21 most beautiful destinations in the Turkish Mediterranean mountains

I first collected the 21 most beautiful destinations in the province of Antalya.

After that I have some tips for the middle and eastern Taurus Mountains in Southeastern Anatolia.

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The mountain range is 1,500km long. The mountains begin in the west in the province of Antalya on the Esen Cayi River. The Taurus runs from there along the Mediterranean into the Mesopotamian plain in southeastern Anatolia.

That’s why I write in my list, from which resorts you reach the individual attractions in my list.

1. Jeep safari through the mountains on the Turkish Riviera

Two blue jeeps drive offroad through a forest in the mountainsOffroad through the Taurus Mountains …

Off-road jeep safaris are a classic in all resorts on the Turkish south coast. The program is similar in all places. You drive through the Taurus Mountains with an off-road jeep, visit small villages and eat in remote restaurants.

This includes a water fight in the summer and a break in a typical Turkish river restaurant. The additional sights during the trip depend on your destination. These include, for example, ancient ruins, canyons or very old mosques.

You can find a description of the jeep safaris in all beach resorts, including rating and pictures with Getyourguide.

2. Mountain village Ormana

Entrance of the Altinbesik cave from a dinghy seen from inside the cave on a lake. Altinbesik cave near Ormana

Ormana was a real insider tip in the Side region a few years ago. Meanwhile, the village is one of the most visited destinations in Side and Belek with its 300-year-old Ottoman houses, wild horses, caves, natural parks, flowers and good food.

3. River restaurants, for example in Dimcay and Ulupinar

River restaurants on stilts over the Oba River in AlanyaRiver restaurants in Oba (Alanya)

Typical Turkish river restaurants can be found in most tourist resorts on the Turkish Riviera. The seats are built on a platform over the rivers. In summer, this is a perfect cooling off on hot days.

The most beautiful river restaurants are in the Dimcay Valley in Alanya, Ulupinar near Cirali and Adrasan.

4. Rafting in Köprülü Canyon and Alara

Alara river with the surrounding mountainsAlara river

The Köprülü Canyon north of Belek is the rafting hot spot in Turkey. You drive from the Köprülü Canyon National Park to the estuary by the sea. You will pass the ruins of the ancient city of Aspendos and a Roman bridge.

Rafting is only possible in spring in the Alara Valley in Alanya County.

5. Caves: Karain Cave to Damlata’s Cave on Cleopatra Beach

Small lake at the end of the Dim caveDimcay cave

The Taurus Mountains are criss-crossed by caves and stalactite caves. Most of them can be found on the Turkish Riviera in the district of Alanya. There you can see Damlata’s cave under the castle hill right by the sea. In Alanya, the Dimcay Cave and the Dwarf Cave in Sapadere are also interesting.

The first traces of human life in the Karain cave in Antalya are 40,000 years old. The Altinbesik Cave near Ormana is more than 5.5km long, with the third largest cave lake in the world. You can take a dinghy on the first lake in the cave.

6. Gorges: Dimcay to Saklikent

A man swims under a waterfall in the Sapadere CanyonSomeone always ventures into the ice-cold water in the Sapadere Canyon

The Taurus Mountains are criss-crossed by rivers, canyons and canyons on the Turkish Riviera. Some of them are among the most popular destinations in the seaside resorts. I already mentioned the Köprülü Canyon for rafting. More leisurely is a hike to the end of the Sapadere Canyon in Alanya or a visit to a river restaurant in the Dimcay Valley.

7. Ancient ruins: Termessos to Syedra

View of the seats in the ancient theater of Termessos and the mountains of the Taurus Mountains in the background5,000 seats at 1,500m above sea level (Termessos Theater)

Termessos I have called in a separate post the Machu Picchu of Turkey. This fits in perfectly with the town of the Bergbarbaren, located at 1,500 meters above sea level, which Homer mentioned in his story of Troy.

Not even Alexander the Great could take the city at the foot of Mount Solymos. Day trips to the ruins of Termessos are offered by local tour operators in the city of Antalya, Lara Beach and Beldibi.

More ancient ruins can be found along the entire Turkish Riviera as far as the Cilician Gate to Southeast Anatolia. In the province of Antalya are every 10km the ruins of an ancient city. These include Aspendos, Perge, Antalya’s old town, the old town of Side, Seleukia, the ruins of Phaselis and Korakesion on the castle hill of Alanya.

Other typical tourist destinations include the ruins of Myra (home of Nicholas of Myra) and the ruins of the Xanthos UNESCO World Heritage site on the Lycian coast.

8. Paragliding in Alanya and Kemer

Paraglider who has just set off from a summit in the Taurus Mountains in the direction of Kleopatra beachParaglids from the mountains back to Cleopatra beach

Paragliding back to the sea is one of the highlights among the experiences in the Taurus Mountains. This is possible from the mountain station of the Olympos cable car in Kemer from 2,366 m and in Alanya from the mountains back to the Cleopatra beach.

The famous Babadag in Oludeniz is no longer part of the Taurus Mountains.

9. Long-distance hiking trails in the Taurus Mountains

Marker stone of the Lycian Way with the inscription 7km and an arrowMarker stone of the Lycian Way in Cirali

  • Lycian Way: Walk through the mountains along the Lycian coast 500km from Fethiye to Antalya. Of course, you can also hike only short distances along the Lycian Way. My tip is, for example, the excursion to the flames of the Chimaira in Cirali, which have been burning for more than 2,700 years.
  • Saint Paul route: Compared to the Lycian Way, the Paulaus-Weg is a real insider tip. It leads on a distance of 500km from Antalya to Antioch in Southeast Anatolia.

10. Animals: silkworms, wild horses, goats, cats and turtles …

The Taurus Mountains are criss-crossed with national parks. There are more than ten of them in the province of Antalya alone (Olympos Beydaglari, Gulluk Dagi-Termessos, Dimcay, Altinbesik, …).

In Ormana you see herds of wild horses running free.

Tortoises will catch you in all the ruins on the Turkish Riviera (please do not bring to the sea). Carretta Caretta turtles lay their eggs on Olympos Beach in Cirali, Side and Alanya. With great luck you will see monk seals in Gazipasa or Cape Anamur.

Dolphins sometimes swim with excursion boats.

You can see real silkworms in the village Sapadere and in the culture house on the castle hill of Alanya.

11. Olympos cable car to the Tahtali Dagi

Mountain station of the Olympos cable car with views of the coast and snow on the mountainMountain station of the cable car

The most beautiful view of the Taurus Mountains you have from the mountain station of the Olympos cable car on the Tahtali Dagi. Sea to Sky is the motto of the cable car on the 2,366m high mountain on the coast of Kemer.

On a day with low humidity, the view from the summit to Side 100km away is enough. The 70km distant city of Antalya, Olympos Beach and the surrounding mountains you always see from above.

The theme of the cable car is also the Saklikent ski area an hour’s drive northwest of Antalya with five ski lifts.

12. Pamukkale: thermal springs and ancient ruins

Natural limestone terraces with thermal water in PamukkaleNatural limestone terraces in Pamukkale

The natural limestone terraces formed by thermal water in Pamukkale are the most visited excursion destination on the Turkish south coast. There are daily excursion buses from all beach resorts through the Taurus Mountains to the limestone terraces.

You are inside the ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis. The ruins include the largest necropolis in Anatolia, the tomb of the Apostle Philip and the Cleopatra pool.

13. Fishing in Alara, caravansary and castle

Small pond for fishing in Alra in the Taurus Mountains in Alanya in TurkeyFishpond in Alara

Alara is a narrow valley north of Okurcalar in the district of Alanya. Previously, a route of the Silk Road led from here to the south coast. That’s why you see the ruins of an old caravansary and the Alara Castle in the valley. Right next to the caravansary there is a small restaurant with a fishpond.

You are allowed to catch your fish yourself. The cooks in the restaurant they grill for you. You can book the excursion in the hotels in the seaside resorts of Alanya County. Unfortunately, I have never seen him online. Here are more tips for an individual trip to Alara.

14. Göynük Canyon (+ canyoning)

Fountain in Göynük Canyon at the end of a gorge in the Taurus MountainsFountain in the Canyon

The Göynük Canyon in the seaside resort of the same name in the district of Kemer combines a beach holiday with hiking and canyoning. You walk from the beginning of the canyon about an hour to the end of the valley. Very courageous can swim in a lake filled with fresh spring water. Canyoning is possible with organized excursions. Add to that the small restaurant with open grill and a climbing garden.

15. Quad Safari through the Taurus Mountains

Red quad on the roadsideQuad on the roadside to Göynük Canyon

Quad safaris are available from all beach resorts in the province of Antalya. You drive along the coast, through the mountains and offroad. The program includes selected tourist attractions, small villages and beautiful viewpoints in the mountains.

16. Waterfalls

For me, the waterfalls in Antalya and Manavgat are also part of the excursions in the Taurus Mountains. Especially well known is the 50m high Düden waterfall on the cliffs of Antalya, the Upper Düden waterfall, the Kursunlu waterfall and the Manavgat waterfall.

The waterfalls in Turkey always include a small restaurant with its own barbecue area. Either you order the food directly or grill your own dishes. Organized excursions are possible to the Düden waterfall in Antalya.

The excursion to Manavgat Waterfall, in combination with the old town of Side and the ruins of Aspendos, is one of the most openly booked excursions on the Turkish Riviera.

17. Climbing in the Taurus Mountains

Wanderer is just before the summit of Tahtali Dagi in KemerJust before the summit of Tahtali Dagi

The mountains around Cirali in the Olympos National Park visit international associations, mountain rescue organizations and climbers with different experience. Kadir’s Tree House, together with its own climbing school, organizes tours in the mountains and along the cliffs on the coast.

18. Dams, Green Canyon and Lakes

View from the mountains on the Oymapinar reservoir with the coast in the backgroundView from the mountains on the Oymapinar reservoir with the coast in the background

Oymapinar is one of the largest reservoirs in Turkey. The Green Canyon is in summer a nice destination on really hot days. You ride a boat through the canyon and swim in the cold water. Eating and drinking is usually on board the boats.

The Salda lake, Burdur lake, Egirdir lake and Lake Beysehir also belongs to the Taurus mountains. The Salda lake is one of the insider tips on the Turkish Riviera. He bears the legacy of Maldives Turkey. This is due to its snow-white beach and the bright, turquoise waters.

19. Yanartas-Chimaira

Natural gas flame blazes from a rock of Yanartas chimairaThe Yanartas-Chimaira gas field, which has been burning for more than 2,500 years

The first fires of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece are said to come from the natural gas flames burning in Cirali for at least 2,700 years. The short hike to the Yanartas-Chimaira starts near Olympos Beach and leads you to the first flames in about 30 minutes.

There are more natural gas flames higher up the mountain. Organized trips to the Yanartas-Chimaira are possible from Kemer County, Antalya and sometimes Belek and Side.

20. Hiking in the western Taurus Mountains

A walking table with two benches and views of the mountainsHiking table in the mountains

There are many marked routes in Kemer and Alanya. The cities have maps in their tourist information and maintain their paths constantly. For example, a route leads from downtown Alanya along the sea to the ruins of Syedra.

The tour lasts around 3 hours in one direction. In Kemer there is a hike from Göynük Canyon to the pastures of Göynük. More about that you can tell the local tourist information. You have current hiking maps, ideas and tips.

21. UNESCO World Heritage Xanthos

Ruins of the theater of XanthosTheater of Xanthos

Xanthos is in my list the last sights in the western Taurus Mountains. Why? The western Taurus Mountains begins at the Esen Cayi River on the edge of the ruins of Xanthos. Organized trips to the ruins and the sanctuary of Letoon are available from the seaside resorts of Kas and Kalkan.

Taurus Mountains in Cilicia and Southeast Anatolia

Nemrut Dagi in southeastern AnatoliaNemrut Dagi in southeastern Anatolia

So far I have described the excursion destinations in the Taurus Mountains in the seaside resorts in the province of Antalya. I come now to the less touristy areas of Turkey. That starts for me east of Alanya from Gazipasa.

Then comes the province of Mersin, Adana and then Gaziantep as a gateway to Southeast Anatolia. In the southeast of Anatolia, the mountains terminate in the Mesopotamian plain.

Among the special attractions in eastern Taurus is the 2,000-year-old tomb sanctuary on the Nemrut Dagi above the Euprat Valley.

Göbekli Tepe is the oldest temple in human history with 12,000 years. He stands on a hill in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Sanliurfa.

The highest mountains in the Taurus are near their eastern end. These include the Cilo Dagi (4,116 m) and Uludoruk (4,135 m). Only the Ararat at 5.137m in the Armenian Highlands is higher in Turkey.

Interesting cities in the Taurus are Mersin, Adana and Tarsus. Some still count Konya in Central Anatolia to the Taurus Mountains.

I will certainly write again a separate contribution to the sights in Southeast Anatolia.

There then the topic goes on.

A few last words about the excursion destinations in the Taurus

Almost all tourists ask the same after the landing in Antalya as the surrounding mountains. This is due to its location right on the coast. This is especially true for the district of Alanya and Kemer.

I especially like the green mountains in the summer, because they are a change from the 35 ° on the beach.

If you have any questions or own tips on the mountains, then write me in the comments.

Have fun in Turkey!

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