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Coastal Bound

January 10, 2023

The drive back to Antalya from Cappadocia is over 500km so we decided to take a few days to drive back along the coast. Day one of this journey was to get down to the coast which was a drive of just over 300km and a total distance to Antalya of over 700km but we hoped it would be more interesting this way and we would get to see a bit more of the country.

Gumusler Monastery

Our first stop was right at the edge of the Cappadocia region to a little visited monastery called the Gümüşler Monastery. The monastery is hidden behind the rock face of a small cliff, peppered with cave dwellings along its full length. Once through the door you emerge into a square courtyard which is open to the sky and surrounded by carved walls on each side. Behind the walls are rooms and an ornate church.

Church at Gumusler Monastery

The monastery also stretches below ground with a network of buried rooms and even contains a small hole carved between the levels of the courtyard and the deepest room for communication.

Gumusler Monastery

After exploring the caves at Gümüşler we carried on with our trip towards the coast, passing through a green, cold and windy deserted highland plateau, before dropping down to the coast where the temperature rose several degrees.

Highland Road in Turkey

We had decided to spend a couple of nights on our route back in Kizkalesi, a Turkish holiday resort boasting 2 castles, 1 in the bay and one on the headland.  You could probably swim or kayak to the castle in the bay but we didn’t attempt this.  

At this time of year, most of the resorts and hotels in Kizkalesi were closed for the season but we were able to find a few options and although most of the restaurants on the seafront were also closed there were plenty to choose from on the main road through the town.   One of the best (and cheapest) meals of our entire trip was at one of these restaurants.  There was no menu, but a chiller full of marinated meats from which the owner suggested different meals. The Shish Kebab was fantastic.

Kizkalesi Castle

There are a few things to occupy you in Kizkalesi, in particular the caves in the surrounding hillsides, known as The Caves of Heaven and Hell and the Asthma Caves.

Hell Cave

Hell Cave is a deep but fairly open shaft which can’t be accessed but is viewed from a glass bottomed platform above, whereas Heaven Cave is a massive cave in a gorge which has a path that drops down into its depths.  At the mouth of the cave is a ruined church  and below this the path drops down about 500m into the bowels of the earth. At the bottom a rushing noise can be heard from an underground river.

Heaven Cave

Also near to these caves is the Asthma Cave (Astim in Turkish) (which is on the same ticket so make sure you don’t pay twice) where a spiral staircase leads down into a humid and hot cave with a circular path leading through the stalactites and stalagmites. The Asthma cave was the most spectacular of the 3 caves despite it being less of an attraction.

Asthma Cave

What really surprised us about the coast was how good the weather was, we actually spent some time on the beach and had a dip in the sea. A welcome surprise right at the end of November.

Theatre at Elauiusssa Sebaste

Also in Kizkalesi we visited the remains of the small ancient city of Elauiussa Sebaste. Not much has been excavated but there is a theatre and baths where mosaic floor tiles can still been seen in some sections, including images of fish and dolphins.

Mosiac at Elauiussa Sebaste

On leaving Kizkalesi we headed towards Alanya which is a big seaside resort town but on the way we decided to stop at our last ancient city, Anemurium. This is definitely off the beaten track and we were the only people there when we visited.

 Bouleuterion at Anemurium

The city of Anemurium is spread across the hillside and slopes down to the pebbled beach. Anemurium was abandoned in the mid-7th century after the Arab occupation of Cyprus made this stretch of the coast unsafe.

Baths at Anemurium

From here we carried on to Alanya where we had booked a hotel right on the main strip. After driving past first time round on a one way dual carriage way, we had to stop and ask where to park in this very busy town – and the hotel directed us up a narrow dead end road which meant a tricky five point turn to get out.

Alanya Harbour

Having loved pretty much everywhere we had been in Turkey it’s a real shame our last stop was Alanya as this was the place we liked least on our whole trip. It’s a busy tourist resort with all the chains like McDonalds and Dominos and most of the beachfront is inaccessible because of beach clubs blocking the access. They were of course all closed at this time of year but the town was still very busy.  Many people of course would love Alanya for these very reasons, it’s just personal preference.

Red Keep at Alanya with castle in background

Having said this, there is plenty to do around Alanya if a busy town is not your thing. It is well placed to visit the Sapadere Canyon which is a lovely walk up a narrow gorge to a waterfall at the end and the drive there is through some beautiful countryside.

Sapadere Canyon Waterfall
Waterfalls at Sapadere Canyon

On the way back from Sapadere we also stopped off at the Dim Magarasi Cave.  This is a much bigger cave than the Asthma Cave and the walkway through stretches around 500m until it reaches a small lake. The cave has incredible formations and is well worth a visit. Unfortunately it is lit by orange lights which are great for night vision but not so good for photography.

Dim Magarasi Cave

It was sadly our last day in Turkey which meant approximately a 2 hour drive back to Antalya.

Lake in Dim Magarasi Cave

On the way to the airport we stopped off at Manvangat, near Side (where we had been almost a month previously) to see the waterfalls and have some lunch.  The waterfall was beautiful so it was nice to make the stop, however the restaurants and vendors were all closed for the season so lunch would have to wait.

Manvangat Waterfall

We had time to spare on reaching Antalya so we stopped off at Duden Park to see the Lower Duden Falls which flows into the sea. As it was a sunny Sunday afternoon the park was full of families enjoying their day off. We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant in the Park and enjoyed watching one of the waitresses repeatedly trying to chase off three friendly stray dogs to no avail, eventually giving in and taking them a plate of food.  

Lower Duden Falls

After a lazy lunch it was finally time to drop the car at the car hire shop, and head to the airport.

We had been told by the airline in a text message to arrive early for check-in as we should expect extra security checks. This just led to a long queue at check-in, which didn’t open early and meant there was a long queue of very frustrated passengers (2 of which almost came to blows) and no sign of any extra checks.   Ah the joys of low cost international air travel!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2023 12:52 am

    Your Turkey posts have definitely got my interest in trying to get to this country sooner rather than later!

  2. Susan Hann permalink
    January 11, 2023 12:49 pm

    Once again your last two posts have been amazing so much history and geography l love it. So much better than school ever was and far more interesting.
    Continuing to live dream travel through your eyes can’t wait for the next episode

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