Even though the beautiful coastal city of Side has been dressed up in beautiful modern clothes, its ancient past is still visible and fascinating. Although many tourists visit Side in search of beautiful beaches and crystal waters, the ancient Roman capture their attention as soon as they arrive here. Like many other resorts on the Southern coast of Turkey, Side knows how to blend fun summer activities with fascinating attractions and beautiful places to stay and dine.
The nightlife is surprisingly vibrant for such a small resort, and you’ll also find plenty of pretty bars and elegant restaurants for a lovely night out in town. Shopping in Side Center is an attraction per se, with numerous street vendors ready to bargain to convince tourists to buy everything from souvenirs and clothes to spices, teas, and hand-painted ceramics.
Beaches and water activities for everyone
Almost totally surrounded by superb golden-sand beaches, Side has plenty of patches of sand for every type of sunbather. You’ll find both a long, flat beach lined with resorts, equipped with sun loungers and invaded by people, and small dunes, ideal for sunbathing in solitude. The most popular beach in Side is the East Beach, situated right in the heart of the town. The beach is often crowded and caters to sun worshipers’ every need with its relaxing sun loungers, restaurants, and cafes, as well as a variety of water sports centers.
Due to its exceptional waters, the beaches in Side attract sun worshippers and water sports enthusiasts alike. Parasailing seems to be the superstar of water activities in Side, a sport practiced on many of the resort’s beaches and a great way to capture superb views of the town’s ancient ruins from above. Other water activities you can try during your Side holiday are jet-skiing, windsurfing, and banana boat rides.
Beyond the beach and into the ancient past
As soon as you arrive at Side, the ancient ruins will bow and greet you, eager to tell you stories that date back to the Roman times. Side was first inhabited back in the 1000 BC. In the 7th century, Greek settlers established a colony and built a harbor here. Start your extraordinary time travel experience with a stop at the Temples of Apollo and Athena. While the temple is not complete, you’ll still have the chance to admire beautiful Roman columns and superb views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surroundings.
Your Roman adventure continues with a tour of a 15,000-seat Roman Theater, once the largest in ancient Pamphylia. The theater is not entirely preserved, missing several supporting arches, but it’s still a beautiful example of Roman architecture. Moreover, the reliefs carved on its stage walls have passed the test of time and are still worthy of admiration.
Behind the theater, you’ll find the Roman agora and the ruins of the circular Temple of Tyche. If you’re curious to discover more about the city’s ancient past, don’t miss a visit to the Side Museum, situated on the site of a 5th-century bathhouse. The museum is small but houses an interesting collection of Hellenistic and Roman exhibits, and it’s a great place to hide away from the sun after you visit the theater and agora.
Beyond the beach and into the forest
If you want to take a break from the summer frenzy, plan a picnic trip to the gorgeous Manavgat Waterfalls, situated only 13 km away from Side. Towering over the Manavgat River and framed by a superb garden, the falls are a popular spot for picnic and hiking for local families and tourists alike. For some peace and quiet, choose to visit during weekdays. Make your way through the network of gangways, and you’ll eventually end up face-to-face with the magnificent falls, enjoying the dramatic roars of the water.
For an adventurous day, head to the Köprülü Canyon, 70 km northwest of Side, where you’ll discover the perfect setting for white-water rafting trips, as well as exciting hiking routes that will reward you with superb views of the dramatic gorge scenery. Cave enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a trip to the small town of Cevizli, where they’ll discover the beautiful Düdencik Caves, one of the deepest cave networks in Turkey, awaiting 330 meters down into the earth. Farther southeast, the Düdensuyu Magarasi cave complex attracts tourists who want to discover underground lakes and visit the small village of Akseki.
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