Alanya was located on a little peninsula on the north surrounded by the Toros Mountains and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its location between Pamphylia and Cilicia the city was called both Pamphylia and Cilicia in the ancient ages.
There is no definite information about the first resettlement of Alanya. In 1957 Professor Doctor Kilinc KÖKTEN during the researches made 12 km away from the centre of the city near the cave Kadiini found remains that prove the fact that Alanya’s history can be traced back to the Upper Palaeolithic Era (BC 20.000 – 17.000).
There is no sufficient information about when was and by whom was founded Alanya. The oldest known name of the city is Korakesium. Later on the Byzantium era, its name formed into Kalanoros. In the 13th century the Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I (1200-1237) took over the control of the city giving it the name Alaya. Ataturk named the city as Alanya when he visited it in 1935. For the first time Korakesium was mentioned in his writings by the ancient geographer Skilak back in the 4th century of BC. At that time, a significant part of the current Anatolia was in the hands of the Persians. In later times, the city was visited by such historians, geographers and travellers as Strabo, Piri Reis, Seyep, Ibn Battuta, Evliya Çelebi and all of them were colourfully describing the city in their books.
Today we haven’t enough reliable information about the early history of the Byzantine period and the region. It is known that in the 7th century of AD the town was forced to defend itself from the raids of the Arabs and for this reason the paramount importance was given to strengthening of the castle. That is why many castles and churches in Alanya and the surrounding areas are dating back to 6th and 7th centuries of AD.
The Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I conquered the castle defeating the Christian ruler of Alanya Warta Cyrus in 1221. Following this, the Sultan built a palace for himself. Seljuks used Alanya as a second, after Konya, capital and as a winter residence and was developed a lot.
The Mughal invasions in 1243 and the Egyptian Mamluks in 1277 seriously undermined the power of the Seljuks. In 1300, the Seljuk State collapsed. The region was sold to one of the Mamluk Sultans from the Karamanoguls dynasty for five thousand Altıns. Subsequently, in 1471, during the reign of the Sultan Fatih Mehmet the city became part of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1571 Alanya together with Tarsus joined Eyalet Cyprus, and in 1864 became the county province of Konya. In 1868 Alanya was attached to Antalya and in 1871 officially became a district of the province.
Alanya, together with Tarsus joined the state of Cyprus in 1571, while in 1864, it become the sanjak (county) of the province of Konya. The city joined Antalya in 1868, and in 1871 it became a county of the province.
Located on the Gulf of Antalya on the Anatolian coastal plain of Pamphylia, the town is situated between the Taurus Mountains to the north and the Mediterranean Sea, and is part of the Turkish riviera, occupying roughly 70 kilometres (43 mi) of coastline. From west to east, the Alanya district is bordered by the Manavgat district along the coast, the mountainous Gündoğmuş inland, Hadim and Taşkent in the Province of Konya, Sarıveliler in the Province of Karaman, and the coastal Gazipaşa district. Manavgat is home to the ancient cities of Side and Selge. East of the city, the Dim River flows from the mountains in Konya on a south-west route into the Mediterranean.
The Pamphylia plain between the sea and the mountains is an isolated example of an Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forest, which include Lebanon Cedar, evergreen scrub, fig trees, and black pine. The Alanya Massif refers to the area of metamorphic rocks east of Antalya. This formation is divided into three nappes from lowest to highest, the Mahmutlar, the Sugözü, and the Yumrudağ. The similar lithology extends beneath the city in a tectonic window. Bauxite, an aluminum ore, is common to the area north of city, and can be mined.
Blue-green sea surrounds a rocky peninsula covered by green trees and a stone castle wall with crenelations.
Tip of the Alanya Peninsula
The town is divided east–west by a rocky peninsula, which is the distinctive feature of the city. The harbor, city center, and Keykubat Beach, named after the Sultan Kayqubad I, are on the east side of the peninsula. Damlataş Beach, named for the famous “dripping caves”, and Kleopatra Beach are to the west. The name “Cleopatra” possibly derives from either the Ptolemaic princess’ visit here or the area’s inclusion in her dowry to Mark Antony. Atatürk Bulvarı, the main boulevard, runs parallel to the sea, and divides the southern, much more touristic side of Alanya from the northern, more indigenous side that extends north into the mountains. Çevre Yolu Caddesi, another major road, encircles the main town to the north.
Alanya has a typical hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa). Located at the Mediterranean Basin, the subtropical high pressure zone ensures that most rain comes during the winter, leaving the summers long, hot, and dry, prompting the Alanya board of Tourism to use the slogan “where the sun smiles. Storm cells sometimes bring with them fair weather waterspouts when close to the shore. The presence of the Taurus Mountain in close proximity to the sea causes fog, in turn creating visible rainbows many mornings. The height of the mountains creates an interesting effect as snow can often be seen on them even on hot days in the city below. The sea at Alanya has an average temperature of 21.4 °C (71 °F) annually, with an average August temperature of 28 °C (82 °F).
Alanya city itself has a population of 134,396, of which 9,789 are European expatriates, about half of them from Germany and Denmark. 17,850 total foreigners own property in Alanya.
1: Kleopatra Beach
Labelled by many as the best beach in Turkey, urban legends as to how it received its name are intriguing as they are mystical. Mark Anthony, the famous Roman general bestowed the whole area to his beautiful lover, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Others say she spent many times walking along these sands and swimming in the sea. Either way, its present day appearance as the perfect picture postcard scene makes it the most famous beach in Alanya.
Sitting near the famous Alanya castle, the Blue Flag beach is renowned for its cleanliness and host of eating and drinking establishments. Loungers and umbrellas are available to rent, so all you need is your towel, swimming costume, and sun cream. Such is the iconic status of Kleopatra’s beach, as well as being a swimming and sunbathing haven, locals say it is a great place to hang out, eat, and drink, especially at sunset.
2: Damlatas Beach
The eastern part of Kleopatra beach blends into the smaller but still wide, Damlatas beach, which is most notably one of the few beaches in Turkey that is wheelchair friendly. Continuing the broad availability of facilities and amenities as offered by Kleopatra’s beach, many also swear that it is the best place for snorkelling because the water is so clean. If hanging around in beach bars is your idea of fun, Damlatas is the place to be.
3: Mahmutlar Beach
One beach that has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last ten years is the 5-kilometre long Mahmutlar on the other side of town, roughly a 20-minute drive from Alanya centre. Many foreigners and Turks looking for property for sale in Alanya are attracted to the area because a building spree has laid birth to an extensive portfolio of modern properties combined with affordable seaside living. Prices of apartments start from roughly £40,000 and as well as an attractive choice of restaurants and shops, buyers have access to an efficient transport network and to a 5-kilometre beach that is part/sandy, part rocky but more importantly, extremely spacious.
2: Keykubat Beach
Starting at Alanya town hall and stretching for 3 kilometres on the eastern side of the city, Keykubat beach is mostly sandy although some parts of the rocky seabed are an irritation. Locals have nicknamed it, the Bougainville beach because of the pleasant bloom of the widespread flower during spring and summer.
3: Portakal Beach
Enjoying the beautiful background scenery of the Taurus mountain range, the 1-kilometre Portakal beach continues from the Keykubat shoreline. It has the standard amenities of cafes and restaurant, but the bonus is the water sports for rent including Jet skis appealing to the adrenaline seekers.
4: Ulas Beach
Five kilometres west of Alanya, Ulas beach has always been popular with Turkish families because of the camping, parking, and picnic facilities. Many visitors from daily boat trips dropping anchor enjoy swimming in the waters. Unlike other beaches, there is a small entrance fee to pay.
5: Incekum Beach
Situated roughly 25 kilometres away from the city centre, the 1-kilometre fine sandy shoreline of Incekum beach has likewise attracted a small gathering of hard-core fans, with its gradual deepening but shallow sea making it an ideal place for children to swim.
What & Where to eat
‘Fish’ means in Turkish ‘balık’ [pron. balyk]. Despite being a harbour city Alanya has very few fish restaurants, which puzzles the visitors. Well, Alanya’s cuisine consists mainly of meat and vegetables… but still, we cannot complain ‘cause there is lots to eat. We have two fish options to choose from: fish restaurants (‘balık lokantası’) near the fish market where you can eat cheaply and fast, OR some more elegant places (‘balık evi’ – literally ‘fish house’) with a large choice of appetizers, sometimes live music and… alcohol. Speaking of alcohol, according to Turkish people the anise-flavored Rakı is the best match for fish. Tell someone: ‘RAKI ROKA BALIK’ [pron. raky roka balyk] – this is the most common set:
vodka, arugula and fish.
What can we eat?
Grilled fresh local fish (‘ızgara balık’): çipura (sea bream), levrek (sea bass), tiny fish such as istavrit (horse mackerel) or kubbes which is typical for Alanya. Naturally, seafood, e.g. squid, is available as well. At the fish market, with the fish you’re going to get some salad (made from tomato, onion, cucumber and greens with olive oil and pomegranate molasses poured over), some white bread and water. This kind of menu costs around 15 TL and tastes heavenly. You won’t be served any alcohol here.
If you choose a fish restaurant with alcohol and music, it’s going to be a bit more expensive, with a much wider range of ‘meze’ (appetizers).
The places worth recommendation are: Alanya Balık Evi and Kaptan Balık Evi.
There is no Turkey without a kebab
When I hear the common question: “Where can we eat the best kebab?”, I don’t know how to answer because the word ‘kebab’ doesn’t stand for a specific dish but for the different ways of preparing meat on the grill (‘grill’ = ‘ızgara’). The rotisserie may be horizontal (‘şiş’ – a well-known shish kebab) or vertical (‘döner’ – thinly sliced meat). The meat used for a kebab may be beef, mutton, lamb or poultry. ‘Kebab’ is served in various ways – it may come on a plate (in its classic form) with rice, grilled tomato and pepper, baked onion on the side (Adana kebab) or with yoghurt (Iskender kebab). But you can also eat a kebab in a ‘fast food’ form – wrapped in thin leaves of tortilla-like bread (lavaş). This wrapped version of kebab is called ‘dürüm’ – you can choose from poultry, beef and mutton. European kebab lovers, used to fat meat covered with piles of salads and garlic sauce poured over, may be surprised by these numerous options. And this is the beauty of the Turkish cuisine.
It’s quite hard to find a typical ‘kebab booth’ here. Eating this kind of dish standing up isn’t a common habit in Turkey. So, there’s a wide range of better or worse ‘lokantas’ and restaurants. When you order a ‘dürüm kebab’, you’ll get a plate with your meal wrapped in paper which you unwrap as you eat 🙂 Your ‘dürüm’ will usually consist of meat wrapped in lavaş (you can choose mutton, poultry or beef). Accompanying ingredients are onion and parsley, nothing else. No garlic sauce, adding ketchup and mayonnaise is optional. Together with this classic dish you can sometimes get a small salad (tomato, greens, onion) and you’ll definitely get an ‘ayran’ (yoghurt-based drink) which matches meat dishes very well. The cost should not exceed 10 TL. I recommend trying ‘Adana dürüm’ which is hardly available in Europe. It tastes great.
Recommended places: Derya Lokantası, Adana Ocakbaşı, Flash, Haydar Usta, Kaşıkara, Kolçuoğlu.
If you want to have dinner in a real ‘Turkish way’, you should visit one of the restaurants mentioned above, especially the last three. Prepare yourself to spend around 40-50 TL per person but it’ll definitely be an unforgettable experience. First, you’re going to be served a number of appetizers (‘meze’). One or two of them are free of charge but to taste more than that you’ll need to pay. Together with the appetizers you’ll get a hot lavaş which is nothing more than puffed-up bread. You need to use your fingers to tear a bit of it which you can then use instead of cutlery to scoop some ‘meze’ 🙂
After an hour spent with the appetizers (in the meantime you can start tasting rakı, wine or beer) you’re going to be served your main course, e.g. Adana kebab, Iskender kebab or so called ‘metrelik kebab’ (metre kebab – as long as the table, shared among the feasters – the speciality of Kolcuoğlu).
For vegetarians I recommend ‘kiremitte sebze’ – different vegetables (tomato, potato, champignon mushrooms etc.) baked in a clay dish.
Together with your main course you’ll get some salad and after completing the meal you’ll be treated to some fruit or a Turkish dessert. For example, Kaşıkara Restaurant serves an incredible baked halvah, which you simply have to try 😉 After all that, tea or Turkish coffee is served as an ‘ikramiye’ – bonus which will not be included on the bill. Good restaurants won’t charge you for water too but remember that alcohol isn’t served everywhere (e.g. Haydar Usta is a non-alcoholic restaurant)
Turkish Pizza – what it may and may never be like
Lahmacun & Pide
Both commonly advertised as ‘Turkish pizza’, they don’t look nor taste like an Italian pizza. The dough is much thinner and crunchier. Farinaceous food lovers should try these two:
PIDE – this is thin, soft and crispy boat-shaped dough with mincemeat stuffing or melted cheese stuffing. The further to the West of Turkey the more varied ‘pide’ is, e. g. you can get vegetarian filling such as champignon mushroom or multi-vegetal filling.
LAHMACUN – even thinner, crispy dough in a circular shape which need to be rolled before tucking into it.
Delicious pide and lahmacun are served in cheap restaurants such as Derya Lokantası, Flash or tiny Gül Pide. Additionally some salad and ‘ayran’ and we’re nourished. The cost: between 8 and 12 TL.
Dimçayı – a unique meal in a Turkish style
Dimçayı is a place where people go to escape from the heat. It’s a river in the mountains with many picnic facilities located on its bank. There are lots of restaurants with platforms floating on water, swimming-pools, water slides, fountains, and playgrounds for children. If you are looking for a place to spend a nice and refreshing day, you should visit Dimçayı and choose your favourite restaurant. Mine is called Regulatör Ada Piknik.
What can we eat there?
My favourite dish is river trout (alabalık) but chicken shish (‘tavuk şiş’) is available as well. The food offered here may not be of the highest standards but the atmosphere of the place matters. A freezing cold Efes beer or ‘ayran’ will do well here. As appetizers you’ll be served ‘lavaş’ and ‘haydari’ (seasoned thick yoghurt), village butter, goat’s cheese and ‘ezme’ (a spicy pepper paste). The cost: around 15 TL per person.
Sulu yemek – everyday food of Turkish people
If you want to try some vegetable meals, or you simply wonder what the eating habits of Turks are (obviously they don’t consume various forms of kebab every day), you should visit one of ordinary Turkish ‘lokantas’. They’re cheap, poorly equipped and located in side streets. They’re usually open in the daytime and mostly popular among people who work in nearby banks, shops or boutiques. The King of Oranges and I dine at a small place called Aran Lokantası. I’m giving you the name only because I’m sure you won’t be able to find it 😉
Mini Mutfak is a good restaurant in the centre preferred by young people. Keskin Restaurant, near my workplace, serves good food as well. The system is very simple – there’s nothing like a menu card, we simply show what we want to eat. You can ask for a bit of everything in order to taste various dishes.
The expression ‘sulu yemek’ literally means ‘diluted food’ so for example beans or chickpea in tomato sauce, chicken bites with vegetables in sauce or meat-balls in sauce etc.:) However, the sauce tastes nothing like European tomato sauces and it’s very watery.
‘Kızartma’ is another interesting dish. It’s nothing more than fried potato, aubergine, pepper and zucchini with a few spoons of cool yoghurt on top. ‘Biber dolması’ is a pepper stuffed with rice. In addition, take some ‘pilav’ (rice) or ‘bulgur pilavı’ (rice of wheat grains).
As far as everyday food is concerned, you can also try one of Turkish soups, e.g. ‘mercimek çorbası’, ‘ezo gelin’ (lentil soups), ‘domates çorbası’ (tomato soup) or ‘tavuk çorbası’ (chicken soup. They all are typical creamy soups served with some white bread.
If you are looking for more extreme experiences and tastes you should visit Flaş Restaurant or Şefin Yeri, where aside from those already mentioned you can try ‘beyin çorbası’ (made from sheep’s brains), ‘kelle paça’ (made from sheep’s head and foot) and ‘işkembe’ (made from tripe)…
Köfte and piyaz
Back to casual tastes 🙂 ‘Piyaz-Köfte’ is a wonderful combination but need to be pre-ordered. The best ‘piyaz-köfte’ is served at Aran Lokantası in Alanya but in fact a small town Aksu just before Antalya (and its roadside restaurants) is famous for this dish. ‘Piyaz’ is made from white beans with tomatoes, onion and eggs in a delicious olive oil and lemon sauce. In our region some tahini is added as well. Additionally, on a separate plate, we get ‘köfte’ (small deliciously seasoned lamb meat balls), grilled green pepper and a pile of ‘pilav’. On the grill, the meat is often covered by ‘pide’ or bread which is later served with the meal.
The cost of a meal at lokanta shouldn’t exceed 7-10 TL per person. Meals with meat will be a bit more expensive.
A little snack in Turkish style
You don’t have to eat huge meals consisting of God knows how many dishes to taste a bit of Turkish cuisine. During tiring sightseeing or shopping 😉 it’s good to eat something small. In the centre of Alanya, there is literally a café route along the main road. Next to well-known places like Starbucks or Burger King you can also eat and drink something more originally Turkish in one of numerous patisseries or ‘pastane’. They’re always crowded.
What is worth trying?
‘Poğaça’ [pron.po-ocha] is a kind of pastry with cheese, potato, olive or meat filling. ‘Börek’ is made from thin sheets of filo pastry in various forms with various fillings e.g. spinach, cheese, potato, mincemeat. It tastes like a softer and less fat version of French pastry. You can find these titbits at bakeries and cafés such as Hancı, Simit Sarayı or Simit Dünyası. As a drink I suggest you order Turkish tea or fresh orange juice 🙂 The cost won’t be more than 5-10 TL.
As you may have noticed, names of some cafés include the word ‘simit’. It’s a crispy pretzel with sesame, which can be cut in half and filled with cheese, salad, tomato etc. so that we get a kind of circular sandwich. But if you prefer holding such a ‘simit’ in your hands to eating it on a plate at a café, you should go to a person called ‘simitçi’ (simit seller). They usually work on the corners of streets. As far as I remember, one ‘simit’ costs 0.75 TL there.
You will find the best simit booth in the city centre (I’ve marked it on the map). The seller can cut a simit and spread some olive paste, processed cheese or even chocolate butter. Recommended if you missed your breakfast! 🙂
On the café route which I’ve mentioned, there is a tiny place called ‘Çiğköftem’. Perfect for vegetarians! You can try a very delicious snack there – ‘köfte’ made from lentil, onion and spices.
As far as snacks are concerned, you need to try ‘gözleme’. It’s a kind of village savoury flatbread made from literally three ingredients with cheese, potato or spinach filling. It’s very thin, crusty and delicious. We fold our ‘gözleme’ to form an envelope and enjoy its taste. You will get the best ‘gözleme’ from village old ladies e.g. on the Kale hill (2TL) but it’s worth trying no matter where you come across it. Remember that the real village ‘gözleme’ is the most delicious!
How about…Turkish breakfast?
Turkish ‘serpme kahvaltı’ (spread breakfast) is a fantastic way of beginning a day. It’s offered by many cafés such as Hanci or Çitirim at the price of 15-20 TL. But the best breakfast is served at Mado. As a matter of fact, the price is higher – 32 TL but the taste is…exceptional. It’s served on a tray in small bowls full of varied goodies. Additionally, you’ll get ‘sigara böreği’ (deep fried rolls with cheese filling), ‘sucuklu yumurta’ (scrambled eggs with garlic sausages), various kinds of cheese, olives, jam. Unlimited çay is included. The Mado café offers a great ‘börek’ and other breakfast wonders. It may be more expensive than other places but it’s definitely worth it.
Breakfast on Kale
How to raise your blood sugar level or sweeten your life?
This post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the desserts. Every ‘foodie’ should try a few of the sweet inventions in Turkey. Fortunately, you can find them in Alanya as well. They are:
Delicious ice-cream made from goat’s milk, natural and thread like. It’s served in a cone, sundae or on a plate (so called ‘kesme’, you’ll need a fork and a knife to eat it). Maraş ice-cream originates from Kahramanmaraş city and is available in the whole Turkey. Even serving the ice-cream becomes a kind of game between the customer and the salesperson. What kind of game? – You’ll find out when you order 😉 You should be in a good mood and have your camera on you.
Sütçü İmam (imam the milkman) is the best ice-cream shop. Except for classic vanilla and chocolate ice-cream you can also find fruit flavours sold in scoops. It’ll still be made from goat’s milk, with bits of real fruits, nuts or raisins. The taste is totally different than the one you’re used to. It tastes nothing like any European or Italian ice-cream. Alternatively, you can visit Mado and try a more elegant ice-cream dessert there – Maraş one as well
Baklava, kadayif, künefe, antep fıstıklı sarma
They are different Turkish sweets that you can order per item or per piece at any patisserie. ‘Künefe’ is an exception to this rule since it’s a dessert that needs to be ordered and then served by the waiter. It’s a cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. One of the most popular places to try it is Keyif-i-Künefe where the dessert is served with ice-cream, some banana and milk to drink. I’ve heard that some new cafés offering ‘künefe’ have been opened but I haven’t had an opportunity to check them yet.
‘Kadayif’ is one of my favourites but I’d never say ‘no’ to a piece of good, fresh baklava These two desserts are of Arab origination but have been present in Turkish cuisine and customs for centuries. They’re extremely sweet, full of honey, served with a bottle of water to wash away the excess of sugar 😉
After consumption you can also order tea in order to get over it. You’ll get these types of desserts at cafés like Hanci or Çitirim and ice-cream shops such as Sütçü İmam or Mado
Note for vegetarians:
As a person who does not really like meat, I understand really well how hard it’s to find good vegetarian food. Although some meat dishes have been praised in this entry, I’d like to state clearly that Turkey is a paradise for vegetarians. In almost every restaurant and lokanta you can find vegetable dishes. I know it from my own experience – I sometimes happen to eat no poultry for weeks and I’ve never had any problems in choosing something from the menu card. If you want to make sure that a particular dish is without meat (‘etsiz’), ask your waiter. It’s better to use the word ‘vejetaryan’ (pron. vegetarian) because many Turkish people use the word ‘et’ (meat) to talk about beef or mutton. Chicken is simply ‘tavuk’ for them, so it’s not meat. It’s good to know that 🙂
How to get Alanya
Most Alanya transport comes by way of Antalya.
The region’s major airport is at Antalya, 115 km (72 miles) west of Alanya, but the smaller airport 33 km (21 miles) southeast of Alanya near Gazipaşa has some flights as well.
Also, Most bus service comes through Antalya to Alanya.
There is no train service to Antalya or Alanya.
Bus and minibus service along the coast between Antalya and Alanya is very frequent in the warm months, and sufficiently frequent at other times of year.
Distances & Travel Times from Alanya
Adana: 440 km (273 miles) E, 8 hours
Ankara: 665 km (413 miles) N, 11 hours
Anamur: 135 km (84 miles) E, 2.5 hours
Antalya: 115 km (72 miles) W, 2 hours
Istanbul: 840 km (522 miles) NW, 14 hours
Konya: 320 km (199 miles) N, 6 hours
Side: 63 km (39 miles) W, 1.25 hours
Silifke: 275 km (171 miles) E, 5 hours
Tarsus: 352 km (219 miles) E, 6.5 hours
Ürgüp (Cappadocia): 600 km (373 miles) NE, 9 hours
Oba Star Hotel
Riviera Hotel & Spa
Kleopatra Fatih Hotel
Kleopatra Ramira Hotel
Kleopatra Atlas Hotel – Adults Only
Things to do in Alanya
Alanya has a fun activity for everyone – you can enjoy sunbathing at Cleopatra beach one day and take an adventure trip to the stunning Sapedere canyon on the other day. Of course, there is much more!
I hope my guide will help you to plan your trip – choose your favorite activity yourself!
So, what are the best things to do in Alanya?
01 | Alanya Castle and the Red Tower
Iconic Alanya castle is definitely a must-see during your Alanya trip. Not only can you take in the amazing 360-degree panorama, but also you can feel that history has been written here. The fortress was built in the 13th century but the fortifications date back to much earlier, probably the 3rd century BC. It’s really amazing how they managed to stay in such a good shape over the years.
Once you are done visiting the remains of the castle, walk down to the harbor and continue you historical explorations with the hexagonal Red Tower. It was built in 1226 to protect the castle and the nearby shipyard that was created some years later. Both the Red Tower and nearby Old Shipyard are worth checking out.
Entrance fee to Alanya castle is 10 lira (3,8 euros). The hill is steep, so take bus number 4 to get up there. It costs 2 TL one way. A Red Tower visit costs 5 lira (2 euros) per person. By the way, Alanya castle is on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sight designation.
02 | Lunch at Dimcayi
On a hot day, there is no better place to escape than the mountains east of Alanya. You can enjoy swimming in the cooling waters of the Dimclay River and have lunch in one of the restaurants situated in traditional Turkish-style sitting pergolas located above the water.
There are lots of restaurants to choose from; I had lunch at laid-back Dimcayi Pinarbasi Alabalik Restaurant. I loved sitting on the pillows and the fact that the staff had no problem with me taking a nap:) How relaxing!
Dimcay is situated 22 kilometers from Alanya. You can get there on bus no. 10, which starts at Dolmush station. A taxi is about 50 lira (12 euros) from the Alanya city centre. It’s good to avoid Sundays when this place is crowded with locals. The place is located in a valley surrounded by cliffs, so there are natural shadows and the air is always fresh.
03 | Sapadere canyon
Sapadere is a hidden gem and I really loved it. The rushing river cuts through the mountains, creating a deep canyon with steep limestone walls on each side. There is a well-maintained wooded walkway though the canyon, giving visitors glimpses of immense natural beauty and cascading waterfalls.
There are a couple of swimming spots along the way (with stairways down to them), but you should be aware that the water stays freezing cold no matter what season it is. If you are brave enough, you should definitely take a dip:)
It’s a 40-minutes drive to Sapadere from Alanya, with great mountain views along the way. The road is little winding (prepare your stomach!). You can do it by organized tour or rent a motorbike and navigate the road on your own. Entrance to the canyon is 9 lira (2,3 euros) and there is a small restaurant at the entrance if you need a snack. If you have time, check out laid back Sapadere village as well.
Since Sapedere is a bit further away, better than booking a driver, you can consider this tour with includes transportation and English-speaking guide. It is stress-free and lunch in lovely Sapedere village is also included. Altogether, you will get to spend 7 hours in Taurus mountains, do it is a cool package.
04 | Stand up paddling
Morning sunshine, amazingly clear waters, and the backdrop of the stunning Alanya castle and Red tower – what a perfect setting for paddling around! It was my first time to try stand up paddling in Alanya, but it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.
One great thing about this activity is that you don’t need any special skills besides a bit of balance. It is actually pretty relaxing, with plenty of time to enjoy the ocean views and get a tan! I recommend doing this early in the morning before all the boats start to take off.
Thanks to Baris from Alanya Surf Team for teaching me and my boyfriend how to paddle. This guy gives the best tours and he knows every underwater meter offshore around the town. Two hours of this activity costs around 50 lira (15 euros) per person including the gear and pictures.
05 | Jeep Safari
This might not be the best for you if you are not into group excursions, but going on a jeep safari is nevertheless a cool option for enjoying the mountain wilderness. The trip starts in Alanya city and takes you up to the Taurus mountains (east of the city) 1200 meters above the sea, with several stops in mountain villages.
The whole excursion is in a 4 x 4 Landrover Safari Jeep. The ride is quite bumpy especially when it goes off-road sometimes, but it is part of the fun. The vehicles feature an open top, so you can always stand up and take pictures or just enjoy the wind in your hair.
I did this trip with Elit Tuzim tours and the trip cost about 115 lira (29 euros). Most of the day you will be in the sun, so it is good idea to take plenty of water and sunscreen with you.
If you want to experience an adventure, you can also do the jeep tour by night. The trip is on illuminated vehicles and it is cheaper than the trip I did, so you can save a bit of money by that. Plus, night sounds like more adventure!
06 | Turkish Hammam
The Turkish bath or hammam is a part of Turkish culture and yet another unique thing to do in Alanya. Ottoman Turks inherited the bath concept from the Romans and adjusted it to their own tastes. It is all about cleansing and relaxing.
I took a two-hour bath and it was an absolute bliss. It all started with a sauna and steam room, then we moved to an impressive hamman room all decorated with marble with a central platform raised above the heating source (called a göbektaşı) One of the spa ladies scrubbed my whole body and washed me with fluffy soap. Next, I got served herbal tea and got to enjoy some time in the relaxing area before the final one-hour body massage.
I did it in the same hotel where I stayed (Sunprime C-Lounge Hotel). The whole procedure came to 280 lira (69 euro). It is not cheap, but worth every penny.
If your budget is less but you still want to enjoy the Turkish way of relaxing, consider this 2-hour visit to a traditional Turkish bath. It is not in a five-star hotel, but you still get to experience all the cool things like body scrub, foam massage, and oil massage
07 | Paragliding
Alanya is incredibly photogenic and there is no better way to enjoy its scenery than from the bird’s eye view. It was my third time paragliding and it is really one of the most adrenaline-pumping things to do in Alanya. The flight is relatively long – about 20 minutes.
The experience starts with a jeep ride up into the mountains (its rather bumpy, be prepared!). The starting point is at 800 meters above the sea, with amazing views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It was like another dimension, I wish the flight could have lasted forever. I enjoyed every second of it!
Thanks to my great pilot from Ulusky tandem paragliding who did an excellent job and managed a safe landing directly on Cleopatra Beach. They have excellent camera equipment and take amazing shots during the flight. The trip cost 240 lira (60 euros), pictures (recommended!) are 40 euro extra.
If your hotel is located somewhere else than Kleopatra beach, you might want to book paragliding including the pickup and drop off. You will save time on finding your way or getting taxi. They will simply send a car to get you from the hotel.
08 | Pirate boat Trip
Boat tripping is all about sunbathing and swimming in the sea. It is another way to take a glance at the main sights such as the Red Tower, Old Shipyard, and especially Alanya castle and its fortifications from various angles. There are a couple of caves to see as well.
Don’t expect to get very far; since there are no interesting islands nearby, the boat trips just stay in the waters surrounding Alanya. The boat has 3 decks, and there are some animation programs to entertain the guests. While that might not be my cup of tea, it is perfect for families with kids.
I did the trip with Gulbahce boat which cost 80 lira (20 euros) per person including food and drinks. We made four stops for swimming in the open sea. There is a foam party, and Jack Sparrow even made an appearance on board :). You can book the sightseeing boat trip including BBQ lunch here.
09 | Kleopatra beach Alanya
Most visitors head to Alanya for the sunshine and sea. The beaches are superb; wide, sandy, and clean. The water is also exceptionally clear. Many of them have a European flag (denoting that it meets international control administration standards for clean and high standard beaches).
A must-visit is Cleopatra beach, where the Ptolemaic princess is said to have bathed on her visit with Mark Anthony. In reality, it seems more like she may have been doing some pre-marriage business deals rather than enjoying the holiday. It was no accident that the area was later included in her dowry.
The beach spans 2 kilometers west of the Alanya castle and features the best sand of all the Alanya beaches. Entrance is free, but the sun beds and lounge chairs are for hire. It is the most popular beach in Alanya.
10 | Alanya city centre
Alanya is not only a tourist destination but also living town. Taking a stroll is a great way to experience local life in Alanya.
Whenever I explore a new city I love to visit a vegetable and fruit market, and Alanya was no exception. There is a farmer’s market every day in the town, but the most popular takes place on Fridays. It’s called Cuma Bazaar (Cuma means Friday). There are plenty of spices as well as fresh orange and pomegranate juice. Even if you don’t need anything, it is a cool place to observe locals as they go about their daily lives.
Apart from the food, Turkey is known for its textiles so there are a lot of places to buy clothes, both in the city and around the resorts. Needless to say, you should not accept the first price. Bargaining is simply part of the culture!