Things to Do in Side In the Antalya Region of Turkey
When looking at things to do in Side, Turkey, many people think it is all ruins, ruins, and more ruins. While they play an integral part of tourism in the area, young and old alike can look forward to a host of other activities and attractions. Although Side is not as famous as its counterpart coastal resorts like Kemer, Belek and Antalya City centre, its Mediterranean ambience, and professionalism of local travel agencies ensure everyone can see and experience the best of this stretch of coastline.
Whether you want to delve into the past or party until the early hours of the morning, plenty of choices await. Regardless of whether you want a typical beach holiday, full of water splashing fun, or a more adventurous time full of culture, traditions and insight into Turkish life, Side will not disappoint.
5 Fun Things to Do In Side
1: Apollo Temple
Ask any well-travelled person in Turkey what represents Side, and they will mention the Apollo Temple. Not to be confused with the temple of the same name on the Aegean coast, the massive structure standing on the coastline portrays an impressive sight, at sunset when backed by the vibrant orange hue. Dedicated to the god Apollo, it is not the only temple in Side but is the most famous. Over the years, extensive renovation work has been carried out and these days, an unwritten rule says it is the top spot to have your photo taken.
2: Theatre and Other Ruins
Heading away from the coastline, we arrive at the main theatre and other ruins. Side gives off a mystical ambiance because the new town is built around these ruins, and both blend together. The large 15,000-seater theatre is unlike others in the Antalya region because it wasn’t built into a hill. Other remains to see include a nymphaeum, basilica, agora, and public bath. To get a sense of past eras, think of the slaves that were sold in the area and gladiator fights that happened. A great place to finish your tour of Side’s history is the local museum holding artefacts from excavations.
3: Manavgat Waterfall and Tea Garden
10 minutes’ drive from Side main centre is Manavgat waterfall, a place of natural beauty and one of Antalya’s most visited attractions. Don’t expect tall, rapid falls as seen in Antalya city centre, but more width. Tea gardens nearby, make it a great place just to relax and watch the world go by. Go, or sign up for a local tour which also goes to Manavgat market for a bit of culture bargaining and haggling on those souvenirs. The waterfalls also fall in Manavgat river, which many people take a boat trip on.
4: Antalya City Centre
Allocate a whole day to exploring the sites of Antalya city centre which are about an hour’s bus drives away. The city centre is the beating heart of the region and plays host to two of Turkey’s best beaches, and the best shopping and nightlife scene on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. We also like to spend the morning exploring Kaleici, the old town, that is home to old Ottoman houses, mosques and quaint harbourside cafes. Spend the afternoon at lower Duden falls, the museum, or Antalya aquarium, which has Europe’s biggest glass tunnel.
5: Cultural Things to Do
Delving into the cultural Side of Turkey is not a complicated experience and can be relaxing. We recommend choosing a local town bathhouse for an authentic Turkish hammam. The process, stemming from the old Roman baths de-stress, relaxes, and sets you up for a fantastic sun-tan. Men should also opt for a fire-raising Turkish shave that is ten times better than any Gillette. A visit to a tea garden to taste the national drink, of which millions of cups are drunk every year, is a must. Although men will also find insight in the local tea house, a male-dominated environment. Aside from that, it is worth knowing Turkish cuisine is a lot more intense than the stereotypical kebab, so take your taste buds for a whirlwind journey around regional dishes of Turkey. (More about Turkish food.)
Also of Interest
Antalya Area Guide: On our list of things to do in Side, we encourage you to look at the broader Antalya region to which it belongs. Whether you hire a car and complete mini road trips or sign up for guided excursions, there are many attractions and places further afield like Aspendos ruins and Mount Tahtali cable car ride. Find out more about them and the towns they sit in, in this all-comprehensive area guide to the region.
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