This Turkish City Is Officially One Of The World's Most Popular Beach Destinations

Turkey has always been a tourism powerhouse in the Middle East.

A cross-continental country straddling the Southeasternmost edge of Europe and the Westernmost peninsula of Asia, it has attracted millions of travelers for decades now, but even its current rebound has surprised analysts.

Home to iconic sights, including the Byzantine-cathedral-turned-mosque Hagia Sophia, the ruined Library of Ephesus, and the underground towns of Cappadocia, Turkey is poised for a historical post-crisis era, and the up-and-coming resort city of Antalya seems to be leading recovery trends.

Joining the ranks of Cancun, Barcelona, and Dubrovnik, the Turkish city is now one of the world’s most popular beach destinations. This is why everyone is quite literally obsessed with it:

Antalya Is Turkey’s Best Performing Destination Currently

Hadrian's Gate, A Roman Era Gate In Kaleici Old Town, Antalya, Eastern Mediterranean Part Of Turkey

According to Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Antalya is breaking all sorts of records heading into the summer season.

An average of 100,000 foreign tourists land in Antalya Airport daily, as local authorities now set their eyes on surpassing the peak year of 2019, when over 15 million visitors were registered in the province.

In fact, we could now argue Antalya is Turkey’s crown jewel, having ‘consistently outperformed other cities’ regarding overnight stays and tourist income in recent years, as affirmed by the Minister himself.

So far this year, more than 5 million guests have been recorded, and we are only now entering the peak travel season, set to last until early September.

The Restored Broken Minaret Mosque In Kaleici Old Town, Antalya, A City In The Eastern Mediterranean Coast Of Turkey

In the words of Antalya governor Ersin Yazici, it is now officially Turkey’s ‘guest room’. It has an off-season appeal due to its great year-round weather – visiting in late March or April, you should still expect highs of 25 degrees throughout the day – gorgeous sea vistas, impressive tourist facilities, and cultural heritage.

On June 17, the city posted a new daily record of 86,278 arrivals, quickly surpassed on June 24, when 90,853 landed at Antalya Airport. Overall, they expect to reach the 16 millionth-visitor landmark by December, placing Antalya at the top of the ‘trending in the Mediterranean’ lists.

In 2022, close to 7 million tourists stayed in hotels in Barcelona, Spain’s leading beach destination, while Quintana Roo, the Mexican state most visited by American nationals, registered 30 million guests last year.

The Mediterranean Gardens Of Antalya Facing The Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey

Antalya now sits somewhere in between those two major hubs.

It is the best-performing beach destination in Turkey currently, with 33.6% of all May/late spring arrivals, or 1.51 million tourists. In comparison, Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul posted 1.5 million, only a marginal difference but enough to assert Antalya’s place as the country’s strongest destination.

Taking these data into account, you may be wondering: what is the fuss all about?

Why Is Antalya So Popular Now?

Clock Tower In Antalya, Turkiye, East Mediterranean

We could list dozens of reasons detailing why Antalya has converted into an extremely popular vacation spot, but perhaps the main one is how liberal and incredibly chill it feels compared to other destinations in Turkey.

In case you haven’t checked a map already, the city is located on the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it exists in a different reality altogether than that of more conservative Turkey, namely the Anatolian hinterland.

It Is More Liberal

Although Turkey is secular in theory, it is primarily a (Sunni) Muslim country, and the Islamic belief system, which in some ways can be less permissive than other cultures, particularly Western Europe’s, pervades society.

In Antalya, however, the locals’ attitude towards religion, and life in general, is far more relaxed. While you wouldn’t see LGBTQ+ couples strolling the sea promenade hand in hand – though it is not forbidden by law – everyone is free to dress and live their lives as they see fit.

Young Woman Lying On A Beach In Turkey With A Turkey Flag Straw Hat, Mediterranean Coast

As conservative dress codes mostly apply to women, female travelers should know they will not be looked down upon wearing short shorts or dresses, nor bikinis at the municipal beach. After all, Antalya is primarily a beach resort where temperatures soar past 30 in summer.

Stunning Mediterranean Beaches

The seas here are calmer compared to other rougher parts of the Mediterranean basin, and swimming spots are plentiful, from the city’s long stretch of shingle beach with a view of the surrounding mountains to more pristine, white-sand crescents within short driving distance of the urban zone.

Some of the most beautiful ones include:

Aerial view of antalya turkey
  • Konyaalti Beach, the main coastal development in Antalya, and the one easiest to reach if you’re staying within city limits, though it gets jam-packed over summer
  • Mermeli Beach, a paid, small secluded beach in Old Town Antalya found in a cove beneath the ancient fortifications
  • Phaselis, both a historic beach a Roman city that’s long been abandoned, where you can soak up some culture by swimming amid ancient ruins
  • Cirali Beach, a tranquil beach 80 km away from Downtown Antalya, highly sought-after for its remoteness, bounded by turquoise waters
  • Moonlight Beach, known for its soft sands, a bright-blue, Caribbean-like ocean, and the nature reserve that borders it

Ancient Greco-Roman Heritage

If it’s culture you seek, Antalya has got you covered, what with its boundless wealth of historical monuments, including a perfectly-preserved 1st-century Roman city gate, defensive walls, Byzantine churches that now operate as mosques, and Hellenic sites.

Sunset Over The Temple Of Apollo In Side, Antalya Province, Mediterranean Coast Of Turkey, Mediterranean Landmarks

Aspendos is one of the most impressive ancient structures in the Antalya Province, and it is often described as the best well-kept Roman theater of Antiquity.

Other impressive ruins can be found in Side, a cobbled beach town encompassing a vast archaeological complex which includes a Roman amphitheater and the world-famous Temple of Apollo, facing the Mediterranean, and Termessos, etched onto the southwest side of the legendary Solymos mountain.

New Hotel Openings And Cheaper Rates

Taking into account its stunning nature and unmatched tourist offer, it’s hardly a surprise it is now on the radar of numerous international hospitality brands and developers, with new property openings taking place, such as the long-awaited arrival of Radisson to the region.

Aspendos Amphiteater In Antalya, Turkey

Travelers are also favoring Antalya over other Mediterranean competitors due to its competitive prices. The cost of living in Turkey is comparatively lower than its European and Middle Eastern counterparts, and the ongoing depreciation of the Turkish lira, which now equals US$0.038 – and it keeps falling.

Despite the soaring inflation that’s plagued the country and inevitable price surges, Americans and Europeans vacationing in Turkey still benefit from a devalued currency, whether it’s securing relatively cheaper hotel deals or eating well on a budget throughout their stay.

Wanna find out more about Antalya and its hidden treasures? Don’t forget to check out 7 things travelers need to know ahead of visiting.

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