13 Hidden Gems of Antalya

*The featured pic: Termessos (photo taken from towardssomewhere.wordpress.com)

1-Köprülü Canyon

Located within the borders of Antalya’s district of Manavgat, to the northwards of the downtown of the city., Köprülü Canyon is a vast national park. Hosting thousands of rafting enthusiasts every day, for the visceral activity lovers this canyon is one of Turkey’s popular and established rafting hubs. Köprülü Canyon’s water comes from the mountains, which makes it as clean as drinking water.

Here you can find group or individual rafting tours for very reasonable prices. If you are looking for suggestions, it is suggested that you go to Side Rafting and find Ayşegül Hanım, who is a great rafting captain and a very friendly guide.

Köprülü Canyon (photo taken from antalyaturu.com)

Besides, you should not leave this area without tasting the local specialty: fresh trout cooked in bay leaves.

Moreover, once you are in Köprülü Canyon National Park, do not depart the area without paying a visit to the ancient city of Selge.

2-Sandland

Sandland (Antalya Sand Sculpture Museum) is one of the prominent sand sculpture events in the world where hundreds of giant sand sculptures are exhibited.

It is located on the Lara Beach.

Click to access the visiting information of Sandland.

Sandland (photo taken from statusproperty.ru)

3-Termessos Ancient City

Primarily known as “the city which Alexander the Great failed to conquer”, Termessos is a remarkable ancient city located high up on the Taurus Mountain Range.

Recently added to UNESCO’S Tentative Sites List, this site remains a mystery due to the fact that not much is known about it. Throughout the history, Termessos had been a very remote settlement on account of its isolated location.

Termessos (photo taken from towardssomewhere.wordpress.com)

The must-see spots in Termessos include the lower city walls, colonnaded street, gymnasium-bath complex, theatre, northern necropolis and tomb of Alcetas.

The site can be visited from 10am to 7pm in summers (1 April-1 October), from 8.30am to 5.30pm in winters (1 October-1 April). Entrance to Termessos is 10₺.

Click to view the most up-to-date tourist information of Termessos.

4-Kaputaş Beach

Kaputaş Beach is located on the side of the coastal road connecting the towns of Kalkan and Kaş. It is a small but a stunningly beautiful sand beach where you can relieve your fatigue, take dip in the water or grab a bite at the small local café. 

Kaputaş Beach (photo taken from posta.com.tr)

The visitors are required to climb down 170 steps to access to the beach. Here in Kaputaş, you will find the finest and most vivid tones of blue on the coasts of the Mediterranean.

The beach is free to visit. The main issue that you should be careful about is the parking. Since the beach is located near a busy single carriage way, it might be a little dangerous to slow down to find parking places. Around the beach, the roadside spots are the only places you can park your vehicle so, once you find a spot, just take it.

5-Kaş

Kaş is one of the gems of the Turkish Mediterranean, a magical paradise, a haven for history, food and adventures. It is one of the less crowded tourist spots in Antalya. With its authentic fish restaurants, boutique hotels, characteristic cobblestone streets, lively bars, ancient Lycian King Tombs scattered over the alleys, Kaş is a very unique settlement with a peaceful atmosphere.

Kaş (photo by Esginmurat)

In addition to downtown Kaş, there is also the Çukurbağ Peninsula to the southwest of the town, that you should see.

Apart from the popular ancient cities, which are marked with signboards around, there are many other small-size ancient cities in Kaş like Istlada, Apollonia and Isinda.

Kaş (photo by Wusel007)

6-Aperlai Ancient City

Aperlai (also known as Aperlae) was a small port city, which was within the borders of the Lycian League. Built in the 4th century BC, Aperlai had been inhabited for 1300 years. The city was abandoned around the 6th century due to incessant raids committed by the pirates and Arabs troops. Although Aperlai did not play an important role in politics and history, it is still a notable place to visit.

The attractions you should see in Aperlai include the well-preserved fortifications, main gate to the city, Roman bath ruins, ruins of two Byzantine churches, necropolis with numerous Lycian tombs, and structures that are submerged under the sea.

Aperlai Ancient City (photo taken from bortubocekgezi.com)

Aperlai is located between the towns of Kaş and Demre. Getting there by car and hiking is quite tedious. In fact, once you park to the closest spot to Aperlai, getting to the city by walking is pretty much impossible. Therefore, the most convenient way to reach there is by renting a boat from Kaş or any other surrounding village.

Due to this site’s remote location, there are no visiting hours of fees.

7-Kyaneai Ancient City

Standing just a little off the main highway connecting the towns of Demre and Kaş, Kyaneai Ancient City is a very picturesque spot, yet it is devoid of visitors.

The city is assumed to have founded on the 4th century BC, and today it is ranked as titular see by the Catholic Church.

You can visit Kyaneai 24/7 for free of charge.

8-Sapadere Canyon

Sapadere Canyon is an astounding hidden natural wonder that is situated 44km away (1 hour drive) from central Antalya.

This 750-meter-long canyon can be walked through on the wooden walking path. Moreover, visitors can take a dip in the water to cool down during summer months.

The canyon can be visited every day from 8am to 7pm. Entrance is 10 ₺ per person.

Sapadere Canyon (photo taken from visitalanya.com)

9-Cüceler Cave

Cüceler Cave is a mid-size cave that can be covered with Sapadere Canyon in the same day. The cave boasts a rich color plate (yellow and green dominated) which was formed over the millenniums by minerals and rocks. In addition, it beholds the marvelous examples of stalactites.

Entrance is 10₺ per person and free for children, younger than 6 years.

Cüceler Cave (photo taken from adanustour.com)

10-Kargıhan Caravanserai

Caravanserai, in the Middle East and parts of North Africa and Central Asia, [is] a public building used for sheltering caravans and other travelers. The caravansary is usually constructed outside the walls of a town or village. A heavy-doored gateway, high and wide enough to admit loaded camels, it can be secured from within by massive iron chains, which are drawn across it at night…” (taken from britannica.com)

Kargıhan Caravanserai (photo taken from nereyegitsek.net)

Kargıhan is a Seljuk-style caravanserai which was presumably built during the reign of the Seljuk sultan, Kaykhusraw II (also known as II. Gıyâseddin Keyhüsrev). In the times when Kargıhan was an active complex, many travelers and caravans spent the night there, and engaged in commerce and trade. Despite its dilapidated condition, it is still a very impressive structure.

Kargıhan Caravanserai is within the borders of Antalya’s district of Manavgat.

There are no regulated visiting hours and fees for Kargıhan.

11-Seleucia (Lybre) Ancient City

Seleucia, or Lybre as it is also known, is a fascinating ancient site, spread over a plain which abuts steep cliffs on three sides, located at southern foothills of the Taurus Mountain Range.

Apart from the ancient ruins, the area is also known for its alluring nature. Here, you will witness the scenic view of the Taurus Mountains, and be surrounded with ancient structures that are reclaimed by the nature over the centuries.

Seleucia (photo by Vwpolonia75)

It is not known exactly when the city was founded. However, the common perception is that it is dated to the Hellenistic era. The agora of Seleucia is the most well-preserved spot in the city. In addition, the other spots you travelers must see are the fortifications, Roman bath, old dwellings, necropolis, temples and churches.

The site is free to visit and there are no regulated visiting hours.

12-Alarahan Caravanserai & Alara Castle

As the epitaph of the structure suggests, Alarahan Caravanserai was constructed between the years of 1231-1232 by the Seljuk sultan, Kayqubad I.

Wandering around the rooms where the ancient merchants spend their nights, and the taverns where traders engaged in commerce in the past centuries, is an unforgettable experience. The well-preserved units of this ancient structure help the visitors in a way to connect with the people who came to this caravanserai hundreds of years ago.

Alarahan can be visited 24/7 for free of charge.

Alarahan (photo taken from global-geography.org)

A couple of hundred meters to the north of Alarahan Caravanserai, you will find the hillside Alara Castle.

This historic castle was built in the 11th century by the Byzantines. In the subsequent decades, it was used as a military station by the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. In addition to its military purposes, it was also a safehouse for the caravans and merchants who had been engaged in commerce in the area.

In order to reach the castle, you will have to climb a secret tunnel that was built centuries ago which adds a mysterious flavor to your visit. Once you are at the castle, you will see the ruins of a mosque, cistern, residential units and barracks.

13-Antiphellos & Phellos Ancient Cities

The ancient cities of Antiphellos and Phellos are located in the suburbs of Antalya’s coastal town of Kaş. The name Antiophellos literally means “the one on the opposite side of Phellos”.

Antiphellos Ancient City is also known with the names of Habesos and Habesa in the ancient Lycian language.

This city was founded in the 6th century BC. At first, it was the port of the city of Phellos, but during the Hellenistic era it developed as an active hub for trade and commerce, later on in the Roman period, Antiphellos grew into a very important port city.

Antiphellos (photo by rheins)

The ancient theatre is the most intact structure in the city. With the capacity of 4000 seats, this spot is overseeing the ineffable Mediterranean Sea.

A greatly impressive spot that most travelers tend to miss is the burial chamber with 24 women figure rock carvings.

Antiphellos is free to visit. The site is open 24/7.

Phellos Ancient City, or Phellus, is thought to have been built in 7th century BC, however, this fact is yet to be attested.

The ruins discovered in the city allude that Phellos was used more for defense purposes rather than civil. Acropolis, fortifications and Lycian tombs are the sights you should see in Phellos.

Phellos (photo taken from travelwithneelima.blogspot.com)

The site is harder to access in comparison with the Antiphellos. Phellos stands at an altitude of 1000 meters in the mountainous outskirts of Kaş. It has been reported by travelers multiple times that the location of the city is marked inaccurately in Google Maps. To make sure you will take the right road, once you are in the area, you can ask the locals how to access the city.

Like Antipellos, you can visit Phellos for free, anytime you see fit.

Phellos (photo taken from gelpesimden.blogspot.com)

Dislaimer: As published perviously on ©2020 www.ikamet.com

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Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a 25-year-old Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in Turkey and different parts of the world!

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