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Turkey: Summer Revisited

December 11, 2022

We left Chamonix at the end of October and after spending a few days in the cold and what seemed like constantly raining London we headed for warmer climes and hopped on a plane to Antalya in Turkey.

Turkey was a new experience for us having never been here before and we weren’t sure what to expect. We had arranged to be here for a month with the plan to tour the Southwest of the country heading across to Cappadocia and then back along the coast to Antalya.

Roman Harbour in Kaleici

After picking up a hire car (a surprisingly good car for only £300 for the month) from the airport we drove in to the city of Antalya to the hotel we had booked for the first couple of days in the middle of the old town. This was pretty intimidating as the old town, called Kaleici,  has very narrow streets and is a maze of one way roads. We eventually found our hotel car park even though a taxi driver warned us about going down one of the roads but we managed.

Hadrian’s Gate into Kaleici

Antalya is the fifth biggest city in Turkey and sprawls along the Mediterranean coast but the old town, which is based around a small harbour, feels surprisingly calm. It is of course very touristy with lots of bars and restaurants aimed at tourists concentrated in Kaleici. Beyond that the town is not touristy at all and isn’t too bad to drive through.

The theatre at Termessos

On our second day in Antalya we decided to take a trip to Termessos, which is an ancient city that is situated 34km Northwest of Antalya in a high upland valley. It is a 15 minute uphill hike through woods to the start of the city although the ruins of the necropolis (or burial grounds) are around the car park itself. It was inhabited by the Pisidians who fought off Alexander the Great in 333 BC and the Romans allied with them in 70 BC.

Ruins at Te3rmessos

The city is un-reconstructed and ruined buildings are scattered throughout the woods. It really rewards poking about and in scrambling over fallen blocks you will stumble over amazing carvings among the rubble.

Carvings on a Tomb in the Termessos Necropolis

After visiting Termessos we headed to the beach for the afternoon.

Our next stop after Antalya was the touristy town of Side (pronounced C-day) about 75kmto the East. On the way to Side we stopped off at two ancient cities on the way.

Aerial View of Perge

First off we went to Perge which is a Roman city which was at its peak from the 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. It’s a big city spread out from a central Agora. There is a very big stadium where gladiator events and athletic events took place and a theatre for 15,000 people.

The Stadium and Theatre at Perge

Second was the city of Aspendos which is notable for its reconstructed theatre. It is considered the best preserved theatre from the ancient world. This 15,000 person theatre was built in the 1st century AD and it is still used today. The rest of the city has not been substantially excavated and takes a lot of imagination to envisage the buildings as they must have been.

Theatre at Aspendos

After our stop-offs on the way we arrived at Side and discovered that the old town which is on a peninsula into the sea is off limits to most cars during the day. We were staying in the pedestrianised area so managed to get past the guard post and get to the car park of our hotel.

Sunset from our hotel bar in Side

We were staying in a rustic hotel with small cabins but it was fronted but a swanky modern bar with a great sunset view over the sea.

Theatre and old town in Side

Side is a town that has been built on an ancient city and the town is an active archaeological site with lots of gaps between the buildings which are occupied by ruins.

Aerial view of Side with old an new mixed together

Side is a popular tourist destination with a lot of big hotels outside the old town. This meant lots of Russian tourists. It all felt a bit commercial for us and so it was a big relief when we moved onto our next destination which was the complete opposite.

Archaeological works in Side
Mosaics in Side Town

Leaving Side we drove back past Antalya and down the coast to the small village of Cirali which is on a long wide beach and has a super chilled vibe. We stayed in a small pansiyon a few minutes walk from the beach and from a collection of restaurants in the village.

Cirali Beach

Our favourite restaurant was called Yoruk which introduced us to the delights of Manti – Turkish pasta with a yoghurt sauce and Pide – Turkish pizza – which in this restaurant is around a metre long.

Pide at Yoruk restaurant in Cirali

At one end of the beach is the Lycian city of Olympos and the up the hill side at the other end are the eternal flames of Chimaera.

The Valley where the Lycian City of Olympos is sited

About 1 km down the beach from Cirali is a river mouth and around this is the Lycian city of Olympos which stretches up the river from the sea. Much of the city has been uncovered but there is much more that can be found on exploring the valley through the undergrowth.

Ruins at Olympos

Best visited in the evening is Chimaera or “burning rock” where natural gas emits from the rock and spontaneously lights to create the eternal flames.

One of the eternal flames at Chimaera

About a 20 minute walk from the parking is the main area of flames which can get very busy with tourists hanging out and roasting marshmallows. A further 30 minute climb up the hillside leads to a smaller but much quieter area of flames at the top of the hill.

Upper Flames at Olympos (away from the crowds)

For us a couple of days on the beach in Cirali in the 25c sunshine rounded out the end of our first week in Turkey. We had very much enjoyed the unexpected sunshine in November. Despite chilly evenings the middle of the day between around 10 and 4 was warm and the sea was warm enough to comfortably swim.

Beach at Cirali
5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2022 11:12 pm

    Oh wow this sounds like an amazing trip! I would so love to visit these places! Was driving in Turkey easy? Hiring a car in a foreign country is always scary to me!

    • December 12, 2022 10:22 am

      We had an amazing time. Turkey is a great country with lovely people. Driving in Turkey was a surprise to us. We found that the Turkish are mostly good drivers and the traffic wasn’t that heavy. Once you get your head around roundabouts and giving way whilst on the roundabout then everything else is as expected. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend hiring a car in Turkey as otherwise the only way to get around is really paid coach trips.

      • December 12, 2022 11:03 pm

        Thanks so much for your reply. I would prefer to drive than one of those tour coach things, but I thought driving would be super crazy there. Good to know it’s not s bad! Cheers!

  2. Susan Hann permalink
    December 12, 2022 9:49 am

    Well once again superb photos.
    Another great history and geography lesson
    Still living my dream journeys through you both.
    Continue you to enjoy.

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