About Side beaches
Side (which means ‘pomegranate’) is a delightful little resort with the modern town threaded through the ancient monuments. If anything, it has been a victim of its own success, so crammed with people in season that there is barely room to breathe, never mind down a tequila slammer or 10. If you are not a party person and want to see the town in quieter, more reflective mood, go out of season, when it fades back into being a charming little Turkish town.
Side is almost totally surrounded by wonderful golden-sand beaches, which then stretch out like wings along the coast offering more than enough space for anyone with the energy to walk far enough to find a private patch. There are small dunes to the east, but to the west, the flat beach is lined by resort hotels which provide loungers and umbrellas for their customers. Beyond their reach, there is little shade. Offshore, you have a choice of watersports from parasailing and jet-skis to windsurfing and banana boats.
Beyond the beach:
Ancient Side greets you as you arrive in town, the 15,000-seat Roman theatre and forum, with its 24-seat public toilets, on one side of the road, the bath house, now a museum, on the other. The road into town leads through the Roman gateway past a handsome nymphaeum (public fountain). Down beside the harbour, second century AD temples to the sun god, Apollo, and Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of Side, perfectly frame the sunset over the sea. There are also a number of Byzantine ruins within the old town, often blocked from view by festooned carpets and postcard stands, are many attractive old Ottoman houses.
Side doesn’t sell itself particularly as a family destination, but there is plenty here for children. There are camel rides along the beach, while the gently sloping sand is ideal for sandcastles and paddling if you have small children, while the wide range of watersports and discos will appeal to teenagers. Larger resort hotels offer children’s facilities, including some kids’ clubs. There are also plenty of opportunities for activities from walking to quad biking, horse riding and white-water rafting available in the area.
Just up the road from Side, take a boat trip on the Manavgat River up to the Manavgat Falls. Head west from Side to the ancient Greco-Roman city of Perge and Aspendos, which has one of the finest classical theatres in the world, seating over 20,000 and still used for opera, ballet (June-July) and film (October) festivals. Take your clubs onto the championship golf courses of Belek or give the credit cards a workout in the designer stores in Antalya, with its charming old town and the world-class Antalya Museum. Go east along the coast to visit Alanya with its vast Ottoman castle and the Damlatas Caves, said to be excellent for curing asthma. If a day in the mountains takes your fancy, you can go white-water rafting through the wild beauty of the Koprulu Canyon National Park, or hike along sections of the 500km (310 mile) route, from Perge, near Antalya, up to Yalvac on the Anatolian plateau in the footsteps of St Paul’s first missionary journey in Asia Minor.
If you are looking for somewhere special to eat, there are several excellent fish restaurants, such as Minos, down near the harbour in the old town. Or head out of town a little way to the trout farm near Titryengöl or Kazan in Sorgun, both on the Manavgat River. Indulge your calorie demons at Petek, Antalya Caddesi, Manavgat, a sinfully wonderful Turkish bakery and patisserie.