Many people will immediately think of Spain or Italy when planning a Mediterranean beach vacation.
But one Mediterranean beach destination is setting all-time tourism records right now, and it’s not such an obvious pick.
A record 15.37 million tourists have visited Antalya in the Turkish Riveria so far this year.
Antalya is one of Turkiye’s biggest vacation hot spots.
Here’s why it’s attracting so many visitors right now:
As you would expect from a region that sits along the Mediterranean coast, the beaches in Antalya and along the Turkish Riviera are stunning.
The Turkish Riviera is nicknamed the Turquoise Coast because of its long stretch of clear blue water which is fringed with golden sand.
There are 213 Blue Flag beaches in the region of Antalya, which makes it the region with the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the world.
As a result, Antalya is well known for the wide range of watersports available. Try your hand at jet skiing, windsurfing, or parasailing on top of the water. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular pursuits under the water.
If you’re a culture vulture with itchy feet who can’t spend their whole vacation lying on the beach, then Antalya is an ideal spot because it offers the best of both worlds.
You’ll find a rich cultural heritage easily accessible from the region's more famous beaches.
The Greeks founded Antalya in the 2nd century BC, and then it was taken over by the Romans, who used the site as an important port city. Its coastal location also meant it was a strategically vital spot under the Byzantine Empire.
Because its history is so rich and extensive, you’ll find archeological sites of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine origin here.
The historic center of Antalya is Kaleici. Some of the most famous sites here include Hadrian’s Gate and the ancient Roman Aspendos Theater.
Visit the ancient city of Perge if you’re interested in Greek history. This was once an old Lycian settlement before it was built up as an important city for the Greeks.
Food Glorious Food
It would be impossible for me to write about Türkiye without talking about the food because Turkish cuisine is exceptional.
Turkish food is rich, spicy, and flavorsome. Simple ingredients are turned into unforgettable meals.
Because Antalya is located on the coast, that means that seafood is abundant here. Sea bass is one of the most plentiful fish caught here and it is served in a myriad of ways in restaurants across the city. Calamari and shrimp are also often fresh, delicious, and included as a ‘dish of the day’.
Meat eaters would regret not trying an authentic Turkish kebab. The Anana kebab or Iskender kebab are both firm favorites but the variety available is near-endless.
Finally you can’t talk about Turkish food without talking about dessert. Honey and nuts are used liberally in Turkish sweets and its heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. Eat as many varieties of Baklava as possible. This is the national dish of Turkey and consists of layers of paper-thin filo pastry with crushed nuts between each layer, then soaked in honey.
Like many big beach resorts, Antalya has an incredibly vibrant nightlife scene. It is particularly buzzing during the summer months as this is the high season for the resort, but the bars are open here all year round.
You’ll find the highest number of bars dotted around the marina and in the Old Town.
It’s important to note that Antalya is primarily a vacation resort. So unlike places like Istanbul the majority of people are in Antalya to have a good time. This means there is a near-permanent party atmosphere in the region especially when the sun goes down.
If you’re thinking about a last-minute trip, then there are beach parties and exceptional fireworks displays in Antalya to celebrate the New Year.
A Lesser-Known Spot
Antalya is incredibly popular with European tourists, and you’re most likely to find visitors from Germany, Russia, and the UK here. These are the 3 biggest markets for Turkiye this year.
For American travelers, it is a lesser-known spot. But that only makes it more attractive. Why not go against the curve and visit Turkiye while all of your friends and neighbors are following the herd to Spain and Italy?
Because Antalya boasts around 300 days of sunshine annually, it is a great place to visit no matter the time of year. The winters are mild, and the summers are exceptionally hot.
Antalya really does offer something for everyone. Beautiful beaches, fascinating culture, and breathtaking landscapes. It’s no wonder it is setting such incredible tourism records right now.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.