Kaleiçi or Antalya Old Town is unquestionably one of the must-see things in Antalya. Why? Because it is charming, picturesque, colorful, and it shows you a completely different Antalya than it’s modern counterpart. When sipping your coffee in old town Antalya, you can hardly believe that this is part of a buzzing city with 1,3 million inhabitants and way more visitors during the summer months. The old city is like a universe on its own, with plenty of restored old houses, boutique hotels, cafes, and very narrow streets. Take a walk around Kaleiçi with us.
Antalya Old Town: Pick an entry gate
Kaleiçi is built in an amphitheatrical shape around Antalya’s old harbor, which is now a small marina where the gulets await their passengers for a boat tour. So, depending on your means of transportation and the direction you came from, there are several access points to Antalya old town. If you are looking for convenience, we’d say you can either start your walk at the modern glass lift, offering you a superb overview from its viewpoint at the top, or head straight to the clock tower, which is also the stop for the tram.
If you want to start your discovery tour of Kaleiçi with an absolute wow-effect, your best choice would be Hadrian Castle Gate, which brings you right to the heart of the old town.
You’ll have to admit; this is quite an entrance! But as imposing as this gate may be, right after you walk up the stairs on the other side, the narrow streets and pretty old houses take over.
Kaleiçi: so pretty one forgets the big city!
Antalya’s old part is a maze of narrow cobbled streets home to mostly restored houses, the bazaar with its spices and souvenirs, plenty of bars, boutique hotels, and of course some historical artifacts. Strolling along those streets takes you back in time, without leaving you with that awkward, museum-like feel. Antalya old town may have stuck to its original looks, but this part of town is very much alive and ultra-modern when it comes down to eateries or bars. Kaleiçi offers the best of both worlds, and this is precisely the reason why you should visit it during your stay in Antalya.
The fun aspect of this city-walk is that there is a surprise behind every corner. No matter where you look, it seems things put a smile on your face. And even those houses that still need restoring are showing the beauty of decay, and the potential to turn things back to their glory. And then, of course, you walk past the reminders of ancient times.
The fluted minaret mosque and Byzantine ruins
Old Antalya has been around for a while. It went from being a Roman town, through the Byzantine period, under Seljuk rulings to an Ottoman Turkish town. The remains of this past are still visible in the city walls, but also the mosques, and the ruins in the center of the old part. The city walls are fascinating from a distance, but even more so from up close. They hide a long corridor used to protect the guards along the city walls. The corridor is hidden and can only be accessed from the terrace of the Vista Restaurant, which also offers stunning views.
The many mosques are well-preserved and, apart from the broken minaret mosque, are all still in use today. Vistors are allowed inside, provided they are wearing appropriate clothing. We do advise that you plan ahead, since visiting a mosque should be done outside praying times.
If, after all these narrow streets, you feel like spending some time in open space, head towards Karaalioğlu Park at the southwestern edge of Kaleiçi to take in the views surrounded by greenery. You’ll see that this is where the locals are heading.
Hıdırlık Kulesi seaside: old meets new
A famous meeting point in Antalya old town for young and old alike is the viewing point adjacent Hıdırlık Kulesi and Karaalioğlu Park. It is the perfect spot for sunset views, romantic dinners, or for finding some shade in the park on a hot day. Locals love this place and it is easy to see why. Enjoy the perfect sea and mountain views contemplating your day in Kaleiçi.
And, if you still feel like squeezing in one more thing to do in Antalya Old Town, consider a boat trip. You may not be a fan of the big themed gulets and party boats, but some smaller gullets docked in the harbor offer private boat tours for a very affordable price.
Practical information for visiting Antalya Old Town, Turkey
Never just take our word for it. Have a look at what other travelers have to say about Kaleiçi on TripAdvisor. Also, if you plan on staying the night in the old town, be sure to check that your hotel is not located on the bar street if you are not a party animal yourself. Things can get noisy at night.
The nearest airport is Antalya, at about 30 minutes from Kaleiçi, which has easy connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here. Or you can use the search widget on the side to quickly find the most affordable and best flights available.
All pictures © @Aegean.Images
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