Where to see and what to do in Side – my TOP 15
The sights of Side in Turkey – something worth coming to this ancient Turkish city for. On a relatively small area there are about a dozen magnificent monuments of architecture. What kind, you ask? Read my review and know where to see and what to see in Side and its environs!
What to see in Side itself
Side is a picturesque city about 75 km to the west of Antalya. The city is still in a good state of preservation and was surrounded by medieval fortress walls. Holidays in Side will be rich and exciting if you prepare in advance for the trip. For example, to learn where the major attractions of the city, and how much money to set aside for their visit. So, where to go in Side itself?
If you want to not hackneyed excursions from the guides, you can read my article about unusual excursions from Side, which are organized for you by locals. They can get and long excursions, such as to go and see Istanbul or even go to Israel.
Преимущества: — карта открывается в дружественной России стране, которая не попадает под санкции; — карта именная (Visa или Mastercard), работает в любой точке мира; — карта может быть в долларах, евро, мультивалютная. — картой можно оплатить иностранные подписки Google и Apple, приложения, осуществить покупку криптовалюты, оплатить тур для путешествия или авиабилет и тд.>
Temple of Dionysus
One of the main attractions of the city is located in the historical district of Side. It was built in the 3rd century AD. Today only a small part of the once massive structure has survived. It is believed that in the past the temple was divided into several equal parts. The main premise had standard proportions, its size was 7 m by 17 m. It stood on a high podium.
A staircase of several steps led to the inner chamber. The central entrance was decorated with high columns; at its base stood a red granite. Look for the remains of the temple not far from Havana Street. Nearby is the Roman theater.Entrance is free and round the clock.
Temple of Dionysus
Temple of Apollo
Another interesting and ancient attraction is the Temple of Apollo. It was built presumably in the second century A.D. It was badly damaged after the earthquake that came to the city in the tenth century. The temple is protected by the state. If documents are to be believed, the building had a rectangular shape.
It was surrounded on all sides by rows of columns. Today we can see only five entire columns, each reaching a height of nearly 9 meters. The upper part of the temple was decorated with bas-reliefs in the form of jellyfish heads and vegetative ornaments.
The Temple of Apollo is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in the southwestern part of Side. You can look at it at any time of the day or night and it is completely free. After sunset there is a beautiful illumination. Part of the attraction is enclosed by a grid.
Temple of Apollo in Side
The Ancient Amphitheater of Side
A great example of Roman heritage, the “relative” of the immortal Colosseum is the Turkish amphitheater in Side. It has long served as an arena for brutal gladiatorial fights involving wild animals. Construction began in the 2nd century BC. The building was designed for 16,000 spectators.
The stage occupied two levels. It was decorated with beautiful statues, columns and bas-reliefs. Originally the theaters were supposed to show theatrical performances, and only later the idea to turn the arena into a place for human and animal fights came up. In the VI century the structure was used as a temple, then it was subjected to earthquakes and countless wars.
Today the amphitheater is used for musical and theatrical performances and excursions. The rows, galleries, the central entrance and the stage are in good condition.
The entrance to the amphitheater costs 30 Turkish liras (about 330 rubles). Working hours are from 8:00 to 17:30.
Ancient Amphitheater in Side
The monumental architectural construction was erected in honor of the mythical creatures – the Nymphs. Water was supplied to the fountain by an aqueduct laid from the Manavgat River. It is said that all the inhabitants of the city used it to quench their thirst.
Look for this attraction in the northeastern part of the city. Nearby is the central city gate. The fountain was built in 3 floors. Its height – 5 m, width – 35 m. Today there are 2 floors preserved in good condition. The sides are decorated with marble and intricate ornaments. Some elements were moved into the city museum.
In the ancient Greek period the Agora was a central marketplace. Not only was it used for trading, but also for solving important issues of the city life. There were tents, temples and craft shops in the Agora. Its perimeter was fenced, decorated with columns and pilasters.
The square erected in the II century BC is still preserved in Side. It had a quadrangular shape, and the total area was 90 sq.m. There was a temple of Tyuhe and a public toilet for 24 people, the laprina. The temple was built in honor of the goddess of luck, the patroness of the city of Tiuhe.
Getting to the Agora by public transport is inconvenient, but possible. The nearest bus stop is at a distance of 3 km from the site. The bus stop is called SideOtogarı. There is a shuttle bus number 639. From the bus stop go in a southwest direction. Entrance to the Agora is free and round the clock.
Archeological Museum in Side
The Archaeological Museum is located in the historic district of the city, near the amphitheater. It consists of 4 rooms. The first hall contains rare bas-reliefs from the Hellenistic period, a collection of sundials, sacrificial paraphernalia. The second hall contains sculptures of the Roman period. The third is statues, inscriptions, and torsos. The fourth room – ancient Roman tombs, statues of gods, portraits of kings.
Exhibits can be touched with hands and be photographed against their background. The museum itself is set up in the ancient Roman baths. Tour guides begin their stories with an excursion about the importance of the Roman baths for society. The entrance fee is 10 lira (≈110 rubles). The schedule is from 9:00 to 17:00.
Archeological Museum in Side
What to see around Side
This Turkish city is often called a museum in the open air. But there is a lot to see on the outskirts of Side. I advise you to rent a car and go on a fascinating journey on your own. Car rentals are located in the city center. Where should I go?
The first thing to see in the vicinity of Cité is the picturesque waterfall. The exact address is SarılarMahallesi, İstiklalcaddesi no:4, 07330 Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey. It is 3 km northeast of Side.
Nearby is the homonymous town of Manavgat. The waterfall is 40 m wide and 2 m high. It is an artificial structure that was created during the construction of the local reservoir. It often goes under water, especially in early spring, when there is a flood.
The waterfall is surrounded on all sides by food stalls, market stalls, small restaurants, which, by the way, serve excellent fish dishes. But the prices are higher than average. A lot of greenery, conifers and flowers. The entrance to the area is paid – 6 liras (≈65 rubles). It is allowed to take photos.
Aspendos is an ancient and picturesque village located 27 km far from Side. If we believe the chronicles, Aspendos was founded immediately after the Trojan War. The magnificent geographical position and the mild climate in a short time transformed the city into a successful trading center. They planted vineyards and olive groves, bred horses that were valued in all cities of the ancient world.
Today it has a poorly developed tourist infrastructure. Most visitors prefer a day trip back to Side. In Aspendos there are no major entertainment centers, supermarkets, hotel complexes.
You have to come here for the beautiful Roman amphitheater, the city’s main attraction. Once it could hold more than 1,000 people. There are 39 rows of steps leading to the arena. At 1 km from the amphitheater are the basilica and the ruins of an aqueduct that for years supplied the city with water. It is still considered the largest on the territory of southern Turkey.
If you’re going to Aspendos by car, you need the highwayD400. After the village of Serik you will see a sign for BelkisAspendos.
Another beautiful ancient city is Seleucia (Pamphylia). The distance to Side is 15 km to the north. The city of Seleucia was founded in 321 BC by Seleucus Nikator. He named the area after himself. Today the area is a large ruin, which can be explored for free.
The ruins are scattered across the mountainside. Here you can see the remains of the mausoleum, Roman baths and temples. It is surrounded by a pine forest. Strategically the position is very advantageous. Seleucia was naturally protected from enemies. By the way, this remoteness helped to save the ruins from looting. You can leave your car at the entrance to the city.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water and food. There are almost no stores in Seleucia. Be careful and watch your step. The risk of stumbling and getting hurt is high. There is a wonderful panorama from the ruins, it is worth bringing your camera.
The Ruins of Perge
The city of Perge was in ancient times the thriving center of Pamphylia. The date of its foundation is the 15th century BC. In the first half of our era, strong military structures were built in the city, which are still preserved today. They are located at the entrance to the city. In addition to them, one can see the following monuments of architecture:
The city of Perge is essentially an archaeological ruin. There is no infrastructure here. Come here early in the morning and return to Side after dusk.
The beautiful oasis in the Taurus Mountains is situated ca. 40 km far from Side. It is situated near the dam lake Oymapınar. The total area of the reserve is 14 km. The clearest water of turquoise color, mountains, dense vegetation create perfect conditions for the calm contemplative rest.
In Green Canyon you can go fishing, boating, snorkeling and swimming. You can see the area from the observation deck. There are cafes and stores nearby, but it is not advisable to stay overnight in Green Canyon. Entrance to the area is free.
The waterfall is located in the Turkish national park of the same name, in a pine and cedar forest. The grand opening took place in 1986. The name means “lead” because of the dark color of the falling water. The waterfall appeared with the help of tributaries of the Aksu River. Its height is 18 meters.
The water falls into the clearest blue lake, it is very beautiful. It is forbidden to swim in it, but you can walk a bit and find yourself in one of the lagoons. There are ducks swimming in them, a lot of fish. They say if you touch the water and make a wish, it will definitely come true.
The Kursunlu Falls are located near the Antalya Airport. This is 75 km from Side. You can take the D685.
The waterfall of Kursunlu
Where to go with children in Side
The tourists who like ancient culture and religion choose Side as their holiday destination mainly for inquisitive tourists who are interested in ancient culture and religion. However, you can easily come to Side with your family. There is plenty to do there along with the kids!
Sealanya Sea Park
Sealanya Sea Park was opened in 2008. It occupies an area of 5 thousand hectares, on which 15 swimming pools with sharks, rays, dolphins and other sea inhabitants are located. Equipped with a tropical beach for sunbathing and artificially created river, on which you can take a boat ride.
The park is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00. Entrance fee: adults €50, children from 4 to 9 years old €40. Under 4 years old free of charge. A shark dive will cost you €50. Master class with dolphins €100.
How to get to Sealanya Sea Park? It is located between Avsalar and Konakli villages. The distance to Side is 44 km. From the city center there is a shuttle bus service that takes you to the amusement park.
Sealanya Sea Park
Water park – Troy Aqua Park
Aquapark is situated in Belek, 42 km away from Side. It is decorated in the style of the ancient city of Troy. A lot of people. “The calling card” of the place is a 100-meter slide in the form of a Trojan horse. In addition to it, there are several swimming pools, dozens of attractions, cafes, souvenir stores, and a Jacuzzi. There is also a dolphinarium, where shows are held twice a day in summer. There are a lot of animals: sea lions, seals and walruses.
Working schedule of the water park: from 10:00 to 16:30. The entrance fee to the water park for the whole day – 55 lira (≈ 602 rubles) for adults and 35 lira (≈ 383 rubles) for children from 5 to 15 years. Entrance to the territory is free up to 5 years old.
Troy Aqua Park
Manavgat river boat trip
If you want to go on an exciting river adventure, welcome on a yacht! Book the scenic route for €20 per person. Children under 7 years old are free of charge, you only need to pay for lunch – €3. The price of the tour includes return transfers from the hotel, an hour-long walk on the river, a stop for bathing (45 minutes) and lunch on the boat.
You can visit the waterfall itself for a fee and buy souvenirs. You need to bring water, a camera, sunglasses, headgear, swimsuit. This trip will bring a pleasant variety to your vacation! The sights of Side are beautiful and varied. The best time to visit them is from May to October. It’s dry, full of calm, warm, but not sultry outside.
The walks will be a pleasure! In addition, in summer the daylight hours are 11-11.5 hours, and you can easily go out of town without fear of darkness, and the dangers that it often brings.
Manavgat by boat
Things to see and do in Side.
Side (Turkey) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Side with descriptions, guides and maps.
Side City, Side (Turkey).
Side is a city in southwestern Turkey in the region of Antalya. It is a popular family resort on the Mediterranean coast with stunning Greek and Roman ruins. Side is the main city and port of ancient Pamphylia with a huge historical and cultural heritage, and a great vacation spot with a warm cosmopolitan atmosphere, beautiful beaches and an ideal Mediterranean climate.
Side is full of relics of the past, which are recognized as some of the most important ruins in Asia Minor. The city has an ancient and rich history, “remembering” the times of Alexander the Great, the ancient Greeks and the Romans. Particularly stunning is the ancient old town, where among the impressive ancient ruins are hotels, restaurants and stores, creating a perfect contrast with the turquoise sea and golden sand.
What to do (Side):
355 €320 for a guided tour
Antalya Old Town and Düden Falls: A trip from Side
Take a walk through the colorful Kaleici neighborhood and visit its landmarks with a professional guide
€200 for the tour
The Antique City of Side, Manavgat Waterfalls, and the Mosque of Kuliye
Hear stories of the ancient ruins, take pictures of the wide waterfall and admire the decoration of the mosque.
Geography and Climate
Side is located on the east coast of the historic Pamphylia region just an hour’s drive from Antalya. Side is situated on a small peninsula which is less than one and a half kilometers across. It is surrounded by sandy beaches, which are stretched on both sides.
The climate in Side is Mediterranean with long, hot and dry summers, followed by humid and very mild winters. In July and August, Side, like much of the Mediterranean, is hot. The beach season lasts from May to October.
The distance to some cities: Antalya is 65 km, Ankara is 615 km, Istanbul is 790 km, Konya is 300 km.
- The population is more than 10,000 people.
- The language is Turkish.
- Currency is Turkish Lira.
- Visa – For a stay up to 60 days, it is sufficient to have a passport that is valid for more than four months from the date of entry into Turkey.
- Time – UTC +2, +3 in summer.
The Sea in Side
Beaches in Side
Side has two large beaches, located on the eastern and western sides of the peninsula, as well as a small cozy sandy cove in the ancient city. The west has many hotels, while the eastern beach includes ancient ruins and is much less crowded.
This is how Side was in Antiquity.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit is between May and September. The most comfortable weather for a beach holiday is in June and September, when it is not so hot.
The sea in June warms up to 24 – 25 ° C, and the average air temperature is kept at 30 ° C. In September, the sea is much warmer.
Side was founded by Greek settlers in the 7th century BC. Interestingly, the Greeks encountered indigenous settlers here, who spoke a language called Sidet. From the Anatolian dialect the city’s name translates as “pomegranate”. Side quickly became one of the most important cities of Pamphylia and a major port.
In the 5th century BC. Side belonged to the Persians. In the 4th century BC, the city surrendered without a fight to Alexander of Macedon. Later it was owned by the Ptolemies and Seleucids. In the 2nd century BC. Side was part of the Kingdom of Pergamum, which was then conquered by Rome.
Antique ruins of Side
During the Roman period, Side reached its highest point of prosperity. In the 1st century BC, the city was taken over by pirates who made it their base and the center of the slave trade. In 67 BC, Roman troops under the command of Pompey cracked down on the pirates, but the slave market was not closed.
During the Roman period, especially in the 2nd century A.D., the city was adorned with splendid structures. Unfortunately, due to the weakening of Roman power, the raids of the northern tribes began. As the raids continued into the 4th century, the city walls were strengthened and repaired and later inner city walls were built, dividing the city into two parts. Despite all these measures, Side still began to lose its importance and wealth. Even the residence of the bishop in the Byzantine period did not save the situation. The town was abandoned in the 7th and 8th centuries after fierce raids by pirates, Arabs and earthquakes.
The modern history of Side began with the formation of the village of Selimiye in the early 20th century. A little later, archaeological excavations began, which found most of the ancient city, but significant portions of the ancient buildings still remain underground. Most of the ruins that are visible today – the theater, city walls, agora, and temples date back to the Roman period. Now Side has become a popular tourist destination and a true open-air museum.
How to get there
The nearest airport is Antalya. To get to Side by bus first you need to go to Manavgat bus station. Then you can take a minibus (dolmuş), for example, from the center of Manavgat or bus 143T. Side is conveniently located 2 km from the main highway of the Turkish Mediterranean, so it has excellent accessibility from most major cities in the region.
Antique Side has a huge number of stores offering souvenirs, sweets, traditional Turkish products, as well as a huge selection of clothes and shoes. Be sure to haggle, as the price can be a little overpriced. Most merchants are true polyglots and understand not only English, but also Russian. In addition to the Turkish Lira, they accept Euros and Dollars.
Because Side is a popular resort, for shopping it is better to visit the market of Manavgat or the shopping center.
Side is popular with tourists from Germany, England, Scandinavia, so the cost of the check in a restaurant here is somewhat higher than in some other resorts of Turkey. From the food we recommend to try fish and seafood, as well as traditional Turkish cuisine.
If you move away from the ancient city you can save a lot of money. In this case, the quality of food can even be higher.
The main attraction of Side is the antique town, which is pedestrianized. Here, among the hotels and stores there are scattered ruins of ancient fortifications, temples and other structures. The most famous landmarks of antique Side are: the theater, the temple of Athena and Apollo, the agora, and the Vespasian Gate.
The ancient city was surrounded by fortress walls, construction of which began in the 2nd century BC or even earlier. The best preserved city fortifications are on the eastern side of Side. The fortifications in the bay have not stood the test of time, so you can see fragments of ancient walls and columns in the sea and on the beach.
The ancient Roman theater is one of the main attractions of Side. This imposing structure was the largest theater in ancient Pamphylia and could hold 15,000 spectators. Although several of the supporting arches have collapsed, destroying part of the auditorium, it is still a magnificent example of ancient Roman architecture.
Just behind the theater are the ruins of the agora (Roman marketplace), which was originally surrounded by colonnades with stores. Next to the agora are the remains of the circular temple of Tihe or Fortuna (dedicated to the Roman goddess of prosperity and good luck).
Temple of Fortuna
The Roman theater in Side is completely different from the most common type of theater in Anatolia, built on a natural slope. Since the city is located on a plain, it was built on two-story galleries supported by arches and vaults. Architecturally, the theater somewhat resembled the magnificent Colosseum in Rome. And it too was an arena for gladiatorial games in the late Roman period. The high wall that surrounded the orchestra also protected the audience from the dangers of such events.
The theater at Side was decorated with monumental columns, statues and reliefs with mythological figures. A flat earthen orchestra surrounded by a water channel indicates that water games were held here in ancient times. Later this structure was used for open-air religious ceremonies in the 5th and 6th centuries.
Temples of Apollo and Athens
The temples of Apollo and Athena are probably the most famous landmarks of Side. These antique buildings were erected in the 2nd century AD and are located by the sea at the top of the peninsula, forming a single architectural ensemble. What remains of the temples are parts of the columns and the facade. If you wander around the area, you can see some interesting ruins.
The Temple of Apollo stands on the square that marks the end of the colonnaded road of the ancient city. These ruins with fragments of white marble columns are one of the most remarkable gems of ancient Side and are especially beautiful at sunset.
Temple of Apollo
The temple built nearby, dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, features Corinthian columns and capitals with marble epistyle blocks decorated with reliefs depicting garlands of branches and plants. Ancient Side was a center of trade, and temples were built near the harbor so that the gods would protect and guard the city’s prosperity.
Not far from the ancient temples are the ruins of a Byzantine three-nave basilica, built in the Romanesque style. The original church building was destroyed by fire in the 9th century.
The Vespasian Gate is an arched gate in the northern part of the ancient city built in the 1st century AD to commemorate the arrival of the Roman emperor of the same name. Unfortunately, the ancient construction is rather badly destroyed, but even now it amazes with its monumentality. At the gate are also the ruins of a fountain, which was also built in honor of Emperor Vespasian and was once decorated with beautiful sculptures.
The gate is situated between two stone towers. On both sides of the walls were arranged arches with niches that once housed statues of emperors and nobles. The road leading from the arched gate was the main one in the ancient city.
Ruins of an ancient fountain
The main gate dates from the 2nd century AD and, together with the horseshoe-shaped courtyard and the colonnade, it was also used for ceremonial processions. The monumental fountain opposite the gate had three wide arches and a pool. It was also built in the 2nd century. It is the largest ancient fountain in Anatolia. Originally it had three levels and was decorated with marble linings and reliefs, but only one level survives. Water was supplied to the fountain by aqueducts from the Manavgat River.
The State Agora of Side
The State Agora is an imposing ancient public complex on the road to the eastern beach (not to be confused with the commercial agora by the theater). If you continue toward the eastern walls, you can get to the extensive ruins of the Byzantine bishop’s palace, basilica, and baptistery. These early Christian structures date from the 5th-10th centuries AD.
The state agora is situated on the seashore and consists of an inner courtyard surrounded by a colonnade of Ionic columns, porticoes and three large halls. The niches of the agora once housed exquisite statues of Apollo, Ares, Asclepius, Hermes and Nike, which are now on display in the Side Museum. The original structure was two stories high, and the central hall was imperial. The side halls are believed to have been used as a library or archives.
Beyond the western and eastern sections of the city walls are the remains of two necropolises including column bases, marble sarcophagi and vaulted tombs.
The civil architecture of ancient Side is also interesting. Typically, two-story houses with wood frames filled with brick and rough stone walls were built here. When walking around the old town, you can see many foundations of ancient buildings.
The main road along which was the main social and cultural life of Side was lined with porticoes providing safe access to stores and houses. This path led through the agora and downtown, where the baths, theater, and fountains once stood, to the harbor and temples.
There were three colonnaded streets in Side. The first began at the main gate and led to the arch by the ancient theater. This is now the main thoroughfare to the ancient city, on the sides of which you can see fragments of columns and old buildings. The second road also started at the gate and led southwards. It is somewhat better preserved. The third colonnade started from the arch and led to the temples of Apollo and Athena.
To the left of the main road is the commercial agora, one of the two central squares in the city. In addition to its traditional function as a place for trade and a forum for discussion of the political and economic situation, the merchant agora was a slave market. In the 1st century AD, a corridor was also built here that connected it to the theater. In the center of the agora, where slaves were traded, there used to be a temple dedicated to Fortuna with 12 columns with Corinthian capitals.
One of the best preserved structures of the agora is the latrium, a crescent-shaped structure which was an ancient bathroom. Interesting are the grids of the drainage system which were unknown in continental Europe at that time. However, the structure also has an artistic value. The floor of the ancient toilets was decorated with mosaics and the walls were covered with white marble.
Not far from Side (15 km to the north) in a picturesque pine forest lie the charming ruins of ancient Seleucia. Not much is known about the history of this city, so archaeologists are still arguing about its exact identity. Some suggest that it is not Seleucia at all, but rather the town of Lirba.
Found here is a large bath complex, a well-preserved agora with surviving storerooms, colonnades and stores, a Byzantine church and a small odeon with mosaics of Orpheus. On the way here you can see the Roman aqueduct that once supplied water to ancient Side, and admire the waterfalls on the river Manavgat.
All the most interesting archaeological finds are preserved in the local museum. Side Museum is located in a 2nd century Roman bath, which was restored in the 5th century, and is across the street from the main entrance to the Roman theater. Among its exhibits are many fine sculptures, sarcophagi and engraved stelae that have been discovered at excavation sites.
355 €320 for a guided tour
The Ancient Cities of Perge and Aspendos: Journey from Side
Walk around the ruins of Perge and Aspendos, immerse yourself in ancient history and admire nature
650 €585 for the tour
From Side to Pamukkale and Ancient Hierapolis
Walking on snow-white mountainsides, relaxing in hot thermal waters and visiting the ancient city.