Caz and Louis moved from their home city of Melbourne to the other side of the world, Antalya, Turkey about six months ago to spend time with family and enjoy a change of scene, travel Europe, and pay more attention to the things that make them happy, like reading, writing, playing music, and practising yoga and boxing (check out Caz’s boxing blog here, She Can Punch). We asked them a handful of questions about their new home in Antalya and they’ve come back to us with a thorough first-hand account of the top experiences for honeymooners and regular travellers alike.
Your Favourite Place That Only Locals Know About
Next to the hilly suburb of Doyran – 25 minutes outside of the city centre – is a beautiful man-made lake surrounded by picturesque mountains and forest. Most days, a few locals head to the lake to picnic, fish, camp or just to enjoy the view. About five minutes away are several great Kahvalti joints (see below) that use produce entirely from their own gardens.
Doyran Lake – Image: Caz Pringle
Behind the sand dunes at Lara Beach – 20 minutes east of the city – there is an amazing horse riding school / animal sanctuary called Antalya Equestrian Club. An incredible abundance of chickens, ducks, peacocks, geese and many other birds we can’t name, as well as rabbits, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, ponies and of course, horses, seem to greet you around every corner. It may sound like a children’s farm, but there’s little better than drinking your morning coffee while covered head to toe in fluffy bunnies. Further, you can enjoy some horse riding lessons or a trail ride along the beach followed by a meal and a tea / coffee / beer / wine at their excellent restaurant.
Antalya Equestrian Club stables – Image: Caz Pringle
Your Favourite Popular Place that is a Crowd Pleaser for a Reason
Konyaaltı Beach – a long, clean, beautiful stretch of the Turkish Riviera – is just to the west of the city centre. There is a tram and countless busses that will get you there, or you can walk along the water on the marvellous walking track that goes from one end of town to the other. You won’t have any trouble claiming your own little slice of paradise as there is space a-plenty. Water sports and little luxuries – like renting sun beds and umbrellas, and having food and drinks brought to you – are available, but are really just a bonus. The beach stretches on for miles, the water is a crystal, clear blue, and the glorious – often snow-capped – Bey Mountains dominate the view to the west.
Konyaalti Beach – Image: Caz Pringle
Your Favourite Restaurant
Turkish food is delicious and varied. Most meals consist of fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious breads and pastries (gözleme, bazlama and pide on the savoury side; künefe, lokma and of course, baklava, on the sweet), dips, loads of nuts, different types of cheeses, soups, rice pilaf, spicy meats and grilled fish, often occupying every inch of table space. Kahvaltı, traditional Turkish breakfast (the literal translation of which is “before coffee”) and Meyhane, commonly known as “fish and rakı”, are particularly memorable experiences.
Image: Serpme Kahvaltı
Our favourite Kahvaltı joint – Sevgi Çiftligi (aka ‘Love Farm’)– is only about 500m North of town, but is in literal farmland. Chickens scratch beneath the tables as the friendly staff ply you with Turkish tea, coffee and plate upon plate of cheese, fresh fruit and veggies, home baked bread and pastries, nuts, olives, honey from their own apiary, dips, eggs and sucuk (Turkish sausage). A Meyhane is a different and glorious event altogether. Not only is the food delicious – meze (bread, dips, nuts and assorted vegetable dishes), soup and battered, fried tiny fish to start; a range of salads, grilled fish and spiced meats second up – the atmosphere is something to behold. Rakı is a strong, ouzo-like spirit, which – according to the rules – MUST be drunk in good humour, amongst friends and with a focus on honesty, conversation and joviality. Add to this the fact that all Meyhanes have a live, usually fantastic, band and the results are amazing. At any moment during the night, the whole restaurant will spontaneously erupt in a joy-filled dance. Our favourite is Meyhane Kapisiz just outside of Kaleiçi.
Your Favourite Bar
The old town, Kaleiçi, straddles a 2000-year-old Roman harbour and is the place to be for bars and restaurants in Antalya. The sound of live music and the smell of spicy meats drift along the labyrinthine tumble of cobblestone streets and ancient roman walls. Be careful, you may get lost! For a quiet wine and cheese board by the harbour head to Chateau de Marine or Seraser (particularly on one of their salsa nights). For a delicious cocktail, check out Pio Gastro. If you’re down for something different, Veruna Gezgin – a two level bar/restaurant with great beer, wine and whiskey, and floor to ceiling bookshelves on every wall – is our pick.
Varuna Gezgin – Image: Caz Pringle
Your Favourite Store
The streets of Kaleiçi are full of little market stalls, many of which are tucked away down beautiful alleyways. Nestled amongst the trinket shops you can find stores selling beautiful textiles, jewellery and ceramics, as well as spices and even vintage band t-shirts. For more information, see this guide to what you can see in Kaleiçi.
Kaleiçi Streets – Image: @AntalyaFotoGraf
The entrance to Kaleiçi, 2000 year old Hadrian’s Gate – Image: Caz Pringle
You will hear the ‘Call to Prayer’ throughout the day from the many Mosques in Antalya. Image credit: Utku Soylu
Your Favourite Hotel
The AKRA Hotel is located between Dedeman and Lara, about 10 minutes away from the Old Town and in the middle of everywhere. It is a beautiful, stylish hotel situated right on the Mediterranean – between the walking track (see above) and the water – with its own swimming area and unfettered 180 degree views of the mountains and the sea. There are also two excellent restaurants: Asmani – a high-end affair with a focus on farm to plate dining; and Pablito Bistro – with a well-priced, classy menu featuring Turkish, Greek, Italian, Mexican and Spanish dishes.
AKRA Hotel – Image: Barum Arum
Your Favourite Way to Spend Time Outdoors
Antalya is incredibly blessed in regards to nature. It is smack bang on the Mediterranean and surrounded entirely by the Taurus Mountain range, with many peaks reaching well over 3,000 metres. It is also home to some of the world’s most impressive and well-preserved ancient Greek / Roman / Lycian ruins. Within two hours drive in any direction are countless ancient sites, beaches, mountains, lakes and forests, all of which are an unforgettable, outdoor experience (see below for a lengthier discussion).
Image: Discovering Antalya
One of our favourite ways to spend time outdoors without leaving the city is to hire a boat and cruise around the gulf of Antalya. The water is crystal clear, the views are magnificent, and you get to see hundreds of waterfalls plunge from the high cliffs straight into the Mediterranean Sea. The boats leave from Kaleiçi harbour and range in size from four or five person speed boats to giant, three level pirate ship replicas for anywhere between 40 and 60 people. All boats come with a captain and you can choose to bring your own food and drinks, or to have them catered.
Image: Discovering Antalya
The most interesting person you’ve met in Antalya
Interesting is relative, but no matter what you’re into you’re bound to meet some colourful characters in and around Antalya. One of our favourites is Hakan, the owner and best customer of Gizli Bahçe – a cozy and quaint garden bar within ancient Roman walls in the heart of Kaleiçi (Gizli Bahçe means “secret garden” in Turkish). Hakan speaks perfect English, is friendly, funny and intelligent, and has operated Gizli Bahçe for 25 years. His stories about the development of Antalya and the history of Kaleiçi are particularly compelling. A big Phil Collins fan.
Ideal date night in Antalya?
We suggest heading to Role Street – a relaxed hostel / outdoor living room bar with exceptional live jazz, blues and soul music – in the late afternoon for a cocktail, before heading to a nearby Meyhane for delicious food, rakı and a spontaneous boogie. Afterwards, if you’re still up for it, head into Kaleiçi where you’ll find a bar, dance hall or café to cater to almost any taste.
Anything else that a honeymooner needs to know about Antalya?
As mentioned above, the area surrounding Antalya is home to an incredible variety of natural and man-made (and ancient) phenomena. Below is but a few of these.
The Taurus and Bey mountain ranges that surround Antalya provide ample opportunities for people looking for a bit of adventure. Whether you’re into hiking, climbing, rafting, biking or skiing, within a two-hour drive the mountains doth provide. Saklikent is our pick for skiing. We recommend Tahtalı (near Olimpos) for everything else.
One and a half hours west of Antalya are two of our favourite places in the world: Olimpos – a vibrant, hippy town with awesome bars and live music – and Çıralı – it’s more relaxed, family friendly cousin.
Both towns have extensive Roman and Lycian ruins, awesome beaches, a range of activities and accommodation options (we recommend a bungalow right on the beach – see Secret Garden in Çıralı as an example), and access to Chimaera – a natural, “eternal flame” on top of a mountain that has been burning since, well, forever. On the way to Olimpos and Çıralı check out Phaselis, a Lycian city built in 700 BC between three breathtaking beaches.
Kaputaş Beach, just one of many beaches on the Turkish Rivera. Image credit: Utku Soylu
About the same distance East of the city you’ll find Aspendos – a Greek / Roman city with a 15,000 capacity, wholly intact amphitheatre at which they still hold concerts – and Side – a pretty, busy, seaside tourist town built amidst ruins. Perge, yet another sprawling ancient site, is only 20km out of Antalya and on the way. We recommend a day trip to take in all three.
Aspendos Ampitheatre – Image: Caz Pringle
These are only a fraction of the sites and activities available in and around Antalya. Check out this website for more.
Ms Zigzag says: Ditch your heavy guidebooks; this is the definitive, most up to date guide to Antalya, told by two young people who live there and spend their time immersing themselves in all the city by the Mediterranean Sea has to offer.
About Caz Pringle: Caz has been in the Event Management industry for the last decade, producing events for the likes of Rolex, Revlon, New Balance, Jeep, The Australian Open, Peroni and Alfa Romeo. After running her own events company for three years, she now lives in Antalya, Turkey with her husband where she remotely works as a copywriter and digital content producer and teaches Boxing and Yoga. She also writes the blog www.shecanpunch.com about boxing and women’s empowerment, you can follow it on Insta @SheCanPunch.