A different ‘Side’ to a Turkey beach holiday

The pool at the Barut Acanthus, taken as sunset as I sipped a G&T

The Loggerhead turtle winds her way through azure seas, bobbing her head lazily from the warm, salty, water.

As she takes breath and prepares to dive, the rare creature is treated to a view of endless blue skies, only interrupted by the ancient yellow-hued Roman ruins popping up amid the green of the shoreline trees.

And me, self-conscious in a bikini, on a private boat with a beer, staring right back.

This is Antalya, Turkey. A landscape so ancient you feel connected with those who came before.

A corner of the Mediterranean less destroyed by the ravages of commercialism than most and with endless natural wonders and man-made luxuries to offer those who venture from their accustomed corners of Greece, Spain and Portugal.

I’ve spotted pirates

The huge advantage that Turkey holds is the climate.

For us shivering, rain-accustomed, heat-seeking holiday missiles from northern England, Turkey – and specifically Antalya – is a dream destination with endless sunshine and temperatures that average 28 degrees in July (they can go up much higher)and rarely dip below 15-20 for the rest of the year.

Under 10 degrees is practically unheard of.

Antalya has so much more to offer than sunbathing but it is perfectly understandable that many choose to remain in the comfort of their luxury, all-inclusive, hotels, which are clustered into specific resorts clinging to the coast of the glittering Med.

The ancient Roman city of Perge

We flew with Jet2.com and stayed at the Barut Acanthus and Cennet, a luxurious five-star home from home that focuses on the ultimate experience for all.

Located at the quiet village of Side, itself a mix of picturesque old town, harbour and beach with spice-scented bazaars and yacht-lined marina, the hotel sits on an endless stretch of sand which slopes gently to the sea and is perfect for swimming and watersports.

Of course, this is providing you can make it past the stunning blue pools and numerous bars and restaurants offering drinks and snacks (included of course.)

Your every desire is catered for here, from night-time entertainment of the civilised variety to water aerobics or Tai Chi,or just lying down with a waiter bringing drinks to your sun lounger.

My room at the Barut Acanthus

It’s a tough life – not least in its spacious, modern, rooms.

The old city of Kaleicki, Antalya, Turkey

For those seeking deeper relaxation there is the spa where you can experience the wonder of a Turkish Hamam salt and foam massage and scrub .

If you ever wondered what would be like if the bubbles overflowed from your bath and covered you head to toe, I can confirm it is incredibly relaxing.

But if you fancy more of a challenge you could- like us -visit the kitchens for a lesson in cooking the perfect delicious Turkish kebab from the top chef himself.

A Turkish kebab (made by me)

It bears no resemblance to those late night doners I assure you.

It’s hard to pull yourself away from this luxury but you really should. Antalya is so much more than cocktails, classy entertainment and restaurants on tap – it has a few surprises up its sleeve.

The history of this region is fascinating and accessible.

If you prefer you can visit the mesmerising Antalya museum for an astonishing array of stone and bronze age relics with the benefit of air conditioning, but over at the remarkably well preserved Roman city of Perge you can wander amongst history in awe-inspiring proximity, with easy access you could only dream of in Rome and Egypt.

If you visit first thing in the morning you can avoid the heat and any potential crowds, though we only saw a scattering of other people.

The Aspendos open air stone theatre is also an awe-inspiring photo-opportunity and reminder of days gone by. We visited the old city Kaleicki for a wander amid the stunning ancient white, red-roof, buildings – never far from an astonishing view of endless blue seas and distant mountains.

At the stone harbour the contrasting soundtrack of call to mosque and church bells rises above the hubbub, mixing with the cheesy pop tracks played on vessels plying for the tourist trade.

That’s our ship moored in the distance

We lunched at restaurant Hisar, tunnelled into the cliffs with panoramic views across the coast.

Away from the heat, the Kersunlu waterfall park offers a refreshing blue and green idyll.

Then to the sea.

We boarded our own personal ship at Kemer harbour, before sailing down the coast, past the watery caves and pirate-ships, lingering in idyllic blue harbours for lunch with wine and beer, cooked freshly on board.

Meanwhile, our friends the turtles swam by, hunting for jellyfish in the buoyant blue seas, as if not a day has passed since the Romans came.

LLO Info

  • With breath-taking scenery, tasty cuisine and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, Antalya is one of Turkey’s most popular holiday destinations.
  • Jet2holidays breaks start from £389 per person – secured with a £60 deposit.
  • The 5 Star Barut Acanthus & Cennet in Side, Antalya, is priced from £849 per person based on two sharing for 7 Nights all-inclusive, departing Manchester on May 21, 2018.Includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
  • Check out booking at this hotel at https://www.jet2holidays.com/turkey/antalya-area/side/barut-acanthus-and-cennet
  • To book flights visit www.jet2.com or for package holidays visit www.jet2holidays.com or call free on 0800 408 5599. * For more on the region look up http://www.visit-antalya.com/
  • This first appeared at lep.co.uk and associated titles HERE
  • I travelled to Turkey with Jet2 as part of an organised press trip but all opinions are my own. 
  • A little Turkish delight

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