In winter, people go skiing or on a long-distance trip. But if you fancy a Mediterranean flair and prefer a short journey, the Turkish Riviera between Antalya and Alanya is a perfect winter destination. I was there at the end of December and didn’t regret it. Find out more about the pros and cons of a holiday on the Turkish Riviera in winter.
The most important info about the Turkish Riviera in winter:
What is the weather like in December, January and February on the Turkish Riviera?
In winter, you can expect a mild climate on the Turkish Riviera. The average temperatures in degrees Celsius between December and February in Antalya:
- Weather in December in Antalya: Maximum temperature 17 degrees, minimum temperature 8 degrees, water temperature 17 degrees, 12 rainy days
- Weather in January in Antalya: maximum temperature 15 degrees, minimum temperature 6 degrees, water temperature 16 degrees, 14 rainy days
- Weather in February in Antalya: Maximum temperature 17 degrees, minimum temperature 7 degrees, water temperature 16 degrees, 11 rainy days
If you’re not looking for a beach holiday (other destinations like Egypt would be better for that), the area between Antalya and Alanya is good to visit in low season, even if it’s not the ideal time to travel. On a sunny day, you won’t need your jacket. However, it can rain for several days at a time. Good and comfortable accommodation is very important.
When does the sun set in Antalya in winter?
The sun sets in Antalya in December at around 17:40. So even in the “darkest month” it is light for longer than in Central Europe. In January, the sun sets after 6 pm. This actually has a positive effect on your mood, even if the weather between Antalya and Alanya should be bad!
How long does it take to fly to the Turkish Riviera?
From the UK, flights to Antalya take about 4 hours. In winter, you can find real bargain flights for under 100 pounds return to the Turkish Riviera.
What is the time difference on the Turkish Riviera in winter?
The time difference to the UK on the Turkish Riviera is +3 hours in winter (only 2 hours in summer). You should plan for this if, for example, you are doing workation at the hotel and attending appointments in your home time zone.
Transportation on the Turkish Riviera in winter – Dolmuş or rental car?
A rental car is always more convenient, no question. But if you spend most of your time at the hotel on the coast and only want to make one or two excursions, the bus connections are usually sufficient. Of course, you can also book an organised excursion at the hotel or online. On the Turkish Riviera, normal coaches run between Antalya, Side/Manavgat and Alanya, and minibuses, which are called Dolmuş (pronounced dolmoosh) in Turkey, run between the hotel settlements by the sea. Almost every hotel has a Dolmuş stop nearby. In winter, however, the departures are less frequent. Taxis are cheap if there is no Dolmuş available.
We made a trip from Side-Kumköy to Side and Manavgat and to Antalya. It was all possible without any problems by public transport. In Antalya, you have to buy a rechargeable card for the public transport, the “AntalyaKart”, which you can buy at many stops (price: 20 Turkish Lira).
Is it possible to enter Turkey at the moment?
Yes, and quite easily (as of December 2021). Those who have been vaccinated or have recovered only need this proof, all other entrants from 12 years of age a negative test proof (PCR test max. 72 h old, rapid test max. 48 h old). 72 h before entry, the entry registration for Turkey must be applied for. The code you then receive (“HES code”) must be shown at check-in and on entry. However, no one checked it for us.
Depending on the country you are returning to, you will have to complete a few formalities before your return. If you are travelling to the UK, this means for example a negative test result when you arrive back home, which you can take in Turkey for as little as 15 pounds (PCR test). Check the current entry regulations before booking!
What are the Covid measures in Turkey?
In closed rooms, there is a mandatory mask and social distance requirement.A medical mask is sufficient. In the large international hotels, Covid and hygiene measures are taken very seriously. This includes, for example, that there is no self-service at the buffet or that certain facilities in the spa are reduced in terms of the number of participants (seats in the sauna or hamam). Everyone can enter restaurants and cafés, shops etc. without any proof. They are accessible to all, subject to the mask requirement. We always felt safe.
Here are 8 good reasons to visit the Turkish Riviera in winter:
1. Value for money
For those who haven’t noticed: The Turkish lira is losing value, which means Europeans are getting more for their money. Bad for the locals, good for the tourists. You have never been able to go on holiday and shop on the Turkish Riviera cheaper than now! The exchange rate changes daily, so don’t exchange too much money at once. If cafés and shops have their prices in euros, it’s a tourist trap. Go by the lira price and you’ll find fantastic value for money. Whether it’s a drink in a bar or buying a house on the coast, there has never been a better time. Definitely one of the main arguments for a holiday on the Turkish Riviera in winter.
2. Culinary delights
The fantastic Turkish cuisine alone is worth a trip to the Turkish Riviera in winter! Pide, gözleme, grilled specialities, köfte, ayran, fresh vegetables in all variations and sweet desserts like künefe are among the highlights of Turkish cuisine. You can eat well and cheaply on every corner or drink a cay (black tea) in style in a fancy place. Choose your hotel carefully! Very good hotels offer the right Turkish breakfast and other Turkish specialities. You can eat spaghetti bolognese and schnitzel with chips at home 😉
Culinary tip in Antalya
In Antalya and all along the Turkish Riviera you can buy the famous goat ice cream. It doesn’t taste of goat at all and will delight even those who don’t usually like goat’s milk products. Ice cream is called “Dondurma” in Turkish. Just look out for ice cream counters with a goat symbol.
It goes without saying that a beach holiday on the Turkish Riviera is out of the question in winter. It is not warm enough for that. But the temperature is just right for extensive sightseeing, which in the hot summer months is sometimes only possible for the hardy. There is much more to discover on the Turkish Riviera than is widely known. In addition to the cities of Antalya, Alanya and Side with their quaint old towns and countless shopping opportunities, there is, above all, magnificent nature and ancient evidence of the past to discover. And best of all: without all the tourist hordes 😀
Here you can find out more about possible destinations and activities on the Turkish Riviera in winter:
Turkey has always been a shopper’s paradise – with the lira exchange rate now more favourable than ever for Europeans! From souvenirs made of painted ceramics to Louis Vuitton bags and Tommy Hilfiger shirts (sometimes real, sometimes imitation) to excellent quality household goods at low prices, you can find everything your heart desires on the Turkish Riviera in winter. I bought a cheap mobile phone case and delicious sweets and hazelnuts. The bazaar is the place to bargain. The shops in Side are hopelessly overpriced, so go to Manavgat or Antalya.
Between Antalya and Alanya there are many shopping malls with all the well-known international chains where you can browse undisturbed. By the way, this is a great alternative programme on rainy days.
When are the shops on the Turkish Riviera open in winter?
Shops and malls are also open on Sundays, often until 9 or 10 pm. You can pay by credit card almost everywhere. For the dolmus or bus, you should have a few small lira notes ready. Exchange offices and banks can be found in every village or, if necessary, at the hotel reception (worse exchange rates).
My favourite shop in Turkey
My favourite shop in Antalya: Tuğba, a sweet and nut shop. Tuğba is a chain that exists in many cities in western Turkey. Everything can be tasted and tastes great. There are many sweets beyond over-sugared baklava. The gift-wrapped Turkish sweets are a great surprise for friends and family!
Bad weather on the Turkish Riviera in winter? No problem! Turkey is known for its hammams, where you can get a nice, clean sweat and rub down. After a hamam treatment, you’ll feel like a newborn baby with soft baby skin. It’s definitely worth booking a very good hotel with a spa, such as the TUI BLUE Side. You can use the pool, sauna and hammam in the spa area at no extra cost.
6. Short travel time to the Turkish Riviera
Another plus point for the Turkish Riviera in winter is the relatively short journey by plane, compared to long-haul destinations and long overland journeys. Those who are simply looking for a change of scenery without sitting in a car or plane all day should consider Turkey. If only because the prices are so good in the low season!
7. Turkish hospitality
Anyone who has been to Turkey will know what I mean: For the Turks, the guest is king. No matter what the political relationship of your own country with Turkey should be, holidaymakers – no matter where they come from – are treated courteously. Unfortunately, this is not the case in all countries. Whether it’s a waitress, a bus driver, a tour guide or simply passers-by on the street – the friendly smiles and warmth of the people are what I associate most with Turkey. You are lost and don’t know how to get from A to B? Someone will take you by the hand and lead you there. You want something that is not on the menu? The cook will go out of his way to prepare what you want. Even more so in winter than in summer, because there are far fewer tourists.
8. Work & Vacation with All inclusive
You are going slightly mad while working from home, you need a change of scenery? Workation, i.e. the combination of holiday and work, is the magic word. Wouldn’t it be a dream to have a buffet for breakfast, no doing dishes after lunch and just go to the spa or walk on the beach after work?
I did workation on the Turkish Riviera at the end of December and can tell you the following important criteria when choosing a hotel: Comfortable table and chair, fast internet, all-inclusive meals, comfortable room temperature (individually adjustable air conditioning) and spa area. Check beforehand if it fits with the time difference and internet speed. My tip is the TUI BLUE Side.
Summary: Is a holiday on the Turkish Riviera worthwhile in winter?
Definitely! I was downright sorry that working meant I didn’t have as much time to see more of the area and take advantage of the shopping opportunities. The weather was mixed, but the spa area made that secondary. Value for money was top! This definitely wasn’t my last visit to the Turkish Riviera in low season.