Things to Do in Side: Explore, Discover, and Immerse in this Coastal Gem
Hello, world travelers! Today, we’re going to embark on a virtual journey to one of the most breathtaking coastal towns in Turkey: Side.
A stunning blend of the past and present, this sun-soaked Mediterranean haven boasts an extraordinary array of things to do that will make you want to pack your bags right away.
So, ready to discover the top 10 things to do in Side, Turkey? Let’s dive in!
A Quick Introduction to Side
Nestled on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, Side is a town steeped in ancient history, home to myriad Roman ruins and artifacts that bear witness to its illustrious past.
Once a significant center of trade, this small yet vibrant town is now a popular tourist destination that attracts globetrotters with its beautiful beaches, sun-soaked climate, and array of attractions that are as diverse as they are captivating.
Top Attractions in Side
1. Roman Theater
The Roman Theater of Side is more than just an ancient relic; it’s a testament to the incredible architectural prowess of the Roman Empire.
As the largest theater in Pamphylia, an area that constitutes a significant part of Southern Turkey’s coastline, it stands as an awe-inspiring remnant of a culture that shaped the course of history.
With an impressive 49 rows of seating, this grand amphitheater once echoed with the voices of 15,000 spectators, their applause and cries reverberating off the stone edifice.
Although time has taken its toll, causing the collapse of some supporting arches and parts of the auditorium, the theater remains a well-preserved vestige of antiquity.
The stage walls, in particular, call for a closer examination. Here, you’ll find exquisitely detailed reliefs that have remarkably withstood the test of time, their intricate carvings offering a silent, yet eloquent, narrative of Roman mythology and historical events.
However, the theater’s historical riches extend beyond its confines. Just a stone’s throw away, you can wander through the remains of the agora, a Roman-era marketplace that was once the bustling heart of the city. Imagine the vibrant scene of merchants haggling, stalls brimming with goods, and colonnades echoing with chatter and commerce.
Adjacent to the agora, you’ll find another testament to Roman religion: the remnants of the circular Temple of Tyche. This sanctuary was dedicated to Tyche, the Roman goddess of fortune, a testament to the spiritual beliefs that were integral to Roman society.
The Roman Theater is conveniently located on Liman Caddesi, making it easily accessible for visitors.
For more details about visiting hours, ticket prices, and other information, visit the official site of Turkey’s Museums.
Whether you’re an avid history buff or simply appreciate the enchanting allure of bygone eras, the Roman Theater in Side is a destination that deserves a spot on your travel itinerary.
2. Temples of Apollo and Athena
Stepping onto Side’s ancient grounds, it’s easy to be transported back in time.
The city, which saw its first settlement as far back as 1000 BC, started to truly prosper during the 6th and 7th centuries BC when Greek settlers arrived, building a thriving colony and a bustling harbor.
As you stroll through the city, you’re walking on paths tread by civilizations that shaped world history.
And nothing encapsulates this sense of awe-inspiring antiquity more than the remnants of the ancient town’s two principal temples: The Temples of Athena and Apollo.
The Temples of Athena and Apollo, though no longer complete, stand at the tip of Side’s peninsula, looking out over the azure expanse of the Mediterranean Sea.
Each stone, each pillar, echoes the divine reverence these ancient civilizations held for Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, and Apollo, the god of music, truth, and prophecy.
As the ruins light up against the evening sky, you can almost hear the faint echoes of ancient hymns, feel the fervor of a civilization long gone but not forgotten.
But the historical experience doesn’t end there. Just nearby, Side’s harbor, once the lifeline of this ancient city, offers a perfect place for a sunset promenade.
As the day ebbs away, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, take a leisurely walk along the shoreline, dotted with cozy cafés.
Sip on a traditional Turkish tea as you soak in the panoramic views of the sun setting over the sea, the ancient ruins standing sentinel in its waning light.
The Temples of Athena and Apollo aren’t merely ancient structures; they’re a vivid testament to the rich tapestry of cultures that once flourished in this part of the world.
They are a must-visit destination for any history enthusiast or any traveler looking to truly immerse themselves in the essence of Side.
3. Monumental Fountain (Nymphaeum)
Once an impressive three-tiered structure, the Nymphaeum is a must-see for any history enthusiast.
This Roman-era fountain was a symbol of wealth and prosperity and served as a water supply for the city.
4. Manavgat Waterfalls
Take a day trip to the Manavgat Waterfalls, one of the most popular things to do in Side.
The spectacle of these broad, white waterfalls set amidst a verdant park is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Don’t forget to pack a picnic and your camera!
For more details about this spectacular destination, check out our comprehensive Manavgat Waterfall guide.
5. Selge Ancient City
Tucked away high up in the Taurus Mountains, within the stunning confines of Köprülü Canyon National Park, lie the ancient ruins of Selge.
Sitting amidst the modern village of Altinkaya Köyü, 74 kilometers northwest from Side, these ruins are an evocative testament to the rich tapestry of history that has shaped this region.
Founded, according to legend, by the blind prophet Kalchas and his Trojan War comrades, Selge’s remote location within the mountains provided it a natural defense against foreign invasion.
This isolation didn’t hinder the city’s growth, however. On the contrary, during the Roman period, Selge flourished as a commercial hub thanks to its harmonious relations with the coastal towns of Pamphylia.
Today, the extensive remnants of this ancient city offer a fascinating journey back in time.
History buffs could easily lose themselves for an entire day exploring the various ruins, each one a silent narrator of centuries-old tales.
The crown jewel of Selge’s historical attractions is undoubtedly its majestic Roman theater.
This spectacular structure, boasting 10,000 seats, stands as a grand monument to the city’s past cultural vibrancy.
Adjacent to the theater, you’ll find the remnants of the stadium, another testament to the city’s love for public entertainment.
A little to the southwest, the remnants of the Temple of Zeus and Temple of Artemis invite contemplation.
These sacred sites once held significant religious importance, and even in their ruined state, they emanate a palpable aura of reverence.
Scattered farther to the east, you’ll encounter the ruins of the agora, the central public space in the city.
Imagine the bustling marketplace that once thrived here, filled with the chatter of traders and the aroma of exotic spices.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a casual traveler, the ruins of Selge offer a unique and insightful window into the past, promising an unforgettable experience that will surely be one of the highlights of your visit to Side.
6. Köprülü Kanyon Milli Parkı
Just a short drive from Side, nestled about 70 kilometers northwest and seven kilometers east of Aspendos, lies a treasure of natural beauty and thrilling adventure – the Köprülü Kanyon Milli Parkı.
This expansive national park is a haven for both thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike, offering a unique blend of history, adventure, and serenity that is sure to enchant every visitor.
The park’s journey begins with the historic hump-back bridge. This impressive Seljuk-era structure, standing on Roman foundations, extends across the Köprü River, serving as a gateway to the natural wonders that lie beyond.
As you cross this ancient bridge, you’re literally stepping on centuries of history, bridging the gap between the past and the present.
Venture a little farther north, past the quaint village of Alabalik, and the river narrows, signaling the start of the breathtaking Köprülü Canyon National Park.
The landscape here dramatically transforms, with towering mountains and rugged cliffs creating an imposing gorge that cradles the roaring river below.
For adventure enthusiasts, Köprülü Kanyon is synonymous with one thrilling activity: white-water rafting.
The park is widely regarded as the top spot in the region for this exhilarating sport, with the river’s turbulent currents offering an adrenaline-pumping ride you won’t soon forget.
Don’t worry if you’re a beginner – half-day rafting trips, complete with safety briefings and equipment, are easy to arrange in both Side and Antalya.
However, Köprülü Kanyon Milli Parkı isn’t just for thrill-seekers. If you prefer to keep dry, there’s a plethora of hiking trails that meander through the park’s stunning landscape.
These trails offer a closer look at the area’s diverse flora and fauna, with each turn unveiling new scenic wonders.
And if all you want to do is sit back and marvel at the park’s stunning vistas, there’s plenty of room for that, too.
Scattered along the riverside, you’ll find numerous cafés where you can relax with a cup of Turkish coffee or tea, all the while soaking in the dramatic views of the gorge, the roaring river, and the abundant natural beauty that surrounds you.
No matter how you choose to spend your day at Köprülü Kanyon Milli Parkı, one thing is certain: this magnificent national park will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
7. Side Museum
Housed in the beautifully restored 2nd-century Roman bathhouse, the Side Museum may be small in size, but it packs a mighty punch with its rich collection of historical treasures.
Just across the road from the main entrance of Side’s Roman theater, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Despite its compact size, the museum takes you on a compelling journey through Side’s ancient history.
Here, you’ll find a meticulously curated collection of exhibits, including exquisitely detailed statuary, intricate sculptures, ornately decorated sarcophagi, and engraved steles.
Each piece in this remarkable collection was discovered locally at various excavation sites around Side, imbuing the museum with a deeply personal connection to the city and its history.
The museum’s location within a heavily restored 5th-century Roman bathhouse adds an extra layer of historical authenticity to your visit.
As you navigate the exhibits, it’s hard not to imagine the echoes of ancient conversations and the warmth of the Roman baths that once filled these halls.
After a day of exploring the sprawling agora ruins or clambering to the top tier of the neighboring theater’s seating, the Side Museum offers a welcome respite.
Its tranquil setting and captivating exhibits make it a must-visit spot on your journey through Side.
Whether you’re a history aficionado or just have a passing interest in Side’s historical context, a visit to the Side Museum will enrich your understanding and appreciation of this beautiful city and its captivating past.
8. Side Harbor
A bustling hub of activity, Side Harbor offers a wealth of things to do in Side Turkey at night.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll, savor some delicious local cuisine, and soak in the enchanting views of the moonlit Mediterranean Sea.
9. Discover the Magnificence of the State Agora
Step back in time as you explore the grandeur of the State Agora.
This imposing complex, located en route to Side’s East Beach, provides a peek into the city’s administrative past.
Unlike the bustling marketplace of Side’s central agora near the Roman Theater, the State Agora served a more stately purpose.
This distinguished area was a hub for public affairs, where significant decisions that shaped the city were likely made.
Dominating the eastern side of the complex is a two-story building, which is believed to have been a library.
Here, scribes might have painstakingly copied texts, scholars contemplated philosophical debates, and citizens sought wisdom within the scrolls.
Adding to the Agora’s intrigue is a columned niche that houses a figure of Nemesis, the goddess of fate.
This well-preserved artifact adds an air of mystery and solemnity, reminding us of the spiritual and superstitious beliefs that permeated ancient society.
Journey further from the agora, towards the eastern old town walls, and you’ll stumble upon the extensive ruins of the Byzantine bishop’s palace, principal, and baptistery.
These remarkable structures, dating from the 5th to 10th centuries AD, bear testimony to Side’s early Christian era.
Wandering through these age-old ruins, you’ll be taken on a journey through centuries of history, culture, and religious beliefs.
It’s a fascinating exploration that offers a deeper understanding of Side’s historical landscape.
The State Agora is more than just an archaeological site. It’s a testament to the city’s rich history, a story etched in stone, awaiting discovery.
It’s certainly a worthy stop for every traveler looking to unlock the ancient secrets of Side.
10. Experience the Sun-Kissed Beaches of Side
Renowned for its deep-rooted history and architectural grandeur, Side has more recently gained fame for something more contemporary and invigorating: its stunning, sun-drenched beaches.
During the summer months, when the skies are a perfect hue of blue, Side transforms into a popular haven for beach enthusiasts.
Travelers from across Europe and beyond converge here, trading the hustle and bustle of city life for the soft embrace of the warm sands along Side’s gorgeous coast.
In the heart of Side lies the renowned East Beach, the most frequented strip of sand and undoubtedly the pulse of the town’s beach scene.
This bustling coastal stretch is a vibrant mosaic of sun loungers dotting the golden sands, each one inviting you to unwind, soak up the sun, and forget about the world for a while.
A plethora of restaurants and cafés line the East Beach, ensuring your seaside experience is accompanied by a gastronomic adventure.
Relish the local delicacies or indulge in international cuisines, all while enjoying the panoramic vista of the azure sea.
Here, you have everything you need for a full day of leisure and relaxation, whether that’s reclining under a parasol with a good book, building sandcastles, or simply catching the sun’s rays for that perfect tan.
But East Beach isn’t just for rest and relaxation; it’s also an adventure hub. If the lure of adrenaline is your call, you’ll find a multitude of water sports activities on offer.
Engage in thrilling water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, or surfing, bringing a whole new level of excitement to your beach day.
Side’s beaches are more than just sun and sand; they are places where memories are made, from lazy days lounging by the sea to adrenaline-pumping water sports.
These beaches are a testament to Side’s blend of serene beauty and active lifestyle, offering the best of both worlds to its visitors. Come to Side’s beaches and let the rhythms of the sea rejuvenate your spirit.
Local Cuisine in Side
Side is not only known for its stunning beaches and historic ruins but also for its vibrant culinary scene. Here are some notable restaurants and bars that offer an array of delicious Turkish and international cuisines.
SİDE ORFOZ RESTAURANT & BAR
Situated with a picturesque view of Side, the SİDE ORFOZ RESTAURANT & BAR has carved out a niche for itself amongst local culinary enthusiasts and tourists alike, boasting an impressive 4.6rating on Google reviews from 838 users.
The restaurant celebrates the richness of Turkish cuisine and offers a variety of global dishes.
Some of their highlights include the sealed clay pot kebab, lamb shank with a thick tomato sauce, and a diverse selection of steak with mouth-watering sauces.
Fresh seafood is a specialty here, with daily catches by local fishermen prepared to your liking.
Sweet-toothed visitors will be enticed by the broad range of desserts, including a variety of ice creams.
They also offer an impressive collection of Turkish and international wines, along with local and imported drinks. For coffee aficionados, a selection of brews tailored to your taste awaits.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, with a special menu for children. For special occasions, Orfoz also offers catering services.
Side House Café & Bar
Nestled in the heart of Side, the Side House Café & Bar has firmly established its place in the region’s gastronomy scene.
It holds a commendable rating of 4.6out of 5 on Google reviews, a testament to its exceptional services, as gauged from 492 user reviews.
Its name reflects its architectural structure, similar to a house rather than a conventional bar or restaurant.
After a refurbishment in 2017, this eatery has transformed into a beautiful space with a captivating decorative harmony.
It’s located in one of the most attractive locations in the Side region, making it a delightful stop for those looking to indulge in the local gastronomy.
Karma Restaurant & Night Club
With its striking seaside location in ancient Side, the Karma Restaurant & Night Club provides its guests with a unique blend of fine dining, local produce, and vibrant nightlife.
With a 4.1rating on Google reviews accumulated from a large base of 1592 users, the venue has cemented its place as a prominent culinary and entertainment spot in the region.
The restaurant is a perfect spot for any occasion, whether you’re planning a birthday celebration, a romantic proposal, or an anniversary dinner.
With a love for nature and a commitment to creating the best ‘farm-to-table’ experience possible, Karma Restaurant provides a dining experience that’s both sustainable and delicious.
Each of these establishments offers a unique experience, giving you a taste of Side’s vibrant culinary scene. Whether you’re a fan of local Turkish cuisine or prefer international flavors, there’s something for everyone in Side.
Hotels and Accommodation in Side
Choosing the right accommodation is an important part of any vacation plan. In Side, you have an array of options to choose from, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels.
Here, we spotlight two reputable options – Aura Boutique Hotel and Sun Kiss Otel – that promise to make your stay comfortable and memorable.
Aura Boutique Hotel
Aura Boutique Hotel offers a blend of comfort, luxury, and excellent service.
All the 19 rooms are air-conditioned and come with free WiFi, a safe, and an array of modern amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.
You can look forward to starting your day with a complimentary breakfast buffet.
The hotel’s restaurant serves international cuisine, and the rooftop terrace is an ideal spot to unwind while taking in the stunning view.
To satisfy your sunbathing desires, a nearby private beach is accessible for guests.
Additional facilities include a library, laundry facilities, free self-parking, and bike rentals. If you need help with sightseeing, the hotel provides tour/ticket assistance.
An airport shuttle service is available, and the 24-hour front desk ensures help is always at hand.
Guest reviews particularly highlight the helpfulness of the staff, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable stay.
Sun Kiss Otel
With 28 comfortable rooms featuring 24-hour room service, air conditioning, free WiFi, and minibars, Sun Kiss Otel offers a relaxing and satisfying stay.
Wake up to a delicious free breakfast buffet each morning, and enjoy the international cuisine at the on-site restaurant.
The hotel boasts a seasonal outdoor pool for you to cool off during warm days and a terrace where you can relax and take in the sights.
A hair salon, bar, and laundry facilities are also available, adding convenience to your stay.
Sun Kiss Otel offers free self-parking, and an airport shuttle service is available for your travel needs. Other services include tour/ticket assistance, a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, and a billiards/pool table for your entertainment.
Guest reviews compliment the staff for their assistance, making your stay at Sun Kiss Otel an enjoyable experience.
Both Aura Boutique Hotel and Sun Kiss Otel provide all the comforts you need to enjoy your stay in Side, whether you’re here for the beaches, the ruins, the food, or the local culture.
Best Time to Visit Side
Side enjoys a Mediterranean climate, meaning it’s blessed with hot summers and mild winters.
The best time to visit largely depends on your personal preference. If you’re a sun-seeker, the summer months (June to August) offer long, sunny days perfect for beach activities.
However, if you’re more into sightseeing, the shoulder seasons (April to June and September to November) provide more comfortable temperatures. Learn more about the best time to visit Fethiye for a more detailed overview.
How to Get to Side
Side, with its blend of sun-soaked beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant markets, is an inviting destination on the Turkish Riviera.
If you’re traveling from Fethiye, another picturesque town in the southern region, here are some options you have to reach Side.
The bus is the most economical choice for travelers on a budget. Bus tickets range from 230 ₺ to 380 ₺.
The journey lasts approximately 4 hours and 46 minutes, providing a comfortable and scenic route through the beautiful Turkish countryside.
Buses are frequently available, making this a practical and economical mode of transport.
If speed and convenience are your top priorities, consider hiring a taxi. The ride will cost between 1,600 ₺ and 2,000 ₺.
It is the fastest option, taking around 3 hours and 28 minutes, depending on traffic. Taxis can be found readily in Fethiye and provide the advantage of a private and direct route to Side.
If you’re comfortable driving and want the freedom to explore at your own pace, consider renting a car and driving to Side.
The distance between Fethiye and Side is approximately 269 km, and the drive should take about 3 hours and 28 minutes.
However, be mindful of local driving rules and regulations to ensure a safe journey.
Whether you’re traversing the 202 km linear distance by bus or opting for a slightly longer but direct taxi ride or self-drive option, you can enjoy the captivating Turkish landscapes en route to Side.
Remember that the best mode of transport often depends on your personal preferences, budget, and timetable.
As always, travel times can vary based on several factors such as traffic, weather conditions, and the specific timing of your journey. Please refer to local resources and transportation services for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Safe travels!
From its historical marvels to its pristine beaches and delectable cuisine, Side truly is a Mediterranean gem.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, this town has a wealth of attractions that will captivate and leave you with unforgettable memories.
So, pack your bags, and get ready to delve into the rich history, stunning landscapes, and cultural vibrancy that Side has to offer. Happy travels!
Side is a picturesque coastal town located on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey.
Known for its rich ancient history, it's a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches and an array of captivating attractions.
Some of the top historical attractions in Side are the Roman Theater, the Temples of Apollo and Athena, the Monumental Fountain (Nymphaeum), and the ruins of the ancient city of Selge.
The Side Museum also hosts an impressive collection of local artifacts.
Aside from the beautiful beaches, visitors can explore the Manavgat Waterfalls, and Köprülü Kanyon Milli Parkı. The latter is especially known for its stunning landscapes and thrilling white-water rafting experiences.
If you love the sun, visit Side in the summer (June to August). For sightseeing, the shoulder seasons (April to June and September to November) offer more comfortable temperatures.
You can reach Side from Fethiye by bus, taxi, or self-drive. The bus is economical but takes longer. Taxis offer speed and convenience, while self-driving provides the freedom to explore at your own pace.