Consider Side for a honeymoon or romantic getaway and walk in the footsteps of ancient Greco-Romans, who once enjoyed holidays at this attractive resort on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast.
With its choice of unspoiled white-sand beaches, impressive Hellenistic and Roman ruins, lively nightlife and accommodation options to suit all budgets, Side offers all the ingredients you need for a romantic honeymon getaway in Turkey.
Side’s two main beaches stretch for more than three kilometres of golden sand on either side of the Old Town, which sits on a small 800m-long and 300m-wide peninsula.
Nearby Alanya also offers great beaches.
Unwind on the soft golden sand of this long beach that shelves into shallow water perfect for small children.
Several beach clubs and luxury hotels fringe the beach and provide facilities such as parasols and sun loungers for hire. A choice of beachside bars, cafes and restaurants are just a short stroll away.
Water sports facilities include parasailing, jet skiing, windsurfing and banana boating as well as scuba diving, fishing and boat tours.
Come for a day or stay longer at one of the beach’s 5-star hotels, such as the Hemera Resort & Spa, Melas Hotel or Asteria Hotel.
Pick your own spot to sunbathe and swim on this 3km-long golden-sand beach that eventually merges with neighbouring Sorgun Beach.
The beach is flanked by sand dunes and at one point is watched over by the classical marble columns of the Temple of Apollo.
A number of beach clubs flank the sand, providing facilities such as showers, toilets, parasols and sun loungers for a small fee. Water sports include parasailing, jet skiing, windsurfing, banana boating, scuba diving, fishing and boat excursions.
Other easily arranged activities include camel rides through the sand dunes, quad biking, horse riding and white-water rafting in the Koprulu Canyon.
Come for a day or relax in comfort at the 5-star Sueno Beach Hotel Side. Side’s East beach is easily accessed by road from Side town centre.
The golden sands of Sorgun Beach offer a choice of beach clubs and luxurious hotels including the Club Voyager Sorgun Select and the Hotel Astura Sorgun, both of which offer a range of creature comforts.
Facilities provided by the beachside clubs and resorts include showers, toilets, parasols and sun loungers for hire and various water sport activities.
Generally quieter than Side’s two main beaches, Sorgun is easy to reach on the frequent dolmus service from Side, just 3km away.
(Alanya) – Pick your own spot to sunbathe and swim on this 3.5km-long white-sand beach named after Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, who is said to have spent many happy hours here with husband Mark Anthony (who gifted her the city of Alanya around 32 BC).
Overlooked by Alanya’s massive 250m-high cliff-faced promontory crowned by an impressive Ottoman fortress, Cleopatra Beach stretches west, fringed by a tree-lined promenade, gardens and several hotels.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, with beachside kiosks selling cold drinks and snacks just a short stroll away. Water sports include parasailing, jet skiing, windsurfing and banana boating.
Cleopatra beach is also known as Damlatas beach, named after nearby caves. Alanya is 63km from Side.
Unwind in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea on a choice of soft golden-sand beaches, with a range of water sport activities to keep you entertained. Then explore some of Side’s magnificent classical ruins, many of which date from the 2nd century BC.
Admire the city’s well-preserved ancient city walls, the remains of the massive Hellenistic Great Gate (Megale Pyle) and the marble columns that once supported a long colonnaded street. Scramble up the steep steps of the 20,000-seat Roman stadium, an architectural masterpiece supported by massive arched walls.
Examine statues and sarcophagi in the former bath house, now restored as a museum, then ponder the agora and elaborate nymphaeum grotto before heading to the marble temple ruins dedicated to Apollo and Athena – perfect for a sunset photograph.
Don’t miss the antique baths where Cleopatra is supposed to have bathed, located just behind the Nilgin market.
Side’s maze of narrow winding streets descends to the old fishing harbour, the streets lined with pretty two-storey stone buildings decorated with wooden balconies. The buildings are now home to shops selling carpets, jewellery and leather goods, as well as numerous cafes and restaurants.
From Side, it’s easy to explore the nearby ancient sites of Perge and Aspendos and nearby Alanya with its impressive Ottoman castle.
You can also enjoy the natural beauty of Koprulu Canyon National Park, where you can go white-water rafting, swimming and hike along sections of the St Paul’s Trail – this 500km-long route from Perge to Yalvac on the Anatolian plateau traces St Paul's first missionary journey in Asia Minor.
Top attractions within a short drive of Side, include…
Aspendos – Admire one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in the world – the 2000-year-old Theatre of Aspendos, which is still used today for the annual opera and ballet festival held here from mid-June to mid-August.
Also admire the aqueduct and less impressive remains of an agora, basilica and stadium. Aspendos is a starting-point for the St Paul Trail, leading north up to the Anatolian plateau.
Aspendos is located 27km from Side.
Belek – This purpose-built luxury beach and golf resort sits on a coastal plain between the towering Taurus Mountains and beautiful Belek Beach.
The resort offers a choice of 30-plus 4- and 5-star hotels and more than 10 championship golf courses.
Take lessons at the international tennis school, see more than 100 species of bird at the nearby Kursunlu Waterfall and enjoy a wide array of water sports on Belek Beach.
Most of the hotels run shuttles to the beach, golf courses and into Antalya. There are also plenty of dolmus (shared taxis) and taxis and you can also hire bicycles to get around the resort.
The ancient cities of Perge and Aspendos are a short drive away from Belek, which is located on the south coast of Turkey, around 46km west of Side.
Perge – Walk in the footsteps of St Paul (who once preached here) and ponder the massive Hellenistic–Roman gate towers in the ancient city of Perge, which dates back to 1500 BC.
Admire finely carved marble reliefs in the Graeco–Roman hilltop theatre and enjoy panorama vistas overlooking the ancient ruins.
Other impressive sites include the Roman acropolis, stadium, baths and agora. From Perge you can also start the St Paul Trail, which leads north up to the Anatolian plateau.
Perge is located 52km from Side.
Alanya – Unwind on the golden sands of Cleopatra’s Beach, take a boat tour to the caves beneath the historic citadel, then dance the night away at one of Alanya’s many discos.
Explore the 12th century Seljuk naval arsenal and sections of the 7km-long crenellated outer walls of the kale (citadel), which crowns the massive rocky promontory overlooking Alanya’s beaches.
Enjoy panoramic views from one of the 146 towers that indent the walls or climb up to the very spot where condemned prisoners (and women convicted of adultery) were once hurled to their deaths on the sea-lashed rocks below.
Tour the inner keep and the 30m-high octagonal redbrick Kizil Kule (Red Tower), built by the Seljuks in 1225 to defend Alanya harbour, now housing a small ethnographic museum.
At the Alanya Müzesi (Alanya Museum), admire the preserved 2nd century AD Roman bronze statue of a muscular Hercules and examine a large display of ancient ceramics and limestone ossuaries (facility for storage of skeletal remains).
Come for a day or stay longer at the Elysée Beach Hotel facing Cleopatra’s Beach. Alternatively, try the Grand Kaptan Hotel or Iberostar Club Alantur Hotel, both beachfront accommodations located round 4km to the east of town.
Alanya is around 63km from Side.
Phaselis – Explore the ancient Lycian city of Phaselis, which dates back to 700 BC.
Stroll the ancient, 24m-wide main street running through the middle of the city and lined with ancient marble and stone ruins including the Roman baths, agora, theatre, sarcophagi and the soaring remains of the ancient limestone aqueduct.
Cool off with a swim from one of the small pebble beaches that line the three small bays of this once prosperous port city.
Phaselis lies between the Bey Mountains and the forests of Olympos National Park, around 16km west of Kemer, 42km west of Antalya and 80km from Side.
Termessos – Located on a plateau 1050m above sea level, the walled city of Termessos is the only settlement not to have been conquered by Alexander the Great; although he tried in 333 BC.
Hire a guide at the park entrance (Gulluk Dagi National Park) and allow at least half a day to explore the extensive ruins there.
Follow the rocky and uneven path that winds its way through the ruins to discover a monumental gateway dedicated to Emperor Hadrian and the goddess Artemis, five ancient cisterns, rock-cut tombs, sarcophagi, a colonnaded street, the magnificent Corinth Temple and a Greek Theatre that offers panoramic views across to Antalya and beyond.
Termessos is located 85km from Side.
The Lycian Way – This spectacular walking route stretches for 400km from the resort of Ovacik to the city of Antalya.
Hike through soaring mountain peaks, deep lush valleys and secluded coves fringed by sand and pebble beaches. The route follows ancient Roman and Ottoman roads, mule tracks and nomad trails.
Choose a short section to walk or allow up to 40 days to complete the entire route. April, May and September are the best times to walk, with pleasant warm weather and fields of wildflowers, with stands of cedar of Lebanon dotting the high passes.
Along the route, see rock-cut Lycian tombs and free-standing sarcophagi, remote Byzantine churches, domed Ottoman cisterns, beachside Roman ruins at Patara and the massive theatre at Myra.
Side offers a huge choice of honeymoon accommodation to suit all budgets, including the charming beachfront Beach House Hotel, a one-time favourite of Rudolph Nureyev and Simone de Beauvoir.
The best time to visit Side for a beach holiday is from early-June through September. Summer is very hot, with intense heat especially in July and August.
To avoid the intense summer heat, anytime from early-May to mid-June, and from mid-September to late-October, is good for a range of outdoor activities.
Side has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers from June to September and mild, wet winters from November to February.
The ancient cities of the region are also best visited in May, September and October, in order to avoid the heat and peak season crowds.
For more climate info: Side Weather Guide…
Side sits on Turkey’s southwest coast, around 73km (45mi) east of Antalya.
The most convenient route to Side is by air to Antalya Airport (AYT), located 13km (8.1 mi) northeast of the city centre.
An on-demand shuttle bus operates between Antalya Airport and Side, taking 57 minutes; while the regular bus service takes 1 hour 20 minutes, every 2 hours.
Antalya’s international airport receives daily flights from Istanbul, Ankara and major cities in Europe and the Middle East, with connecting flights from Asia and North America.
More information about how to get to Side…
Latest update: Side Honeymoon Guide: 7 August, 2022