Nestled along a stunning expanse of turquoise Mediterranean coastline, with the majestic Taurus mountains as a backdrop, and guarded by the remains of an impressive fortress that still stands strong against is the modern yet unspoiled city of Alanya, one of the Turkish Riviera’s most popular summer and winter time destinations.
Alanya is heaven for anyone who wants to simply relax or walk along stretches of sandy white beach, enjoy fine wine, dine on modern cuisines or traditional Turkish dishes famous from the region, be adventurous, explore, delve into history, dive into crystal clear waters, immerse themselves in the local culture or totally indulge themselves in the myriad of activities on offer to both the young and the young at heart. So, it’s no mystery why close to a million tourists from 72 nations flock here each year.
Getting to this wonderful resort town is easy. Whether it be by plane or bus, or if you choose to hire a car and drive yourself, one of the first things your eyes will be drawn to, apart from the overall beauty, is the iconic Alanya Fortress, standing proud on the peninsula and towering over the town just as it has since its construction in the thirteenth century, by the Selcuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. With walls over 6 meters high and having 140 towers, this fortress was to be taken seriously by any invading marauders, of which there were many over the centuries. These days it’s a great vantage point for a magnificent panoramic view of the area.
Nearby, you will find the dockyard, where large warships of the time were built. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this dockyard is the replica of the giant man-driven hamster wheel that was used to haul the massively heavy ships from the water to the docks. While you’re there, you can also visit the gun house where the giant cannons were made.
You’ll also see The Red Tower, aptly named from the color of the bricks used to build it in 1226 B.C. as a vantage point to watch over the port and dockyards. Standing 33 meters high, today it is still a symbol of Alanya. with its unusual octagonal shape. What with the fortress, tower and dockyards, amongst other sites, Alanya has some of the best-preserved examples of Selcuk architecture in Turkey. Any history or ancient architecture buff will be in heaven here, soaking up the vibes of civilizations past as well as the sun!
Damlatas Caves and Sapadere Canyon
Accidently discovered in 1948 during construction of the harbor, these caves aren’t the biggest or oldest in Turkey, but still very beautiful and well worth a visit for their stalactites and stalagmites as well as being famous for the benefits of the air inside.
A visit to the stunning Sapadere Canyon (also aptly known as Hidden Paradise) in the Taurus mountains should definitely be on any ‘to do’ list. After just a short 45 minutes’ drive, you will find yourself amongst gorgeous natural beauty with an array of colors that will have you in awe of just how amazing nature can be. You’ll feel like you’ve found your own piece of heaven on earth. Enjoy the coolness of the deep limestone canyon as you venture along wooden paths winding their way to the cascading waterfall. At the base of the falls, just relax and enjoy the sights and sounds or take the plunge and dip into the icy-cold water. Enjoy a delicious lunch while you’re there or stop for dinner in Sapadere Village on your way home.
But, before heading home, drop into the nearby 15,000-year-old Dwarf cave, a small but fascinating cave known for the colors it displays. Minerals in the ‘tites’ reflect every color of the rainbow. A unique and fascinating sight. Worth pointing out, however, that the cave wasn’t named because of its size. Story has it that a young local boy, having been teased by his brother because of his dwarfism, ran away to hide in the cave to escape the torment. A shepherd saw him and told his parents who, of course, went there and took him back home. The cave has since been known as, ‘The dwarf Cave’.
And if these experiences haven’t satisfied your thirst for becoming one with nature, take a trip to the Dimcayi, another of Alanya’s beautiful rivers with waterside restaurants offering delicious fare in a wonderfully cool and peaceful setting.
The most popular beach, Kleopatra Beach, is a 2km long stretch of silky white sand along which you can bask under the clear blue summer sky and then cool off with a refreshing swim in the beautiful turquoise waters of the Alanya coast, waters that the Egyptian Queen herself once bathed in. She is said to have loved the area so much that Mark Anthony later betrothed it to her in her dowry.
If something a little more active or adventurous is your thing, you can always have a go at snorkelling, scuba-diving, stand-up paddling, jet-skiing, or flyboarding, or even get a birds-eye view of Alanya by parasailing or paragliding. It’s all here. Not to mention, fishing, horse-back riding, pirate-ships, quad-biking, jeep safaris and a cable car. Whatever your holiday style, you’ll find it catered for right here in Alanya.
A holiday would not be completed without a bit of shopping and Alanya’s got it covered there too. Beautiful shopping plazas with all the Turkish and international brands you love, offering the latest trends in everything from clothing to shoes, sunglasses to jewelry. Alternatively, hit the local bazaars for some traditional Turkish haggling. You’re bound to go home with some well haggled for items packed in your suitcase. Try giving the local Friday market a go and shop as the local’s do. The sights, sounds and smells of this energetic market will enthrall and entice you. It’s an experience you must have while here in this captivating city.
Whatever your taste, whatever your budget, whatever your style, Alanya is a magical place that will keep you coming back again and again, and with so much to see and do, so many restaurants to try and so many more nearby attractions for you to explore, there will always be something new awaiting you in Alanya.