Winter Activities in Antalya
By promoting winter activities in Antalya, Turkey is edging towards its goal to become a year-round tourist destination. We have already seen increased flights to Antalya Airport, from British and Russian airlines, and each year, local hotels and tour agencies cater for their winter clientele by offering a diverse range of things to do. Many customers are surprised when they learn people choose Antalya for winter vacations, but it is a great time to visit, because of fewer crowds and massive opportunities to save money.
Weather in Winter: From November, average temperatures range between 15 to 20 degrees during the day and drop at night, so you need a jacket but some people still swim and sunbathe at Lara and Konyaalti beaches, even though the official beach tourism season has finished. January and February are when the most amount of rain falls, but ad hoc days are still perfect for exploring.
Where to Stay: When we talk about Antalya, we refer to the broader region of a city centre and smaller coastal resorts like Side, Kas, Kalkan, and Kemer. Unless you hire a car, we recommended staying in the city centre, only because the nightlife and shopping scene is still going on full steam, and most things to do in winter are around this area.
Hotels with Outdoor Pools: Another option for downtime and pampering is a five-star all-inclusive hotel with an outdoor heated pool. Rixos Premium in Belek switches on their heated pools from November right through to May. Other hotels with heated outdoor pools include Calista and the Olympic sized Titanic Deluxe.
Winter Activities in Antalya
1: Skiing in Saklikent
Not to be confused with Saklikent Gorge in Fethiye, few people know about Antalya’s Saklikent skiing region. Sitting a 2-hour drive away from the city centre, the centre opens from December to April and lends weight to Antalya’s famous slogan that you can ski in the morning and swim in the Mediterranean in the afternoon. As part of the Taurus mountains, 500 ski chalets and apartments, and various pistes of different levels, form the resort on the Bakirlidagi northern slope. With an average snowfall from 100 to 400 metres, this skiing destination is worth checking out.
2: Golfing in Belek
If your idea of sport is something slower than skiing, a round on one of Belek’s top championship golf courses should do the trick. Known as Turkey’s golfing capital, many famous players have either designed or played on these courses of which two most notable include the Cornelia and Montgomerie, of which the latter was designed by the renowned player with the same name, and also host the Turkish Airlines' open championship, part of the European tour. The weather is perfect for golfing, and significant courses also include academies, night-time games, golf shops for rental equipment and the vital clubhouse for after game drinks.
3: Spa Weekends: Pamper Yourself
Belek has another feather in its cap, in that the luxury five-star hotels are also renowned wellness and spa resorts. The Voyage Belek Golf and Spa Hotel is an all-rounder making this perfect for groups of friends with various interests. Once again, the Rixos Premium also comes up as leading the way with multiple treatments including Thai, Balinese, and Indian treatments, Hydro and Turkish massages, Slimming and anti-ageing process, and standard beauty routines. Often selling special spa packages during winter, this is an excellent opportunity to get some good deals and pamper yourself.
4: Xmas and New Year Events in Antalya
Many expats living in different areas of Turkey head to Antalya for Christmas or New Year because beautiful weather, cheap all-inclusive hotels and themed entertainment provide the perfect setting. Turks also love New Year and celebrate in style so expect lots of food, bands, live singers, and fireworks.
Shop around for what each hotel is doing because many advertise it on their website. An example for this year is the Regnum Carya, who are embracing festivities with a themed Christmas Eve high tea, themed buffet, Santa Claus party, Christmas cocktails and a delicious Christmas dinner. From the 28th to the 1st of January, they are also hosting five days of New Year entertainment.
5: Land of Legends: Family Fun and Activities
Young kids love Land of Legends Theme Park, which is Turkey’s equivalent to Disneyland. Buy a day ticket or book into the nearby hotel and enjoy a full day of indulgence. While the water park closes in winter months, the theme park has 20 adrenaline-filled rides open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. including the twister, skywalker, 5th dimension, sky fighter and hurricane. Smaller kids will enjoy the more traditional carousel rides and sweet swing. Choose from 18 themed restaurants and bars before heading to the shopping avenue to get rid of your hard-earned cash.
6: Explore Kaleici
Heading away from large hotels and themed events, exploring Kaleici is a journey into Antalya’s historical timeline. Known as the old city, and marked by the famous Hadrian’s Gate entrance, narrow cobbled streets lined with old Ottoman houses make for a slow, but exciting day out.Explore boutique shops, see the historical mosques and clock tower, and end your exploration in a harbourside cafe serving delicious food and drink. Other noticeable landmarks include Hidirlik tower, the elevator, and some of Antalya’s best restaurants.
7: Antalya Aquarium and the Museum
Sitting within 10 minutes’ walk of each other, both these landmarks are a 30-minute walk from Kaleici old town, hence see them all on the same day. Antalya Museum, one of Turkey’s best, displays a staggering collection of ancient artefacts from around the country and abroad. Their profile grew even more when in 2017, they took possession of the Roman sarcophagus of Heracles. Meanwhile the aquarium is Europe’s most massive tunnel, and for the kids, a host of themed activities make this an enjoyable afternoon.
8: Waterfalls: Natural Landmarks of Beauty
We are great fans of seeking natural landmarks of beauty wherever we go, and in Antalya, this is waterfalls. The most famous, the lower 40 metres Duden Waterfalls, tumbles over the hillside into the Mediterranean Sea but also see the upper falls about 20 minutes’ drive away. Kursunlu, another famous waterfall is likewise a short drive away, but on warm days, we head to Manavgat for a front-row seat in surrounding tea gardens. It is quite a peaceful afternoon.
9: Aspendos and other Ancient Landmarks
One of Turkey’s most famous ancient ruins is Aspendos large theatre that many historians call the world’s best-preserved. Dating from the 2nd century, it seats a staggering 15,000 people. Other ruined buildings of Aspendos include a bouleuterion, agora and basilica, but if you have the history bug, head into the mountains to explore Termessos, another ancient city garnering much fame and admiration. Sitting 35 kilometres drive away, at an altitude of 1000 metres, fantastic views make the perfect Instagram picture. (Read more about historical places in Antalya.)
10: Go Turkish: Dive into the Culture
When most people arrive in Turkey, they like to learn about Turkish culture and traditions, and one place to start is a traditional Turkish bath. Wearing your swimming costume, enter the steam room, let a masseur scrub you down with olive oil soap before receiving a relaxing massage that will leave you stress free. Men should venture into a Turkish barber for the closer than a close shave and also seek the traditional eateries known as lokantas, to taste Turkish cuisine including vegetarian choices, meat options, starters, soups, and desserts.
11: Mount Tahtali Cable Car
One of our favourite activities is heading up in the cable car to Mount Tahtali’s summit for a fantastic coastline and backing Taurus mountain view. While there, enjoy refreshments, lunch, and an optional photoshoot. The cable car descends a short while later, although, in calm weather, you can also paraglide down.
More About the Antalya Region
Districts of Antalya: While winter activities in Antalya keep people visiting throughout the year, there is lots more to know about the region. In this article, we talk about individual districts, what makes them stand out and why people visit. From lesser known destinations like Cirali and Adransan to famous villages like Kas and Kalkan, to know the region’s heart and soul, explore them all.