Planning a Trip
By Plane -- As the gateway to the "Turkish Riviera," Antalya's international airport is a destination for visitors on both direct and connecting flights from dozens and dozens of cities worldwide. In 2007, the city completed a second international terminal to accommodate the continued tourist growth of the region as a whole. Turkish Airlines (tel. 444-0849; www.thy.com) and British Airways (tel. 0870/850-9850 in the U.K.; www.britishairways.com) inaugurated direct flights from London (Gatwick) to Antalya in June 2005 and April 2008, respectively. Pegasus Airlines (www.flypgs.com) and SunExpress (tel. 0232/444-0797 in Turkey; www.sunexpress.com.tr) soon followed suit, flying from London's Stansted Airport (summers only). The U.K.-based charter Thomas Cook (www.thomascookairlines.co.uk) flies year-round from London Gatwick direct to Antalya. Check with your travel agent to see about other charter flights on offer during the summer months.
Domestic service into Antalya is provided by Turkish Airlines (tel. 444-0849), Onur Air (tel. 0242/330-3432 in Antalya, or 0212/663-9176 in Istanbul), and Atlasjet (tel. 0216/444-3387; www.atlasjet.com.tr) all offering regular domestic connections between Istanbul and Antalya, and Ankara and Antalya. In summer Fly Air (tel. 444-4359; www.flyair.com.tr) resumes regular service to Antalya from Istanbul as well.
The airport is about 11km (6 3/4 miles) outside the city center on the road to Antalya. The Havas airport shuttle (tel. 444-0487 or 0242/312-2956) runs round-the-clock service (approximately every 30 min.) through the city center on its way to the otogar. You can get off at either the Sheraton Hotel or the Turkish Airlines office on Cumhuriyet Caddesi, west of Kaleiçi. From there, you will probably need to take a taxi to your final, in-town destination. The fare is 9YTL ($7.85/£3.60).
A taxi directly from the airport to the center of town can cost anywhere from 25YTL ($22/£10) to 45YTL ($39/£18), depending on where you are staying. Nighttime rates are about 50% higher.
There are a number of car-rental windows in the domestic arrivals area, including Europcar (tel. 0242/330-3068). Hertz (tel. 0242/330-3848), Sixt (tel. 0242/330-3850), and Budget (tel. 0242/330-3326) have locations in the international terminal.
By Bus -- Antalya is a major transport hub, with 167 bus companies and 633 minibuses serving a total of 147 routes. The major bus lines serving Antalya with frequent service are Varan, Ulusöy, Kamil Koç, Pamukkale, Uludag, and Boss. Sample fares are: from Istanbul (12 hr.; 60YTL/$52/£24), Izmir (7-8 hr.; 35YTL/$30/£14), and Denizli (3-4 1/2 hr.; 20YTL/$17/£8). For transport from the smaller towns along the coastline, you can hop on one of the frequent minibuses; Bati Antalya Tour is a good bet, arriving from Fethiye (21YTL/$18/£8.40), Kalkan (15YTL/$13/£6), Kas (13YTL/$11/£5.20), and Demre (11YTL/$9.55/£4.40), to name just a few.
The dual-terminal bus station lies 4km (2 1/2 miles) northwest of the town center on the highway to Burdur and is almost as user-friendly as the airport. An excruciatingly slow municipal bus is located outside the minibus/dolmus terminal in front of the taxi stand, idling until its half-hourly departure. Tickets are cheap: 1YTL/87¢/40p, an amount I consider way too much for the trouble of meandering into the center of town. A taxi from the otogar to Kaleiçi costs around 25YTL to 35YTL ($22-$30/£10-£14).
The tourist information office (tel. 0242/241-1747) is about a 10-minute walk west of Kaleiçi, on Cumhuriyet Caddesi, in the Özel Idare Ishani shopping arcade right before the intersection of Anafartalar Caddesi. It's worth a visit for fliers and brochures on upcoming events. Or, save yourself a trip and pop into one of the many travel agencies lining the cobbled streets for the same information.
The city of Antalya is built upon a limestone travertine formed from the springs that run down from the mountains, so that the city meets the sea by way of breathtaking cliffs. At the center is the cliff-top fortress neighborhood of Kaleiçi, full of elegant garden cafes and charming ramshackle eateries, all built atop pre-Roman, Roman, and Byzantine foundations. Kaleiçi, the hassling to get you to empty your wallet notwithstanding, is a charming area of restored Greek houses, Italian villas, and Ottoman Pasa's residences, some converted into guesthouses and hotels along narrow winding streets. At the base of the cliff is the harbor and marina, built over an ancient Roman harbor and now the center of the city's resort nightlife.
About a mile and a half to the west of Kaleiçi is Konyaalti, the pebbly beach beginning just west of the archaeological museum and extending (so far) for about 8km (5 miles). Development will continue up to the port, an extension that will simply put the icing on an already successful and crazily popular city/seaside resort destination. By day, beach umbrellas and lounges backed by cafes and green lawns are filled with sun-seekers; by night, the waterfront park gets strewn with oversize colored cushions and romantic lighting.
Beyond the inner city limits, Antalya spreads out to the mountainous winding roads that meander along the Lycian Coast to the west, and to the all-inclusive resort hotels along the sandy beaches sprawled out to the east, past the haphazard, poured-concrete blocks typical of Turkish towns. Clear waters and sandy coastlines also lie within walking distance of Kaleiçi, and most archaeological sites and natural phenomena are within an hour of town.
The primarily pedestrian area around the old town and harbor is very compact, and you'll have very little need to venture far from here if this is where you're holing up for the night. The tourist information office and the archaeological museum are to the west of the city center, accessible either by tramway or about a 20-minute walk. From Kaleiçi to Konyaalti, it's about a 10YTL ($8.70/£4) unavoidably meandering taxi ride; it'll be cheaper on the way back because the one-way main avenue is now working in your favor.
By Tram -- A tramway runs parallel to the coastline from the Antalya Museum to the neighborhoods east of Kaleiçi and is particularly convenient as a way to get from Kaleiçi to the museum, to Atatürk Parki, and to Konyaalti Beach. There's a hop-on point on Cumhuriyet Caddesi across from the clock tower, and the fare is 1YTL (87¢/40p).
By Car -- A car in the region of Antalya is indispensable for a thorough exploration of the sights, sounds, and smells, but within the city itself, you may want to spend your energies doing something other than sitting in traffic and making sense of the one-way circuitous route through the center of town.
Although a car would be handy for a quick run to the museum, about a mile east of Kaleiçi, you'll be better off parking it and forgetting about it. The tram will take you practically door to door for 1YTL (87¢/40p) and no hassle.
All of the major companies have offices in Antalya, both at the airport (international and domestic terminals) and downtown. These include Avis, Fevzi Çakmak Cad. 30, in the Talya Hotel (tel. 0242/316-6148); Decar, in the Dedeman Hotel (tel. 0242/247-0648); and Budget (Gençlik Mah., Fevzi Çakmak Cad. 27/C; tel. 0242/243-3006).
By Taxi -- Because Kaleiçi is a walking district, a taxi is mostly useful for getting back and forth between the marina/Kaleiçi and the museum (Konyaalti Beach, the Sheraton, and the Hillside Su are near the museum on the west side of town). Hiring a taxi is also an (albeit expensive) option for those unable or unwilling to rent wheels for day-tripping out of the city; because rates have gone through the roof and because they are quoted in a currency (the euro) that makes the dollar look like a weakling, I don't recommend this option. A tour to all of the nearby attractions will be your best bet, at this point.