Open Your Heart to Antalya
Antalya is a province known as the gateway to Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. With the sea in front and the majestic snow-covered Taurus Mountains in the background, Antalya really appeals to an array of travelers.
Whether you’re looking to hit the beach, visit historical sites or peruse local markets en route to a new favorite restaurant, you can count on a mix of beautiful views while getting a peek into the local culture.
First it’s important to remember Turkey is a Muslim country. Although alcohol consumption is allowed (just not near a mosque), pork dishes are not served. It’s common to find lamb on the menu and in a seaside town like Antalya, fresh fish.
In the old town, called Kaleici, the winding, cobbled streets are full of traditional restaurants, tea houses and bars, many nestling in converted townhouses. Try Vanilla Lounge, for a quick snack or, for more formal dining and live music, plan an evening at Taka Karadeniz Meyhanesi.
Get to know the town
Antalya’s port is lively, colorful and simply finding a spot to watch the yachts and boats come in and out of the harbor is a meditative and enjoyable experience.
The Kaleici Panoramic Elevator offers another vantage point of Antalya. Below, many Roman monuments can be seen in the old town near Hadrian’s Gate, where beautiful white marble arches and towering columns will make you feel like royalty as you stroll through the historic site.
Konyaalti Beach offers visitors a place to swim and picnic, which is accessible by taking the tram from the town center. After the beach, head across the street to the Archaeology Museum where the exhibits will leave you in awe. If you’re traveling with kids, there’s even a section that will offer local history.
To cap off the day, hop in a taxi to Duden Waterfalls, where you can watch the water literally fall into the sea. Don’t miss the entrance to a passage that takes you behind the falls, letting you take in the beauty from a different perspective.
Local customs and Turkish culture
Get used to lemon cologne. Before and after you eat in any restaurant your hands are sprinkled.
Turks love their baths and a visit to a hamam should definitely be on your agenda. Mingle with the locals and experience how it’s done properly in the much loved Demirhan Hamam.
Don’t be surprised to find coats and clothes hanging from trees and lampposts when wandering the streets. The Turks are charitable people and hang the items there for the poor and homeless to take. In the same spirit, you’ll find bags hanging from the doors of bakeries. Locals often buy a spare loaf of bread and stick it in the bags for the poor. Maybe you’ll be inspired to do the same.
As Antalya is so full of national and international tourists you won’t often encounter language problems. Nevertheless it’s good to know how to say “no” especially if vendors get too insistent. It’s important to note, shaking your head doesn’t mean “no,: rather, ‘I don’t understand, say again.’ You can, however, throw back your head and click your tongue. Not only will you get the message of “no” across but you’ll be considered an insider to Turkish culture.
During longer trips, it’s not uncommon to make local friends and be invited to a meal at their home. Take your shoes off when entering, bring a gift (flowers and chocolates are always right), and be prepared to be treated to many glasses of tea and an array of dishes. You don’t have to eat with your hands if a knife and fork are provided, just don’t ask for them. Finally, go with an empty stomach, it’s rude to refuse a second helping.
Meet the journalist:
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte was born in Germany and has worked as an international attorney for many years before becoming a novelist and travel writer. She has lived in Switzerland, London, Miami, Turkey, Oman and Beirut before settling in Spain. Her work has been published in BBC/Travel, BBC Sky at Night, The Culture Trip, VIE Magazine and several inflight magazines. Her hobbies are ancient history, Renaissance art, astronomy and practicing Kick Boxing and Tai Chi. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.