10 reasons to visit Antalya

Ancient Antalya is the eastern gateway to the Turquoise Coast; here are ten great reasons to visit this fascinating Turkish province.

1. Kick back and relax on a beach fit for a queen

Locals are still debating how Kleopatra Beach got its name, but few would disagree that it's one of the finest spots on the Alanya coast. By day, the mile-long sandy beach is a hotspot for watersports. Later on, it's a great place to stroll between beach bars and savour a sundowner or two.

2. Wander through 2,000 years of history

A trip to the Greco-Roman ruins at Side is a must. The centrepiece is a vast theatre that could once seat more than 15,000 people. The nearby Temple of Apollo (pictured) is at its best at dusk, when the columns seem to glow in eerie shades of orange and pink.

3. Party under the stars until the sun rises

There's nothing understated about Kemer's nightlife. Its city-centre superclubs often have several different dance arenas. Better yet, there are areas where you can sip cocktails and sway to the beat under the clear night sky.

4. Learn about the old ways of village life

For all the beauty of the Anatolian coast, it's a shame not to venture inland. A Jeep safari is the best way to explore the Taurus Mountains: from Alanya, you can head up into remote villages along the Dim river, savouring the views and learning about the ancient traditions that still hold sway.

5. Discover mouthwatering street cuisine

There's more to Anatolian street food than the kebab. Try gözleme, savoury pancakes filled with potatoes, cheese or meat, or pide, the Turkish equivalent of pizza. The old town of Side is packed with small eateries serving up these traditional treats – and they're amazingly cheap.

6. Marvel at the eternal flames of Chimaera

Cirali is a pristine beach with a few secrets. At one end of the sands are the ancient Greek ruins of Olympos, while an hour's walk inland takes you to the mysterious Chimaera – eternal flames fuelled by natural gas seeping out of the hillside. If you're lucky, you may also glimpse the elusive and endangered loggerhead turtle.

7. Catch some tunes at the harbourside

If it's music you want – whether played live or spun by a DJ – head for the harbour district of Alanya. You can experience authentic Turkish folk music or hit the dance floor until the small hours at colourful clubs.

Time to shop: the old quarter, Kaleiçi is a great place to pick up a souvenir (or two).

8. Hunt for bargains in the cobbled streets of Kaleiçi

Walk through the 1,880-year-old Hadrian's Gate to Kaleiçi, the old quarter of Antalya, and you'll discover plenty of shopping potential in its ancient stone streets. It's better (and cheaper) than the markets for finding authentic local handicrafts including leatherware, jewellery and carpets.

9. Watch the sun rise from the top of the world

The Tahtali cable car bills itself as “a journey from sea to sky”, whisking you up to 7,750ft in just 15 minutes. The views from the summit are breathtaking at any time, but early risers can book a special ticket to ascend before dawn. It's a spine-tingling experience to see the first rays edge above the Mediterranean before sunlight floods the horizon.

10. See scenic waterfalls from land and sea

On its way to the sea at Lara, the Düden stream includes two scenic waterfalls. The Upper Falls are in a wooded gorge north of Antalya city, surrounded by quiet gardens. The best way to see the Lower Falls, where the stream drops more than 100ft into the sea, is on a gulet cruise from Kaleiçi Harbour – preferably with cocktail in hand!