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Turkey is huge. Seriously, it’s massive.
Within a country that size, you can expect to find many natural wonders. In Turkey’s case, they’re dotted all over the land, with something jaw-droppingly beautiful at every turn. However, for visitors heading to the Antalya region, a hugely popular area for beach holidays, there are many natural gems that really have to be seen to be believed.
The Antalya region covers many of Turkey’s top beach resorts, and it’s no surprise that millions of visitors touch down at Antalya International Airport every single year. The plus point about heading to Antalya is that the summer is a little longer than some of the other resorts, such as the Dalaman region because it is situated slightly to the east.
For sure, beach time is a must, and Antalya’s beaches are natural wonders in their own right, but if you’re keen to see some of Mother Nature’s best work, check out what to see in Antalya below.
When To Go To Antalya
Many people don’t realize that Antalya is actually a year-round destination. Sure, you’re not going to be swimming in the sea in January, but the winters here are very mild compared to the rest of Europe and also compared to much of the country. That means you can have extremely pleasant days during the winter when you can walk around in a t-shirt and cardigan or light jacket and enjoy what the area has to offer.
From June to September, Antalya is very busy. This is the peak summer season, and you can expect crowds in abundance. Whilst you can certainly head out to see some of the natural gems during this time, there is a downside; actually, there are two – firstly, crowds.
There will be many people jostling for space, and that doesn’t make for the most relaxing day—secondly, the weather. Antalya during the summer can easily hit 40 degrees, and you’re very unlikely to see rain.
Many of the natural gems have some amount of natural shade, but not all of them, and that does mean you’re going to be outdoors all day long.
For that reason, the shoulder seasons of April to June and the end of September to the middle of November are ideal for exploring. Many of Antalya’s hotels and beachside restaurants will still be open at that time. Winter is also a great time to visit if you prefer a more authentic vibe. Between mid-November and the end of March, Antalya’s hotel availability does drop a little, but there is still plenty to choose from, including Lara Beach’s seriously upmarket 5-star options.
When visiting during these times, you’ll be able to explore with a greater degree of comfort, both in terms of space and weather. However, it all comes down to your general availability and your preferences – we’re all different!
How To Get Around Antalya
Distances between attractions can be large, but the good news is that getting around isn’t difficult.
The main natural attractions can all be reached by excursions from the main resorts in and around Antalya, and those are usually quite well priced. You usually get your lunch within your tour price, admission to the attraction, and return transport.
If you prefer to do things a little more independently, you can hire a car and drive to different attractions very easily. Overall, the roads in Turkey are very high quality, but if you are going somewhere a little off the beaten track, i.e., a waterfall or a cave, you may find that the final section of your drive is full of twists and turns. Simply take your time and drive slowly.
The other option is to use public transport, which often means catching a dolmus (a small minibus). These can become quite crowded, especially during the summer, and tend to go “around the houses,” as locals use them to get to and from towns and villages. However, by doing that, you’ll see beautiful scenery, and you’ll get an authentic experience.
What To See In Antalya – Of The Natural Kind
So what natural wonders are there to see in Antalya?
Here are some of the major highlights to put on your visit list.
Lots of Waterfalls!
There are many beautiful waterfalls in and around Antalya, many of which are open to visitors all year long.
Kursunlu Waterfall is a great spot for bird lovers, as there are over 100 different species that call this area home; it’s almost like a tropical getaway!
Manavgat Waterfall is another great option, which is widely known to be one of the best in the region and is located around 3km out of central Antalya. At 3 meters high, the waterfall is a pretty powerful one, and the spray is very cooling on a hot day! You can enjoy a picnic area, and there are also restaurants around the waterfall too, including a fantastic seafood restaurant.
One of the most popular waterfalls in Antalya is Duden Waterfalls. Located just 15 minutes away from Antalya Airport, here you’ll find two stunning options to check out. Upper Duden and Lower Duden are both open to visitors.
Upper Duden has a sheltered pool where you can swim and cool down under the shade of the trees, but Lower Duden is probably the most stunning in terms of raw power. The waterfall cascades down the 50 meter high cliffs into the sea below, and you can hear the roaring as it does so. It’s truly something quite remarkable to see!
Köprülü Canyon is a canyon and a National Park in the Province of Antalya
This is a huge national park that is located in Manavgat, a short distance from central Antalya. To get from Antalya to the park, you’ll drive through the mountain passes, and it’s a road that is packed with jaw-dropping scenery. The canyon itself is huge, at around 14km long, and it runs along the Koprucay River.
Within the canyon, you’ll find all manner of flora and fauna, wildlife, shady spots, and simply beautiful spots that you’ll definitely want to capture on camera. This area is also known to be a special spot for trees, with huge oak trees, red pine, cedar fir, and black pine. You’ll also find a beautiful cypress forest here.
If you want to enjoy something a little wild and energetic, you can try white-water rafting within the canyon, or you can simply wander around the many archaeological sites, including Roman bridges from back in the day. You can camp here, hike, and simply enjoy the chilled-out vibe.
Altinbesik Cave National Park
Altinbesik Cave National Park is home to the 3rd largest underground water cave in the world. However, it’s known for far more than that. You’ll find countless indigenous trees, flora and fauna, and plenty of wildlife, including wild goats, foxes, wolves, and wild boar.
The cave itself is obviously the highlight, and when you enter, the first 200 meters is always submerged underwater. From there, you head down to a steep section which is arguably the most beautiful part, covered in white travertine. The top section is always dry, but the rest is often wet, and you’ll find large ponds dotted around. As a result of the water, the cave is quite humid and never really dips below 16 C.
The park is located in a small village called Urunlu Village, which is downright beautiful in its own right. You’ll find many trips that head to the caves, but you can drive from Antalya, which will take you around 2.5 hours.
Termessos National Park
If you’re a fan of soaring mountains and the fantastic scenery that goes along with it, you simply have to head to Termessos National Park. Located around 34km away from the center of Antalya, this park is located right at the bottom of the imposing Taurus Mountains.
Gulluk Mountain is undoubtedly one of the highlights, along with Mecene Gorge. Check out the fragrant trees, beautiful flowers, and the rocks that seem to have characters all of their own. This is also a spot for endangered wildlife, including roe deer, wild mountain goats, and the great black eagle.
The park is also located very close to Termessos Ancient City, and you can spot the ruins from the site itself. If you love walking in nature, this is the ideal place for you, and there is also a very large and ancient amphitheater, dating back to Roman times, that you have to check out.
Yes, another cave! This one is located in Alanya, one of the beach resorts within the Antalya province, located just under 2 hours away from Antalya city center.
Dim Cave comprises limestone, and you’ll see erosion that has taken place over centuries, creating a wonderful shape and character. There are two caves within the complex, and they’re estimated to be over a million years old! You can walk through the caves, and they’re very well-lit. You’ll also be able to visit the small underground lake.
Remember to take a jacket or cardigan with you when you visit the caves, even if it’s the warmest month of the year – it is much cooler underground. The only downside is that the caves have many steps that lead down to them and within them, and that could cause a problem for anyone who has issues with mobility.
Around 1.5 hours away from Antalya city center, you’ll find Cirali. Not only is there a stunning beach here, but you can also visit a phenomenon which will have you shivering for all the right reasons!
Grab some comfortable walking shoes and head up the mountain to Cimaera, which is a spot where fire constantly jumps out from between the breaks in the rocks. The story is that Chimaera, a mythological Greek monster made up of a goat, lion, and snake hybrid, was fought and conquered here by Bellerophon, a hero of the time. Of course, the legend is that the fire jumping up from the rocks is due to the monster’s lasting presence, but it’s actually because of methane that is trapped between the rocks!
On the way, you’ll also be able to visit a temple that is dedicated to the God of Fire from Greek mythology.
Final Thoughts On Antalya, Turkey
The entire Antalya Province is packed with beautiful natural areas to check out, and during one visit, you’ll never make it all the way around them. Distances around the Province are relatively large, but by knowing the top spots, you can direct your time and attention towards the place that will open your eyes to the beauty and wonder of Antalya.