This little-known gem is one of Europe’s most visited cities

Posted by
Megan Murray

Everyone is obsessed with this European city, but we bet you’ve never even heard of it…

We all love discovering new places: from bars, to restaurants, to entire cities, there’s nothing better than the feeling of smug satisfaction that comes with being the first of your friends to unearth an unknown gem. 

So, when a little-known spot was christened one of the most visited cities in Europe, we felt a little ashamed not to have even heard of it before.

That’s right: Euromonitor International has released its annual top 100 ranking of city destinations for 2017, measuring how many international tourists arrived into the city throughout the year (2015) and comparing this against the 100 leading cities in the world. 

Of course, it’s no surprise that the famous London skyline has proved more than a little popular, securing the top spot with a cool 18.5 million visitors. It was followed swiftly by Paris, whose romantic sights left 15 million of us swooning, and Istanbul.

However, the likes of Rome, Prague and Barcelona were pipped to the post by a new contender: say hello to the pretty harbourside resort of Antalya, Turkey.

The castle of Alanya

The castle of Alanya

The latest report states that the city received over 10.8 million international visitors in 2015, making it a favourite of city-breakers and holiday-takers, and it’s not hard to see why.

Nicknamed the Turquoise Coast because of its bright blue waters, Antalya is the gateway to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean region. Which, yes, means lots of sunshine, fresh food, glistening white beaches and general paradise-like views. 

In short, we’ve been missing a trick.

For those tempted enough to make this their next trip’s destination, flights shouldn’t set you back too much either. At the time of writing this article, a flight from London (using Skyscanner) straight into the city’s airport in May 2018 will cost you between £60-70 one way, getting fractionally more expensive over the height of the summer.

That said, make sure you’re travel savvy and take advantage of the travel hacks that could help score you a first-class plane ticket for less, get best service on an airplane or a free upgrade.

And, if you aren’t at all seduced by the promise of sand, sea and sun, don’t despair: we’ve picked out three of the most stunning Antalyan sights for you to check out while you’re there, too…

1) Duden Waterfalls

Make a splash in the Duden Waterfalls

The Duden Waterfalls are a group of natural waterfalls that are separated into the upper and lower parts of the city. The Lower Duden Waterfall is a jaw-dropping cascade from the Duden River, as it pours over the Antalya City cliffs into the Mediterranean sea below. Those visiting the lower falls can swim close by, watching the mesmerising spectacle up-close while splashing around in the white sandy shores.

The Lower Duden Waterfall, meanwhile, sits on the city edge, to visit the Upper Duden Waterfall you’ll have to venture to a more secluded spot in a tranquil park. Once there, you’ll witness the mystical sight of a collection of small streams and can climb down a spiral staircase that leads into a cave behind the waterfalls to get the best  view.

2) Kaleici

Take a stroll around Kaleici

Kaleici is the beautiful old town of Antalya, filled with authentic restaurants, small shops and historical buildings. As with many European cities, the older parts are where it’s at, as these areas give you a true insight into the history of the region. 

Kaleici is particularly picturesque because of its impressive age. In fact, some of its buildings date back to the Romans (and beyond) and until modern times the whole city was enclosed behind its walls. 

3) Roman Harbour

Antalya’s historic Roman Harbour

One of Antalya’s most famous sights is its impressively large and undeniably idyllic harbour. Packed with history, this harbour was the city’s lifeline to the rest of the world as far back as the 2nd century BC until late in the 20th century. In the 1980s the area was restored and now acts as a luxurious marina for yachts, littered with restaurants and cafes.

We’re giving this city serious snaps for its wealth of history, ancient architecture and guaranteed sunshine, so it’s time to see what all the fuss we reckon - taxi!

Images: Istock