Earlier this year I had one of my top travel experiences of all time when I took to the skies above Cappadocia in a hot air balloon.
It was my first time visiting Turkey, and I fell in love with the people, the food and the culture. I had been apprehensive about visiting the country, but my experience was very positive! After spending time in Cappadocia and Istanbul, I came to appreciate what a diverse country Turkey is.
Arriving in Alanya
When I returned to Turkey I was thrilled to visit a different region – this time the southern Mediterranean city of Alanya.
It’s a beach area, full of hotels, apartments, bars and restaurants catering to tourists from around the world (primarily Scandinavia, Britain and Germany). With only three days there, I wondered if there would be more to Alanya than just beaches.
There are several caves in the region, with Damlatas Cave being one of the most popular.
Damlatas Cave is like a huge cathedral-like room filled with beautiful stalagmites and stalagtites. Not only is the cave magnificent inside, it’s also famous for its health benefits. The air is known to help asthmatics, and many visit the cave each year for a course of the natural treatment.
The other cave popular with visitors is Dim Cave.
It’s not quite as visually impressive as Damlatas, but it has other qualities. Estimated to be around a million years old, there’s a long path through the natural landscape, with a picturesque lake at the end.
Guaranteed sunshine, warm sea temperatures and pristine beaches make Turkey one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.
Alanya is home to some of the best beaches in the country with Kleopatra Beach proudly owning a Blue Flag as testament to its quality. The 2km stretch of sand is popular during the day, but my favourite time there was sunset, a spectacular sight you’ll never forget.
It’s also a great area for restaurants, with many lining the edge of the sand.
If you have a few days in Alanya, be sure to take a trip on one of the pirate galleons that leave the harbour each morning. It’s a great way to see the other beaches in the region, and there’s nothing like jumping off a pirate ship to get the adrenaline flowing!
Dim Cayi Valley
Don’t let the name fool you. The crystal clear ‘Dim River’ is anything but dim!
The Dim Cayi valley is full of quirky restaurants, many with their own waterslides and private pools. Rather than being on the water’s edge, many have their restaurant seating constructed right over the water or, in some cases, in the water! Be sure to check the temperatures before diving in – when I visited it was freezing!
Looming over Alanya are the Taurus Mountains. Sweeping valleys and peaks of over 3000m make for some incredible landscapes.
The best way to take it all in is by hopping in a Jeep for one of the guided Jeep safari tours. They race right up to the top, so be sure to pack a good camera to snap some panoramas. Plus you explore traditional mountain villages and stop by the forest for lunch.
Assuming you struggle with the heat as much as I do, there are several opportunities for water fights along the way!
Turkey is rich with history, and Alanya played an important role in the Ptolemaic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
The city’s most iconic landmark is visible for miles; Alanya Castle dates back to the 13th Century, and sits strategically on a rocky peninsula.
Down by the water is the octagonal Red Tower, built in the 1200s to protect the harbour and dockyard from naval attacks. It’s another symbol of Alanya, and is now home to a museum of ethnography.
I was pleased to find there was so much more to Alanya than a touristy, beach city. As well as these highlights, Alanya has a buzzing restaurant scene. Green Beach serves incredible gourmet food, while Öztürk Kolcuoğlu is famous for its metre long kebabs.
There are also plenty of great hotels in the area with Kleopatra Beach’s Grand Okan and the brand new design hotel C-Lounge two of my favourites.
N.B. While it was safe to visit Turkey when I did, be sure to check the latest government advisory here before you plan your trip.