The historic city center of Antalya, Kaleici, offers the opposite of everything most people think of when considering a vacation to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast. Though the Antalya province has lush nature, crystal blue beaches and well-preserved historical remains galore, most sites and spots are a good 1-2 hour drive from downtown and are teeming with tourists. This can imbue the winter season with a strange sadness – but not in Kaleici, where there’s 365 days of a robust social scene and nightlife.
Kaleci is once of the most charming historical towns in Turkey
Most travelers have at some point thought, “how great would it be to live here” – but voicing this feeling in Kaleici, Antalya was an unexpected surprise. The historical center of Turkey’s biggest summer destination city, Kaleici (spelled Kaleiçi in Turkish) was a sketchy, dilapidated neighborhood (not too long ago!). Years of massive restoration with great attention to the area’s ancient history, we can say without a doubt that Kaleici transformed into one of Antalya’s most beautiful and unique places. Together with Sığacık, in Izmir it is the loveliest historical settlement in the country with layers of history from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine Seljuk and Ottoman times.
Center of Antalya
Kaleici is now one of the popular centers in Antalya. Locals and tourists alike come here to hang out. There are old houses, adorable restaurants, quaint souvenir shops and lively bars with tables that spill into the cobblestone streets. And these streets look as if they’ve come straight from a period movie – you’ll want to take pictures at every corner!
It is a small place, and you’ll be able to see everything in 2-3 hours which might make you wonder if you should book your stay there. Its location is so central that you can easily stay here and move around to other places in downtown Antalya. So if you are in Antalya during the winter, don’t think twice because nowhere else is livelier. Alternatively, you can stay in Akra Hotel in Lara, the other center in Antalya, and come to Kaleici for a visit.
If you are in Antalya in the summer, don’t stay more than 1 night in Kaleici. Go out to the wonderful beach towns of the province a such as Kas (highly recommended) or Olymposor Çıralı (Cirali). On your way back to the airport, you can stay one night in Kaleici, but make sure to arrive in the afternoon to avoid the heat.
Party at night. Fly out the next day.
Where to stay in Kaleici
**Important Reminder **
Turkey has complicated relationships with Booking.com:
– If you are abroad, you can book a hotel in Turkey on Booking.com. It is best to do your bookings while you are away.
– If you are in Turkey, you can no longer book on Booking.com. So you need to connect with a VPN in order to use Booking.com or you can switch to Agoda which is also owned by Booking.com.
This family-run hotel is an ideal place to stay, and is located centrally. The Citrus Garden has traditional architecture as well. Click here for more details and to make a reservation: Booking or Agoda
White Garden Hotel
A great place to stay with its Kaleici-style architecture, a rooftop terrace with views of the Taurus mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Click here for more details and to make a reservation: Booking or Agoda
Lavin Suites Hotel
A Greek mansion during the Ottoman Empire, it is now a boutique hotel. Click here for more details and to make a reservation: Booking or Agoda
13 Great Things to Do in Kaleici, Antalya
Places to See
Suna-İnan Kıraç Kaleici Museum
Where to Eat
Justacandy Sweet Factory
Up Shot Bar
Seraser Fine Dining Restaurant
Castle Cafe Restaurant
1. Enter Kaleici through the historical Hadrian’s Gate
Hadrian’s Gate is one of the best-preserved structures in Antalya. The gate was built in 130 AD in the name of Roman emperor Hadrianus and, because it wasn’t used for a long time, it remained undamaged to this day. You’ll definitely have to pass under this elegant, ancient structure, which has two floors and white marble columns. Click here for the location. Number 1 on the map.
2. Stroll Down the Historical Streets
After passing through Hadrian’s Gate, you’ll officially be in Kaleici. As we’ve mentioned, this neighborhood is Antalya’s historic center and is known for its streets lined with colorful houses, almost all of which have been painstakingly restored. Some of the homes operate as hotels and hostels, and some are boutique shops that sell souvenirs and handmade items. If you ask us, you should definitely devote some of your time to roaming around the streets of Kaleici, Antalya.
3. Hop on a Boat Trip to See the City from the Sea
Traveling around Turkey can be tough, but here’s something that’s surprisingly easy: Hopping on a boat tour from Kaleici marina. Depending on what you’re into, you can take an hourly tour or rent a private boat if it falls within your budget. The cheaper tours usually depart at 10 am and go to places like Konyaaltı Beach, Falezler and Caltiacak. The boat will stop at a few places to allow you to swim and eat (food is provided). You’ll slowly head back to the port at around 4 pm.
If you’ve had your fill of Kaleci, Antalya province has a lot to offer. There are also tours that go to the other beautiful towns like Kemer, Side and Alanya. You can find out more about these in our guide on Things to do in Antalya.
4. There’s Even a Little Beach Where You Can Swim in the Summer
Again, so easy! Located next to the marina, set behind a cliff, is a beach that used to be women’s only since it is nice and secluded. It became Mermerli Beach when an observation deck was installed on the hill (where the above picture was taken).
Even though the beach looks empty in the photos, it’s normally filled with sunbeds during the summer. This beach is typically frequented by people who are staying in hotels in Kaleici. Click here for the location, and be sure to check out our post on the Best Beaches In Antalya. Number 2 on the map.
5. Enjoy Tea & Dessert at Justacandy
Justacandy is a sweet shop owned by a young expat woman, and it has such a friendly and cozy feel that we felt it needed mentioning on this list. It just goes to show that Turkish hospitality in Turkey isn’t exclusive to locals 🙂 . Here, you can find delicate desserts to satisfy any sugar craving, or just grab a coffee or tea when you’re feeling worn out.
Tip: Justacandy is known for its waffles, but we were big fans of the tiramisu. Click here for the location. Number 1 on the map.
6. Glance Up at the Watch Tower (if you’re nearby)
The Clock Tower of Antalya was built in 1901 by Grand Vizier Sait Pasha during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II. You can see the clock dial on all four sides of the 14-meter-high tower, and it has a bell at the top. The bell is the oldest part of the tower, as pieces of the clock have been replaced throughout the years. Click here for the location. Number 3 on the map.
7. Take in the View From the Elevator
Kaleici is a settlement that starts from a cliff and descends down to the sea. Because of this, a lift was installed to widen beach access, making all our lives a little bit easier. But this isn’t just any old elevator, it serves as a lovely touristy spot for taking in the views of the Kaleici neighborhood. Click herefor the location. Number 4 on the map.
8. Navigate the Marina (Vielle ville d’Antalya)
During the Byzantine period, Antalya was one of the most important port cities on the Eastern Mediterranean. The marina in the Kaleici hood played a significant role in this era. Even though the marina has now been modernized, it’s one of the most historical places in the area, as it’s been a port for centuries. Click here for the location. Number 5 on the map.
9. Board the Submarine in the Marina
I personally find it too touristy but if you have kids, you might be interested in getting on board Nemo. You can also travel with the submarine via a private tour, a recent development. The ship has a capacity of 44 people, and it can go on 10 dives per day. The tour lasts for about an hour and goes down 35 meters – you won’t experience any changes in pressure.
10. Explore the Suna-İnan Kıraç Kaleici Museum
Run by the Suna and Inan Kıraç Foundation, here you can find valuable works that keep Turkish culture alive. The museum is made from a traditional Kaleiçi house from the 19th century and the Aya Yorgi (Agios Georgios) Church. The foundation bought these two buildings – which they recognized as requiring protection – and transformed them into a museum. In the process, they restored the buildings and created a public use for them.
In the house part of the museum, you’ll be able to see Antalya’s traditional architectural and cultural items – with mannequins depicting scenes of what life would have been like as well as old photos of the city. These scenes make use of costumes, furniture and textiles like carpets that have been gathered from the Antalya region. The interior is decorated as a traditional Kaleici, Antalya house would be, with a mosaic floor and wood-framed ceilings.
The other building that is part of the museum is the Aya Yorgi Church that dates back to 1863. This is a modest church with a rectangular plan, decorated in a similar way to a traditional house in the region. However, the church lost its distinguishing characteristics throughout the ages. The ruined church was used as a warehouse after the Greek exchange, and became a part of the museum after being purchased and restored by the foundation in 1991.
In the main gallery of the church, the Canakkale Ceramics collection is on display. There are regular exhibitions on the upper floor. The museum is open everyday except Wednesday from 9 am to 6 pm. Address: Barbaros Mah.Kocatepe Sok. No: 25, Kaleici, Antalya. Website. Tel: 0242 243 42 74. Click here for the location. Number 6 on the map.
11. Walk Karaalioğlu Park by passing Hıdırlık Tower
The Hıdırlık Tower is a 14-meter tower located on the southwest corner of the fortress walls of Kaleiçi. The tower dates back to the 17th century and served as a watchtower and lighthouse. It is located at the side of Karaalioğlu Park, which covers an area of 140,000 square meters. Start at the tower and walk end-to-end if you get the chance.
The park itself was built in 1940 and has three observation decks. There are also various sculptures by well-known local artists, such as Mehmet Aksoy’s “Worker and Child.” Many a Turk might be able to tell you about Kuzgun Acar’s “El” (Hand) friendship statue, which sparked a controversy in the faraway town of Kars due to relations between Turkey and Armenia. Just be careful what can of worms you open. Click here for the location. Number 7 on the map.
12. Visit the Glass Terrace Then Watch the Sunset at a Nearby Cafe
In Kaleici, there is an observation terrace that has a balcony made of glass with a wonderful view of the marina. Next to the observation terrace is Kecili Park, where you’ll find goat statues made of wood, unusually pleasant. The park also has cafes where old folks drink tea and younger ones drink beer – whatever they’re there to drink, they’re all enjoying the view. Click here for the location. Number 8 on the map.
13. Listen to Live Music at Holly Stone or Party at Up Shot Bar
Holly Stone is one of the best music venues in Kaleici – Antalya even. Mainly alternative, jazz and rock music, their schedule is constantly full, so chances are you’ll be able to find an event happening during your trip to Antalya. Click here for the location to Holly Stone. Number 2 on the map.
If you’re into electronica, then you’ll be pleased that Up Shot Bar exists. The two venues are located close to one another. You can check out both and see which one fits the mood you’re in. Click here for the location to Up Shot Bar. Number 3 on the map.
What & Where to Eat & Drink in Kaleici
Seraser is known as Antalya’s first fine-dining restaurant. Their main aim is to combine high-quality local ingredients with modern and traditional techniques. Their menu includes international cuisine, from gnocchi to sushi. Address: Selçuk Mh., Paşa Cami Sk.No: 14, 07100 Muratpaşa, Kaleici, Antalya. Website.Tel: (0242) 247 60 15. Click here for the location. Number 4 on the map.
This is a great place to eat fish and drink rakı. Rakı is strong Turkish spirit flavored with anise, and drinking it alongside seafood and olive oil-based appetizers (mezze) is a coastal tradition. This place is known for its seafood appetizers, from calamari to octopus. Address: Muratpaşa Mahallesi, Balık Pazarı Sokak No: 14, 07100 Muratpaşa, Kaleici, Antalya. Phone: 0545 639 42 63 Click here for the location. Number 5 on the map.
Castle Cafe & Bistro
Sip a cold beer and watch the sunset with a view of the Hıdırlık Tower at this cafe. The menu ranges from classic bar snacks to breakfast, and is quite extensive. The prices are not too bad either. Address: Kılınçarslan Neighborhood, Hıdırlık Sk.No: 46, 07100 Muratpaşa, Kaleici, Antalya. Click here for the location. Number 6 on the map.
Burnt Ice Cream
Made from burned goat’s milk, this ice cream may not sound super appetizing, but it’s a local specialty. It smells like burnt milk and has an unusual taste…so ok, not the strongest selling points. But you’ll be able to find it in the center of Kaleici at Dondurma Dükkani or Akdeniz Dondurma. You can even order some with a profiterole, if that sounds more appetizing 😉
Where is Kaleici in Antalya
Kaleici is Antalya’s central district.Click here for the location.
15 kilometers from Antalya airport, or 30 minutes by car
45 kilometers from Belek, or 1 hour by car
80 kilometers from Olympos, or 1.5 hours by car
136 kilometers from Alanya, or 2 hours by car
How to Get to Kaleici
You can get to Kaleici, Antalya by flying into Antalya Airport and taking the Havaş shuttle into the city. The journey will take around 35 minutes, but of course, this can vary based on traffic. The shuttle’s last stop is at the 5M Migros (a supermarket) in the middle of downtown, a 10-minute taxi ride to Hadrian’s gate. Pick up for transportation from the center to the airport is also at 5M Migros, with hourly shuttle services.