Antalya, a coastal gem on Turkey's Mediterranean shores, finds itself on many a postcard thanks to its soft, sandy beaches and clear blue waters. As a resort city, it's a haven for sun-seeking travelers.
However, Antalya isn't just about beaches. The city is steeped in history, with ancient ruins like Aspendos and Perge shining a spotlight on the city's significant past.
And if you look beyond the city limits, you'll discover that Antalya is also the gateway to a treasure trove of excursions that cater to all interests. Whether you're a history buff or a nature lover, the options for day trips from Antalya are diverse — take your pick from experiences that encompass multiple millennia-old ancient ruins, peaceful lakes, cascading waterfalls in the majestic Taurus Mountains or natural thermal baths, to name a few.
A natural wonder of cascading thermal pools, the Pamukkale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered a must-see detour on any trip to Antalya.
Covered in white mineral deposits, the stepping stone pools aren't just a rare sight to behold — the thermal waters are said to bring numerous health benefits, making them a popular day trip destination.
Most tours will also provide the chance to explore the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis, as well as take a dip in the infamous Cleopatra’s Pool.
Dating back to the 2nd Century BC, Hierapolis is an ancient city that sits a stone's throw from Pamukkale’s white terraces — about a 3.5-hour drive from Antalya.
Through the well-preserved Hierapolis Theater, the sprawling necropolis, and the Pamukkale Antique Pool, the ruins of the once-thriving city now offer a glimpse into its glorious past.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the ancient city of Aspendos is best known for its grand theater, which once seated an impressive 15,000. It's still used today — mainly for concerts — and is regarded as the best-preserved Roman theater in Turkey.
The ruins are located roughly 45 kilometers east of Antalya. Since you can reach it in less than an hour by car, most day trips will usually also include a visit to the nearby ancient cities of Perge, Side, or the Manavgat Waterfall.
Sitting just 15 kilometers east of Antalya, the 3,000-year-old city of Perge plays host to some of the best-kept Hellenistic and Roman Ruins in the country.
On day trips here, you'll be led around the ancient city by a history-savvy guide who'll wax stories of the Perge Theater, Perge Stadium, and the pair of two monumental fountains, all of which are still in surprisingly good condition.
The small island of Kekova offers something a little different from the rest of these Antalya day trips. Here, you'll have the chance to go on a boat cruise around the area and view its underwater ruins — remnants of a sunken Lycian city (Simena) that met its fate to an earthquake over 2,000 years ago.
History aside, the region is also a paradise for nature lovers, with crystal-clear waters making for excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities.
Underrated yet full of character, Demre (sitting right next to Myra) is the city best known for being home to St. Nicholas's Church — in honor of the saint who inspired Santa Claus. As such, it's a popular pilgrimage site with locals and visitors alike.
Just 2 kilometers inland from Demre lies the ruins of Myra — an ancient Roman city — which is best known for its huge Roman amphitheater and the Lycian house-style rock tombs built right into the side of the cliff.
Given its proximity to Demre and Kekova, most of the day trips from Antalya that visit this area will combine the trio into a single tour.
Stretching for over 500 kilometers, parallel to the southern Turkish coastline, the rugged Taurus Mountains — the tallest of which are up to 3,700 meters above sea level — are all about nature and adventure.
On guided day trips from Antalya into this region, you'll have the chance to go off-roading in a 4x4 Jeep or ride a quad bike or buggy through the valleys and forests.
Depending on your chosen tour, you might also have the chance to take a boat ride through the Green Canyon, a peaceful reservoir surrounded by stunning cliffs.
Home to one of the biggest dams in the country, the 470-hectare Oymapinar Dam, the scenic Green Canyon is a great spot to soak up some peace and quiet.
During a guided Green Canyon tour, you'll typically cruise by boat along the calm waters of the reservoir, witnessing the steep rocks and towering forests on either side.
Depending on your preferred tour, you might also be treated to a buffet lunch onboard your trip, as you continue floating from the Green Canyon toward the 14-kilometer-long Grand Canyon and 3-kilometer-long Little Canyon.
Found near the resort town of Side, about 80 kilometers east of Antalya, the Manavgat Waterfalls are regarded as one of the most stunning natural attractions in the region.
On guided day trips here, you'll typically take a cruise along the Manavgat River, passing by villages and ancient ruins before arriving at the waterfall.
After returning to dry land, you might visit the Manavgat Bazaar or embark on a jeep safari through the surrounding countryside, depending on your tour of choice.
Just 15 kilometers from Antalya, the Kursunlu is most famous for its beautiful Kursunlu Waterfall.
At 18 meters high, and surrounded by the towering canyon cliffs that play host to hundreds of plant and animal species, it's easy to see why the park is so popular.
Typically, day trips from Antalya to Kursunlu will include a guided nature walk as well as a chance to swim in the refreshing waters.
Since Kursunlu is close by, other attractions like Perge, Aspendos, Side, or Duden are often added on.
Rising over 2,000 meters above sea level, Tahtali Mountain is one of the highest peaks on the Turkish Riviera — as you'd expect, it serves up breathtaking views of the Antalya region.
After convenient hotel pickup, you'll be driven through the Beydaglari National Park where the base of the Olympos Cable Car awaits. The cable car ride to the summit takes around 10 minutes.
This experience is only about 3 hours, but if you want a longer day trip you can opt for a combo tour that visits the ancient Phaselis ruins.
Another of Antalya's most famous natural beauties, Duden Waterfall is known for its pair of waterfalls — the upper and lower Duden waterfalls. The former is very peaceful, surrounded by lush, green forest; while the latter is the polar opposite, crashing some 40 meters down into the Mediterranean Sea below.
Guided day trips to this park usually allow you to take in both sets of falls, with boat cruises and city tours often included, depending on your chosen option.