So I fell in love with Antalya… to the point where all I want to do is GO BACK and live there (but I won’t because it is only going to get warmer there and I don’t tolerate heat well). I went to Antalya for a very specific purpose (to get a tattoo, more about that in a future post) and didn’t know what to expect. Antalya or Turkey wasn’t on my radar at all. The only thing I knew about it was that a lot of people in the Netherlands go (or used to anyway) on holiday to Turkey to lay on the beach or visit family or whatever (the Netherlands has a lot of Turkish people).
Anyways. I want to share with you the AMAZINGNESS that is Antalya.
Things to do & see in Antalya
So here are the top things that made my time in Antalya so incredible (besides getting a tattoo).
1. Marvel at the waterfalls and cliffs in Lara
I stayed near Terracity (which is the mall), one block away from the coast. The entire coast area is absolutely stunning. You have an amazing view on the mountains, there are cliffs, flowers, waterfalls and the most amazing sunsets to watch. Since I had little time most days, the least I did was walk around here again and again. After I got my tattoo on Saturday, I walked all the way to the Düden waterfalls as the sun was setting and it was just gorgeous.
2. Make friends with stray dogs and cats
On my way back from the Düden waterfalls, I met a couple of dogs outside one of the restaurants. They all had tagged ears and weren’t the cleanest (though by no means as dirty as the ones I saw in Thailand) so I figured they were strays but they were SUPER friendly. They came up to me and I spent some time petting them (2 at a time).
The next day, while I was at the old city, I visited this area near the clock tower with a bunch of tiny little houses for stray cats. I was recommended to go here by a fellow traveler who goes by BreathofWildAir on Instagram (who I follow because she travels with her border collie in a van and does agility (#goals) and then actually got talking with her because she got a tattoo from the same artist I did, she’s awesome, go check her out). I pet a couple of the cats and they were the sweetest. One of them just immediately clung to me but kind of like hid behind me as well. They were adorable.
It seems like they really take care of their stray pets in Turkey, which might be a religion thing… I don’t know. In Thailand it was because of religion that people would not bother the strays or hurt them at all, but rather as a community take care of them. Anyways, at this particular place, you can support the cause and if you want you can talk to the guy there who takes care of them.
Then I went to eat at this restaurant with a view nearby and made friends with another cat who I am not sure if she was a recent mum or pregnant.. but she looked it.
3. Make friends with locals using sign language
As I was sitting at this restaurant with a view just to sit for a minute and get a drink, I was passed by a Turkish couple who seemed like they really needed to sit and I had space at my table (obviously, there were 5 chairs and it was just me) so I gestured for them to sit. They didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Turkish but they were enthusiastically gesturing and trying to have a conversation with me. They told me about their daughters and asked if I went to university and things like that. It actually worked and they were super nice.
4. Wander around Kaleiçi, Antalya’s old town
The old town of Antalya, which in Turkish is “Kaleiçi” and in my head sounds like “Khaleesi” (that’s probably wrong but I love it too much to find out the real pronunciation). It’s surrounded by a wall, and within it you can find these amazingly quirky cafes, bars and shops.
There is also Hadrian’s Gate, the clock tower, an old mosque and amazing outlook places to watch over the all the red rooftops and the mountains.
5. Karaalioğlu Park
Karaalioğlu Park starts at the end of Kaleiçi and from there once again you have a gorgeous view on the mountains. You will also find Hıdırlık Tower here, overlooking the harbor, as well as a few monuments, rainbow stairs and plenty of people sitting on the walls to enjoy the view.
6. Swim in the awesome pools
There are plenty of luxury resorts to stay at, I personally stayed at an airbnb with a 2 story pool and a waterslide that locals told me would be too cold in April. To be fair, it was a bit on the cool side but for this Dutch gal, perfectly fine for a brief swim while trying to process the tattoo design I had just received lol.
And the following are things I was not able to do on this trip because of a lack of time but I wish had been able to, and will hopefully do the next time I go.
7. Take a pirate-themed cruise
At the harbor in the old town I saw a lot of pirate-themed ships and one even looked like a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed ship. I can’t help but think how hilarous and amazing that must be.
8. Visit the Termessos Ruins
Termessos is one of the best preserved ancient cities of Turkey. It is located upon a hill a ways outside of Antalya but the pictures on Tripadvisor look incredible and I really wanted to go but it will be for a next time.
9. Whitewater rafting in the Köprülü Canyon
This sounds like a really fun adventure to have and just great if you want to spend a day in nature. Again, the pictures on Google maps look amazing and I really wanted to go but it will be for a next time.
Is Antalya safe for a solo female traveler?
Yes, Antalya is definitely safe for a solo female traveler. I was there for only a few days but I didn’t experience anything weird that made me feel unsafe at all. I was told that at least men would be trying to flirt with me and to just laugh that off (as was the experience of some other female solo travelers I know) but I even got none of that.
However, I did get a few questions about “my boyfriend” (which I don’t have) from my airbnb host’s friend who was picking me up from the airport and showing me the apartment and that ok then he would have to accompany me for EVERYTHING because being alone is no fun. When I asked him about safety, he said it would be perfectly safe though for me to be alone in Antalya. I told him I had plans, which I did because I was getting a tattoo but I didn’t tell him that because I didn’t know him and I didn’t know to what extend tattoos are accepted in Turkey, and by Sunday when I did have time I think he was over it lol (but tbh, having a local guide would have been awesome too).
It might just be that I do blend in quite well as even Turkish people would believe I’m Turkish… On this trip, one waiter told me I was probably from my mum’s previous boyfriend or something (who then must have been Turkish), and years ago in my own hometown in the Netherlands a Turkish bus driver thought I was Turkish and he couldn’t believe I didn’t know any Turkish at all…
So for all I know I could have been called after in Turkish, I just was absolutely oblivious to it. Regardless, if that is the worst of it… it’s definitely not something that is going to keep me away from this beautiful city.
A note on public transportation in Antalya
One important note is that you cannot rely on Google maps to get around with public transport. It just gives nothing. I had to just ask people but they were happy to help. I went to a bus stop at Terracity, from where about 8 buses left and I just asked someone which bus I should take to “this general area” that I pointed to on Google maps (which was basically the old city). He just pointed at a couple of bus numbers and which stops he thought I should get out off. One of them had a bus stop that I could connect with something on Google maps that was near Hadrian’s Gate so I just got off there and that was perfect for me. There are also trams that stop right in front of Hadrian’s Gate.
The way back was easy because my stop was just “Terracity”. The “hard part” was finding a bus stop but you will find one eventually and otherwise, you can always take a Taxi, they’re not too expensive.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been in Antalya and what your favorite spots were!