Where to stay in Antalya

Photo of Robin GauldiePhoto of Robin Gauldie
By Robin Gauldie

24 May 20245 min read

Olympos Beach, Çirali For a low-key stay in Antalya, try off-the-beaten-track Çirali.

It's easy to see why Antalya is Turkey's best-loved region for holidaymakers. The 'Turkish Riviera' is a real crowd-pleaser, with miles and miles of Mediterranean beaches – more than 200 of them with Blue Flag status certifying clean sand and clear water – lined with resorts with top-value hotels, hot nightlife and first-class sports on land and sea.

Away from the beach, the Antalya region is dotted with spectacular historic sites like the hugely impressive 12,000-seat Roman theatre at Aspendos – a venue for opera, ballet and classical music in summer – and natural wonders like the craggy Köprülü Canyon.

And there's an abundance of nightlife at most resorts, especially Lara Beach and Belek, where you’ll find laidback jazz bars, huge clubs offering foam parties and nights curated by top international DJs, as well as the ever-popular belly-dancing shows.

Lara Beach

Best for families

Lara Beach is the top pick for families planning a holiday in the Antalya region. For starters, this big, lively resort area with its family-friendly all-inclusive hotels – most with kids’ clubs to keep younger holidayers happy – is only 14.5km (9 miles) from the airport, so families can be poolside or on the beach not too long after touching down.

The beach is the star here, with 8km (5 miles) of dark yellow-sand jam-packed with activities that will please restless older kids, including kitesurfing, paddleboarding, parascending and jet-skiing.

For family days out, Lara Beach has a choice of theme parks and water parks offering thrills and spills for all ages, and there are family-friendly day trips ranging from four-wheel-drive safaris in the mountainous hinterland to gentle raft floats through the wild Köprülü Canyon.

Lara Dinc Hotel

  • Lara Beach, Antalya Area, Turkey
  • 28 August 2024
  • Bed & breakfast
  • From Edinburgh

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Best for a romantic couples’ break

For many, Antalya city's busy airport is just the gateway to the region, but for couples it's worth considering a stay in the old Kaleiçi quarter, hidden away beside a quaint harbour.

You’ll find a sprinkling of romantic boutique hotels (a few even with pools) tucked away in this maze of streets, where domed mosques and soaring minarets add a far-from-home feel.

For foodies, authentic seafood restaurants cluster along a quayside where yachts and fishing boats moor. There's a buzzy summer nightlife scene, ranging from laidback music bars favoured by local hipsters to big clubs where you can dance until dawn.

Roman and Ottoman relics like triple-arched Hadrian's Gate and the imposing Hidirlik tower make Kaleiçi a favourite for history buffs, and it even has its own pretty (but pocket-sized) beach, Mermerli, where the entrance charge includes sun-loungers and umbrellas.

Alaiye Kleopatra

  • Alanya, Antalya Area, Turkey
  • 4 July 2024
  • All-inclusive
  • From Cardiff

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Best for sports in lush surrounds

You can imagine the Made in Chelsea crowd loving Belek, with its seven-star hotels, luxury spas and high-end nightlife tailored for wannabe WAGs and Gucci-accessorised oligarchs.

There’s no such thing as too much bling in this swanky Turkish resort but alongside the glitz, you'll find first-rate sports facilities too.

Designed as a true sports destination, Belek has a climate that rivals the Algarve, winter soccer training facilities that attract top sides from Turkey and all over Europe, and perfect greens on challenging golf courses designed by star architects. On the beach, miles of sand stretch to the horizon either side of the resort, offering just about every possible watersport imaginable.

Sporty travellers will find some of the best hotels in Antalya here, with fabulous fitness centres complete with personal trainers, golf courses in luxurious settings, and tennis coaching for teens and adults on floodlit courts so you can play in the cool of the evening.

TUI Magic Life Belek

  • Belek, Antalya Area, Turkey
  • 6 November 2024
  • All-inclusive
  • From Luton

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Best for a quieter family stay

If you're looking for a family resort that's a little less busy and a good deal more budget-friendly, try Side (it's pronounced 'Shee-day').

Long sandy beaches (most with lifeguards on duty in summer) stretch either side of this cheerful little harbour town around 65km (40 miles) east of Antalya's urban sprawl.

Ringed by ancient walls, the old town is so steeped in history that every corner you turn in its maze of mostly car-free streets seems to reveal yet another massive chunk of Byzantine and Roman ruins, including an impressive theatre and the Temple of Athena.

You'll find friendly seafood restaurants and authentic grill joints in Side's narrow streets, along with dozens of small shops where you can bargain for sandals and other leatherwear and artisan jewellery.

Nightlife in Side is low-key, with a handful of relaxed music bars and beach bars – and if you start to feel homesick there are even a couple of English and Irish-style sports pubs.

Gazipasa Star Hotel & Apart

  • Side, Antalya Area, Turkey
  • 22 August 2024
  • Room only
  • From Glasgow

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Best for getting back to nature

Way down the Lycian coast from Antalya – around a 60–90-minute drive from the airport – Çirali has a vibe that's oh-so-different from vibrant Lara or perma-tanned Belek.

Small, intimate hotels with pools, set among the pine woods and orange groves that surround the village, are perfect if you’re looking for a tranquil escape, with 3.2km (2 miles) of pebbly, sandy beach to stroll along and clear blue water where you can swim undisturbed by the scream of jet-skis.

Çirali is surrounded by a conservation area and a protected archaeological site, so there are no big, intrusive resorts but you’ll have a choice of smaller chalet-style hotels that will please families with younger children. It’s also virtually traffic-free, as there's just one road in and out of the village.

On the outskirts of the village is one of Turkey's many natural wonders: the Yanartaş or 'Burning Rock'). Known to the ancient Greeks as the Chimaera, this natural gas leak from deep underground feeds an eternal flame that, even after millennia, shows no sign of going out. Go after dark to see this uncanny phenomenon at its best.

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