This article has been previously published as a part of book Antalya, Side and Alanya: TAN Travel Guide by Izabela Miszczak
For many people, the slogan "a holiday in Turkey" means only one thing - beach holidays in Alanya. It is true that Turkey is a vast and diverse country, the shores of its four seas are dotted with many holiday resorts, but this association is the most appropriate. Each year millions of tourists arrive at Alanya and the quality of sand on the famous Cleopatra beach, as well as selection of the best hotel in the area and the season's trendiest nightclub, are the subjects of many heated discussions and controversies.
We hope that below you will find the answers to many of you concerns and questions about recreation in and around Alanya. Moreover, we believe that we can convince you to get to know the city and its monuments better. Maybe you will even take up the challenge and look for dwarves in the nearby cave, visit the forgotten ruins of the ancient city of Syedra or muse over the recent history of Turkey in the so-called Atatürk's House.
While visiting Alanya, it is worth remembering that in the mid-twentieth century it was a modest fishing village. Over the last few decades, it has grown and gained the title of the most prominent Turkish resort. Beautiful beaches, stretching along the Mediterranean coast, are both a blessing and a curse of Alanya. A blessing because the vacationers who come to the city contribute to its development and wealth. A curse, because the invasion of thousands of tourists has robbed Alanya of its aura of uniqueness. It has become another place of mass tourism, with the discos that play the same music as in Los Angeles or London, and the restaurants serving typical British or Scandinavian meals. Fortunately, Alanya has not completely lost its charm, but you will have to look for it carefully, leaving the sunbeds on Cleopatra beach and the comforts of an all-inclusive hotel.
Despite the immense popularity which Alanya currently enjoys among tourists, the sources regarding its history are relatively sparse. Apparently, few people are interested in ancient history of this lively resort, which is a pity! The history of Alanya abounds in sudden plot twists, and the town has experienced in its history the moments of immense power only to disappear suddenly from the pages of history for a long time soon afterwards.
The beginnings of the settlement
The history of this stretch of the Mediterranean coast, which is currently known as Alanya region, is lost in the mists of prehistory. It is believed that the area of the hill on a promontory where today stands the fortress, which is one of the symbols of Alanya, was already inhabited in the Hittite period (i.e. in the second millennium BC). Favourable conditions and the shape of the shoreline suggest that natural harbour in Alanya has been used since ancient times, and the history of neighbouring towns such as Side dates back to at least the 8th century BC. Moreover, in the vicinity of Alanya, in the ancient settlement of Laertes, the researchers have found a plaque with an inscription in Phoenician, dating back to 625 BCE.
Alanya appears for the first time on the pages of history in the 4th century BCE, in so-called Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax, the description of the Mediterranean coast, created by a Greek geographer. In contrast, the oldest traces of fortifications of the castle hill are dated to the Hellenistic period, after the conquest of these lands by the Macedonian leader Alexander the Great. Although one of his successors, Ptolemy I Soter, exercised some control over this stretch of the coast, the actual rulers of Alanya were, for a long time, the pirates. In 142 BCE, Alanya residents supported Diodotos - the usurper to the throne of Syria ruled by the Seleucid. This usurper adopted the nickname Tryphon (the Great) and proceeded to the expansion of Alanya. However, tt was not given to him to finish this work, because he was beaten in several battles by Antiochus VII Sidetes. Abandoned by his troops Diodotos committed suicide, and the areas controlled by him, together with Alanya, came under the control of his rival - Antiochus VII. During his reign, the construction of the fortress of Alanya and the port launched by Diodotus was completed.
Roman and Byzantine periods
The Romans strengthened their position in Asia Minor after 133 BCE, when they inherited the Kingdom of Pergamon, bequested to them in the will of the last ruler of this state. Cilician pirates became a splinter in the Roman eye, who were still actively operating in the waters along the Mediterranean coast. Finally, the end to the piracy in the region was put by Pompey the Great, who in 67 BCE crushed the pirate fleet in the Battle of Korakesion, as Alanya was then called. For many centuries the raids of Isaurians, who lived not far, in the land known as Mountainous Cilicia, remained an unresolved problem. Moreover, the local population regularly rebelled against Roman control, and the biggest uprising lasted from 404 to 408 CE.
According to a local legend, not confirmed by historical sources, but frequently mentioned by local guides, it was in Alanya where the famous Roman commander Mark Antony married Cleopatra. As the proof of his great love he gave her the city as a wedding gift. To commemorate this event the most beautiful beach in the city is called Cleopatra Beach. More pragmatically minded proponents of this story mention that his choice of Alanya was not directed by its beautiful landscape, but by dense cedar forests, the source of building materials for the navy.
After the division of the Roman Empire into the western and the eastern part, Alanya remained for many centuries under the control of the Byzantine Empire, but a leading role in the region was played by Side. In the 7th century, the Arabs arrived at this region of Asia Minors, motivating the Byzantine rulers to rebuild and strengthen the fortifications of Alanya. After the defeat of Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert, it lost vast areas of Anatolia, including - Alanya, in favour of the Seljuk tribes. In 1120, during the reign of Emperor John II Comnenus, Alanya returned the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire.
After the conquest of Constantinople by the knights of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the future of large areas of Asia Minor was brought into question. Alanya came under the interim control of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and from the control of Armenians it passed directly under Turkish rule in 1221. Alanya was conquered by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, who liked the surroundings so much that he made the city his winter capital. It is no wonder as winters in Konya, the Seljuk capital, located on the Anatolian Plateau, are very harsh with the temperatures falling below -25 degrees Celsius.
Alaeddin Keykubad ordered intensive construction works in Alanya and during his reign the fortress on the hill was expanded and a famous symbol of the city - the Red Tower and the first Seljuk shipyard on the Mediterranean coast were constructed. The city became an important seaport, through which the Seljuks intensified their trade with Egypt and Italy. In addition, Alanya, a favourite city of the sultan, was decorated by numerous gardens and pavilions, located outside the ramparts.
However, a period of stability and prosperity of the city did not last long. In 1242, in the Battle of Köse Dağ, the Mongols routed the Seljuk forces, which resulted in the fragmentation of large areas of Anatolia. In the turbulent period that lasted for 200 years, from the mid-thirteenth century to the mid-fifteenth century, Alanya was under control of local Turkish rulers of the Karamanid dynasty, Christian rulers of Cyprus and the Mamluks of Egypt. The latter acquired Alanya from Karamanids for 5000 gold coins.
Finally, in 1471, the general Gedik Ahmed Pasha incorporated Alanya into the expanding Ottoman Empire. The main source of income for the city, timber trade, previously managed by Venice, was monopolised by the Ottomans in 1477. In 1608 Alanya pushed back the attack from the sea, carried out by the Order of Saint Stephen, Cosimo I de' Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany.
From the 16th century, a gradual decline of the glory of Alanya progressed, caused by the emergence of new maritime trade routes leading from Europe around Africa to India. At the end of the 16th century, according to tax lists, Alanya lost its urban status. Famous Ottoman traveller, Evliya Çelebi, visited Alanya in the second half of the 17th century and his writings mentioned well-preserved castle, but also the ruined outskirts of the city. In the 18th and 19th centuries luxury villas, erected for the local nobles, were built in Alanya, but the region suffered from stagnation and was regularly harassed by bandits from the Taurus Mountains.
After the crushing defeat that the Ottoman Empire suffered during World War I, Pamphylia region was granted to Italy. It was returned to Turkey after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923. Greek population, living in the city and its environs, was under the provisions of the Treaty, relocated to Greece, where the Greeks settled in the vicinity of Athens, in a village called Nea Ionia.
A breakthrough for the future of the city happened in 1948 when an unexpected discovery was made during the construction of the port. In the course of the works the entrance to Damlataş Cave, situated at the foot of the castle hill, was discovered. The alleged health benefits of the atmosphere prevailing in the cave, started to attract patients and tourists from the 60s of the 20th century, firstly Turkish and then - foreign. Gradually the importance of the cave itself declined, and Alanya has become a well-known holiday resort. Its popularity increased significantly after the establishment of the international airport in Antalya. Today, Alanya is an informal summer capital of Turkey - as it once was the winter capital of the Seljuks.
The name of the city
The oldest documented name of the city is Korakassa, which in Luwian language means a protruding city. The Greeks used the word Korakesion, and the Romans - Coracesium, and both names are a clear distortion of the original Luwian phareso.
In the Byzantine era, a new name was adopted - Kalonoros or a beautiful mountain. Both Luwian and Byzantine terms provide a link to the most characteristic geographical feature of the settlement i.e. the promontory extending into the sea where the mighty fortress is still standing.
Italian sailors used the name Candelore, but eventually, from the Seljuk times, the name Alaiye was adopted. It survived until the 30s of the 20th century. Then the city was visited by the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who ordered the change of its name into Alanya. The official explanation for this decision is based on the argument that the word was better suited to writing in Latin alphabet, recently introduced in Turkey. Unofficially it is said that it resulted from a spelling mistake of a telegrapher, who had sent this name to Atatürk.
Objects in town:
The most famous monuments in Alanya are located on the castle hill overlooking the city and in its immediate vicinity. On the hill you can see impressive fortifications belonging to the frequently reconstructed castle, visit the historic Suleiman Mosque and ruined Byzantine churches.
On the eastern side of the hill, at the cruise ship harbour, stands the most distinctive historic building of the city - the Seljuk Red Tower. Inside, there is a modest ethnographic exhibition. Going further to the south, just off the coast beneath the castle hill, you can find a ruined shipyard and an arsenal, also built in the Seljuk era. On the western side of the hill, there is Damlataş Cave, its discovery marking the beginning of the tourist boom in Alanya.
In addition to the ethnographic exhibition mentioned above, museum lovers should visit a small but exquisitely prepared Archaeological Museum, located opposite the Tourist Information Office. The collected exhibits are the perfect introduction for people who want to learn more both about the history of the surrounding area and the whole Turkey.
More determined travellers can also find the so-called Atatürk Museum (tr. Alanya Atatürk Evi Müzesi), located on Rektör Sipahioğlu street, in a less visited central district of Alanya (36.5488° N, 31.9997° E). This historic building, dating back to the 19th century, hosted in 1935 the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, if only for a few hours. This event, apparently insignificant, was a memorable event for the inhabitants of the city. In 1987, the owner of the building, Tevfik Azakoğlu, donated it to the Ministry of Culture that turned this property into a small museum. There are personal items once belonging to Atatürk and several historical documents on display. On the upper floor, an ethnographic exhibition has been organised. The detailed descriptions of the most important monuments of Alanya can be found in separate chapters of this book.
Alanya is a good starting point for many sightseeing excursions around the area. It is worth remembering that in addition to well-known sites such as Aspendos or Side, there are other less known ruins of ancient cities quite near Alanya. It is relatively easy to visit the remains of Naula (in Mahmutlar, 14 km east from Alanya), Syedra (23 km to the east of the city centre) and Iotape (35 km to the east).
Persistent seekers of ancient monuments can take up the more difficult challenge and try to reach the ruins of Laertes (36.5114° N, 32.1662° E), Hamaxia (36.5783° N, 31.9393° E), Kolybrassos (36.8607° N, 31.9684° E) and Kasai (36.8607° N, 31.9684° E), hidden in the Taurus mountains.
Moreover, near Alanya, also in the mountains Taurus, there are two fascinating caves, prepared for visitors. The first one is a spacious Dim Cave (tr. Dim Mağarası) and the second, slightly smaller, is known as the Cave of Dwarfs (tr. Cüceler Mağarası).
Alanya is located on the Mediterranean coast, in the area of ancient Pamphylia. The most iconic landmark of the city is the promontory that extends deep into the sea, where the remains of the old fortress (tr. Alanya Kalesi) are situated. As the powerful range of Taurus Mountains is very close to Alanya in the northern direction, the city territorial development takes place mainly along the coast, to the west and the east from its centre.
The centre of the city
Although there is no clear point, such as a market square, that can demark the centre of Alanya, the heart of the city is situated below the castle hill. Most holidaymakers walk through the city along Atatürk Boulevard Atatürk (tr. Atatürk Bulvarı), running from the west to the east. Along this road, there are numerous restaurants and souvenir shops, aimed especially at foreign visitors, as well as the most prestigious hotels in the city.
On the western side of the castle hill Güzelyalı street forks of Atatürk Boulevard and if you walk along you will reach Damlataş street. In the neighbourhood where these streets intersect with İsmail Hilmi Balcı and Sultan Alaaddin streets, there is a cluster of important venues. To the north-east stands local Archaeological Museum (tr. Arkeoloji Alanya Müzesi), and opposite - Tourist Information Office. Just next to it there is a bus stop, where you can catch a bus going up to the top of the castle hill. More detailed information on the most significant buildings located in the castle hill area can be found in the separate chapter. To the south-west of the intersection, there is a small city park (tr. Alanya Belediyesi 100. Yıl Atatürk Parkı) and next to it - the entrance to the famous Dripping Stone Cave (tr. Damlataş Mağarası).
In the city centre, Damlataş street runs parallel to the main Atatürk Boulevard, on its southern side and brings you to the harbour of cruise ships (tr. Alanya Yat Limanı), located on the eastern slopes of the castle hill. On this side of the hill there are also numerous historical buildings, including the most interesting monuments from the Seljuk period - the Red Tower (tr. Kızıl Kule), shipyards (tr. Tersane) and an arsenal (tr. Tophane). During your visit in the harbour area, take a walk up an artificial peninsula (the pier), extending deep into the sea. At its end, there is a lighthouse, and additionally, this is the place for taking the most beautiful photos of the harbour and the eastern coast of Alanya. Late in the evening, the neighbourhood turns into an entertainment centre with the most fashionable and the loudest night clubs, bars and discos in Alanya.
To the north-west of the harbour, at the end of Harbor Street (tr. İskele Caddesi) and near Alanya Municipality (tr. Alanya Belediyesi) there is another small park, which attracts lovers of cats. These critters even have their own Cat House (tr. Kedi Evi). A little further, near the monument of Atatürk, the streets leading from the castle headland come back to the Atatürk Boulevard.
On the eastern side of the city, the most important area is an exotic bazaar, whose territory extends north from the Atatürk Boulevard. In this part of town, there are also clothing stores, representing a slightly higher shelf in comparison with many stalls offering 'original Turkish fakes' of well-known international brands.
The most famous Alanya beach or the beach of Cleopatra (tr. Kleopatra Plajı) starts at Damlataş Cave and stretches for 2.5 km to the west, up to the point where Atatürk Boulevard joins D400 route cruising. About 2 km further to the west there is the new marina in Alanya that has been in operation since 2011.
On the eastern side of the castle hill begins the second town beach or Keykubat beach (tr. Keykubat Plajı). It runs over a distance of 12 km, to the village Kargıcak, but is relatively narrow and has a poorer reputation among experienced sunbathers than the famous "Cleopatra".
The main thoroughfare leading through the centre of the city is the Atatürk Boulevard (tr. Atatürk Bulvarı). On the western and eastern sides of Alanya, this boulevard is connected to D400 route that leads to other coastal cities of the region. On the eastern side of the city, the boulevard changes its name to Ahmet Tokusa Bulvarı. If you wish to drive through without stopping in the centre of Alanya, then you should follow D400 road, which in Alanya is called simply the Ring Road (tr. Çevre Yolu). This road goes in an arc around the city, on its northern side. If you come to Alanya from the west Çevre Yolu forks off Atatürk Boulevard 2.5 km from the centre, at the emblematic monument of Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, standing in the tiny park named after this ruler (tr. Alaaddin Keykubat Parkı). A little further on in the easterly direction it passes on the south side of Alanya Bus Terminal (tr. Alanya Otogarı).
The Ring Road leads to the east, and while driving along it, you can see the slopes of the Taurus Mountains on the northern side. The lower slopes of these mountains have already been used for urban development. From the Ring Road, you can get into the street leading up to the famous observation deck (tr. Alanya Belediyesi Seyir Terası). Along the Ring Road, there are many shops and supermarkets, with groceries, clothing and furniture. The biggest of them is located in the eastern district of the city – Oba – and is called Alanyum Shopping centre. The Ring Road descends to the coast in the district Tosmur, where it joins with Ahmet Tokuş Boulevard. In this area, there is also the intersection with the Dam Street (tr. Baraj Caddesi), which runs along Dim River with its famous fish restaurants and further on to the dam on this river.
The most convenient way to get around Alanya centre is on foot, and for longer distances, by city buses. Traditional Turkish shared taxis (known as a dolmuş) provide the best connection between Alanya and nearby holiday villages and resort hotels.
Alanya city buses operate on the principles well-known to tourists from Europe. Bus lines are numbered, run along set routes, according to a fixed schedule and, importantly, in contrast to dolmuşes, stop only at designated bus stops. The buses are also equipped with screens that display information about the route and subsequent stops.
You should get into the bus by its front door and pay the fare directly to the driver. In 2014 the price of one ride, regardless of its length and travel time, cost 2 TL. The second and slightly cheaper method (1.5 TL per ride) of payment is by so-called Municipal Cards (tr. Kent Kart). This card can be purchased in many stores and service outlets in the city, and the points of sale are marked with a special sticker. The initial price of the card is 5 TL, and then it is possible to top it up with the selected amount in electronic kiosks. In the future, this form of payment will completely replace the traditional method of paying the driver. Young children (up to 6 years of age) can use public transport for free, and those aged from 6 to 12 - with 50% discount. From the point of view of a tourist the main city bus lines are: No.1 and No. 101 - which run along the Atatürk and Ahmet Tokuş boulevards, No. 4 - going from the Tourist Information Office to the castle hill, No. 8 - to the observation deck in the Taurus mountains and No. 10 - to River Dim.
In Alanya there are taxi stops, where the trips within the city far beyond are on offer. At these stops, there are often official price lists that announce the prices of the most frequently chosen rides. For example, the taxi ride to the fortress costs around 10 euros, to the river Dim - 35 euros, and to Antalya airport - 75 euros. Keep in mind that these are only estimated prices and are negotiable.
Holiday villages near Alanya
When you purchase a holiday package in Alanya from a travel agency, check carefully where is the hotel actually situated. It happens more than often that the hotel from the catalogue is not exactly in Alanya, but in one of numerous towns and villages along the coast to the east or west of the city. By checking the description carefully you will avoid disappointment by the fact that the main tourist attractions of Alanya are far away. On the other hand, many people, especially those in search of tranquillity and remoteness from the hustle and bustle, praise their stay in the places distant from the centre of Alanya. In each of the holiday villages there are shops, pharmacies and restaurants, and in many cases also weekly bazaars are held there. However, it is a well-known fact that most of these small towns live mainly from tourism, so the offered services are prepared (and priced) especially for foreign vacationers, and in low (winter) season they become practically ghost towns.
What is the distance between Alanya and these towns? Most of them are located to the west of the city, on the stretch of the coast up to Side. The most important resorts in this direction are: Konaklı (13 km from the center of Alanya) Payallar (16 km), Türkler (18 km), Avsallar (24 km), İncekum (27 km), Okurcalar (31 km), Kızılot (45 km) and Kızılağaç (48 km). The latter two villages are actually closer to Side and Manavgat than to Alanya. To the east of Alanya, there are fewer holiday villages, because in this area the Taurus Mountains approach closer to the coast, effectively stopping the aspirations of hotel developers. On the road leading east to Gazipaşa, there are Kestel (10 km), Mahmutlar (12 km) and Kargıcak (15 km) villages.
Transportation to Alanya and Manavgat from these villages on the coast is provided by minibuses, dolmuşes and coaches. From a practical point of view when choosing a holiday resort, in addition to the opinions about the local beach and the assessment of local hotels, it is worth to remember about the distances you will have to travel while going to the interesting sights and the centre of Alanya.
Travellers wishing to participate in excursions, especially the longer ones, i.e. to Pamukkale and to Cappadocia, can be interested in the order in which the participants of such events are collected from their hotels. Typically, the trips begin from the hotels located to the east of Alanya, then in Alanya, and finally - the holiday villages located to the west. In the evening, after a tour is finished, the sequence is naturally reversed. In the case of excursions that begin very early in the morning, for example at 4 am, and end late in the evening, the vacationers from the hotels located to the west of Alanya can save up to 2-3 hours of sleep and return to their hotels much earlier.
Finding a restaurant in Alanya is easy - there are hundreds of them, but finding a place serving typical Turkish dishes at reasonable prices is an entirely different task. Strolling through the city center, along Atatürk Boulevard, you encounter a restaurant at every step you take. However, these premises have little in common with authentic Turkish cuisine: they serve international dishes, including Italian, Scandinavian and Mexican, and in fact, local chefs do not always get the intended results.
It is best to avoid all the restaurants that have menus in several languages, that serve alcohol, and that have exhibitions of plastic replicas of their meals. Right next to such premises there are several branches of Burger King and McDonald's, and often this is a better choice that these "fancy" places.
Fortunately, the city gastronomic scene is not limited to Atatürk Boulevard, so just turn into one of side streets to find yourself in another world. There you will discover a choice of a small and cheap soup kitchens (tr. lokanta), focused on local clientele as well as excellent, though expensive, restaurants specialising in Turkish cuisine from different regions of the country.
The list of recommended restaurants in Alanya includes:
- Ottoman House - on Damlataş Street No. 31, in a historic stone house. The restaurant serves traditional Ottoman cuisine, including meat and fish dishes. Unfortunately, you have to pay dearly for this pleasure - dinner for one costs 30 TL or more.
- Lokanta Su - also on Damlataş Street, in a renovated house from the Ottoman era known as Ağaoğlu Evi. Mediterranean cuisine is served here, from Italian to Middle East dishes. The price range for one dish is from 20 to 40 TL.
- Köyüm Gaziantep Başpınar - on Hükümet Street, east of the port. It is one of the few places in town that specialises in a cuisine from a particular region of Turkey, in this case - from Gaziantep in the south-east of the country. Expect to pay 20-30 TL for one of the main dishes.
- Bolu Sofrasi - located in the western part of the city, on Türkmenbaşı Street No. 14. This restaurant also specialises in regional Turkish cuisine, this time from the city of Bolu in the north of the country. Its specialities are delicious lamb skewers (tr. kuzu şiş) for 25 TL and so-called Turkish pizza or pide, from 10 to 15 TL.
The largest concentration of bars and nightclubs is in the harbour area, on İskele and Gazipaşa streets. The most famous bars in this area are James Dean, Robin Hood and Cello. Later in the evening, they turn into nightclubs and discos.
The whole centre of Alanya is practically one big shopping mall, with shops of famous Turkish fashion chains as well as plenty of stalls with clothes, bags and souvenirs along its main streets. However, in order to understand the Turkish lifestyle a little bit better, it is worthwhile to go to a real bazaar. In every Turkish city and town, a bazaar takes place on a weekly basis. Local food producers, farmers and sellers of various goods, from clothes to cosmetics flock on this day to the city. A visit to the bazaar should be taken with a grain of salt - watch, take photos, taste fresh fruit and sample local specialities, but do not necessarily go on a shopping spree.
The most famous and at the same time the largest bazaar in Alanya takes place every Friday and is called, accordingly, Cuma Pazarı i.e. Friday Bazaar (36.5448° N, 31.9990° E). Vendors display their wares in the city centre, on the north side of Atatürk Bulvarı, opposite the post office. In addition, every Sunday there is another bazaar, located farther to the northeast, in Hacet Mahallesi district (36.5492° N, 32.0052° E). On the eastern side of the city, the bazaar takes place every Tuesday as Salı Pazarı, on Yeni Hal street, where additionally daily fish market operates (36.5535° N, 31.9897° E).
If you missed the bazaars in Alanya or are staying in a hotel outside the centre, do not worry. Every major town in the area has its bazaar. To the east of the centre of Alanya, the bazaars are held on Mondays (Oba district), on Thursdays (Tosmur) and Tuesdays and Saturdays (Mahmutlar). To the west of Alanya, the sellers gather on Wednesdays (Konaklı), on Sundays (Avsallar) and Fridays (Okurcalar). It is worth remembering that due to the cyclical nature of bazaars these are often the same sellers touring all the surrounding villages in a weekly rhythm.
Supermarkets, discount shops and shopping centers
If you prefer Western-style shopping, you can go to one of the numerous supermarkets and discount stores. The biggest supermarket chain is called Migros and it has a lot of branches in the city. In the center they can be found e.g. in the center, on Köseoğlu street, near Damlataş Cave (36.5450° N, 31.9887° E), on the eastern side, on Ahmet Tokuş Boulevard (36.5447° N, 32.0098° E) and on the west side of the center, on 1504 street, north of Atatürk Boulevard (36.5543° N, 31.9733° E). Migros shops are also located in the district of Tosmur and the towns of Mahmutlar and Konaklı.
In Alanya, there are many discount grocery shops, and most of these belong to one of three networks: BİM, Şok and A101. These stores are located in every district, often side by side. In the cheapest discount stores, you can buy simple groceries and basic cosmetics, but not alcohol, and the choice of goods available is very limited, much more modest than in discount stores operating in Western Europe.
The largest shopping mall in Alanya (called Alanyum) is located on the north-eastern side of the city, just off the Ring Road (36.5431° N, 32.0317° E). There are many clothing, jewellery and household appliances shops as well as several chain restaurants, including Burger King. Within the centre, there is also a Carrefour supermarket.
Tourist Information Office is located on Damlataş Street No. 1 (36.5434° N, 31.9884° E), near the Archaeological Museum and Damlataş Cave. The office is open in summer season only (i.e. from May to October), from Monday to Friday, between 8 am to 5 pm.
The main post office is located on Atatürk Boulevard (36.5441° N, 31.9958° E), in the city centre. In addition to traditional postal services, it offers currency exchange, with 2% commission.
You can also exchange currency in many exchange offices operating along Atatürk Boulevard, but compare the daily rates offered before the transaction. Throughout the city, you will also find numerous ATMs, usually with menus in several languages. Some ATMs offer the possibility of withdrawing not only the Turkish currency but also euros, British pounds and US dollars.
There are a lot of pharmacies in Alanya, but they are closed on Sundays, except for the few on duty. In Turkish pharmacies, most medicines are available without a prescription, and the prices are very moderate.
Along Atatürk Boulevard there are also several private medical clinics, prepared to admit foreigners. Their staff speak many languages, and multilingual forms are readily available. In order to be admitted yu need to present a valid health insurance, and many of these institutions operate on a non-cash basis, through a direct contact with the insurer.
By plane: the nearest airports serving tourist traffic on the Turkish Riviera are located in Gazipaşa and Antalya. Gazipaşa Airport (44 km to the east) is new and relatively small, and most travellers come to Alanya through Antalya Airport (125 km to the west). More detailed information on these airports is given in the chapters on Gazipaşa and Antalya.
By bus: bus terminal in Alanya is located on the west side of town (36.5541° N, 31.9782° E), in the vicinity of the Ring Road (tr. Çevre Yolu). From this terminal buses and coaches go to distant cities of Turkey and minibuses serve travellers for closer destinations. Most coaches leave to Antalya (3 hours, 20 TL) through Manavgat (1 hour, 10 TL) and to Adana (9 hours, 50 TL) through Anamur (3.5 hours, 25 TL) Silifke (6.5 hours 40 TL) and Mersin (8 hours, 45 TL). From Alanya it is also possible to go to Ankara (10 hours, 60 TL), Denizli - near Pamukkale (6.5 hours, 40 TL), Göreme in Cappadocia (10 hours, 50 TL), Konya (5 hours, 40 TL), Izmir (9.5 hours, 65 TL), Istanbul (15 hours, 80 TL), and many other cities.
By car: the main road of Alanya region is D400 route, from the Aegean coast to the far east of the country. The distance to Antalya in the west is 135 km, to Manavgat - 60 km. The journey to the east, to Anamuru, requires negotiating a distance of 125 km of a winding coastal road and to get to Adana you have to drive 430 km.
In order to get from Alanya to Cappadocia by car travel first towards Manavgat. About 12 km before this city, in Kızılağaç, turn off D400 route into route D695 to the north. It leads through the Taurus Mountains to Konya (217 km from this junction), where you must take route D300 to Aksaray and Nevşehir. The total length of the route from Alanya to the heart of Cappadocia is 500 km.
By ferry in the summer season, i.e. from April to October, you can take a ferry from Alanya to Northern Cyprus, i.e recognised only by Turkey so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Ferries from Alanya depart twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, and from the Cypriot port of Kyrenia depart on a return cruise on Thursdays and Sundays. A one-way ticket costs about 80 TL, and return ticket - 130 TL, but there are additional port taxes (up to 50 TL) should be added to the high port charges (the total is up to 50 TL).
Warning: ferry connections in Turkey have a tendency to be unexpectedly cancelled. Before scheduling a trip to Cyprus, make sure that the ferries actually run. The ferry operator in Alanya is Fergün Denizcilik company, whose office is at the right next to the harbour, on İskele Street No. 84 (36.5414° N, 32.0009° E). The more certain way of getting to Northern Cyprus is taking a ferry from Taşucu, 255 km east of Alanya.
If you plan to spend your one or two-week holidays in Alanya or its immediate surroundings the best method of finding suitable accommodation is simply to purchase one of holiday packages from a travel agency. The attempts to get an individual reservation in one of the hotels from travel agents' catalogues and to book a separate flight to Antalya may prove not only to be uneconomical but often plainly impossible. Most of these hotels are fully booked long before the holiday season by organised groups of tourists.
However, if you are not looking for this form of relaxation or are planning to spend in Alanya a shorter period, there are some other options available. In the city there are plenty of B&Bs, small hotels and so-called apart hotels or apartments for rent, fully equipped with a kitchen and a bathroom, and even a washing machine.
The most attractive hotels in the city belong to the category of so-called boutique hotels, offering their guests an unforgettable stay in renovated historic houses from the Ottoman era. Most of them are located in Tophane district, which is on the eastern slope of the castle hill. The best hotels in this class are:
- Centauera Hotel - located on the street Andızlı Camii No. 4 enjoys a splendid reputation among its guests. The rooms are luxuriously furnished, and some have views of the harbour in Alanya. The price includes breakfast, and you can order dinner on-site. The cost of a double room is a minimum of 220 TL.
- Villa Turka - Street Kargı No. 7, is also highly rated. The rooms have wooden floors and antique furniture. For breakfast, included in the price of the room, local dishes are served, prepared in part from the crops of a vegetable garden and an orchard belonging to the hotel. For a double room, you will have to pay at least 200 TL.
Although there are several guesthouses and small hotels in the centre of Alanya, it is increasingly difficult to find one that offers a decent standard and level of cleanliness for a good price. Many travellers praise these guesthouses and hotels, but you have to take into account the rapidly changing realities of tourist accommodation in the city:
- Tayfun Pansiyon - located on Tolupaşa Street No. 17a, in the city centre, near the Tourist Information Office. The simple rooms are basically equipped, and there is a garden for visitors. The price for a single room is about 20 TL, and for a double - 30 TL, but the breakfasts are not served.
- Aslan Hotel - on Atatürk Boulevard No. 93, also in the centre of Alanya. The hotel has a swimming pool, a private parking lot and a restaurant. For a double room expect to pay 85 TL or more, with a simple breakfast included.
- Huzuray Otel - on Yenilmez Street No. 7, east of the castle hill. It offers basic rooms and a swimming pool. There is an on-site restaurant, and breakfast is included in the price. Double room costs from 90 TL.
Renting an apartment is a popular way to spend holidays in Alanya, frequently chosen by the visitors from Scandinavia and the UK. The market for apartment hotels is wide, and the offered standard - very diverse. If you wish to use this form of accommodation, you can use popular Internet booking systems or real estate agencies (tr. emlak ofisi) operating locally. It can be assumed that in the case of an apartment in the centre of Alanya the price below 100 TL per night is very attractive.