With winter nearing its end, and certain destinations across the pond, especially in the sunny Mediterranean, already expecting high temperatures as early as March, it’s time we finally get rid of the extra layers of clothing and switch gears to spring travel.

If you’re desperate to get back to the Old Continent to indulge in some culture again – and not be freezing cold – there is a vibrant coastal city in Turkiye where temperatures start rising as early as March, and tourist dollar stretch much further than your typical European destination.

Last year, Antalya, or how we like to call her, the Queen of the Eastern Medbroke all-time tourism records, and as we roll into the warmer months, it looks set to repeat the feat in 2024:

Why Is Antalya So Massively Popular Right Now?

As reported by Anadolu Agency (AA), one of the leading authorities in tourism in Turkiye, Antalya has officially surpassed 2019 tourism levels, having hosted 15.7 million foreigners in 2023, which, surprisingly enough, were not concentrated exclusively in the summer months.

Unlike other Mediterranean destinations, Antalya stays warmer year-round, and as early as February, it’s not too uncommon to see sunbathers relaxing by the municipal beach, as winters on this part of the Turkish coast are typically very mild, with snow rarely falling, and plenty of sunshine.

Tourists Walking In A Busy Pedestrian Street In Antalya, Turkiye, Eastern Mediterranean

Spring is even better, with the seas starting to warm up in the lead-up to the peak season, a 70% chance of a perfectly sunny day, and thermometers easily marking 70°F or higher during the day.

As average temperatures increase worldwide, it is bound to be much warmer this year.

The city’s great weather has certainly helped it rise in notoriety as a Mediterranean getaway in recent years, even though it is not on the radar of every visitor to Europe – as a matter of fact, it is not even technically in Europe – but it is far from being the only noteworthy thing about Antalya.

Historical Mosque In The Harbor Area Of Antalya, Turkiye, Mediterranean Europe

A Seriously-Overlooked Sunny Hotspot

It is one of the most culturally packed and genuinely fascinating destinations in the Mediterranean.

It sits on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkiye, officially located in Western Asia, but a stone’s throw away from neighboring Greek islands and Cyprus.

Due to its Greco-Roman origins and importance as a trading hub all those centuries ago, it is literally littered with historical monuments.

The most famous of them, Hadrian’s Gate, is a 1st-century Roman gate guarding the entrance of Kaleici, Antalya’s equivalent to an Old Town, and a walled cobbled district where the traditional Ottoman houses and their projecting wooden windows are painted in the most vibrant of colors.

Wooden Pavillion Over The Mediterranean Sea In Antalya, Turkiye, Eastern Mediterranean

Antalya’s postcard picture, however, is that of a tiny secluded beach sandwiched between a fortified harbor and the teal-colored waters of the Mediterranean, with views towards both the historical city and a sprawling cluster of skyscrapers in the distance.

As you will soon discover upon stepping out of the cab in central Antalya, modern buildings, manmade structures, ancient wonders, and nature coexist harmoniously.

Come For The Sun And Cheap Prices, Stay For The Culture

Aspendos Amphiteater In Antalya, Turkey

It is neither another one of those open-air museums too compact, too boring to deserve more of your time than a single day trip, nor a character-less resort strip lacking cultural value: it is everything and then some, and it’s got something to offer every traveler.

Are you here for the Roman ruins?

There are literally countless archaeological zones both within the municipality and the wider Antalya province, including the best-preserved theater of Antiquity in Aspendos and the world-famous Temple of Apollo in Side.

Sunset From The Apollo Temple In Side, Turkiye, Eastern Mediterranean

Perhaps you’re more of a beach person, and you’re simply looking to relax while living your best Mediterranean life. In that case, Lara, Kaputas, and Cirali Beaches should be on your list, as they are not too crowded in the off-season but still balmy enough to catch a tan this spring.

We’ve saved the best for last: overnights in beachfront hotels in Antalya cost a small fraction of what they would in neighboring Greece or any other major Mediterranean destination. This is true year-round, even in summer, when the city is jam-packed with visiting Europeans, but in spring it is dirt cheap.

Antalya Is Remarkably Affordable

A Person Counting Turkish Lira Notes, The National Currency Of Turkiye

The Ottoman-era White Garden Hotel, an adults-only listing in the heart of the Old Town district, 200 meters from the landmark Mermeli Beach, costs only $70 to book per night during the upcoming season, while Adalya Port Hotel, on the lively harbor, is an even cheaper $50.

All-inclusives are not as common an offer in the Antalya Province as they are in the Caribbean, but there are still a lucky 13 options available on Booking.com, and you might not believe these prices (we had to pick our jaws up off the floor ourselves).

Narrow street of old town Kaleici district in Antalya.

The fantastical Megasaray Westbeach Antalya, a beachfront hotel in Konyaalti with crystalline pools and a sumptuous breakfast spread, costs only $104 to book in March, and the charming, boutique Laren Family Hotel & Spa, a wellness center near Lara Beach, charges overnight guests an acceptable $128.

There is no catch here.

Turkiye is simply one of the cheapest Mediterranean destinations for tourists, largely in thanks to the depreciated Turkish lira, and the low consumer prices. According to Budget Your Trip, a one-week trip to Antalya, hotels, food, transportation and attractions included, costs roughly $1,101.

the turkish dish of Piyaz is popular in Antalya

A thousand bucks wouldn’t even come close to covering a luxurious three-day stay in overpriced Oia in Santorini. And to think, in Antalya, you can gorge on all that lavish, flavorful Turkish food, which, in fact, shares many similarities with Greek cuisine, spending less than $27 on restaurants per day.

Finally, American tourists in particular will warmly welcome the news that, as of this year, they no longer need tourist visas to enter Turkiye.

Americans Don’t Need Visas For Turkiye In 2024

Traveler Holding USA Passport At Airport

For years, U.S. passport holders have been required to apply for an online visa ahead of flying to the Middle Eastern country, ranging between $61.50 and $78.50 depending on the length of the visa applied for, and the number of entries allowed.

Historically, Americans have been forbidden from boarding Turkiye-bound flights unless they have obtained this authorization beforehand.

Since January, U.S. passport holders have been no longer subject to this bureaucratic step, and they can fly to Turkiye restriction-free.

There are no nonstop flights from the United States to Antalya just yet, but luckily for tourists new Istanbul flights keep getting added as demand for Turkiye vacations among Americans increases. From Istanbul, they can connect onward to Antalya, with domestic fares as cheap a $30 one-way.

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