Pamphylia (Turkish: Pamfilya) is a region along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It has long sandy beaches, water sports, Roman ruins, museums and lots of hotels, so it's a popular region all-round for holidays.
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When the ancient Greeks called this region πάμφυλος - "mingling of many peoples" - they brilliantly foresaw the arrival of jets bearing Scandinavians, Brits, Irish, Germans, Russians and every other European nation. The attractions then and now are similar: Pamphylia has a long coastal plain, unusual in Turkey, fronted by a sandy beach. In fair weather you could draw up a sailing vessel almost anywhere on the strand, but the coast is exposed with stiff breezes and you needed a harbour cove or creek for overnight shelter. Better still if it had shore guns to repel pirates. Antalya is the large port at the west end of the plain, Alanya is at the east end with a stout citadel; then on either side the mountains close in.
Antalya grew to become the modern provincial capital and was the chief ancient city, but has been repeatedly built over - enough remains in its museums and old streets to attest its importance. Aspendos and Side were shattered by earthquakes but not built over, so those are major visitor attractions.
The mountains were a barrier to transport from inland regions, and even now there is no motorway connection and no railway. (The bonus from this was few invading armies or smokestack industry.) The game changer from the 1980s was the boom in commercial aviation and Turkish tourism, and the coast became encrusted by high-rise hotels for package holidaymakers. These are often outstanding value, it's a buyer's market, so even independent-minded travellers should consider taking a package and using it as a springboard to explore.
Get in edit
Antalya Airport (AYT IATA) on the south edge of that city is the commonest point of arrival, as it has many budget flights from across Europe, plus connections from Istanbul (IST and SAW), Ankara, and other Turkish cities.
This region has no railway, but buses connect with the YHT high speed trains at Konya, and run to Antalya and Alanya.
Buses run frequently round the clock from Istanbul to Antalya.
This region is not on the motorway network. From Istanbul to Antalya the recommended route is via Bursa, Eskişehir, Afyonkarahisar and Isparta. For Alanya stay on the motorway past Ankara then go via Konya.
Get around edit
Highway D400 crosses the region east-west, a few km back from shore. Local buses and dolmuşes shuttle along the Antalya-Alanya corridor, the long-distance bus lines don't sell tickets for short hops along this stretch.
You need an Antalyakart for public transport within Antalya metropolis. Buy it on arrival at the airport or main bus station.
The large towns have car hire companies, which may act as franchises for the international chains.
Hitching is no fun along the main transport corridor, you'll encounter indifference or hostility.
- Roman ruins: the ancient cities long pre-date the Romans, but were re-built and embellished in that era, so those are the ruins you see nowadays. Fine examples are Aspendos near Serik, Side, and Termessos in the mountains to the west.
- Museums: several towns display local antiquities, but the best (and one of Turkey's largest) is in Antalya.
- Mosques are of traditional design, but many are modern retro-builds.
- Beaches are sandy all along this coast. The breeze is strong by afternoon so swim early, windsurf later.
- Scuba diving is typically Med, with limited marine life but well suited to novices. Surfacing in the caves at Alanya is a spooky experience.
- Golf: Belek has several courses, and hotels offer stay & play packages.
- Football: both Antalya and Alanya play soccer in Süper Lig, the top tier.
- Lycian Way long-distance hiking trail has its east terminus at Geyikbayırı in the hills west of Antalya, and its west terminus near Fethiye.
Turkish, Turkish, Turkish, you may struggle to find variety. The hotel buffets serve blander fare to their international clientele.
Antalya and Alanya have enough visiting topers to support free-standing pubs. Most cafes and restaurants serve alcohol.
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- Lycia to the west has a rugged coastline with small coves and harbours, and no big resorts until you approach Fethiye.
- The Cilician Mountains east have a similar rugged coast and pine-clad mountains. They're thinly populated and see few tourists.
- Lakes District north across the Taurus Mountains is scenic but off the beaten path.
- Northern Cyprus southeast has a summer ferry from Alanya to Kyrenia, with a year-round ferry from Tasucu and flights from Antalya.