Extended Travel Guide for the Ultimate Wanderer Series: Antalya, Part II
In my last post, which is the part 1 of the Antalya within the Ultimate Wonderer Series, I introduced you to the city of Antalya, and its both central historical places(Kaleici) as well as the suburbs (Aspendos). I talked a fair bit about some day and nighttime activities and gave you a bit of a foodie guide… nom! Let’s get deep into this city, and go a little further back in time too within its districts.
- CENTRAL KEMER
Oh my, the central Kemer is a money-making machine itself. As I heard from many, it is one of the most expensive places in Antalya. No doubt because it is by far the most populated area by the tourists. Believe it or not, every 9 out of 10 people there were foreigners. I thought Turkish tourism was dying after the so-talked coup and state of emergency it brought, well… not in Kemer. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are mostly Russians too. The first time we went to central Kemer on our way back from Olympos, it was nighttime so we just threw our stuff by the shore and jumped into the water. After Konyaalti, this place is going to feel amazing. The water is so clear and it felt like cotton to me that night. How I miss that place… After walking all day under the sun, it is all you need. A bed of water that feels like cotton. It felt exactly the same after visiting Lara beach and returning to Kemer with disappointment. The cotton beach was there to hug us and let us float.
What to do in Kemer? Shopping is a no. Even on the highway going into the county there was a leather factory/showroom. There are all kinds of offices for touristy tours. I will assure you these are for tourists. If you are foreign to the county, read up and rent a cute little Vespa to drive around the popular spots (unless you are going to Olympos because the roads get messy deep in after the highway). They had two people motorcycles (can I still call them vespas?) for rental. They were extremely cute! Oh, I almost forgot. If you are staying in Kemer or just going there for the day, stay a little longer and experience the night clubs. I haven’t been inside –YET— but If I were you, I would be going to Inferno or Aura. There are DJs that display incredible performances and if this is your kind of fun then you’ll have the ultimate night club experience there.
- OLYMPOS and KIMERA
Alright, okay, listen up and bring all your attention here. Before I tell you anything, DO BRING non-slippery, comfy shoes that you can hike with. Flip flops won’t save you when you go there. End rant. Thank you, ma’am.
Olympos was our first stop. Lucky enough, as I think back to it now, if I went up the mountain of Kimera first, I’d have no energy to go on whatsoever. Olympos is another city from the Helenistic era that Antalya is protecting as a historical site. It is the biggest city in the Likya areas. There is an entrance fee that is about 10-20$ depending on your age group. If you are an Is Bank credit card holder or own a muzecard (‘museum’), I believe you are able to get in for free.
Here’s a list of what you should bring:
Water! (no place to buy inside)
After you go in, it is pretty simple to find your way. You will walk along a straight road made from stones that shine under the sun. One of the first things you will see will be the pond with ducks floating happily on your right. That pond connects to the beach that you will see at the end of your walk. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to see the ruins but I think the ancient part of the whole walk actually starts when you take the road on your left, right before you enter the beach. Walk through the tiny water pool and you’ll find the hidden side of the ancient city. There are so many spots to get pictures. My favorite part was sitting on the tree that fell over across the water. It makes such a cute spot to just sit and think. It helps that you are in the shadows too, a break from the hot Antalya sun. At the end of your walk that takes you back in time, right there, you find the perfect Akdeniz waters waiting for you. It will feel amazing to throw yourself in the water of the 3.5 km long beach, just to get away from the heat for a few minutes. Turn your back to the shore and enjoy the view of the Tahtali mountains as the salty water carries you.
Next up, have you every heard of a stone that burns permanently? As we were driving, I saw the sign that says Yanartas (‘burning stone’), and randomly asked my boyfriend to take me there. We had no idea about what this place was all about. After googling up some research, Yanartas or Kimera, its ancient name, was the literal definition of a burning stone. The rocks that are up on the mountain generate a gas that creates fire and keeps the fire alive at ALL times. I’d call it mother nature’s scientific experiment. Before going up, you’ll need to purchase a ticket of 2$ and you are good to go. Oh, I almost forgot—remember what I said about the shoes? The climb up is very steep and slippery. Me and my boyfriend climbed all the way up with Birkenstocks… I tend to be clumsy and he is the sporty guy that did not complete a workout that day. It took us probably about 20 mins to climb up the mountain that an average person would take almost 40 mins to an hour. Thank you, fitness.
As you get close to the top of the mountain, you’ll find a tree that people tie the sticky plastic paper that was once on their water bottle OR, like normal people, they tie a tiny string or a ribbon. This is obviously a Turkish tradition that you tie the ribbon and make a wish. The explanation: They had no ribbons and just tied the water bottle paper. I don’t know why I talked about this for so long, it just tackled my humour. Walk up the slippery stairs from the tree, there you are, you now feel HOT. The heat that comes from the stones fairly effect the environment around them and as you get close, you’ll feel your bare legs burning(!). There were people that brought their pots to make Turkish coffee on the fire of the nature. Many told be they came across people that barbeque’d up there! Whatever you bring, don’t forget your water. You’ll need to drink up before you get ready to go down the mountain.
Adrasan was a spontaneous trip for us. As we were heading out of Olympos, my boyfriend spotted two hitchhikers, and we agreed to take them up to the main road. They were a student couple doing an Akdeniz tour and were looking to camp out at their next stop, Adrasan bay was on our way, why not take a quick look around?
3-minute observation: I must say the beach looked lovely, parking was expensive, and we should’ve just parked and sunbathed.
BUT—Of course I saw another signboard that said, ‘This way to Kiz Kalesi (The girl castle)’. So, the way we go! There was a dusty very harsh looking entrance to the road that goes up the mountain. The sign had a stick figure man carrying a backpack and a hiking stick. We asked the ladies by the side road before entering with a car whether it was okay, and they advised us simply not to. WE HAD TO GO UP THERE WITH OUR DEAR CAR ANYWAYS. We drove up the mountain through the narrow road along the cliff. The car was shaking pretty harshly. I told my boyfriend that maybe he should stop and call the cops to take us down… I was about to cry. He stopped the car and we somehow managed to turn the car backwards in that narrow space. Those 15 minutes I was writing death scenarios in my mind. I took a breath of relief and got off the car, looked at the amazing view in front of me. This was one of the moments in my life I felt so grateful. That is all I have to say about this place.
Moral of the story: Do not drive up to Kiz Kalesi, take your tree branch and hike up like the stick man on the signboard.
- CENTRAL LARA
Welcome to the rich neighbourhood of Antalya. I cannot compare this place to Kemer because I spent far more time in Kemer than I did in Lara. I am sorry but I will be biased here. Lara Beach has a pretentious name: Altinkum, meaning ‘golden sand’. Our friends love the beach here because it is soft sand, unlike the rocks that aim to murder your feet as you walk to enter the sea. We stopped at a public beach but sadly, I wasn’t impressed. The entrance to the beach was a walk through a picnic area that had garbage all around. I did not find myself being comfortable with the population that decided to come to the beach so we didn’t stay long. However, do take your time to find a beach club that might work for you! I prefer Kemer!
What can you do in Lara for fun? If you are by the public beach, just a few minutes walk will take you to the Sandland. I did not enter in however, there is great feedback about this exhibition. I imagine it to be like walking in Egypt (Antalya weather is no less heat, I’ll tell you that!). Sandland is an international sand sculpting festival that takes place in 10000 m2 area. Sand artists create their work with 10000 tonne river sand within 3 weeks, and the exhibition is opened for viewers after this process. Additionally, TerraCity is another mall you can visit during your trip to Lara. It is enormous and you will find all high fashion brands there, if it tackles your fancy. Do go—when you need some air-conditioned environment for your soul!
- DUDEN FALLS
Duden falls are about 10 km away from the centre of Antalya. It is an easy getaway from the crowd of the city, to the crowd of the nature😊. Right by the parking lot, you are able to ride a camel along 100-200 m sidewalk, if you fancy that. I believe it is not expensive but I just think camels should be in Arabia or Egypt. Although they seem to be fine just laying there. Entrance fee to the park is 1$ per person. The walkway facilitates an enjoyable walk along the falls. You get to have a panoramic and closer view of the falls. The walk way then leads you into a cave where you have a chance of getting wet by the dripping water of the falls. There we meet again slippery ground! My Birkenstocks do not do well with you! Anyways, the whole experience is wonderful and another clever opportunity to escape from the heat.
Tip: Have a gozleme (a traditional pastry… yum!) and home made ayran (yogurt drink) if you feel hungry. We tried the restaurant in the upper area across the chicken cages. It was 10/10.
I hope you enjoy Antalya as much as I did. There is so much more to do than what I have seen so far. I miss my tour guide a fair bit when I leave so, I will return for more next summer. Until then, see you soon Antalya.