Turkey, or the Turkish Riviera in particular, did not impress me much during my first visit, 24 years ago. But that could also have to do with the company and my young age..:)
Last month I went back with more mature eyes and a mind for exploring, supported by my camera, drone and an amazing group of people, on a 5 day press trip with Corendon!
We went out to explore a part of the Turkish Riviera, which is actually very long and diverse, also known as the Turquoise Coast.
This coastal area in the provinces of Antalya and Muğla in southwest Turkey has the perfect combo of great climate, warm sea, mountainous scenery and plenty of beaches, along more than 1,000 kms of Aegean and Mediterranean waters. But also beautiful natural and archaeological sites, making it a popular holiday destination.
For this trip we focused on the region around Antalya, in between Side and Kemer. In this blog I will tell you all about it, including the stunning hotels we stayed at and some of the most unique restaurants, that you don't want to miss when visiting this region of Turkey!
Of course, as always, supported by several of my own (drone) pictures and based on my own experiences.
How to get to the Turkish Riviera?
From the Netherlands there are several airlines that fly directly to Antalya a few times a day, making it an easy destination to reach! We flew there with Corendon Airlines in less than 4 hours from Amsterdam.
From Antalya airport we drove to Beldibi in about 45 minutes, the location of our first hotel.
Where to stay?
As it's quite a touristic region, there's plenty of choice in hotels. However, if you want to stay directly on the beach, there are also more resorts located a bit outside Kemer. Upon arrival we stayed in an ultra-all-inclusive resort nearby, owned by Corendon:
Corendon Playa Kemer Resort
Although I usually prefer boutique hotels and hardly ever book all-inclusive, it was fun to review! And I must admit that the location and facilities of this resort were excellent.
Even the buffet food was delicious, with also a lot of vegetarian and gluten-free options, which truly surprised me!
Corendon Playa Kemer is actually located 10 kilometers from Kemer in a quiet location, right on the coast. And of course it has everything you might need:
5 bars and 3 restaurants to choose from; 1 buffet and 2 a-la-carte
Patisserie open till midnight, included in the all-inclusive package
4 pools, of which 1 with water slides and 1 inside, heated in winter
Spa facilities and fitness
Kids club & playground
306 rooms, from family to sea view, with a warm welcome, good bed, minibar, Nespresso machine, safe, Aircon and nice balcony
A disco on the private pier, with entertainment and music every night until 0.15/0.30 am
Although this is fun, do take into account that a room with seaside view will also hear this music until midnight..
What I especially loved about this resort is the abundance of sunbeds, by the pools and on the wide sand beach.
TIP: Don’t forget to also ask for a private pier cabana! Very luxurious with over-sea lounge nets, 4 sunbeds and a cabana seating up to 8 people, as you can see here:
Possible to rent for the day, incl.minibar and butler service, for an extra charge, but so worth it!
Find out more, with the best package rates for your preferred dates on: Corendon Playa Kemer Resort
Even though this resort has everything you need right there, I would strongly advise to do some exploring as well, as the scenery and sites in the vicinity are stunning.
Get an impression from this drone shot and watch out for my next blog about the best activities nearby!
Besides seeing sights, we also drove on down the coast to stay in another resort near Side:
Ali Bey Resort Sorgun
Again ultra-all-inclusive, as there are quite a few in Turkey:) But in my opinion this one was even better than the previous!
The entrance in traditional opulent style blew me away. And also this resort had an abundance of convenient facilities, located on a wide and spacious private beach.
Ali Bey Sorgun is situated just outside Side, right by the sea. The resort is so big that they drive you around in golfcarts over winding paths, surrounded by lush trees and flowers, making it feel like a fairy tale!
With also everything you might need:
4 pools, 1 with water slides and 1 adults-only, very tranquil and secluded
A patisserie, 5 bars, of which 2 on the beach, and 6 restaurants; 1 buffet and 5 a-la-carte
Extensive wellness with fitness, Spa facilities, and highly recommended massage treatments!
Kids club, playground and plenty of sport facilities, such as tennis-, basketball and soccer fields
12 buildings with a total of 429 rooms, each building is maximum 3 storeys high and has a lift
The rooms are very luxurious varying from deluxe, to family Suites, all with a good bed, minibar, safe, Aircon, balcony and I even had a jaccuzi! Get an impression in this gallery:
A disco, with entertainment every night and live music 2x a week, positioned a bit further from the rooms
They seemed to have thought of everything here! Even the big variety of cocktails are included in your package!
The service at Ali Bey Resorts is impeccable, the food delicious, with an abundance of options. All in beautiful colonial style buildings placed in a lush nature setting!
TIP: Also unique and great about this resort is that it's green key certified, sustainable and wheelchair-friendly. They even have pool lifts.
There's plenty of space for everyone, with several 15+ sections on both the beach, and 1 of the pools. However, they have much to offer especially for kids too.
Find the best options for your own stay on: Ali Bey Resort Sorgun
Where to eat?
Both resorts have several dining options. We sampled the buffet, as well as 1 of the a-la-carte restaurants at each hotel.
You do have to reserve in advance, for an extra charge, but this should not be missed.
At Corendon Playa Kemer we had dinner at the Bona Fides a-la-carte restaurant. Top notch, as you can see in this gallery of the 5 courses we enjoyed:
And at Ali Bey Resort Sorgun we had dinner at the Ottoman-styled chique a-la-carte restaurant Keyf’I Safa Anatolian Cuisine.
Perfect to enjoy delicious and typical Turkish dishes and delicacies!
But we also went for lunch and dinner outside the resorts, around Kemer and Side.
These 3 foodie hotspots are true must visits in my opinion, for their delicious food and amazing settings!
Selale Restoran in Ulupinar
Have lunch on the waterfalls amidst nature. This place is something you must experience and the traditional cuisine here was delicious. Do not miss when visiting the Kemer area!
Qualista Beach club at Playa de Anatolia
Located on a quiet stretch of sandy beach near Kemer. Hip, happening, yet relaxed, with great DJ and even better atmosphere.
You can chill here all day, as they have plenty of sunbeds and an extensive menu with the best cocktails to match!
Or come at the end of the afternoon, like we did, for appetizers and cocktails on the lounge seats, while watching the sun set in the sea!
After which you can have dinner in the half-open restaurant with direct sea views and great food!
I must say that I really loved Side. It’s a very diverse town with its quaint historic center and ancient excavations. But it has a wide promenade with a big offering of modern restaurants as well!
Varying from local, to international cuisine and also plenty of cute bars and shops.
We had dinner at an open-aired restaurant right on the boulevard.
Gua Side just opened the month before, after an extensive renovation, which showed!
This stylish lounge restaurant has a great vibe, even better atmosphere, delicious food, extensive cocktail menu and great sunset and sea views, especially from the top floor!
Get an impression in this gallery:
When to visit the Turkish Riviera?
The best time to visit this area of Turkey is generally the same as the rest of Europe. However, as this region is located more south, you can easily already go there in April or May, like we did.
This way you can avoid the crowds and the extremely high temperatures, often reaching over 40 degrees Celsius in July and August.
During our visit, half May, it was in between 22-25 degrees and mostly sunny during the day. But still got quite cold in the evenings, so do bring a jacket or vests.
Also September and October are great months to visit the Turkish Riviera for some autumn sun!
I hope I was able to convince you of the uniqueness of the Turkish Riviera, as it certainly impressed me this time! If so, make sure to check these hotels and restaurants to optimize your stay😊
There's also plenty to see and do here, especially if you're staying for 1 or 2 weeks!
I'm happy to inspire your sightseeing needs in my next blog!
Love to hear what you think of this part of southwest Turkey or if you’ve been to the Turkish Riviera before.
Feel free to let me know via the comments here or find me on social media via the buttons at the bottom of this page.