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Türkiye has always been a tourist powerhouse in the Middle East.
A transcontinental country that straddles the southeastern tip of Europe and the westernmost peninsula of Asia, it has attracted millions of travelers for decades, but even its current rebound has surprised analysts.
Home to iconic landmarks such as the Byzantine cathedral-turned-mosque Hagia Sophia, the ruins of the Library of Ephesus, and the underground cities of Cappadocia, Turkey is ripe for a historical post-crisis eraand the up-and-coming resort town of Antalya seems to be leading the recovery trends.
Joining the ranks of Cancun, Barcelona and Dubrovnik, the Turkish city is now one of the most popular beach destinations in the world. That’s why everyone is literally obsessed with that:
Antalya is the best performing destination in Türkiye today
According to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Antalya is breaking all kinds of records heading into the summer season.
An average of 100,000 foreign tourists land at Antalya airport daily as local authorities now aim to surpass the peak year of 2019, when more than 15 million visitors were recorded in the province.
In fact, we could now argue Antalya is the jewel in the crown of Türkiyehaving ‘consistently surpassed other cities’ in overnight stays and tourist income in recent years, as stated by the Minister himself.
So far this year, we have registered over 5 million guests, and we are only now entering the peak travel season, which will last until early September.
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In the words of the governor of Antalya, Ersin Yazici, it is now officially the « guest room » of Türkiye. It has off-season appeal due to its excellent year-round weather – if you visit in late March or April you should expect all-day highs of 25 degrees – beautiful sea views, impressive tourist facilities and cultural heritage.
On June 17, the city recorded a new daily record of 86,278 arrivals, quickly surpassed on June 24, when 90,853 landed at Antalya airport. Overall, they hope to reach the 16 million visitor milestone by December, putting Antalya at the top of “trending Mediterranean” lists.
In 2022, about 7 million tourists stayed in hotels in Barcelona, the main beach destination in Spain, while Quintana Roo, the Mexican state most visited by Americans, registered 30 million guests last year.
Antalya now lies somewhere between those two main centers.
It is currently the best performing beach destination in Turkey, with 33.6% of all May/Late Spring arrivals, or 1.51 million tourists. By comparison, Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, recorded 1.5 million, only a marginal difference but enough to affirm Antalya’s place. as the strongest destination in the country.
Taking these data into account, you may be wondering: what’s all the fuss about?
Why is Antalya so popular now?
We could list dozens of reasons why Antalya has become an extremely popular vacation spot, but perhaps the main one is how liberal and incredibly relaxing it feels compared to other destinations in Turkey.
In case you haven’t already consulted a map, the city is located in the Eastern Mediterranean Seaand it exists in a completely different reality than the more conservative Turkey, namely the Anatolian hinterland.
is more liberal
Although Turkey is secular in theory, it is primarily a Muslim (Sunni) country, and the Islamic belief system, which may be somewhat less permissive than other cultures, particularly Western Europe, pervades society.
In Antalya, however, the attitude of the locals towards religion and life in general is much more relaxed. While you wouldn’t see LGBTQ+ couples strolling the boardwalk hand-in-hand, even though it’s not prohibited by law, everyone is free to dress up and live their lives as they see fit.
As the conservative dress codes apply primarily to women, female travelers should know that they will not be looked down upon wearing shorts, short dresses, or bikinis on the municipal beach. After all, Antalya is primarily a seaside resort where temperatures exceed 30 in summer.
Stunning Mediterranean beaches
The seas here are calmer compared to other rougher parts of the Mediterranean basin, and swimming spots are plentiful, from the town’s long stretch of shingle beach overlooking the surrounding mountains to crescents of white sand. more unspoilt just a short drive from the urban area.
Some of the most beautiful include:
- Konyaalti BeachAntalya’s main waterfront development, and the easiest to reach if you stay within the city limits, although it does get crowded during the summer
- Mermeli Beacha small secluded paid beach in the old town of Antalya that is located in a cove below the old fortifications
- phaselisa historic beach and long-abandoned Roman city, where you can soak up the culture by swimming among ancient ruins
- Cirali Beacha quiet beach 80 km from the center of Antalya, much sought after for its remoteness, surrounded by turquoise waters
- moonlight beachknown for its soft sands, brilliant blue Caribbean-like ocean, and bordering nature preserve
Ancient Greco-Roman Heritage
If it’s culture you’re after, Antalya has you covered, with its limitless wealth of historical monuments, including a perfectly preserved 1st-century Roman city gate, defensive walls, Byzantine churches that now function as mosques, and Hellenic sites.
Aspendos is one of the most impressive ancient structures in the Antalya province, and is often described as the best well kept roman theater of antiquity.
Other impressive ruins can be found at Side, a cobbled seaside town encompassing a vast archaeological complex including a Roman amphitheater and the world famous Temple of Apollofacing the Mediterranean, and Termessos, engraved on the southwestern side of the legendary Solymos mountain.
New hotel openings and cheaper rates
Taking into account its impressive nature and its unparalleled tourist offer, it is not surprising that it is now on the radar of numerous international hotel brands and developers, with the opening of new properties, such as the long-awaited arrival from Radisson to the region.
Travelers are also favoring Antalya over other Mediterranean competitors due to its competitive prices. The cost of living in Türkiye is comparatively lower than their European and Middle Eastern counterpartsand the ongoing depreciation of the Turkish lira, which is now equivalent to US$0.038, and continues to fall.
Despite skyrocketing inflation plaguing the country and inevitable price increases, Americans and Europeans vacationing in Turkey still benefit from a devalued currency, whether it’s securing relatively cheaper hotel deals or eating well on a tight budget during your stay.
Do you want to know more about Antalya and its hidden treasures? Don’t forget to check out the 7 Things Travelers Should Know Before Visiting.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com