Alanya or Side? Which One to Visit?

Alanya or Side? Which One to Visit?

Are you thinking about spending your holidays in the Turkish Riviera and not sure which resort to pick? You've come to the right place. In this post, you'll find everything you need to know. Turkey is great for people who love to sunbathe on sandy beaches or by hotel pools, enjoy learning about history, and like nightlife. There's something here for everyone.

The Turkish Riviera is Turkey's top holiday spot. It's a long coastal area in the southwest of Turkey along the Mediterranean Sea. It's a hit with visitors all year round, but the busiest time is summer (May - September), when temperatures can hit 35 degrees!

We'll look at two cities loved by tourists: Alanya and Side.


Alanya and Antalya are two places that often get mixed up because their names sound similar. But it's important to know they are different. Antalya is a big city with its own airport, where most people start and end their vacation. It's a very big place, the main city of the area, and more than 2 million people live there.

Alanya, on the other hand, is a smaller beach town with about 200,000 people living there. It's between the Taurus Mountains and the warm Mediterranean Sea. It's the most liked beach spot on the Turkish Riviera and is about 140 km east of Antalya.

Alanya's Strengths:

  • It's a big city with lots of busy streets, shops, bars, and cafes.
  • People who love nightlife will enjoy it here!
  • For those who like to shop, Alanya is a great place because there are more options and the prices are better than in shops at hotels.
  • Even though it's a big city, you can get around quickly by walking, taking a bus, or a taxi.
  • Alanya is lively all year round, so if you're thinking of visiting outside the busy season, you won't find it empty or see shops closed! It's not just for tourists; it's also a university city with two big universities. You'll see a lot of young people from Turkey hanging out in cafes, parks, and shops.
  • There are lots of hotels to choose from - from fancy 5-star hotels on the city outskirts, smaller hotels in the city center, to more affordable ones.

What to See in Alanya?

  1. Cleopatra Beach - This is a big beach in Alanya on the west side of the city. It's 4 km long. The beach has sand and rocks, and the water is a clear blue color. There's a story that Queen Cleopatra of Egypt bathed here, which is why it's named after her. The beach is clean, as shown by the Blue Flag award it has received.


  1. Alanya Castle - This is the most famous place in the city! The castle was built in the 14th century and sits on a hill 250 meters high. You can see the beaches and the city from the top. Tourists can visit the ruins, and there's a cable car that's been taking people up the hill for 3 years.


  1. The Port - This is where all the parties happen in Alanya. The port has several key spots like the restored Seljuk shipyard (Tersane), the Red Tower with the Ethnographic Museum inside (Kızılkule), and the "Old Town" area (Tophane) with cool cafes, hotels, and stone houses. There's also a lighthouse (Deniz Feneri) where you can see the harbor and the Taurus Mountains and take pictures. At night, the port turns into a busy place with music, restaurants, bars, pubs with live music, and clubs. It's great for people who like nightlife.


  1. Damlataş Cave - This cave is near Cleopatra Beach. It's called "Dripping Stone" because of the water that drips from the ceiling. The air inside is good for people with breathing problems like asthma. The temperature inside is always 22 degrees.


  1. Traditional Turkish Bazaar - Markets are a big attraction in Alanya. Each area has a market on a certain day. You can buy food like fruits, vegetables, cheese, olives, spices, and Turkish sweets here. There are also souvenirs and Turkish clothes. The biggest market is on Friday, called Cuma Pazari, in the city center near the bus loop.


  1. Dim River - This spot is a bit away from Alanya's center. Dim River has a mountain river with restaurants set up so they're almost on the water. It's a cool place to escape the city's heat. You can spend the whole day here, relax, and eat Turkish food like trout. The river water is cold, about 10 - 12 degrees, but there are pools with warmer water.


  1. City Mosque - Visiting a mosque is a good way to learn about another culture and religion. The city mosque is a beautiful building with blue decorations. Everyone can enter, but you have to take off your shoes, cover your shoulders and knees, and women should cover their hair with a scarf.


  1. Observation Deck - This place has become very popular for seeing Alanya from a high spot. It's good to visit during the day or at sunset. There's a big "I LOVE ALANYA" sign you can see from many places in the city. There are also restaurants where you can eat Turkish food and enjoy the view of Alanya.

Alanya's Nightlife Scene

At night, Alanya becomes a lively place that visitors should see. The harbor area is full of bars, nightclubs, and places to eat, offering different kinds of food and entertainment. If you like live music, want to dance, or just have a calm dinner by the beach, Alanya has it all. The city is friendly and provides a fun night combining Turkish hospitality with a modern party atmosphere.


Our next tourist spot is Side, located halfway between Alanya and Antalya. It's the second favorite place for Slovaks visiting Turkey for a holiday. Side is a beautiful town set on old ruins. It's quieter and smaller than Alanya but very lovely. You can find both luxury and small hotels here.

The beaches are long, wide, and sandy, gently sloping into the sea, making it perfect for families with kids. The area is known for its blue sea and the Taurus Mountains' views. Antalya Airport is only an hour away or 60 km, making it closer than Alanya.

Side’s Strengths:

  • Side is a small town perfect for people who like quiet places.
  • There are many new fancy hotels.
  • The beach in Side is great for kids or beginners in swimming because it has a gentle slope, shallow water, and soft sand.
  • In the city center, buildings are not tall and streets are broad, making it quieter than Alanya.
  • Side is close to the big city of Manavgat, where you can shop at a well-known market or a mall.
  • It's quicker to get to the airport from Side than from Alanya.
  • Side is more peaceful after the tourist season, but many hotels and spots are still open.
  • It's not as sticky and wet as Alanya, making the weather nicer during the busy season.

What to See in Side?

  1. Old town of Side - also known as Antik Side. Here you find the famous Temple of Apollo, which you see in many pictures and postcards of the city. It's a must-visit landmark!


  1. Side Archaeological Museum - it's in the old part of town.


  1. Side Theater - a well-kept old theater.


  1. Theater in Aspendos - this is a bit away from the city, towards Antalya. It's one of the best-kept theaters around! It sounds amazing inside - you can hear music perfectly even far back in the seats without microphones or speakers. Every year, they have the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival here.


  1. Manavgat Waterfall - a small, nice waterfall on the Manavgat River near Side. It's fun for kids because you can also find stands selling famous Turkish goat milk ice cream!

Side's Nightlife Scene

Side's nightlife may not be as busy as in big cities, but it's still special. You can find different things to do at night. There are beach bars where you can drink a cocktail with your feet in the sand. There are also places that have live music and you can listen to it outdoors at night. Most places to go out at night are near the harbor and old town, which makes it very pretty. If you want something more exciting, there are clubs that are open until very late. So, if you just want to have a quiet drink or if you want to dance a lot, Side has options for everyone.


Both places are nice and have their own special things. Side is more built-up than Alanya and feels like a busy tourist city. The restaurants and hotels are fancy, and the resorts are beautiful. The streets and markets are full of activity. Side is perfect if you want a lively holiday. The people are friendly but don't go out of their way to make friends or make tourists feel super welcome. So, you can enjoy being around people without having to interact too much if you don't want to.

Alanya is more relaxed and natural. It's more about nature and beauty than man-made attractions. The valleys, greenery, and rivers in Alanya are very peaceful. The people are very welcoming, and tourists often join local celebrations. The restaurants and hotels in Alanya are simpler than in Side. Alanya is smaller and everything is closer together.

The food in both places is great, so there's no worry about finding good things to eat. Both places also have interesting local culture and historical sites, so they're equally interesting in that way.

Think about what kind of holiday you want to decide where to go. Either way, both places are great and have lots to see and do. You'll have a fun time wherever you choose!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.