Wide, fertile plains parallel the endless sandy beaches east of Antalya until you come to Alanya. Abundant modern tourist facilities and well-preserved historic sites give you a number of options for a day's activities.
Perge (18 km from Antalya) was an important city of ancient Parnphylia, originally settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC. St. Paul visited this city on his first missionary journey. The theater stage has finely carved marble reliefs, and other carvings from around the city are displayed in the stadium. Amateur archeologists will want to see the handsome city gate flanked by two lofty towers, a long colonnaded road once paved with mosaics and lined with shops, a large agora, public baths and a gymnasium.
Swimmers and sun-bathers alike enjoy Belek, a modem luxurious holiday center and golfer's paradise, 40 km from Antalya. The National Golf Club located in Belek features a wide variety of water sports, as well as a championship 18-hole golf course and 9-hole academy course. Visitors may sample some of Turkey's finest cuisine and enjoy open air discos.
A photogenic Seljuk bridge crosses the Kopru River from the road to Aspendos. The road continues past the Aspendos Jewel Center to the Aspendos Theatre, the best preserved theater of antiquity, with seating for 15,000. Still used today, the theater's galleries, stage decorations and acoustics all testify to the architect's skill. Nearby, stand the remains of a basilica, an agora and one of the largest aqueducts in Anatolia.
And if you have ever wondered how gold dust becomes a fine piece of art or how precious stones are engraved, be sure to visit the Aspendos Jewelry Center, where jewelry making can be observed at every stage in the large workshop.
Northeast of Antalya, at the turn off for Tapgil and Beskonak, is the scenic route that leads to the 14-km-long Koprulu Canyon National Park. The twisting road winds over mountain streams and passes through virgin cedar forest. It is often a slow drive because the view at every turn is more beautiful than the last. The park, 92 km from Antalya, is a valley of wild beauty rich in flora and fauna.
Fish restaurants dot the rest areas. The Roman Oluk Bridge, which spans the canyon, and the Bugrum Bridge over the Kocadere stream, are engineering feats of antiquity. From this park you can take two excursions - to the ancient city of Selge or to the Dedegol Mountains. Dedegol the highest peak in this mountain range rises to 2,992 m. An important city of ancient Pisidia, Altinkaya (Selge), northwest of Koprulu Canyon National Park, is reached by a winding mountain road. The city walls, tower, cisterns, temple to Zeus, agora, stadium, theater carved into boulders, gymnasium and necropolis still remain from this commercial city that stood at an elevation of 950 m. Historians verify that Selge had direct trade with Antalya, which brought it prosperity. Selge was ruled by Lydians and others.
Although the Manavgat Waterfalls are not high, milky white, foaming water rushes powerfully over the rocks. Next to the waterfalls, shady tea gardens and restaurants make the falls a pleasant, cool resting spot, especially welcome after a day of sighseeing. You can take a delightful boat trip up the Manavgat River to explore this lovely area further.
Side, one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey, was an ancient harbor whose name meant pomegranate. Now a pretty resort town, its ancient ruins, two sandy beaches, numerous shops and extensive tourist accommodation attract throngs of visitors. There are numerous cafes and restaurants with a view of the sea, and the shops that line the narrow streets sell typical Turkish handicrafts including leather goods and Turkey's famous beautiful gold jewelry. The magnificent theater of the ancient city, built on colonnaded arches, is the largest in the whole area. Other monuments include the agora, the Temple of Apollo, which is situated near the sea, a fountain and necropolis. The extensive Roman baths, now a museum, house one of Turkey's finest archeological collections.
Tucked in pine forests east of Side, the resorts of Sorgun, Titreyen Gol (Blue Flag) and Kizilagac are popular for their sandy beaches and sparkling sea. The atmosphere is relaxed, the accommodation plentiful and the activities endless.
West of Side, the holiday centers of Kumkoy, Colakli and Kamelya also offer sun and sea, in close proximity to ancient sites. At Seleucia of Parnphlyia (Bucaksihlar), 15 km northeast of Side, are the remains (in good condition) of Roman baths, temples, churches, a mausoleum, theatre and agora. One of the most interesting and well known caves in Turkey is located in Altinbesik Cave National Park situated 12 m southeast of Aydinkent (lbradi) and 55 m north of Manavgat. Lakes and interesting rock formations within the cave area as well as travertines and streams make this area especially fascinating. Altinbesik Cave is situated on the western slopes of the Manavgat River Valley and can be reached via the village of Urunlu, which is an authentic village and a must-see when traveling through this area.
The Alarahan caravanserai was built by Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in 1230 on the banks of the Alara River. On the top of a nearby hill the Alara Fortress commands a view of the whole area.
The large and popular resort center of Alanya lies at one end of a rocky promontory, which juts out into the Mediterranean between two long sandy beaches. A fortress repaired by the Seljuks in 1231, one of the most magnificent sights on the coast, crowns the headland. Nearly 150 towers punctuate the walls of the well- preserved, doublewalled citadel. Within the outer walls are ruins of mosques, a caravanserai and covered bazaar, and within the inner walls are a ruined cistern and a Byzantine church. Although Alanya's history dates back to the Romans, it rose to prominence under the Seljuks, when in 1220, Alaeddin Keykubat made it his winter residence and naval base. The surviving buildings reflect the importance of the city in Seljuk times. Besides the impressive citadel, tourists should explore the unique dockyards and the octagonal Kizil Kule (Red Tower).
Alanya is a beautiful holiday center of modern hotels and motels, as well as numerous seafood restaurants, cafes and bars. The cafes that ring the harbor have become popular gathering places for tourists. There are also three Blue Flag beaches. From the town's lovely park, the road runs along the coast to the harbor, lined with countless boutiques that tempt tourists with handicrafts, leather, clothes, jewelry, handbags and the amusing painted gourds that are a symbol of the area. In August, when Alanya hosts a colorful International Folklore Festival the atmosphere is charged with vitality.
If you enjoy exploring you should visit the Damlatas Cave to see the eerie misshapen rock formations. Nearby is the Archeology and Ethnography Museum (Open weekdays except Monday). A boat can take you to three sea grottoes: Fosforlu Magara with its phosphorescent rocks; the Kizlar Magarasi, where pirates imprisoned their female captives and the Asiklar Magarasi.
When the intense sun overpowers you, take a day trip to the Dim Cayi Valley, 15 km east of Alanya, where you can relax in the shade of this scenic valley and listen to the stream rushing by. Thirty km east of Alanya is Aytap, the historical harbor city of lotape and a great excursion site with Roman ruins, secluded beaches and bays.
If you travel east from Alanya towards Gazipasa you will discover and, no doubt, linger on the exceptional beaches. The attractive Gazipasa County was awarded its name by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Near Gazipasa is Yalandunya Cave with many natural water pools. Also discover the Korsanlar Ask Magarasi (Pirates' Love Cave). The royal graves at Doganma on Mt. Adanda and Mt. Guney are also worth seeing. Near the ancient city of Solinos there is a comfortable vacation locale. Be sure not to miss the picturesque Turkish houses at Hasdere.
Avsallar (Incekum), about 25 km from Alanya to the west, is a resort center with fine sandy beaches.