Unique, Unusual & Offbeat Things to Do in Antalya, Turkey
While there’s no shortage of beaches in Antalya (it is Turkey’s largest international sea resort), there’s plenty more to this city of a million souls than sun and sand to keep you occupied — especially if you are keen on the unusual. Here are some of my picks for quirky things to do in Antalya:
St. Nicholas Church/Museum
Since this was the most visited site in all of Antalya in 2013, this is where the offbeat becomes mainstream. It’s the church that was built to honour Santa Claus. Built in the 6th century to accommodate the faithful who came to pay their respects to Saint Nick (yes, they had tourists even back then), since 2005 it’s officially been known as the St. Nicholas Museum, and religious services are no longer held here.
Marmara Antalya Hotel
The main building of this hotel along the Falez cliffs on the outskirts of Antalya may be nothing special, but it’s the annex that’s got people talking. The 24 guest room building is the world’s only revolving hotel, taking anywhere from 2 to 22 hours for a full rotation (depending on how much Turkish coffee the guy at the controls has had I suppose.)
With 1:25 scale exact replicas of just about every major piece of architecture in Turkey, MiniCity is the jewel in the crown of quirky Antalya. Although it’s geared more towards kids, adults can still spend a couple of hours here admiring the handiwork. Like it’s sister museum in Istanbul, this outdoor attraction offers copies of everything from Hagia Sofia to the Blue Mosque to eastern Turkey’s eerie Easter Island-like statues of Nemrut Dagi. And it’s only about 3 bucks to get in.
Antalya Toy Museum
Inspired by its larger cousin — the Istanbul Toy Museum, this small but worthwhile entry into Antalya’s museum scene harbours over 3000 toys from the 1860s onwards. Opened in 2011, the collection has a strong focus on Turkish and European toys.
Thomas Cook Airlines flights to Antalya operate year-round, but you’ve only got from May 1 to November 30 to catch The International Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival at SANDLand. Now in its 8th year, the festival draws sand artisans from around the globe who sculpt, shape, and shovel more than 10,000 tons of sand into epic creations. After last year’s Empires theme, featuring astounding monuments to Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan among others, the 2014 committee hopes to recreate the success with this year’s theme Empires II. Tickets are 15 Turkish Lira for adults (around $7 USD) and 6 TL for kids (just under $3 USD.)