Side's old town is one of the most important and culturally rich towns in southern Turkey.
With charming streets, plenty of restaurants and shops, and old ruins to visit, you are sure to enjoy a fulfilling stay in Side's old town.
Side's old town is 60 km from Alanya, on the coast and also provides very good beach activities for both young and old.
In this article, we will help you spot the 10 best things to do in Side's old town during your stay in the Antalya region, including attractions, sights, restaurants, shopping, and landmarks on the peninsula.
Let's get started...
1. Ancient Theater in Side
The ancient theater, which stands majestically in the heart of Side's old town, is one of the most impressive sights in the city. It dates back to the 2nd century AD and was able to accommodate 15,000 spectators.
By paying a small entrance fee, you can explore the well-preserved ruins of the Roman-style amphitheater and immerse yourself in the time when gladiator fights were held in this place.
Keep in mind that Aspendos in Antalya is also a popular ancient theater in the region.
2. Side Archaeological Museum
Side Archaeological Museum houses a fascinating collection of ancient artifacts from Side and nearby excavation sites. These include sarcophagi, statues, friezes, jewels, and coins. Weapons, objects used in daily life, and religious accessories are also on display.
Additionally, the building itself is a highlight in its own right. As a matter of fact, the Side Museum, next to the ancient theater, is located in the ruins of a Roman bath.
3. Beaches in Side's Old Town
There are two beaches in the old town of Side.
You can find a very nice beach with sunbeds, fine white sand, and blue waters on both the east and west of the peninsula. Both beaches are very clean and shallow.
The beach on the eastern side is larger. There are many restaurants, beach bars, and cafes. But you can just as well find a spot to spread out your beach towel and listen to the sound of the waves.
For more information, check out our page about beaches in Antalya.
4. Restaurants and Local Food
Side's old town is home to a number of restaurants serving Turkish delicacies as well as international cuisine. However, compared to other parts of Antalya, the prices here are more expensive.
We highly recommend that before ordering, be sure to get the menu and check the prices. This way you can avoid unpleasant surprises, where in the worst case you find out that you have to pay for the ordered dish in Euros instead of Turkish Lira.
In the event that there is no indication on the menu, it's always best to ask if the prices are in TL.
5. Shopping in Side's Old Town (Market)
Side's old town is a great place for shopping. Shops are lined up close to each other and offer the most diverse goods, such as clothing, Turkish souvenirs, jewelry, and leather products. However, Side is also a bit more expensive than its neighbors when it comes to shopping. Therefore, when bargaining in the markets, you can expect prices to be even higher than they usually are.
One thing to watch out for, as a tourist, is people trying to sell you "fake coins". You might encounter these people anywhere in the old town. As a rule, this is a scam. But, even if it was a real ancient coin, you would face serious consequences at Turkish customs, which is why you should avoid buying one at all costs. Find more information about shopping in Antalya here.
6. Landmark, Apollo Temple
The majestic Apollo Temple is an iconic landmark in Side. The six Corinthian columns that rise from the harbor date back to Roman times. The Apollo Temple is one of the most popular photo motifs in the region and will enchant you, especially at sunset.
The glow of the sunset after the sun disappears behind the horizon, with the Apollo Temple in the foreground and the dazzling sea behind, creates a truly magical scene.
This article about ancient ruins in Antalya will help with your visit to other amazing cultural places in Antalya.
7. Boat Tours from the Harbor
Numerous boat tours depart daily from the harbor. A boat trip along the coast to the breathtaking bays in the area is a one of the most popular things to do in Antalya, especially in the summer.
Boat tours on a pirate ship, in particular, are a highlight for many vacationers, and especially for children. Find more amazing attractions to visit in the Antalya Ticket Shop.
If you are traveling with your kids, this article about things to do with children in Antalya will give you inspiration, for sure!
8. The Floor is Glass!
This is a very special attraction hidden under the streets of Side. Wandering through the alleys of Side's old town, you might unexpectedly come across glass floors that show the ancient ruins below them that were found during construction work.
Throughout the old town you might stumble upon these glass plates and admire excavations in the ancient city. At night they are illuminated, which gives these ancient findings a particularly mystical appearance.
9. Nightlife in Side's Old Town
The old town of Side will excite you with its vibrant nightlife. There is always something going on! Locals and tourists alike enjoy spending time here in the evening.
What's especially popular is the promenade, where many open-air clubs, bars, and restaurants are lined up, serving everything from delicious cocktails to wine and ice-cold beer.
10. More Ancient Ruins
With its 3,500 years of history, Side's old town will amaze you with ancient ruins from Roman and Byzantine times. These include:
- Commercial Agora: The cultural and economic center of the city and a popular meeting place during the Roman period. It's located next to the ancient theater and houses a lot of ruins, such as the temple of Tyche, and a well preserved market street.
- State Agora: Southeast of the Commercial Agora are the remains of the second-century State Agora, that was reserved for the elite circles in the city.
- Monumental Fountain (Nymphaeum): Near the outer city walls, you can find part of the Roman aqueducts dating from the 2nd century AD.
- Roman Baths: The Roman Baths opposite the Commercial Agora probably date back to the 5th century. Since 1962, it has served as the Side Museum.
- City Walls: Construction of the once six-kilometer-long city wall began in the late first century. It served to protect the city and some of it can still be visited today.
- City Gate: Located near the Nymphaeum, the large main gate was first built as a free-standing structure and only later integrated into the city wall.
- Colonnaded Road: A marble-paved street framed by columns that once led from the city gate to the old city center. Today, remains of the columns with original mosaics can still be seen and are a very popular photo motif.
- South Basilica: This basilica was built right next to the two main Roman temples in the city, which were later incorporated into the atrium of the Byzantine church.
- Monumental Gate: It was built on the Commercial Agora. Today, only the foundation walls are preserved.
- Vespasian Monument & Gate: A fountain was erected next to the inner city gate in honor of the Roman Emperor, Vespasian.
- Temple of Dionysus: Remains of the early Roman temple dedicated to the god of wine near the ancient theater.
- Temple of Men: Along Barbaros Caddesi, you will find remains of a temple that was dedicated to Men, an Anatolian deity of the Moon.
Looking for more things to do? Get some inspiration from our list of 100 things to do in the Antalya region for an amazing trip! If you want to book your stay, make sure to visit our selection of the best resorts in the Antalya region.
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