Antalya city tours are a great idea for the green traveller looking to make the most of this beautiful Turkish city.
Known as the Turquoise Coast, Antalya perches by the Mediterranean Sea and is a hugely popular destination for mainstream tourism. Ecotourism is beginning to rise in popularity and Antalya itself is concentrating on solar aspects of conservation.
Ecotourism in Antalya
When planning your Antalya city tour, it's advisable to take care and ensure that you are booking through a reputable agent. This is due to the high incidence of bad experiences reported by tourists who book through the web. It's worth carrying out research and even calling the agent before arrival to confirm they are who they claim to be. Read reviews and ask around to ensure your city guide is informed and speaks English (if required).
Guided city tours in Antalya will usually take the form of private buses with a guide, which pick up from designated spots such as hotels. However, it's possible to go it alone using the public transport system which includes buses, trams, mini-buses and dolmus.
Public transport in Antalya is efficient and inexpensive and goes to most of the most popular historical destinations. The Dolmus is a novel and convenient way to get around and with no need to wait around at stops, these are ideal for exploring the urban landscape in detail. Dolmus drivers are said to be extremely helpful to visitors and it's recommended for the ecotourist as it gives a great sense of local culture.
The trams operate between the Antalya Museum and are useful, but don't have as many options as the buses and Dolmus do.
Places of interest during Antalya city tours
Antalya authorities are pushing ahead with plans to inform locals on the benefits of sustainability and want to use solar power to produce electricity all over the city. Antalya Solar House was built with this purpose in mind and the city has launched a long-term plan to become climate friendly.
No trip to Antalya would be complete without a visit to Hadrian's Gate, first constructed in 130AD and part of the thick stone walls which were put in place to protective the prosperous port.
The centre of Antalya, 'Kalekapisi', is marked by an ancient stone tower and a pedestrian zone. This is where the old market and bazaar districts starts, before extending north into Kazim Ozalp Caddesi. The district of Kaleici (old Antalya) is now protected to ensure the preservation of its most historic buildings and there are strict regulations in place for new buildings.
The old bazaars are great for shopping and getting familiar with the Turkish way of life; find traditional craft items, jewellery and of course, rugs, here. There are further shopping areas in Ataturk, Cumhuriyet and Isiklar and a wonderful fresh fruit and veg market which is perfect for buying organic produce.
There are also plenty of places for the ecotourist to explore outside of the city walls, including the Bey Daglan National Park, which has a beach and camping area at the north end of the park. This is great if you fancy the chance to really get back to nature and from here you can see the oddly-shaped Sican Island. For a truly green holiday experience, the area has numerous camping sites.
For the less adventurous ecotourist who prefers the comforts of home, whilst preserving the environment, the Calista Luxury Resort is a certified green hotel with wonderful views over the private beach it's perched upon. There are also a range of options to choose from at Eco Turkey's website which concentrates on sustainable travel in Antalya.
Parks in Antalya
There are plenty of parks which green travellers will really appreciate. Genclik for example is breathtakingly beautiful, with wonderful views of the Duden Falls that flow directly into the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
Right in the city centre, and an ideal spot to visit whilst on an Antalya city tour, is Yavuz Ozcan. The park is beautifully colourful and has an array of restful water features that come alive at night with strategically placed multi-colour lights. Close by is Recep Bilgin, definitely worth a visit for those interested in architecture.
Beaches on the Antalya city tour
The beaches are the major pull for many tourists travelling to Antalya and many of them are exceptionally well-preserved. Just 3 kilometres from the city centre, Konyaalti Beach is flanked by hotels and bars and 1.5 kilometres long - probably not the best location for the ecotourist.
Koru Beach is described as featuring sea which 'cleans itself' and has three shallow, natural pools, great for those with children and not as packed as the main beaches.
Food in Antalya
The Marmara serves organic and locally produced ingredients and features a buffet with all kinds of Mediterranean and fusion cuisine. Mediterranean food is typically made up of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and fish and Antalya is no different, although you will find some dishes which are peculiar to the area on your city tour, just as you would in other parts of Turkey.
As mentioned above, the markets are the best place to look for fresh, organic produce in the city as the diet doesn't really allow for 'health' products. It is worth having a good look around at the restaurants which are liberally dotted about whilst on your Antalya city tour.
All in all, Antalya has only really just begun to wake up to ecotourism and as such it can be difficult to find local businesses that support sustainability. However, this is improving and the city is beginning to drive the way forward in Turkish conservation practices.
Bear in mind when travelling in Turkey that the country is highly religious and as such frowns upon women baring skin and contact between the sexes. When avoiding areas which have a high concentration of tourists, respect local beliefs by avoiding contact and for women, covering arms, shoulders and legs.
Those committed to the cause are advised to follow the ecotourism ethos in giving back to the community by buying local crafts and produce and to avoid the big tourist traps, where money is a bigger concern than sustainability.
There are a huge amount of architectural and historical sites surrounding the city of Antalya and these, alongside the natural beauty of the country, make it well worth a visit for the ecotourist.
Photo credit: denpar