Alanya, a seaside town on the southern coast of Turkey, offers a unique mix of relaxation, history, and adventure. Squeezed between the dazzling Mediterranean and Taurus Mountains, the historical heart of Alanya sits on a rocky peninsula with an impressive 13thcentury castle overlooking sweeping beaches.
Before my trip, I was trying to find as much information about Alanya as possible. With all the varied attractions that Turkey has to offer, there was not too much space dedicated to Alanya. In the 400-page Turkey guidebook I got, only four pages were dedicated to Alanya. Yet, this small region exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Sometimes it is worth it to take a chance on a destination!
The nearest airport is located in Gazipasa, about 30 minutes from Alanya. It’s a relatively small airport, so you might need to transfer in Istanbul. Use my favorite tool Kiwi.com to find the best flight.
Alternatively, it is possible to fly to Antalya airport, but then you still have 120 km to go. There are shuttle buses, but it’s a two-hour trip.
Alanya has a fun activity for everyone – you can enjoy sunbathing at at Cleopatra beach one day, and take adventure trip to stunning Sapedere canyon on the other day. Of course, there is much more! I have spent altogether 10 amazing days in Alanya together with my boyfriend, exploring the local sights and taking as many day trips as possible. I hope my guide will help you to plan your trip – choose your favorite activity yourself!
So, what are the best things to do in Alanya?
01 | ALANYA CASTLE AND RED TOWER
Iconic Alanya castle is definitely a must-see during your Alanya trip. Not only can you take in the amazing 360-degree panorama, but also you can feel that history has been written here. The fortress was built in the 13th century but the fortifications date back to much earlier, probably the 3rd century BC. It’s really amazing how they managed to stay in such a good shape over the years.
Once you are done visiting the remains of the castle, walk down to the harbor and continue you historical explorations with the hexagonal Red Tower. It was built in 1226 to protect the castle and the nearby shipyard that was created some years later. Both the Red Tower and nearby Old Shipyard are worth checking out.
Entrance fee to Alanya castle is 10 lira (3,8 euros). The hill is steep, so take bus number 4 to get up there. It costs 2 TL one way. A Red Tower visit costs 5 lira (2 euros) per person. By the way, Alanya castle is on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sight designation.
02 | LUNCH AT DIMCAYI
On a hot day, there is no better place to escape than the mountains east of Alanya. You can enjoy swimming in the cooling waters of the Dimclay River and have lunch in one of the restaurants situated in traditional Turkish-style sitting pergolas located above the water.
There are lots of restaurants to choose from; I had lunch at laid-back Dimcayi Pinarbasi Alabalik Restaurant. I loved sitting on the pillows and the fact that the staff had no problem with me taking a nap:) How relaxing!
Dimcay is situated 22 kilometers from Alanya. You can get there on bus no. 10, which starts at Dolmush station. A taxi is about 50 lira (12 euros) from the Alanya city centre. It’s good to avoid Sundays when this place is crowded with locals. The place is located in a valley surrounded by cliffs, so there are natural shadows and the air is always fresh.
03 | SAPADERE CANYON
Sapadere is a hidden gem and I really loved it. The rushing river cuts through the mountains, creating a deep canyon with steep limestone walls on each side. There is a well-maintained wooded walkway though the canyon, giving visitors glimpses of immense natural beauty and cascading waterfalls.
There are a couple of swimming spots along the way (with stairways down to them), but you should be aware that the water stays freezing cold no matter what season it is. If you are brave enough, you should definitely take a dip:)
It’s a 40-minutes drive to Sapadere from Alanya, with great mountain views along the way. The road is little winding (prepare your stomach!). You can do it by organized tour or rent a motorbike and navigate the road on your own. Entrance to the canyon is 9 lira (2,3 euros) and there is a small restaurant at the entrance if you need a snack. If you have time, check out laid back Sapadere village as well.
04 | STAND UP PADDLING
Morning sunshine, amazingly clear waters, and the backdrop of the stunning Alanya castle and Red tower – what a perfect setting for paddling around! It was my first time to try stand up paddling in Alanya, but it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.
One great thing about this activity is that you don’t need any special skills besides a bit of balance. It is actually pretty relaxing, with plenty of time to enjoy the ocean views and get a tan! I recommend doing this early in the morning before all the boats start to take off.
Thanks to Baris from Alanya Surf Team for teaching me and my boyfriend how to paddle. This guy gives the best tours and he knows every underwater meter offshore around the town. Two hours of this activity costs around 50 lira (15 euros) per person including the gear and pictures taken.
05 | JEEP SAFARI
This might not be the best for you if you are not into group excursions, but going on a jeep safari is nevertheless a cool option for enjoying the mountain wilderness. The trip starts in Alanya city and takes you up to the Taurus mountains (east of the city) 1200 meters above the sea, with several stops in mountain villages.
The whole excursion is in a 4 x 4 Landrover Safari Jeep. The ride is quite bumpy especially when it goes off-road sometimes, but it is part of the fun. The vehicles feature an open top, so you can always stand up and take pictures or just enjoy the wind in your hair.
I did this trip with Elit Tuzim tours and the trip cost about 115 lira (29 euros). Most of the day you will be in the sun, so it is good idea to take plenty of water and sunscreen with you.
06 | TURKISH HAMMAM
The Turkish bath or hammam is a part of Turkish culture and yet another unique thing to do in Alanya. Ottoman Turks inherited the bath concept from the Romans and adjusted it to their own tastes. It is all about cleansing and relaxing.
I took a two-hours bath and it was an absolute bliss. It all started with a sauna and steamroom, then we moved to an impressive hamman room all decorated with marble with a central platform raised above the heating source (called a göbektaşı) One of the spa ladies scrubbed my whole body and washed me with fluffy soap. Next, I got served herbal tea and got to enjoy some time in the relaxing area before the final one-hour body massage.
I did it in the same hotel where I stayed (Sunprime C-Lounge Hotel). The whole procedure came to 280 lira (69 euro). It is not cheap, but worth every penny.
07 | PARAGLIDING
Alanya is incredibly photogenic and there is no better way to enjoy its scenery than from the bird’s eye view. It was my third time paragliding and it is really one of the most adrenaline-pumping things to do in Alanya. The flight is relatively long – about 20 minutes.
The experience starts with a jeep ride up into the mountains (its rather bumpy, be prepared!). The starting point is at 800 meters above the sea, with amazing views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It was like another dimension, I wish the flight could have lasted forever. I enjoyed every second of it!
Thanks to my great pilot from Ulusky tandem paragliding who did an excellent job and managed a safe landing directly on Cleopatra Beach. They have excellent camera equipment and take amazing shots during the flight. The trip cost 240 lira (60 euros), pictures (recommended!) are 40 euro extra.
08 | PIRATE BOAT TRIP
Boat tripping is all about sunbathing and swimming in the sea. It is another way to take a glance at the main sights such as the Red Tower, Old Shipyard, and especially Alanya castle and its fortifications from various angles. There are a couple of caves to see as well.
Don’t expect to get very far; since there are no interesting islands nearby, the boat trips just stay in the waters surrounding Alanya. The boat has 3 decks, and there are some animation programs to entertain the guests. While that might not be my cup of tea, it is perfect for families with kids.
I did the trip with Gulbahce boat which cost 80 lira (20 euros) per person including food and drinks. We made four stops for swimming in the open sea. There is a foam party, and Jack Sparrow even made an appearance on boardJ
09 | KLEOPATRA BEACH
Most visitors head to Alanya for the sunshine and sea. The beaches are superb; wide, sandy, and clean. The water is also exceptionally clear. Many of them have a European flag (denoting that it meets international control administration standards for clean and high standard beaches).
A must-visit is Cleopatra beach, where the Ptolemaic princess is said to have bathed on her visit with Mark Anthony. In reality, it seems more like she may have been doing some pre-marriage business deals rather than enjoying the holiday. It was no accident that the area was later included in her dowry.
The beach spans 2 kilometers west of the Alanya castle and features the best sand of all the Alanya beaches. Entrance is free, but the sun beds and lounge chairs are for hire. It is the most popular beach in Alanya.
10 | ALANYA CITY CENTRE
Alanya is not only a tourism destination but also living town. Taking a stroll is a great way to experience local life in Alanya.
Whenever I explore a new city I love to visit a vegetable and fruit market, and Alanya was no exception. There is a farmer’s market every day in the town, but the most popular takes place on Fridays. It’s called Cuma Bazaar (Cuma means Friday). There are plenty of spices as well as fresh orange and pomegranate juice. Even if you don’t need anything, it is a cool place to observe locals as they go about their daily lives.
Apart from the food, Turkey is known for its textiles so there are a lot of places to buy clothes, both in the city and around the resorts. Needless to say, you should not accept the first price. Bargaining is simply part of the culture! 🙂
TIP: If you are looking to buy a present for somebody, check out this shop with handmade soaps. FB page: Green Body
WHERE TO STAY IN ALANYA
During the trip, we stayed at the stunning Sunprime C-Lounge, featuring its own private beach . It is just two years old, so the rooms are cozy and the design is amazing, including a giant glass lift in the lobby.
I loved the outdoor terrace around the swimming pool with its many sunbeds and other sofas, although my boyfriend and I always preferred spending time at the seaside.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY?
How do you usually spend holidays at the seaside? Do you prefer spending time on the beach or do you usually like to do other activities as well? Do you enjoy any of the activities above?
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My trip was in cooperation with Alanya Tourism & Promotion Foundation, Turkish Tourism Ministry Zurich Culture and Tourism Attache Office, Turkish Airlines and Sunprime C-Lounge Hotel. All opinions are, as always, my own.