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Here Is Why This Turkish City Is Exploding In Popularity

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Turkiye is one of the most popular travel destinations for Westerners now that travel restrictions have dropped.

A cross-continental country boasting impressive cultural wealth and with a history spanning several millennia, Turkiye hosts some of the world's most iconic sights.

View Of The Old Marina In Antalya, With The Kaleici Or Old Town Atop The Cliff, Antalya, East Mediterranean Coast Of Turkiye, Turkey

From Istanbul's minaret-dotted skyline to the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkiye has no shortage of manmade and natural wonders to be marveled at, but one destination, in particular, seems to be gaining more traction among tourists, particularly sunseekers.

Outpacing numerous other sunny hubs in Turkiye, Antalya is exploding in popularity this year, and this may be why:

Antalya Is Set To Break Tourism Records In 2023

An Old Street In Kaleici Replete With Vines And Flowers, Lined With Historical Ottoman Era Houses, Kaleici, Antalya Old Town, East Mediterranean Coast Of Turkiye, Western Asia

Antalya is set for historical growth in tourism this year, as new data shows Turkiye's Southern gem has already hosted 2.1 million tourists between January 1 and May 7, its best first yearly quarter (Q1) yet, and a whopping 45% year-on-year increase.

When it comes to pre-pandemic figures, it's already surpassed 2019 levels by 10%, when 1.91 million visitors had been recorded during the first four months. Taking into account these incredible figures, you may be wondering why does Antalya continue to gain momentum?

According to experts, the rapid growth is attributed to a surge in visitors from both Western countries and Russia.

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Mermerli Plaji Beach In Antalya, Old City Harbour, Turkey, Mediterranean Coast

Unlike most of Europe, Turkiye has kept its borders open, maintaining a visa-free policy with the unfriendly nation and welcoming shunned Russian tourists with open arms.

Now that Russians cannot easily travel to the Schengen Area, where a majority of Europe's sunny spots are located, including Spain, France, Italy, and most recently Croatia, they have been flocking into Turkiye instead, and particularly the East Mediterranean.

Westerners are also behind the sharp rise in visitor numbers, though in their case, Turkiye's appeal is that of a budget beach destination.

How Cheap Is Antalya?

Aerial view of antalya turkey

USD$1 equals roughly ₺19.58 (Turkish Lira), and the currency continues to depreciate against the dollar as Turkiye's economy takes a nosedive.

While this is certainly worrying news for locals earning a minimum wage, tourists traveling with a dollar reserve typically benefit from excellent exchange rates and the insanely affordable price of food and accommodation – for them, at least.

According to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced global database tracking the cost of living across different cities worldwide, a single person can expect to spend on average USD$487.07 monthly, rent excluded, residing in Antalya.

The Broken Minaret Mosque In Kaleici Old Town, Antalya, Turkiye, On The East Mediterranean Sea

It is worth noting Numbeo‘s data is not peer-reviewed; thus, it can only offer an estimate based on member reports, but having been to Antalya myself and resided in the city for a little over a month on a stricter budget, I can corroborate that this monthly average is not far off.

Other than being a cheap alternative to an overpriced West, Antalya is tough to beat as a cultural destination.

One Of The Most Culturally-Relevant Cities In The Mediterranean

Young Female Tourist Crossing Hadrian's Gate In Kaleici, Old Town Antalya, Turkey

Originally established as a Greek colony around 150 BC and later developed as a Roman port, it still retains much of its classical character, whether it's the 1st-century Hadrian's Gate, which guards the entrance to a cobbled-street Old Town, or the fortifications lining the harbor.

Numerous Greco-Roman settlements and archaeological zones also lie within short driving distance of Antalya, most famously Perge, where visitors can walk the steps of the ancient Hellenes along a colonnaded agora.

In Aspendos, you should not miss out on the best-preserved Roman theater of Antiquity, and further East, the busy port town of Side hosts the picture-perfect Temple of Apollo, nestling on a promontory facing the Mediterranean Sea, where you can try for beautiful sunset shots like this one:

Incredible Waterparks And Beautiful Beaches

Beyond its rich heritage, Antalya has leisure at the forefront of its tourist offer.

The landmark Land of Legends theme park is only 35km from Antalya, with admission tickets starting at just USD $35.90. The property includes monumental slides, scenic boat rides across fairytale-like settings, beach clubs, and even a hotel on-site.

Within the municipal boundaries of Antalya proper, there are numerous water parks and other aquatic attractions to pick from, such as the Antalya Aquarium, the biggest tunnel aquarium in the world, and the family-friendly Aqualand Antalya Dolphinland.

woman at a waterpark

When it comes to beaches, your options are endless: although the city beach is pebbly and not the most beautiful, a short drive up the coast will get you to Cirali Plajı, a pristine sandy spot bounded by bright blue waters.

Phaselis is yet another favorite of tourists and locals alike: a group of secluded bays sheltered by pine-covered slopes housing some Greek ruins, it is the perfect spot for both bathing in the crystal-clear basin and soaking up the History.

Mermeli Plajı, a secret swimming spot nestled between the Kaleiçi Harbor in Old Town Antalya and a cliff, is not to be missed as well.

Mermeli Beach In Antalya, A Small Beach Beneath The Cliffs Of Kaleici Old Town, Turkiye, East Mediterranean Coast

Last year, Turkiye reported an 80.33% year-on-year surge in tourism, reaching 44.6 million arrivals between January and December 2022, inching ever closer to the 45.1 million peaks it achieved in 2019.

The Government expects numbers to climb even further, predicting over 60 million tourists in 2023 and up to 90 million yearly arrivals by the end of the decade.

As the country's leading resort city, with one of its best and most varied tourist offers, the trendy Antalya has a critical role to play in leading a tourism-dependent Turkiye's recovery amid its economic woes.

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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.


Wednesday 17th of May 2023

To the editors!

With all do respect this is a beautiful travel website. Not for political statements. Your hatred against Russia and Russian people is not acceptable. Sincerely: Antonia