Best things to do in Alanya, Turkey
The Turkish Mediterranean coast was a part of Turkey I always wanted to explore: it is a popular holiday destination with crystal clean waters, good vibes and lots of activities.
After some research, we decided to visit Alanya. It is not as crowded as its neighbour, Antalya, yet there are a lot of things to see and experience. In our short weekend trip, we managed to cover all the must-sees in Alanya and discover the things you can do while in Alanya.
Alanya was once a city on the historical Silk Road, with a beach where even Cleopatra took a bath. No wonder it captured our hearts 🙂
Now let’s see what are the best things you can do in Alanya, Turkey!
How to get to Alanya
You can reach Alanya by air, road or sea. Pretty cool, huh?
Rent a car
Road trips are our thing 😀 I love the freedom it gives you: you can stop any time, anywhere, explore on your own. If you visit Alanya for a longer period, I recommend renting a car: it saves you the time and money to chase after private tours.
That’s one of the views we could admire by going to Alanya with a car:
Closest airport to Alanya
The closest airport to Alanya is the Antalya internationa airport (AYT): 125km. You can get to Alanya by taxis, shuttle buses. We recommend renting a car and driving along the coast by yourself.
Where to stay in Alanya
Alanya is one of the most popular resorts on the Turkish Mediterranean coasts, making a perfect holiday destination among many tourists.
During the summer months (which is the peak season in Alanya), it may be difficult to find hotel rooms available without booking in advance.
My advice is to book your accommodation in Alanya prior your visit (at least one week in advance). Many hotels offer a breakfast included in their price (which is yum, by the way).
Pay attention when booking a hotel, as lot of the facilities are for an extra price. For example we were asked to pay an extra fee for wifi.
The best thing about the hotels in Alanya? They are c-h-e-a-p! Like 10 euros/night/room cheap. Yepp, you heard that right! You can check the prices for yourself on booking.com!
Things to know before visiting Alanya
- Turkey is a Muslim country. Be aware of the culture, customs, and dress accordingly if you visit a mosque. Be respectful during Ramadan!
- currency: the currency used in Alanya, Turkey is Turkish Lira (TL). However, a lot of restaurants use Euros to indicate the prices. If you are unsure about the currency, always ask! In a lot of shops you can pay with credit card, but in the bazaars often time they only accept cash. Always keep some cash at you.
- Alanya is a very cheap destination
- Day trips and activities: a lot of tour companies offer day trips to the below mentioned activities. They are a fun way to visit the surroundings of Alanya. It is not necessary to book ahead (in my opinion), as you can book your activity even on the street (and the prices may be lower if you do so).
- While you are in Turkey, you can not book hotels on the booking.com– be sure to book you hotel while you are in your home country
- Driving in Turkey: if you are not an experienced driver, you should avoid driving in Turkey. The traffic can be nerve-challenging- and I was being diplomatic 😀
Read more about Turkey: 8 things I learned while living in Turkey
Here are my recommendations for things to do in Alanya, Turkey:
Start your day with a fabulous Turkish breakfast and tea
My favorite meal in Turkey is the Turkish breakfast. It’s like a healthier version of an English breakfast. It consists of all kinds of salads, eggs in different forms, hot meals (even soups!), different types of cheese, olives, vegetables, cold meats (which I have to admit I’m not a fan), baked potatoes.
Please send me your photos of Turkish breakfast, as I’m always stuffing my face busy and forget to take pictures of my meals. (I’m the worst instagrammer).
I ate almost the same breakfast for month last year when we stayed in Turkey and I wasn’t bored.
The other interesting thing about Turkish people is that they love tea: they might even offer you a tea in shops. Love it! They drink a type of black tea served in a curvy little glass. You can even choose how strong you’d like your tea by adding hot water to it. If you thought Turkey is a coffee-drinker: think again! They might compete with England in tea consumption.
Enjoy the sun and the beach on the Turkish riviera
You’re here on vacation, so take your time to relax 🙂 The beaches in Alanya are sandy, long, with crystal clear water- a lot of the beaches earned the blue flag title. Blue flag is an international control administration for clean and high standard beaches.
We chose a beach near Alanya that was somehow desolated: we shared the whole beach with 3 other couples and a friendly dog. The only sound we could hear was of the murmurs of some music from the nearby beach- just to remind us that we’re not actually in some remote island.
Take a bath on the famous Cleopatra beach
Because you always wanted to bath in the same place as Cleopatra once did, didn’t you? 😀 According to the legend, this is where the queen of Egypt bathed during her time in the Anatolian coastline.
We skipped this activity, as we’re not fans of crowded beaches, but it’s a nice thing to do if you’re in Alanya. And truth be told, it looks like a nice beach!
Visit the Red Tower in Alanya
The octagonal shaped building is the symbol of the city. Built in the 13th century, the tower earned its name from the red bricks it was made of.
You can actually climb the top of the 33m high tower. Unfortunately we made it there to late, so we couldn’t enjoy the view from the tower.
However, the surroundings of the Red Tower in Alanya were just as charming as the tower would have been.
Get lost in the little streets among the fortress
Walking on hundreds of year old stones as you climb your way up to a viewpoint was one of my favorite experiences.
There were no tourists, the empty streets however seemed full of life: we were part of the everyday life of the residents of Alanya.
Take a walk in the dockyard near the Red Tower
We are officially back in Turkey! This picture is from our trip to one of the cities on the "Turkish riviera", Alanya. 🇹🇷 I am so grateful to be back in this beautiful country 💓 We are going to explore Anatolya in the next few months. Last year we spent 6 months in Turkey exploring the European side of the country: Istanbul, Edirne, Tekirdag, Canakkale, Troy- and loved it. It is a charming, welcoming, unpredictable country. I still consider it an "untouched" destination, despite the fact that it was home to many empires throughout the history. We try to live like the locals everywhere we go. This is the easiest in Turkey: there are many cultural differences, but we didn't feel "outsiders" at all. Turkish people are very welcoming and helpful- not to mention the amazing food they have ☺️ Our favorite place in Turkey is still Cappadocia, nothing can beat that out-of-the-world scenery and charm of that place. I really hope we could go back one day 🎈 Have you ever been to Turkey? ___________________________________________ #letsgetlost #inturkey #homeof #turkey🇹🇷 #alanyaturkey #alanyakalesi #alanyalı #turkeyinstagram #turkeytourism #alanyakale #alanyamarina #igturkey #turkeyhome #alanyadamlataş #turkeyphotooftheday #turkeytravel #turkey_home #turkeystagram #türkey #turkeytrip #antalyaturkey #alanyacastle #alanya🇹🇷 #prilaga #vscoturkey #alanya_turkey #anatolia
Raise your hands if you think this looks like a Game of Thrones scene! I can almost see the dragons flying across the fortress. #teamDaenerys
The story of the dockyard (Tersane) goes like this:
The dockyard was built in 1227 on the commission of Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. This was the first dockyard to be built by the Seljuk Sultan in the Mediterranean, so it was a big deal. Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat also built a dockyard on the Black Sea coast (Sinop Dockyard), so he was glorified as the “Sultan of two seas”.
Visit the Alanya Castle
The Alanya Castle was on the historical Silk Road, and within the walls of it there are many monumental buildings. If you are going on the road that leads up to the Fortress, you’ll encounter lots of bastions, cisterns, traditional houses.
After visiting the Red Tower and seeing the fortress that reaches to the top of the mountain, I had high expectations of the Alanya Castle.
It looks so magical at night, the lit walls guard the city like an ancient snake made of stones.
You can climb up to the castle on foot (would not recommend it during the summer heat), take a cable car, or visit it by car. Personally, I don’t think paying the 15 TL fee is worth it. You can see everything in 5 minutes (including reading the only sign available). The viewpoint from inside the castle is stunning, though. Not 15 TL stunning 😀
The surroundings of the Alanya Castle were so captivating: a mix of handmade souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants overlooking the harbor of Alanya, remains of the ancient fortress, stray cats. It has a really good overall vibe 🙂
Find out more about pumpkin carving & painting while your here
You can find dolls made out of dried pumpkin shell in almost every souvenir shop in Alanya.
While strolling the streets, we even spotted a workshop for kids. I would love to know more about the techniques they use to turn pumpkins into beautiful figurines or even lamps.
Unfortunately I only found information in Turkish, but with a little translation this is what I learned about the technique: the pumpkins are let to dry 8-10 hours, after that they make hundreds of little holes in it. There are often colorful beads placed inside them. There is also a musical instrument called “pumpkin kemani”.
Discover the beautiful Turkish architecture in Alanya
Walk with your eyes open when in the city, as you can find some beautiful buildings and details of architecture across Alanya.
Stroll on the main street to visit the shops and bazaars
If you can’t find something in the shops of Alanya, it probably doesn’t’ exist.
I must admit I’ve never been in such a touristy seaside destination in Turkey (been to a lot of deserted beaches though), and I was shocked by the amount of shops I saw in the two day’s span. People really spend that much money on clothing when on vacation?
But hey, who am I to judge? Truth be told, clothes in Turkey are insanely cheap! But still. I was shocked.
The main street of Alanya is full of shops, restaurants, cafés (but mostly shops). It’s a buzzing street, with insane traffic- yet somehow still charming.
Visit the Dim cave near Alanya
This is such an underrated destination!
I visited a lot of limestone caves before, and this one looks stunning! I was truly amazed by the formations, the lighting of the cave, the infrastructure- everything. The Dim is believed to be 1 billion years old!
The best part of the cave was the old man who was playing the flute: it was such a surreal experience.
The view from the outside of the cave is perfect: you are surrounded by mountains, silence. Drinking a tea with that view in the nearby restaurant is a must.
Be aware though that the steps can be slippery, and there are a lot of them. You might want to wear comfortable shoes, and bring some clothes as inside the cave can be cold during the summer.
Eat fresh seafood
To “research the gastronomical scene of Alanya” (that’s how I justify our love for seafood), we tasted 5 different kinds of fish dishes in Alanya.
The calamari and the sea bass we ate at the hotel was good- a bit overpriced, but tasty.
I was disappointed in the octopus though: it was a portion for a baby with no side dish. It is not typical to Turkey, where they usually bring you 4 kinds of side dishes even for a dürüm. Maybe it was a poor choice of restaurant.
The hamsi (Turkey’s national fish) was ah-ma-zing! They prepare it a little bit different than the ones I ate in Romania and we loved it!
Try street food in Alanya
Turkey has a variety of street foods you can try: from pineapples on a stick to roasted chestnuts, you can have amazing culinary experiences on the street.
And it was no different in Alanya! I am not going to write about the obvious kebab-dürüm-pide triangle, instead I’ll focus on the things I’ve never seen in any city before.
And that’s the stuffed mussels. Vendors were selling one mussel for 1 TL, so Merida, the brave in me bought five pieces. Only to have a closer look at it, and lose my appetite…forever.
I don’t know about you, but for me those look like little worms. And while I like experimenting with food and tasting different things, this seemed a bit too much.
Well, it turned out that was curry rice and each mussel tasted like a little piece of heaven. Too bad it looked weird.
Another interesting street food in Alanya we noticed, were the fresh almonds. Unfortunately we didn’t try it, but we’ll be back soon, so I’ll update the post about it!
Bargain in a bazaar
While I’m not really a fan of “holiday shopping”, it’s impossible to avoid shopping when in Turkey. Your every sense is attacked and you can almost hear the bazaars calling your name: “Come in, bargain for a shisha you don’t need for 20 minutes!”. Yes, that happened.
I don’t know what kind of sorcery do these sellers do, but I swear we went in to ask the price of a shisha. Out of curiosity. With almost zero intention for buying it.
Long story short, we came out with a red shisha (which was apparently “made for us”) and a magnet.
I wish I had the marketing skills of Turkish men! #lifegoals
Visit the cat park in Alanya
I must say I wasn’t shocked to see that there’s a dedicated nursing home for stray cats: stray cats in Turkey are respected animals, everybody takes care of them. Istanbul is full of stray cats, so finding a cat park really wasn’t such a big surprise.
The park is in a nice place in the center of the town, surrounded by palm trees- it’s a really relaxing spot in the buzzing city.
Go on a day trip from Alanya
You will miss out on a lot of great places around Alanya if you don’t visit its surroundings. There are lots of companies that offer tours in Alanya. You can ask your hotel for tours, or just walk on the main street and you’ll probably meet more than one tour company.
Pssst: you can bargain the prices too! 😉
We explored the region in a rented car, it gives you so much more flexibility! Check the prices of rental cars in Alanya HERE.
One of the best thing to do in Alanya on a rainy day include taking a tour to the nearby attractions:
- drive through the mountains on a jeep safari
- Dim cave
- pirate boat tour
- ancient cities of Side and Aspendos
- Sapadere Canyon
- Alanya Aquapark
- Dwarf cave
One of the coolest things to do in Alanya is trying out the activities it has to offer.
Among the usual seaside activities (paragliding, parasailing, stand up paddling, water skiing, jet skiing, diving) one of the most attractive activity in Alanya is definitely the jeep safari. You can explore Alanya and the attractions nearby the city on a day long jeep safari. Usually the prices also include lunch too!
Rafting in the Köprülü Canyon is a great way to pump up your adrenaline levels 😀
Hamam and spa in Alanya
The saying goes that if you haven’t been to a hamam, you haven’t been to Turkey.
I am still postponing trying a traditional Turkish bath, but it I guess it is unavoidable. Would love to do it next time when I’m in Alanya. (The prices were much lower than in Istanbul!)
You can try a hamam (traditional Turkish bath) in Almost every hotel offers services like the hamam (traditional Turkish bath), spa and all kinds of massages. Just ask the staff in your hotel. If you want to learn more about the hamam, read this article.
Wan to visit Alanya? Check out the cheapest hotel prices:
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