Located on Turkey’s south-west coast in the shadow of the Taurus Mountains with glorious views of the Mediterranean sea is the popular tourist resort of Alanya. The first hotel was built here in 1958 to cater for visitors coming to see the Damlatas Cave which had been discovered a decade earlier. Today’s holidaymakers are typically package tourists intent on enjoying the fine climate and beaches of the Turkish Riviera. The vast majority of visitors come from Scandinavia, Holland, Germany and Russia, many who have purchased holiday homes here creating a sizeable foreign community.
The layout of the town itself is quite unique as it is divided into two parts by a 250 metre high, rocky promontory. To the east lies the city centre, the main harbour and Keykubat Beach (usually referred to simply as ‘the Eastern beach’) whilst the west is home to the beautiful Cleopatra Beach from which you can access the famous Damlatas Cave. Throughout history this small peninsula has been of great strategic importance to numerous Mediterranean civilizations including the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Overlooking the city from a distance, the Taurus mountains reach heights above 3000 metres such that snow is often visible even during the hottest months. If you visit between January and April you can experience the holy grail of tourism which allows for skiing in the morning and swimming in the sea in the afternoon thanks to the Saklikent ski centre which lies just 50km north-west of Alanya.
Getting to Alanya
For the majority of international visitors to Alanya the main arrival point is Antalya Airport (AYT) which is located 127km to the north-west of the city. This is one of three major airports serving the main Turkish holiday destinations along with Bodrum and Dalaman. The airport attracts a vast number of airlines from destinations all over Europe. Some of the continent’s biggest tour operators including Thomas Cook and Thomson Holidays arrange flights to Antalya as well as budget carriers such as easyJet, Jet2 and Air Berlin. Whilst there are year round services, the number of incoming flights is vastly increased during the summer months. The journey from the airport by road takes a little under two hours following the D400 coast road. Specialist transfer operator Shuttledirect provide shuttle buses and private car transfers to your hotel from the airport.
The smaller Gazipasa Airport (GZP) lies in the opposite direction from Alanya, some 48km to the south-east. For much of the year it caters predominantly for domestic air traffic although significant numbers arrive here during peak holiday season from the Netherlands thanks to the decision of the budget Dutch airline, Transvia, to fly here. A number of services from Scandinavian countries also arrive here. You can pre-arrange a private transfer and have a driver awaiting you on arrival.
With regard to public transport, there are bus services from the airports to Alanya but these can prove rather inconvenient when arriving with significant luggage. No train services are available. Taxis ply their trade outside both airports but can prove more expensive than pre-booking your transfers.
Things to Do Around Alanya
Whilst having an excellent infrastructure for tourism in terms of accommodation, transport and nightlife, Alanya has much to offer away from the bars and beaches:
City Sightseeing: Some of the city’s main tourist attractions include the Red Tower, the Shipyard and historic Alanya Castle. It’s also worth heading 10km up the mountain to visit the impressive Dim Cave which is far more extensive than the original Damlatas Cave.
Take a Boat Excursion: Full day boat trips depart from the harbour every day, slowly meandering along the rugged coastline with frequent swimming stops and visits to caves and beaches. The sunset tours are very popular.
Visit the Antalya National Space Observatory: For exceptional star gazing it’s worth taking an evening excursion out to this observatory which stands on Bakirli Hill (2450m) just beyond the ski centre.
Attend One of the Annual Festivals: Several noteworthy festivals take place each year including the Alanya International Culture and Art Festival at the end of May and the Alanya Jazz Days Festival which takes place under the Red Tower in the autumn.
Where to Stay in Alanya
Hotel Villa Turka (Tophane Mah. Kargi Sk. 7): Whilst much of the accommodation in Alanya consists of large, modern hotels catering to the package holiday market there are some hidden gems such as the Villa Turka which offer a more intimate experience. This boutique hotel is perhaps the most romantic property in the whole of Alanya. Located within the walls of the historic Alanya Castle it offers exquisite sea views from its private balconies and is only a ten minute walk from the main town.
Villa Augusto (Konakli Mahallesi Sancak Sok. 4): Another boutique hotel deserving of a special mention is the Villa Augusto which has just twenty rooms. Balconies from the rooms look over the swimming pool towards the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. The hotel also has its own spa, indoor pool and a very special restaurant where the Turkish-Italian cuisine is to die for.
Long Beach Resort Hotel & Spa (Turkler Mevkii Incekum): And speaking of those large, modern, holiday hotels, this is one to take a look at if you’re travelling as a family. The resort is located some 20km from Alanya offering all inclusive holidays within its 75,000 m² complex. Children are particularly well catered for thanks to the enormous range of facilities which include a water park and mini golf course. The animation team from the hotel are outstanding, providing plenty entertainment for the kids whilst you relax at one of the many on site bars and restaurants.