, luxury hotels, top-class seafood restaurants and stylish selection of bars and cafes.
As well as being a place that offers yachts for hire and day cruises around the Bodrum Peninsula, the colorful marina also hosts a number of international boat races and festivals throughout the year, including the prestigious Bodrum Cup yacht regatta each October.
A small fishing village on the western coast of the Bodrum Peninsula, Gümüşlük is a popular choice for a day trip from Bodrum with its scenic promenades and rocky coves. Quieter and less developed than many of the region’s other coastal towns, Gümüşlük is best known for its fresh seafood, secluded sandy beaches and the offshore Rabbit Island (Asar Adasi), which can be reached on foot from the mainland by wading through knee-deep sea waters.
Once the site of the ancient city of Myndos, Gümüşlük is dotted with archaeological sites, but the most impressive ruins can be found underwater, where sections of the former sea walls, buildings and floor mosaics remain scattered around the headland. Take a scenic boat tour or fishing expedition around Gumusluk Bay or explore the sunken ruins on a snorkeling or diving excursion.
- Things to do in Antalya
- Things to do in Marmaris
- Things to do in Bodrum
- Things to do in Kusadasi
- Things to do in Alanya
- Things to do in Western Anatolia
- Things to do in Dodecanese
- Things to do in Aegean Coast
- Things to do in Sarigerme
- Things to do in Pamukkale
- Things to do in Rhodes
- Things to do in Cyclades Islands
- Things to do in Cappadocia
- Things to do in Peloponnese
- Things to do in Black Sea Coast