Alanya is often overshadowed by its big sister Antalya, but it doesn’t need to hide. With its ancient fortresses, ancient ruins, stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, this Turkish Riviera city of around 250,000 has attractions and activities to suit everyone.
If you only have one day in Alanya and don’t have your own car, you should join an organised tour to see Alanya’s highlights outside the city centre. I went on this one: Alanya Castle and Cave Tour with lunch and boat trip. Especially suitable for families with children! I stayed at the TUI BLUE Pascha Bay family hotel a few kilometres from Alanya.
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How to get to Alanya
If you are staying in an all-inclusive hotel outside Alanya, you can take a minibus (Turkish “Dolmuş”) for a few lira. They run regularly between Alanya and Konakli, for example. Or a regular bus from Manavgat or Antalya bus station. They run on the main Antalya-Alanya axis and end at the bus station next to the Friday bazaar, a few hundred metres from the harbour. Alternatively, you can hire a car, take a taxi or go on an organised excursion.
What is Alanya best known for?
If you only have a short time in Alanya, these 5 things to do should be on your itinerary:
1. Red Tower
2. Damlatas Cave
3. Kleopatra Beach
4. archaeological museum of Alanya
5. Alanya castle
For all the other highlights and more details about the things to do in Alanya read on!
Alanya Fortress (Alanya Kalesi)
The fortress of Alanya, also called Alanya Castle, situated on the castle mountain of the southern peninsula, is an absolute highlight among the Alanya things to do. From here you have the best view over the city and the sea.
The Alanya castle is one of the best preserved in Turkey and dates back to the 13th century. You can climb to different vantage points in the fortress “Ic Kale” or learn more about the history of the fortress in a museum. Around the fortress itself, for which you have to pay an entrance fee, there are more ruins and a few houses along the narrow streets on the castle hill “Ehmedek” are inhabited. We visited a shop with homemade pumpkin lamps. The lamps are really beautiful and a great souvenir. There is also a café on the castle hill (outside the actual fortress).
Info: You can get to the Alanya castle by organised tour, city bus, cable car, rental car, taxi or on foot (steep and strenuous in the heat!). The fortress is open from 8:30 to 20:30. The entrance fee is 150 lira, and you can rent an audio guide for 60 lira (as of June 2023).
Red Tower (Kızıl kule)
The Red Tower, also known as Kızılkule, is the most famous things to see in Alanya. It was built in the 13th century as a defence tower and is now the town’s landmark. The tower stretches a proud 33 metres into the air and offers a breathtaking view of the harbour district. It got its name because of the red colour of the bricks.
Inside the Red Tower is an ethnographic museum. Here you can learn about the history of shipbuilding in Alanya and the Seljuks. The lower floors of the tower are dedicated to this interesting subject and house a variety of artefacts and exhibits.
From the Red Tower you have a panoramic view of the city, the harbour and the sea.
Prices and opening hours of the Red Tower in Alanya: The entrance fee for the Red Tower is 10 Turkish Lira for adults. Open from April to October from 9am to 7pm and in winter from 8am to 5pm. With the Mediterranean Museum Pass you have free entry.
Kleopatra Beach – Bathing like the Egyptian Queen
Kleopatra Beach is one of the must-see attractions in Alanya. It is even one of the most beautiful beaches on the Turkish Riviera. The two-kilometre-long beach is located west of the peninsula with the Castle Hill south of Atatürk Boulevard and is known for its clear turquoise water, fine sand and breathtaking natural scenery. The beach is ideal for sunbathing and relaxing. Cleopatra herself is said to have bathed here and was given the beach as a wedding gift by her husband, Marcus Antonius. alanya city header
From jet skiing to parasailing, there’s action for those who want to see the inviting sea from more than just a beach lounger.
Cleopatra Beach is also known for its cleanliness and good infrastructure. There are plenty of sunbeds and parasols for hire, as well as cafés, restaurants and beach clubs along the promenade where you can refresh yourself and enjoy a delicious Turkish meal.
Getting to Cleopatra Beach: The beach is located west of the city centre and can be reached by car, dolmus or taxi.
If you don’t want to walk up to the fortress and don’t have a car, take the cable car! It opened in summer 2017 and takes you from Cleopatra Beach to the fortress. The cable car is 900 metres long and climbs 250 metres. From the top, you have a breathtaking 360° view over the sea, the fortress and the Taurus Mountains and can already see most of Alanya’s highlights. My tip: It’s very romantic up here at sunset.
Info: Going up and down with the Alanya cable car costs about 4 euros.
The Damlataş Cave is a natural wonder and is located in the city centre, just a few steps from Cleopatra Beach. It was discovered during harbour works in 1948 and has since been known for its impressive rock formations and constant temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius. The cave is up to 15 metres wide and high and also has therapeutic effects for people with respiratory diseases and thousands of asthmatics visit it every year for a 21-day treatment course.
The Damlataş Cave is definitely one of the most famous things to do in Alanya, and its location near the beach and the cable car makes it an easy place to visit.
Info: Entrance to the Damlatas Cave in Alanya costs 15 Turkish Lira per person.
Lovers’ Cave / Aşıklar
This unique thing to do in Alanya is called the “lovers’ cave” because couples could meet undisturbed in the darkness of the cave for hanky-panky. The lovers’ cave, Aşıklar in Turkish, is located below the southern tip of Castle Hill in Alanya. This fascinating cave stretches once across the mountain and requires courage to climb up to the entrances – but it’s worth it!
For the less experienced climbers, there is also the option of taking a boat trip into the cave and jumping into the sea from there. It is completely dark in the cave and in some places you will have to crawl on all fours. Be sure not to do this alone and with the right equipment when visiting this extraordinary cave.
A visit to the harbour is one of the most popular things to do in Alanya. Defended to the south by the Kızılkule Red Tower, it offers a picturesque promenade along the water with breathtaking views. Alanya Harbour is home to numerous cafés where you can relax and watch the hustle and bustle and the “pirate boats” as they set sail. There is also parking nearby, so it is convenient to arrive by car if you don’t want to come by dolmus.
The harbour of Alanya is known for its lively nightlife. There are the typical ice cream stands with the ice cream man who entertains his customers with a “show”, souvenir stands, excursion booths and everything that a harbour promenade in a tourist town has to offer. All the excursion boats and ships leave from here.
Alanya Archaeological Museum
Behind the castle near the Damlatas Cave is the Alanya Archaeological Museum. It is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in ancient history. The exhibitions here display an impressive collection of ancient artefacts, including ceramics, bronze tableware and beautiful jewellery. You’ll also be able to admire parts of the decor of various buildings.
But that’s not all – in the ethnographic area you can learn all about local lifestyles through the centuries. Outside, you can admire ancient farming techniques and burial customs. The Archaeological Museum houses a veritable treasure trove of history and culture, making it one of the most important attractions for those interested in culture.
Info: In winter it is open from 8am to 5pm, in summer from 8am to 7pm. In the summer season, the museum is closed on Mondays. The small entrance fee changes due to constant adjustments (lira depreciation) and is free with the “Akdeniz Museum Card”.
Dimçayı River and restaurants
Out of the city, a road runs along the Dimçayı River to the Dim Cave. The river winds through a forested gorge and is in itself one of Alanya’s most famous things to do. In summer, there are countless restaurants on and in the river, some with slides into the cold river and trout from their own catch. A reservoir with picnic facilities awaits you at the end of the Dim Çayı.
In the restaurants, you sit above the water on cushions on the floor – an oriental experience that is really cosy. With the water flowing underneath, it’s idyllic and on a very hot summer day, nice and refreshing to stick your hands or feet in tihs natural beauty!
I found the restaurant we went to as a group to be a mass diner. While it was nicely situated, it was an uncomfortable atmosphere due to the groups being shuffled through. You need to be aware of this if you are travelling with a large coach. As an alternative, I got a tip from locals to go to the Pinarbasi Dimcayi restaurant. I’ll try that next time.
How do I get to the Dimçayı? To get to the Dimçayı River, you either have to drive, take a taxi or book an organised tour. According to the internet, city bus line 10 goes to the reservoir, but I didn’t see any buses or stops.
If you’re already at the river, Antalya’s next highlight is already on the way. The Dim Cave (the “dark cave”) is one of the most fascinating things to do in Alanya and is located about 12 kilometres from Alanya in the national park of the same name. This stalactite cave has only been open to the public since 1998 and features impressive stalagmites, stalactites and columns in rooms up to 15 metres high.
The Dim Cave is about a million years old and can be explored via stairs and walkways. If you are walking impaired or have very small children with you, it is difficult to visit the cave. I was particularly impressed by the size of the “curtains” of stalagtites and the orange colour of the formations in the largest cave of Alanya.
During my visit, an elderly man played local sounds on a traditional flute, adding to the mysterious atmosphere of Dim Cave.
Info: The Dim Cave can only be reached by taxi, organised excursion or rental car. Entrance costs 100 lira (as of June 2023). It is pleasantly cool inside. If you visit this Alanya attraction on a hot summer day, take a jumper with you.
Alanya boat trip with the pirate ship
The pirate ship boat trip in Alanya is almost a must and practically all tourists who go on an organised Alanya tour also go on a pirate ship or gulet yacht. Alanya was once a famous pirate port. The pirate ships are especially popular with children.
How do I choose the right boat/ship for me in Alanya?
There are huge pirate ships with music, animation, pirate shows and all the hustle and bustle. If that’s less your cup of tea, look for a smaller gulet yacht that sets off on a bay and island tour, making swimming and snorkelling stops at the most beautiful spots. At the harbour, there are small stalls selling boat tours every few metres. Ask to be shown the details and also whether food is included.
Each boat passes below Castle Hill and you can see the Red Tower, the fortress and cave entrances on the rock. I was on a big pirate ship and unfortunately the weather was very poor… But in good weather it’s a great way to see Alanya from a different perspective and have fun as a family. For adults who want to relax, I would recommend other boat tours.
Looking for a family hotel with aqua park and all inclusive near Alanya?
Take a look at TUI BLUE Pascha Bay!
The Seljuk shipyard, built in the 13th century by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, is an exceptional thing to see in Alanya. The size of the shipyard is truly impressive, with docks over seven metres wide and a wall over 56 metres long. The shipyard is decorated in the Ottoman style, with inscriptions and lounges that give an insight into the period. You can either explore the shipyard on your own or take a boat tour. A must for anyone interested in history and architecture.
The Alanya Lighthouse is one of the most unusual things to see in the city. It can be reached by a causeway close to the Red Tower and the Seljuk shipyard and is a nice destination for a long walk from the harbour.
The French lighthouse was built in 1880 and offers a breathtaking viewing terrace. From there you have a wonderful view of the coast and the passing pirate ships. From here you can see 20 nautical miles away, which is why the lighthouse is still in operation today. It is the only one of its kind in the region.
The Atatürk House is a converted museum in Alanya showing the life and traditions of this town in the 19th century. It is situated in a central location in Alanya and is easily accessible. The house was built in the traditional Ottoman style and is spread over three floors. Various exhibits by and about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who stayed here during a visit, are presented here.
You can admire personal items of the state founder Atatürk related to Alanya and learn more about his life. The Atatürk House is a must for history lovers and offers an insight into Alanya’s past and traditions.
Info: Opening hours summer 08:30 am – 7 pm, winter 08 am – 6 pm. Entrance is free!
Tropical fruit from Alanya
Alanya and Gazipasa are famous for their banana plantations! Thanks to the subtropical climate, exotic varieties such as bananas, kiwis, papayas and mangoes thrive particularly well here. But the region is also known for its unique variety of avocados.
On my trip, we stopped at a local fruit producer where we could try Alanya bananas and other fruit, homemade jams and honey. The fruit really tastes great! Since the delicate bananas are not exported, most of it ends up in Alanya’s surroundings and your hotel buffet is sure to have Alanya’s bananas on it. Be sure to go to a local market and buy some exotic fruit, it’s worth it!
Ancient town of Naula
A rather unknown thing to do in Alanya is visit the ancient town of Naula, about 14 km south of the centre of Alanya in Mahmutlar. Once a lively harbour town, only ruins remain. A basilica, thermal baths and residential buildings can only be guessed at. What makes this place special, however, is the surreal atmosphere of the field of ruins surrounded by modern housing estates. Not a must-see, but if you have a car and fancy some unusual photos, come to Naula.
Day trips around Alanya
If you have a little more time, there are countless day trip destinations around Alanya. Some of them are well known and quite crowded, others are real insider tips. Here are some of the day trips you should not miss:
- Alara Caravanserai (Han)
- Manavgat and ancient city of Side from the 2nd century
- Sapadere Canyon – an impressive deep canyon
- Syedra ancient city with its colonnaded streets and baptismal cave
- Aspendos archaeological site
- Cape Anamur
- Boat trips to beaches & bays
Conclusion on Alanya sightseeing
In conclusion, Alanya is a great city that has a variety of things to see and do. If your hotel is near Alanya, don’t miss out, even if you only have a few hours.
Book your holiday in Alanya now!
Questions and answers about the things to do in Alanya
Is Antalya or Alanya better?
Antalya and Alanya are both great destinations in Turkey, but they differ in some aspects. Here are the main differences:
– Distance from the airport: Antalya is closer to the airport, which means it is more convenient to get there. Alanya, on the other hand, is a little further away, but still easily accessible.
– Archaeological sites: Antalya has a wealth of archaeological sites nearby such as Perge, Aspendos, Phaselis, Termessos and Side. These ancient ruins offer a glimpse into the rich history of the region. Alanya, on the other hand, has fewer archaeological sites in close proximity.
– Coast: Both cities have beautiful coastlines, but Alanya has a particularly scenic coastline towards Anamurion. Here you can enjoy stunning cliffs, bays and beaches.
– Sightseeing: Antalya offers a variety of historical and cultural sights such as Hadrian’s Gate, the Archaeological Museum and the Yivli Minare Mosque. Alanya, on the other hand, is known for its impressive castle and red tower, both of which offer stunning views over the city. Alanya also has the Sapadere Canyon, a stunning natural attraction.
– Nightlife: Antalya is known for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars, clubs and restaurants open late into the night. Alanya also has a vibrant nightlife, but due to its smaller size, the choice of entertainment options may be a little more limited.
– Beach: Both cities offer beautiful beaches for relaxing and sunbathing. However, Antalya’s beach tends to be longer and wider than Alanya’s.
Overall, both Antalya and Alanya are great destinations with different focuses. While Antalya impresses with its proximity to archaeological sites and its vibrant nightlife, Alanya impresses with its stunning coastline and picturesque castle. Your destinations are a great choice on the Turkish Riviera
What to do in Alanya when it rains?
When the weather doesn’t cooperate in Alanya, there are plenty of activities and Alanya attractions that are fun even when it’s raining. Here are some tips for indoor activities on rainy days in Alanya:
– Visit one of the many museums in Alanya, such as the Alanya Archaeological Museum. Here you can admire ancient artefacts and interesting exhibitions from different eras.
– Browse through the many shopping centres in Alanya. From the Alanyum Shopping Centre to the Megamall Shopping Centre, there is a wide range of shops where you can shop to your heart’s content. There are many shops on Atatürk Boulevard.
– Treat yourself to a relaxing time in one of Alanya’s wellness facilities. You can pamper yourself in the many spas and hammams and escape the rain outside.
– Enjoy the local cuisine in one of the cosy restaurants and cafés. Be sure to try the delicious Turkish specialities such as gözleme and cig köfte.
– Take a trip to Alanya’s attractions that can be visited even in bad weather. These include the Red Tower, Damlatas Cave and Dimcay Cave.
Where is the most beautiful place in Alanya?
According to the locals, it is the sunset from the Castle Hill.
Can I pay with pounds/euros in Alanya?
The official currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira, but don’t worry, pounds and euros are accepted in many tourist places. However, it is best to have a few lira with you to pay in small shops or restaurants. In most hotels, larger shops and supermarkets they accept payments in pounds and euros. This is convenient if you don’t want to change money. But be aware that sometimes the exchange rate may not be so advantageous. Therefore, it is always advisable to have some lira ready, especially for the dolmus (minibus).
Alanya has many exchange offices and banks where you can easily change money into Lira. ATMs often charge extra foreign fees, so it is better to exchange cash for smaller amounts.
When is the market in Alanya?
There are several markets in Alanya where you can find a variety of goods and products. The markets are popular attractions for visitors and offer a unique shopping experience. Here are some of the main markets in Alanya and their opening hours:
1. Alanya Bazaar: The bazaar is one of the biggest and most famous markets in Alanya. It is open daily from 8am to 10pm. Here you can find everything from (fake brand) clothes and jewellery to leather goods, souvenirs, spices and fresh food. Don’t forget to haggle!
2. The weekly market: The weekly market is held every Tuesday near the bazaar. It is a popular place for locals and tourists to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, nuts, spices and other local products. The market opens at 8am and closes at 5pm.
3. the fish market: The Alanya fish market is the best place to get fresh fish and seafood. It is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Here you can buy freshly caught fish from the region or enjoy it in one of the nearby restaurants.