Traveling Turkey: Antalya Region

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: This is part of an ongoing series of spots of interest in the area. For information on various trips offered on Incirlik AB visit

Though Incirlik AB agencies offer many opportunities for travel where they will take you to the destination, sometimes its nice just do a little research and plan a trip yourself.

There are many incredible locations in Turkey that you can visit and the cost of your trip will be shockingly inexpensive considering what you are going to be doing.

During the extended Labor Day weekend, a couple work friends and I decided to plan a trip to the Antalya region. We started by searching online for plane tickets and were surprised at how affordable the cost of flying in Turkey is compared to flying in the United States. Once the flight was booked, we began our research in hotels. The Antalya area offered a vast array of hotels for a wide variety of prices that could fit almost any budget.

Then, we began the research for what to do in the area. A trip to the beach was inevitable since Antalya rests along the coast of the Mediterranean, especially since the hotel we picked had its own private beach area.

Being the history nerd that I am, that is where the real searching began. As in every place in Turkey, Antalya and the region surrounding it provided a wealth of historical sites.

For those unaware, Antalya is also a huge tourist location. In 2012 it was the third most visited city in the world, right behind Paris and London. In 2010 and 2011, it was ranked fourth.

The city of Antalya was founded by the Greeks and named "Attaleia" after Attalos II, king of Pergamon, in the 1st century BC. Other places in the surrounding area, such as the ruined city of Olympos date back even further.

Ancient Olympos was founded in the Hellenistic period and was part of the kingdom of Lycia. It took its name from the nearby mountain of Olympos, or Tahtali Dagi in Turkish, and is one of several mountains associated with various myths with that name in the Classical world.

The ancient city was one of the six leading cities of the Lycian league and its ruins cover a large area of ground, though it is now fairly overrun with flora and fauna. Right outside this incredible chunk of history is a breathtaking beach. It was easy to spend hours walking through all the trees and picturing what Olympos might have looked like in its heyday.

Nearby Olypmos is another spot that is incredibly unique. In fact, I have heard of no other place like it in the world - Mount Chimaera. It is hard to explain the natural phenomena that resides on it, but without wood or any other source that can be seen, the mountain is on fire.

Well, more along the lines of fire comes out of sections of the rock burning orange, blue and yellow than the entire mountain being engulfed in flames.

The ancient Greek author Ctesias of Cnidus, who lived in the 5th century BC, wrote of the mountain, "...indeed it burned with a flame that does not die by day or night."

It was about a 1 kilometer trek from the entrance to the site up the mountain, and we went at dusk. This gave us the full benefits of the area with all the flames lighting up the area at night. Of course, since it was night and there was fire, we had no choice but to roast marshmallows in the flame.

Since the city Olympos was in the area, we also had to visit the mountain it was named after.

We arrived at the base camp for the mountain and then piled into a cable car, along with what seemed like 100 other people. Looking up along the cable lines, they disappeared into the clouds and the top of the mountain could not be seen.

Slowly, the cable car began the journey to Olympos where we would face off against Zeus and the other ancient deities. The cable cart was windows on all sides so we could clearly see the soaring cliffs of the mountains to our right and left and the beach below us and behind. In front of us we just stared forward as we made our ascent above the clouds.

We finally finished the ride, with some dips and swaying in the breeze, to the top of Olympos with no sign what so ever of Zeus. That is, with the exception of the granola-looking 26-year-old with the giant bag who was with us on the ride. He had "Zeus" written on his bag.

The peak of the legendary mountain sat at 2,365 meters, or about 7,858 feet, above the shore, which could be seen from the top. There was a restaurant for people to sit and enjoy a meal at the top of the world, and professional photographers ready to take your picture.

Once I showed the photographers my professional-grade camera and associated gear, they realized I wasn't going to request their services and let me take in the moment in peace.

Needless to say, the view from the ancient monument was incredible.

Many visitors gathered around the edges of the mountain to watch the paragliders leap from the cliff, where they would eventually make their down to the sea. Daedalus would have been jealous to witness such a site. There was more than one way down the mountain.

Throughout the trip, although we were staying in the Antalya region, the hotel was actually down the road by about 30 minutes. But, a trip to the area would not be complete without actually visiting the coastal city. It was easy enough to get there. We grabbed a bus for a few Turkish Lira and easily made the trip to the city paralleling the Mediterranean coastline.

For history geeks such as myself, the Antalya museum is a must-see. I've been to several impressive museums in my life, such as the Vatican Museum and Smithsonian, and this one is definitely up there. It was filled with a wide array of artifacts spanning from prehistoric time to present, which really showcased the history of the nation of Turkey.

Ancient Greek and Roman statues were also restored and let you see how they looked during their time. A highlight at this time was the famous "The Weary Hercules" which was on prominent display that day. Personally, the most impressive to me was the statue of "The Dancing Woman."

After the museum, for those into the history, a stroll down to Hadrian's Gate is worth the effort. The gate lies between two towers which were not built during the same period of time. The history on it is a little blurry. The triumphal archway is said to have been built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian who visited Antalya in the year 130. Legend also states that Sultan Belkis, the Queen of Sheba, also passed through those gates and enjoyed the area en route to visit King Solomon.

The gate sits in the middle of city with a main road passing by on one side and a small café by one of the towers on the other. Visitors are still able to walk through the gate and into the old city. The old city is also a nice little place to pass through. Though it is mainly a market area with vendors trying to get you to come into their store or eat at their restaurant, you feel as if you are at a time-cross because of the old architecture crossing with the new world and present day.

Continuing on through the old city, you eventually come down to the marina where ships wait to take you out on the sea or just sit on the boat for a meal. Looking towards the city from the marina, the old city walls of Antalya still wait as if daring invaders from times gone by to come at them.

The Antalya area definitely has something for everyone. From those seeking the night life action to the history nerds to the ones who love the mountains or those who simply want a day at the beach, it definitely a must-see spot while in Turkey.