Gorgeous Lara Beach overlooks a wonderful 10-kilometre stretch of golden sand. This Blue Flag beach is easily one of the loveliest in the area, a magnet for locals and holiday-makers from all along the coast. As most of the hotels here are fabulous, all inclusive options boasting an enormous range of facilities, we totally understand if you’re happy to simply soak up the sun and the wide range of entertainment in your hotel. But if you’re in the mood to explore, we’ve come up with some top tips for what to do around Lara Beach. From waterfalls to walks, and ancient sites to underwater cities, we bring you the lowdown on how to make the most of your 2018/2019 Lara Beach holiday.
At the westernmost point of Lara Beach, you’ll find the stunning Lower Duden Fall. Walking trails through a green, manicured park along the cliff top affords breathtaking views of the water gushing over the cliffs into the sea. The Upper Duden Falls are located just north of Antalya’s city centre (hop on a local domus minibus to get there), and are set in a lovely, shady park full of birdsong that is perfect for picnicking and strolling. The falls are small but very picturesque, tumbling through the greenery into pools overhung with trees. You can walk down a spiral staircase behind the falls to enjoy spellbinding views through the curtain of water.
Antalya’s Old Town (Kaleiçi) and harbour
Jump on a domus (local minibus service) to reach Antalya’s enchanting Old Town (known as Kaleiçi). It’s an enchanting jumble of narrow streets lined with Ottoman-era houses that wind around a beautiful harbour filled with boats. This was once a prominent Roman port town, and you can still admire spectacular constructions like Hadrian’s Gate, built in honour of the Roman emperor’s visit in 130 AD, and the 2nd-century Hidirlik Tower, a cliff top watchtower which has fantastic views. The charming streets and squares are packed with shops, cafés and bars, and the pretty harbour is the starting point for a wealth of boat trips and sailing excursions.
Side, which is regularly offered by tour operators at the hotels, is an idyllic spot to spend the day if you’re interested in history and culture. Set on a beautiful peninsula with a mountainous backdrop, it’s now an enchanting seaside town strewn with remarkable Greco-Roman ruins. These include the evocative remnants of the Temple of Athena that overlook the harbour, and a vast Roman theatre which once seated 15,000 people. The fascinating town museum, set in a restored Roman bath complex, contains finds from the archaeological sites across Side.
Myra and the sunken city of Kekova
Another popular day trip usually offered by tour operators at the hotels, this is one of our favourite tours. It combines a boat excursion out to Kekova Island, where you can gawp at the marvellous sunken city of Kekova through a glass-bottomed boat, with the chance to explore the Roman theatre and fascinating rock-cut tombs of the Lycian necropolis in Myra. If you want to do this trip yourself and rent a car, try and reach Myra early: with luck, you might have this beautiful ancient site almost to yourself.
A walk on the wild side: Cirali
You may need to rent a car or book a taxi for the day to reach Cirali, which doesn’t usually figure on a typical hotel’s tour operator itineraries. This is a perfect excursion if you want to leave the crowds behind and explore some of the most unspoilt corners of this beautiful stretch of coast. Cirali remains a sleepy little village, and its beach is one of the last remaining nesting sites of the endangered loggerhead turtle. From Cirali, you can hike a stretch of the famous Lycian Way, or explore the ancient ruins of Olympos. At dusk (when the phenomenon is most visible), make the 30-minute trek up the mountain slopes to see the Chimaera flicker: an eerie natural phenomenon, flames have issued from these rocky vents for centuries – so long, in fact, that they were named after fire-breathing monsters by the ancient Greeks.