Last updated on March 16, 2023 by Wandering our World
The Turkish Riviera is one of the most picturesque parts of the Mediterranean, with a long line of beautiful resort cities and towns, amazing beaches, and scenic surroundings drawing in travelers from across the globe.
And if you’re planning your own trip to the Turquoise Coast, then Alanya and Antalya are probably the two destinations you are considering. They’re two of the most-visited and most strongly-recommended places to visit, after all.
But which one is best? Well, it’s worth noting that even though Antalya and Alanya are only a couple of hours’ drive from one another and have quite a lot of similarities, they also have some big differences.
The main difference is size. Antalya is significantly larger than Alanya, and consequently it has more attractions and more things to do for travelers, from family-friendly water parks to tours of historic ruins and shopping in traditional bazaars.
In contrast, Alanya is a smaller and calmer place, perfect for those who simply want to sunbathe on the beach, relax by the side of their hotel pool, or indulge at one of the city’s coastal restaurants or seafood bars. In a way, it’s almost like a smaller, quieter and more manageable version of Antalya.
However that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how these fun cities differ.
That’s why right we use out knowledge to pit Alanya against Antalya, comparing the beaches, activities, nightlife scenes, and many other aspects of these terrific Turkish cities. All so you can make the right holiday decision!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Best For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Better For Hiking?
- Which Is Best For Families?
- Which Is Best For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
A Quick Overview: Alanya vs Antalya
Alanya: A Quick Overview
Alanya is a small resort city on Turkey’s southern coast. Part of the Antalya Province, it is located a little over 80 miles east from Antalya, and is situated on a small peninsula looking out across the Mediterranean Sea and backing onto the Taurus Mountains.
This city has quite a fascinating past, having been an important stronghold for various empires throughout the ages, including the Roman, Ottoman, and Byzantine Empires.
Fittingly, Alanya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still plays home to many remnants of the past, like medieval castles and walls.
Alanya is also a prime tourist destination, contributing a sizable amount to the country’s economy through its touristic activities. People come here to visit landmarks like Alanya Castle and the Red Tower, or bask on iconic beaches, like Kleopatra Beach.
A hotbed of culture, Alanya is also known for hosting various events throughout the year. The Tourism and Arts Festival is held here each summer, for instance, and Alanya has its own Jazz Festival, as well as an International Culture and Art Festival.
Antalya: A Quick Overview
Antalya is another Turkish Riviera city, situated further west along the coastline from Alanya. It also happens to be one of the biggest cities in all of Turkey, ranking fifth overall in terms of its population, and it’s the capital of Antalya Province.
Home to well over 1.3 million people, with more than 2.6 million in the total metropolitan area, Antalya is much, much larger than Alanya – for reference, Alanya, has a population of around 100,000 people.
It’s also known as Turkey’s capital of tourism, beloved by many for its historic landmarks, family attractions, glamorous beaches, and wonderful hotels.
Like Alanya, Antalya has some interesting stories to tell from the past. It was first settled over 2,000 years ago and formed part of the Roman Empire – several Roman landmarks are still standing to this day, like Hadrian’s Gate and Hidirlik Tower.
The city has also been part of the Ottoman Empire and was even occupied by Italy for a short period in the 20th century.
Nowadays, Antalya is known for being one of the most picturesque parts of Turkey, with many locals spending their summers here and lots of other travelers jetting in from far and wide to enjoy the city’s all-inclusive hotels, sunny beaches, and great range of activities.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
One of the most common reasons people visit the resorts of the Turquoise Coast is because of the magical beaches in this area. Luckily with soft sands and warm waters, the conditions are ideal for seaside fun in both Antalya and Alanya.
Both of these cities have several fantastic beaches right by the city center, with other lovely locations just a little further along the coastline. Most of their beaches are well-developed and very nicely-maintained, too, with plenty of useful amenities.
However, even though both Antalya and Alanya can boast of fabulous stretches of sugary sand, there are some differences between the two, with Antalya having a larger number of beaches and greater variety, too.
With that said, even though Alanya may not be able to compete in terms of quantity, it has some of the best quality beaches in the province, with famous locations like Kleopatra Beach and Portakal ranking highly for their distinctive beauty and world-class conditions.
Below we look at the coastlines of both in more detail, so you can see which one you’ll prefer for your holiday.
Alanya: The Beaches
When it comes to beaches in Alanya, Kleopatra Beach is the first place to start.
It’s nicely-situated near to the city center, offering more than a mile of gorgeous golden sand and blissful blue waters – legend says that the famed Queen of Egypt Cleopatra adored this beach, which is now named in her honor.
Portakal Beach is another top spot to visit from Alanya. It has some of the most picturesque views of any beach in the region, and it’s only 10 minutes away from the city.
You can really relax there and enjoy the sight of the Taurus Mountains in the background, or seek some thrills with exciting watersports, like jet skiing.
Damlatas Beach is another pleasant place to spend some time. Easy-to-access, this beach has lots of great features and amenities, including sun loungers, sports courts, and a play area for little ones, making it one of the top family beaches in the city.
It’s nicely located beside some caves, too, so you can cool off inside if the weather is really warm.
Alanya’s other main beaches, like Alanya Municipality Public Beach and Tosmur Beach, are similar.
They’re nicely located a short walk from many local hotels, with cafes and bars in the area, rentable sun loungers for your comfort and convenience, and some decent water sports potential for windsurfers and parasailing enthusiasts.
Antalya: The Beaches
Like Alanya, Antalya has plenty of pretty beaches with long lists of amenities.
Konyaalti Beach is one of the most-visited places in the area, boasting some of the softest sands, magical mountain views, and great access to local cafes and bars. It’s also a really safe beach, with on-duty lifeguards ready to help out in any emergencies.
If you head down to the Old City of Antalya, you can find the little gem known as Mermerli Beach.
This is a small spot, but it has plenty of sunbeds to go around and offers a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere where you can watch the waves lap against the shore, listen to the hum of the city behind you, or dip your toes in the warm Mediterranean waters.
Just to the east of Antalya, travelers can enjoy Lara Beach. A very popular spot, this beach has golden sands, snack stands, and Blue Flag status.
It’s also six miles long, giving you plenty of space to stretch out, and the annual Sandland sand sculpture competition is held here each year, with the best sand artists from around the world putting their skills to the test.
The Antalya area also has some rocky coastal spots, like Phaselis, which is conveniently located beside some intriguing ancient ruins, as well as pristine places like Cirali, family-friendly spaces like Evrenseki, and truly unique coastal places like Inciralti – this beach doesn’t actually have any sand; instead, it’s made up of a series of wooden platforms jutting out over the water.
Overall, Antalya clearly has more options and more diversity, but you can still have fabulous coastal experiences in and around Alanya, and Kleopatra Beach might just be the very best beach in the whole province.
Which Is Best For Activities?
Swimming, sunbathing, and watersports are definitely some of the top things to do in both Alanya and Antalya. But these two cities also offer several other activities, including cultural tours and historic landmarks.
However, once again, there are some differences.
Since Antalya is so much bigger, it has a wider range of attractions, including multiple water parks and quite a long list of museums where you can learn more about the history and culture of this place. It’s also an amazing starting point for day trips.
In contrast, Alanya is a significantly smaller and more laid-back location with restful and relaxing vibes. There are fewer things to do here apart from beach-based activities, but Alanya still has a couple of interesting landmarks to discover.
Below we show you the top highlights in each city, so you can see which activities you’d prefer on holiday!
Alanya: The Activities
Alanya is a charming coastal city for pure relaxation.
Whether you’re winding your way along its streets, sipping a cup of coffee at a coastal café, or watching the sun go down, the vibes here are really peaceful and pleasant all-year long, so it’s a super place to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Most visitors to this city simply want to take it easy, but if you’re looking for fun activities to fill your days, you won’t want to miss out on a trip to Alanya Castle.
This medieval castle was constructed in the 13th century and enjoys awe-inspiring sea views. Or take the Alanya Teleferik cable car from the city as it gives you the best views of the city, castle and its environs.
Another popular landmark is the Red Tower, or Kizil Kule. Regarded as the symbol of the city – it even appears on Alanya’s flag – this 108 foot tall tower was also built during the 13th century to protect the shipyard beside it.
For something different, you could take a tour of the Damlatas Caves – locals say that the high humidity and CO2 levels inside these caves make them a therapeutic place for those with respiratory conditions, like asthma. Or, you could arrange a luxurious boat trip out onto the Mediterranean Sea.
Alanya is also nicely positioned for day trips to places like Side (which is one of our favourite Turkish towns) or into the Taurus Mountains.
And, if you visit at the right time, you might be able to participate in one of this city’s famous festivals, like the International Culture and Art Festival, which has fun workshops, arts and craft stands, live music, and more.
Antalya: The Activities
As the larger of the two cities, Antalya can offer a bigger and broader selection of things to see and do.
A lot of the activities int his city are similar to those that you’d find in Antalya, but there are simply more options to choose from and more landmarks to visit, like Hadrian’s Gate, a 2nd century Roman arch built in honor of the Emperor Hadrian.
From 18th century mosques like the Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque to ancient towers like Hidirlik Tower, there are all sorts of interesting sights to see around Antalya’s Old City too.
You can discover some beautiful buildings at the end of every street, and the Old Harbor is another lovely place to walk around, with cobbled streets and several fascinating museums.
Antalya is also a great place to shop, with a wide range of options from typical souvenir shops to traditional Turkish markets and mega malls with huge numbers of stores. Alanya has some good shopping opportunities also, but there are more stores and malls to choose from in Antalya.
In fact despite being a very touristy place, Antalya is also a better spot than Antalya for experiencing some authentic Turkish culture in the various bazaars and squares.
Like Alanya, there are some interesting festivals and events here and in the surrounding area, like the Phaselis Festival and the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival – known as the Oscars of Turkey.
Antalya is also regarded as one of the best Turkish cities for day trips. You can explore various key locations from here, like the world-famous Lycian Rock Tombs or the hiking haven of Koprulu Canyon, or head west along the coast to other great towns like Dalaman, Fethiye, and Kas.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
Many Turkish Riviera cities have decent nightlife scenes, with an array of bars, nightclubs, and live entertainment venues to keep you entertained all night long. But how do Alanya and Antalya compare in this category?
Well, both of these coastal cities have their own “Bar Street” – this is the name give to the street that contains many of the city’s bars and clubs, and a lot of young people and party-lovers head to the Bar Street of Alanya or Antalya to have fun at the weekends.
Antalya’s Bar Street is the longer of the two, and it has quite a few other clubs and taverns dotted around the town, especially in the Old City, as well as quieter and more casual places down by the harbor where you can sip a drink with friends or a loved one.
In contrast, Alanya’s Bar Street is smaller and less diverse. There are still some decent clubs there, like Robin Hood – this 3-storey club has a different genre of music on every floor – as well as the Cuban-themed Havana Club, but the options are a little more limited.
Overall, Antalya is the winner in this category due to its larger range of nightlife options, but you can have a good time in either city.
Which Is Better For Hiking?
If you enjoy long walks in nature, you might like to plan a hike or two during your Turkish adventure. There are some iconic hiking trails to be found along the Turkish Riviera, like the famous Lycian Way, which runs for over 300 miles, but which city takes the win in this category?
Well, Antalya has the advantage of being situated right at the eastern end of the Lycian Way. There are a couple of routes you can follow out of the city, taking you along the coast and past some lovely towns and historic ruins.
In addition, if you head east out of Antalya to Perge, you can find the famous St. Paul Trail, which takes you up into the mountains, past lakes and majestic landscapes. There are also Taurus Mountain trails a short distance from Antalya, along with places like Koprulu Canyon.
Alanya also has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s nicely located at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, so you can leave the city behind and head north to find a variety of interesting trails and climbing routes.
Places like Sapadere Canyon and Dim River National Park also offer some pleasant hikes, and you can even take a walk north from the city through Bektas and into the hills to get amazing views back out over Alanya itself.
Overall, both of these cities have something to offer for hikers. Antalya has some very long and historic routes for those who really want to challenge themselves, while Alanya has a nice mix of fun options that are relatively easy to access.
Which Is Best For Families?
If you’re heading to Turkey with children, you’ll most likely want to choose a destination that has fun family attractions and things to keep your kids entertained. Both Alanya and Antalya can provide great family experiences, but one might be better than the other….
Antalya has quite a long list of kid-friendly things to do. There’s a Toy Museum, for example, where little ones can marvel at toys of the past, as well as the aforementioned Sandland sand sculpture event at Lara Beach. You’ll also find multiple water parks here, along with amusement parks like The Land of Legends.
There are also lots of great beaches in Antalya too with lifeguards and shallow swimming waters where kids of all ages can happily splash around.
Plus, a lot of the hotels in Antalya are designed with families in mind, offering the kinds of amenities you need to have a pleasant and relaxing time.
Alanya also has its own water park, along with some interesting activities for kids like the castle and caves. There are great all-inclusive hotels here, too, and safe beaches.
However, when compared to Antalya, Alanya can’t offer the same quantity of kid-friendly activities. It’s still a fine place for people of all ages, but you might run out of things to do more quickly.
Which Is Best For Couples & Honeymoons?
If you’re planning a romantic getaway with your partner, both Antalya and Alanya can provide scenic surroundings, beautiful beaches, fabulous hotels, and interesting activities to help you make magical memories that will last a lifetime.
Once again, it’s simply a question of quantity and variety. Antalya is a bigger place and offers more things to do. So, if you want to spend a full week or two there and do something different each day, Antalya might have more appeal for you.
At the same time, even though it has fewer activities overall, Alanya has some of the prettiest beaches in the area, perfect for couples to relax on together. In addition, since Alanya is smaller, it’s quieter and arguably more romantic.
The right city for you will depend on your tastes and preferences as a couple, but for pure romance and relaxation, Alanya is probably the best choice.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Located right by the beach, but still within the heart of the city, Cimen Hotel is situated fantastically for a stay in Alanya. Not only is it budget priced, but it also has a lovely outdoor pool and wonderful sea & castle views. See photos and rates!
Luxury: The five-star Day One Beach Resort & Spa is known in the city for its luxury service and celebrity treatment. With a huge pool, this all-inclusive resort beside the beach is the perfect place to go if you just want to relax and be looked after by friendly staff. See photos and rates!
Budget: Adalya Port Hotel overlooks Antalya’s Old Harbour, and is set on an old cobbled street, so you’ll get a real taste of Turkey when staying here, but still with modern amenities. The panoramic rooftop bar and restaurant with stunning views is, of course, the real highlight. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Lara Barut Collection-Ultra is one of the most luxurious resorts in Turkey, but it’s still not one of the most expensive. The resort sits right on the beach, has gorgeous outdoor pools, 6 restaurants and even a Turkish spa. It’s the ultimate Turkish Rivera experience. See photos and rates!
Which Is Cheaper?
You’ll also need to take cost into account when deciding which of these two cities you might like to visit. And, if you’re traveling on a budget, you might be better off heading to Alanya instead of Antalya.
In general, prices are usually a little lower in Alanya. The average hotel nightly rate, for example, will typically be cheaper here than it would be in Antalya, and since it’s a smaller city, you won’t have to spend so much getting around, either.
At the same time, the difference in prices isn’t too big, and if you book your hotel in Antalya ahead of time, you can still get a great price.
The total cost of your trip will mostly depend on the kind of restaurants you choose to dine at, the activities you enjoy, and the comfort level of your accommodation.
Which Is Easier To Get To?
So, how will you get to either Alanya or Antalya, and which of these two cities is faster, easier, and cheaper to access?
Well, no matter which city you choose to visit, you’ll most likely fly into the same airport: Antalya Airport.
Antalya Airport is the only major international airport in the area, and it’s one of the busiest airports in Turkey.
This airport has direct flights to and from many European cities, as well as parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Alanya has a small airport of its own, but it has very limited connections, making it less viable for the vast majority of travelers.
Antalya Airport is located only a short bus or taxi ride away from the heart of Antalya itself.
However, if you want to visit Alanya, you’ll need to take an almost two-hour journey along the coast, or get a connecting flight. So, when it comes to ease-of-access, Antalya definitely takes the win.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to get around.
It’s possible to rent a car in either city, but this probably won’t be necessary, unless you really want to explore the surrounding area and want the freedom and independence of your own vehicle.
Alanya has decent public transport, with most buses running from early in the morning through to almost midnight and stopping off at the main landmarks.
Dolmus buses used to run here, too, but have since been retired, so you’ll have to rely on either public buses or taxis. Luckily, Alanya is relatively small, making it very pleasant and safe to walk around.
Over in Antalya, dolmus buses are the best way to get around. These buses drive along a fixed route and allow you to get on or off anywhere along the way. They’re one of the most flexible forms of public transport.
Antalya also has a handy tram system, including a heritage line that passes by many of the city’s touristic landmarks.
Overall, Antalya has a better public transport system than Alanya and is really easy to traverse. However, Alanya has the advantage of being much smaller, so you can walk to most places and might not have to spend so much on taxis and buses.
Alanya vs Antalya: Which Is The Better Choice?
Overall, no matter which city you choose between Alanya and Antalya, you’re sure to have a terrific time, as both of these places can offer some of the prettiest scenery and best beaches in the whole of the Turkish Riviera.
They have quite a lot in common, and Alanya is almost like a smaller and quieter version of Antalya, offering similar activities with a more subdued atmosphere. So, if you want peace and quiet, Alanya might be the better option for you.
However, in this head-to-head comparison, it’s Antalya that takes the win.
Antalya is the bigger and more diverse location, offering more beaches, more family attractions to keep kids entertained, better nightlife, and easier access, with the airport only a short drive away.