A Guide to Side, Turkey

Your ultimate guide to the popular Turkish tourist destination. 

Turkey is a captivating destination that attracts tourists from around the world. Nestled on the southern coast of Turkey, this picturesque town offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant atmosphere, Side has become a favorite among travelers seeking an unforgettable holiday experience.

Side’s historical significance and natural beauty

With a history dating back over 2,000 years, Side holds immense historical significance. Once a major port city of the Roman Empire, it boasts an impressive array of well-preserved ruins, including the iconic Temple of Apollo and the ancient theater. Exploring these ancient sites allows visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich heritage of this remarkable town.

Aside from its historical landmarks, Side is also blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. The town is nestled between the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and the rugged Taurus Mountains, creating a stunning backdrop for any traveler. From golden sandy beaches to lush green landscapes, Side offers a diverse range of natural wonders waiting to be discovered.

By delving into the historical background, top attractions, cultural experiences, and practical travel tips, this guide will equip readers with all the necessary information to make the most of their visit to Side. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a relaxing beach getaway, Side has something to offer everyone. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in delicious Turkish cuisine, this guide will ensure that your time in Side is truly unforgettable.

In the following sections, we will delve into the fascinating history of Side, highlighting its key historical landmarks and shedding light on the significant events that have shaped the town. We will also explore the top attractions that should not be missed, from the awe-inspiring Temple of Apollo to the picturesque Manavgat Waterfalls. Additionally, we will delve into the vibrant culture of Side, including its traditional festivals, local customs, and artistic heritage. And finally, we will provide practical travel tips, including information on transportation, accommodation options, and local cuisine, ensuring that your visit to Side is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Historical Background of Side

Side boasts a remarkable ancient history that dates back to the 7th century BC. Founded by Aeolis, a Greek colony, Side has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous civilizations, leaving behind a legacy that spans over thousands of years.

In its early years, Side flourished as a bustling port city, strategically positioned on the eastern Mediterranean coast. Its favorable location facilitated trade and cultural exchanges with neighboring regions, allowing the city to thrive and attract settlers from various backgrounds. The influence of these early civilizations can still be seen in the remnants of their architectural marvels and cultural artifacts.

Side’s role during the Roman Empire and its architectural marvels

During the Roman Empire, Side experienced a period of unprecedented prosperity and became a prominent center of trade and culture. The Romans recognized the strategic importance of Side’s location and invested heavily in its development. As a result, the city witnessed a remarkable transformation, with grand architectural projects and infrastructure that showcased the might and opulence of the Roman Empire.

One of the most awe-inspiring architectural marvels that emerged during this period is the Temple of Apollo. This magnificent structure, dedicated to the Greek god of light and the sun, stands as a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the ancient builders. Its grandeur and intricate details continue to captivate visitors to this day.

Another remarkable architectural gem is the Roman theater of Side. Built to accommodate thousands of spectators, this theater served as a venue for various performances, including theatrical plays and musical concerts. Its well-preserved ruins provide a glimpse into the vibrant cultural life that thrived in Side during the Roman era.

The Byzantine and Ottoman periods and their influence on the city’s development

The Byzantine and Ottoman periods marked significant chapters in Side’s history, each leaving an indelible mark on the city’s cultural and architectural heritage. During the Byzantine era, Side served as an important ecclesiastical center, witnessing the construction of several churches and religious structures. These Byzantine remnants, though not as grand as the Roman structures, offer valuable insights into the city’s evolving religious practices and artistic styles.

With the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, Side experienced yet another phase of transformation. The Ottomans brought their unique architectural style, blending elements of Byzantine and Islamic design, which can be observed in various structures throughout the city. This fusion of architectural influences further enriched Side’s cultural diversity and added to its allure as a historical destination.

Side: Top Attractions

Temple of Apollo

Explore the majestic Temple of Apollo, an iconic symbol of Side’s ancient past. The Temple of Apollo stands as a testament to the remarkable architectural prowess of the ancient civilization that once thrived in Side. As you wander through its grand columns and intricate carvings, you can’t help but be transported back in time to an era of myth and legend. The temple’s sheer size and grandeur are awe-inspiring, leaving visitors in awe of the craftsmanship and devotion that went into its construction.

Roman Theater

Immerse yourself in history at the well-preserved Roman theater, which once hosted grand performances and still offers breathtaking views. The Roman theater in Side is a true marvel, with its tiered seating and commanding presence. As you take a seat in this ancient amphitheater, you can almost hear the echoes of the past, as gladiators once battled and actors performed for enthusiastic crowds. From the theater, you can also enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.

Mangavat Waterfalls

Mangavat Waterfalls, also known as Mangavat Selalesi in Turkish, is a true oasis of tranquility and natural splendor. Situated approximately 7 kilometers northeast of Side, these Turkish waterfalls provide a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The waterfalls are tucked away in a lush green canyon, surrounded by dense forests and rocky cliffs. The journey to Mangavat is an adventure in itself, as you meander through winding pathways shaded by tall trees. The anticipation builds as you hear the distant sound of cascading water, a melodic symphony that hints at the grandeur that lies ahead.

Temple of Tyche

Marvel at the Temple of Tyche, dedicated to the goddess of fortune, and admire its intricate architectural details. The Temple of Tyche is a true gem among Side’s ancient ruins. Dedicated to the goddess of fortune, this temple exudes an aura of mystery and enchantment. Its beautifully preserved columns and delicate carvings showcase the skill and artistry of the ancient craftsmen. As you explore its grounds, you can’t help but feel a sense of reverence for the beliefs and traditions that once thrived in Side.

Side Museum

Delve deeper into Side’s history at the Side Museum, home to a remarkable collection of artifacts that provide insights into the city’s ancient past. The Side Museum is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders, offering visitors a chance to unravel the mysteries of this ancient city. From intricately crafted pottery to ancient coins and statues, the museum’s collection paints a vivid picture of Side’s rich cultural heritage. As you wander through its halls, knowledgeable guides are on hand to share fascinating stories and historical anecdotes, bringing the past to life before your eyes.

Side Harbor and Promenade

Experience the charm of Side’s harbor, with its colorful fishing boats and panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. The harbor in Side is a picturesque haven, where the vibrant colors of fishing boats contrast against the azure waters of the Mediterranean. As you stroll along the harbor, you can soak in the tranquil atmosphere and admire the stunning views that stretch out before you. From the bobbing boats to the gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore, the harbor offers a serene escape from the bustling city.

Stroll along the vibrant promenade, filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering a delightful atmosphere for leisurely walks and shopping. The promenade in Side is a bustling hub of activity, where locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy a leisurely stroll or indulge in some retail therapy. Lined with an array of shops, cafes, and restaurants, the promenade offers a vibrant and lively atmosphere. Whether you’re seeking unique souvenirs, delectable local cuisine, or simply a place to people-watch, the promenade is a must-visit destination in Side.

Side Beaches

Relax and unwind on Side’s pristine sandy beaches, known for their crystal-clear waters and breathtaking coastal scenery. Side’s beaches are a true paradise for beach lovers, with their soft golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful spot to sunbathe or an exhilarating swim in the refreshing Mediterranean Sea, Side’s beaches offer the perfect escape. The natural beauty that surrounds these beaches, including dramatic cliffs and lush greenery, adds to the allure and creates a truly idyllic setting.

Discover popular beaches like Cleopatra Beach and Kumkoy Beach, where visitors can soak up the sun, swim, and engage in various water sports activities. Cleopatra Beach and Kumkoy Beach are two of Side’s most renowned beaches, attracting visitors from all over the world. Cleopatra Beach, named after the legendary Egyptian queen, offers pristine sands and turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Kumkoy Beach, on the other hand, is known for its vibrant atmosphere and a wide range of water sports activities, including jet skiing, parasailing, and scuba diving. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, these beaches have something for everyone.

Festivals and Events in Side: the annual International Side Culture and Art Festival

The annual International Side Culture and Art Festival is a must-attend event for those seeking to immerse themselves in the vibrant cultural scene of Side. Held every year, this festival showcases the rich heritage and artistic talents of the region through a mesmerizing array of music, dance, and theatrical performances.

Visitors to the festival can expect to be captivated by the sheer diversity of artistic expressions on display. From traditional Turkish folk dances to contemporary music concerts, the festival offers something for everyone. The performances are held in various venues throughout Side, including historic amphitheaters and open-air stages, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere.

One of the highlights of the festival is the participation of renowned local and international artists, who bring their unique talents and creative interpretations to the stage. This fusion of different cultural influences creates a truly unforgettable experience for attendees, leaving them with a deeper appreciation for the arts and a lasting connection to Side’s cultural heritage.

Other local events and celebrations

Beyond the International Side Culture and Art Festival, Side is a place where cultural traditions are celebrated year-round. Visitors have the opportunity to witness and participate in a variety of local events and celebrations that further showcase the rich tapestry of Side’s cultural heritage.

Religious festivals hold a special place in the hearts of the locals, and visitors can witness the fervor and devotion during events such as Eid al-Fitr and Ramadan. These celebrations offer a glimpse into the religious customs and traditions of the Turkish people, providing a deeper understanding of their way of life.

In addition to religious festivals, Side also hosts traditional music performances that allow visitors to indulge their senses in the melodic tunes and rhythms of Turkish music. Whether it’s a lively street performance or an intimate concert in a local venue, these musical events provide a unique opportunity to experience the soul-stirring melodies that have been passed down through generations.

Side’s Local Cuisine

No visit to Side is complete without indulging in the flavors of traditional Anatolian cuisine. The region is renowned for its delectable dishes and local specialties that tantalize the taste buds and leave a lasting impression.

One cannot miss the opportunity to savor the succulent kebabs, a cornerstone of Turkish cuisine. Whether it’s the tender lamb or juicy chicken, these grilled delights are a true gastronomic delight. Accompanied by a variety of mezes, which are small appetizer dishes bursting with flavors, the combination creates a symphony of tastes that will leave you craving for more.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, don’t forget to try the heavenly baklava. This delicate pastry, made with layers of filo dough and sweetened with honey or syrup, is a true indulgence. The rich flavors and textures will transport you to a world of culinary bliss.

Side’s Shopping Scene

Side’s shopping scene is a treasure trove for those seeking unique and authentic goods. The local markets and bazaars offer a vibrant and bustling atmosphere where visitors can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and aromas of Turkish culture.

Explore the Grand Bazaar, a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with shops and stalls selling a wide range of goods. From vibrant textiles and intricately designed carpets to aromatic spices and exotic teas, the bazaar is a sensory overload that will transport you to a world of enchantment. Engage in friendly haggling with the local vendors and take home a piece of Side’s vibrant culture.

Unique handicrafts and souvenirs to look out for

While exploring the markets and bazaars, keep an eye out for unique handicrafts and souvenirs that embody the essence of Side’s cultural heritage.

Traditional carpets are a true work of art and make for a remarkable keepsake. Handwoven with intricate patterns and vibrant colors, these carpets are not only visually stunning but also a testament to the craftsmanship of Turkish artisans.

Ceramics are another specialty of Side, with their exquisite designs and vibrant hues. From delicate plates and bowls to intricately painted tiles, these ceramics are a reflection of the region’s rich artistic traditions. Take home a piece of Side’s heritage and adorn your home with these beautiful creations.

Lastly, don’t forget to indulge in the sweet delight of Turkish delight. This chewy confectionery, made with a variety of flavors such as rose, pistachio, and lemon, is a beloved treat that will transport you back to the flavors of Side long after your visit.

Side Practical Travel Tips

Side is located on the southern coast of Turkey and enjoys a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Throughout the year, Side experiences a range of temperatures and varying rainfall patterns.

In the summer months of June, July, and August, temperatures in Side soar to an average high of around 33°C (91°F), making it the peak tourist season. The sea is warm and inviting, perfect for swimming and water activities. However, it is important to note that these months also witness a significant influx of tourists, resulting in crowded beaches and higher accommodation prices.

Spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October) offer a more pleasant climate with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). These shoulder seasons provide a comfortable atmosphere for exploring Side’s historical sites and enjoying outdoor activities. Additionally, the crowds are thinner during these months, allowing visitors to have a more immersive experience.

Winter in Side, from November to March, brings cooler temperatures ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). While it may not be the ideal time for beach activities, winter offers a unique opportunity to explore Side’s ancient ruins and indulge in the local culture without the crowds. It is worth noting that some tourist facilities may have reduced operating hours during this season.

Best Time To Visit Side

Considering both the weather conditions and crowd levels, the ideal time to visit Side would be during the spring and autumn months. April, May, September, and October offer pleasant temperatures, fewer tourists, and a more relaxed atmosphere to fully appreciate the beauty of Side.

Visiting during these shoulder seasons allows travelers to enjoy comfortable weather for outdoor activities, explore historical sites without feeling overwhelmed, and experience the local culture in a more authentic manner. Additionally, prices for accommodation and flights are generally more affordable during these times, providing excellent value for money.

Transportation options to reach Side

To reach Side, travelers have several transportation options available. The most convenient way is to fly into Antalya Airport, which is approximately 65 kilometers (40 miles) away from Side. Antalya Airport is well-connected to major international and domestic destinations, making it easily accessible for travelers from around the world. From the airport, there are regular shuttle services and taxis available to transport visitors to Side.

Alternatively, for those who prefer a more budget-friendly option or enjoy scenic journeys, buses are a popular choice. There are regular bus services operating between Antalya and Side, providing a comfortable and affordable mode of transportation. The journey takes approximately one hour, and buses are equipped with air conditioning and comfortable seating.

Local transportation within Side: Taxis and Dolmus

Once in Side, travelers have various options for local transportation to explore the city and its surroundings. Taxis are readily available and offer a convenient way to get around. It is advisable to agree on a fare before starting the journey or ensure that the meter is used to avoid any misunderstandings.

Another popular mode of transportation in Side is the dolmus, which are shared minibusses. Dolmuses follow specific routes and pick up passengers along the way. They provide an affordable and flexible way to travel within the city and to nearby attractions. Dolmus stops are easily recognizable, and the fare is paid directly to the driver upon boarding.

Accommodation in Side

Side offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Whether you are seeking luxury resorts, boutique hotels, or budget-friendly guesthouses, there is something for everyone in this charming coastal town.

For travelers looking for a luxurious and indulgent experience, there are several high-end resorts located along the beachfront. These resorts offer top-notch amenities, including private beaches, spa facilities, and multiple dining options. They provide a perfect retreat for those seeking relaxation and pampering during their stay in Side.

Alternatively, boutique hotels in Side’s Old Town offer a unique and intimate experience. These smaller properties are often housed in restored Ottoman-era buildings, exuding charm and character. They provide personalized service, cozy rooms, and a glimpse into the town’s rich history.

Budget-conscious travelers will find a range of guesthouses and budget hotels scattered throughout Side. These accommodations provide comfortable rooms at affordable prices, allowing visitors to save on accommodation expenses and allocate more to exploring the town and its attractions.

Popular areas to stay in Side

When choosing where to stay in Side, there are a few popular areas that offer a variety of accommodation options and convenient access to attractions.

The Old Town, also known as Kaleiçi, is a charming neighborhood filled with narrow streets, ancient ruins, and traditional Turkish houses. Staying in the Old Town allows visitors to immerse themselves in the town’s history and enjoy easy access to historical sites such as the Temple of Apollo and the Roman Theater.

For those seeking a beachfront location, the area around Side’s main beach is an excellent choice. Here, travelers can find a mix of hotels, resorts, and restaurants, all within walking distance of the sandy shores. This area is perfect for sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts.

Final thoughts on the unique charm and beauty of Side, Turkey

As we conclude our guide to Side, Turkey, it is impossible not to be captivated by its unique charm and beauty. This enchanting town seamlessly combines its rich history with a vibrant present, creating an atmosphere that is both nostalgic and invigorating.

The allure of Side lies not only in its ancient ruins and archaeological wonders but also in its picturesque landscapes and idyllic beaches. The azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea provide a stunning backdrop to the town, nviting visitors to relax and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds them.

What sets Side apart from other destinations is its ability to offer a truly immersive experience. Whether you are strolling through the ancient streets, exploring the ruins, or indulging in the local cuisine, you will find yourself transported to a bygone era while still enjoying the comforts of modern-day amenities.

Moreover, the warmth and hospitality of the locals add an extra layer of authenticity to the Side experience. Their genuine pride in their town and willingness to share their stories and traditions make every interaction memorable and meaningful.

Final Thoughts

The Blue Mosque is not only a historical and cultural landmark but also a place of worship for Muslims. As such, it is crucial to respect and preserve this sacred space. Visitors should take the time to learn about its history and significance and show respect by following the mosque’s rules and guidelines. This includes dressing modestly, removing shoes before entering, and refraining from taking photos during prayer times.

In conclusion, the Blue Mosque is a testament to Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage and religious significance. Its historical and cultural significance should be appreciated and respected by all, and we must take steps to preserve and promote this important landmark for future generations.

Last updated in July 2024, written by Tom and published by Emily.