Antalya (population 2 million), “capital” of the Turkish Mediterranean Coast, is a sprawling modern city with a small, charming historic center, a good archeology museum, long sunny beaches to east and west, the Turquoise Coast’s busiest airport, good hotels, lots to see and do, and dramatic sea and mountain views.
The historic center, called Kaleiçi (Kah-leh-ee-chee, Old Antalya) surrounds the Roman harbor. Many buildings here date from Ottoman times, a few from Roman times, and some have been restored as houses, boutique hotels, pensions and restaurants.
Antalya’s prime beach is Konyaaltı Plajı, a l-o-n-g swath of rough sand and pebbles running west for several kilometers.
The sand is somewhat softer along Lara Plajı to the east. Other beaches are farther afield at Side and Alanya to the east, or Kemer, Phaselis and Olimpos to the south.
Visit Antalya for Kaleiçi, the museum and beaches, and because it’s the transport hub of the region with a big, modern airport 10 km (6 miles) east of the city center, and a big, modern bus terminal (Otogar) 4 km (2.5 miles) north. Here’s more on how to get to Antalya, and how to get around.
Antalya is also a good base for day-trips to nearby archeological sites such as Aspendos, Olimpos, Perge, Phaselis, Selge, Side and Termessos, and even river rafting in Köprülü Kanyon National Park.