Antalya on the Mediterranean right in the center of what is often referred to as the Turkish Rivierais an exciting winter destination too.
I’m on a series of recommending destinations to you where the climate is warmer, even in the deepest winter months. Average is about 15C, but it might rain some in November, December and January. But never below zero and no snow.
The city on the Mediterranean is worth a visit not only because of the sights and atmosphere but also because of the many and diverse attractions which can be found nearby. More about those later.
In summer, the place is jumping with tourists because of the pristine and long beaches and resorts in and near Antalya. The most famous are Konyaalti Beach, Lara Beach and Portakal Beach.
In winter, things change dramatically. Antalya is populated by the locals and long term residents, who wander along at leisure in the small streets of Kaleici, the old part of town. They love to hang out in the many cafes, where heaters, cushions and blankets are available should you feel a bit chilly.
And they are a sociable people, who will talk to any stranger in their midst and you get to hear amazing stories.
The beaches are empty but lovely to walk along and shopping is also a pleasure because neither the modern malls nor the small shops are crowded and prices are sometimes lower than during the mad tourist season of summer. Then make you way to the harbur for another nice sight.
Antalya itself does not have that many historical buildings, except the Hadrian Arch Clock Tower and the landmark of the city, the 13th century Yivli Mosque. Ride along in the tramway which curiously comes from Nuremberg/Germany for the best (and cheapest) city sightseeing tour.
My personal favorite, given my great love for history and antiquity in particular, is the outstanding Archaeology Museum, one of the best in Turkey. Not only are the exhibits breath taking, it’s also the way they are displayed. In rooms painted dark red or green, the white statues seem to come to life, even if they are missing a head.
There is even a kids’ room for the little ones to understand history.
For further details, look at my story Alone with the Gods In Antalya.
And now we come to the attractions which will keep you busy and entertained outside Antalya.
Head 80km SW to Cirali and Olympos and experience the phenomenon of chimera, an entire mountain side where eternal flames come out of the rock day and night.
The scientific explanation is natural gas, but the legend of Bellerophon killing the monster Chimera and escaping on his horse Pegasus is much more enticing.
You’ll also find colorful tree houses and a delightful rural environment, so much quieter in winter than in summer.
Head in the other direction and enjoy the park and waterfalls of Duden.
I have visited Antalya in summer and in winter but I much prefer the winter months, going even further afield to Kas, where the real St. Nikolas comes from or the great amphitheatre of Perge.
I always stay at theDogan Hotel in Kaleici. It’s perfectly located to walking round Antalya and their friendly stuff will do anything to help you.
I love to explore using a private car and driver and on the last occasion this happened to be one of the waiters who was happy to earn a few extra bucks and in gratitude brought along his wife and a huge basket of food which was consumed heating the koefte over the flames of the chimera.
How much more immersed in local culture can you get?