Beautiful Belek – Turkey’s hidden gem

antalya-1Last month I ventured into Turkey and for a change, it was not to Istanbul or a city where I would take a bus or ferry to. It was a seamless connecting flight to Antalya. I was in a group and we stayed in Belek which is one of the centres of Turkey’s tourism industry and home to more than thirty four-star and five-star hotel. It is increasingly in the spotlight for being a beautiful resort town on the Turkish Riviera of Antalya, which is well known for its white-sand beaches surrounded by pine forests.

Exploring the old downtown area is a delight and testimony to Turkey’s traditional culture and charm; and in addition, one can make the most of amazing sights such as Duden Waterfall-Kapuzkaldiran, Mount Olympus and spectacular views over its natural, green landscape.

The history of Belek dates back to the 4th Century B.C. Over the ages, it has come under the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine as well as Seljuk influence, which has impacted the architecture and history of the place. When King Attalos II handed the territory over to the Romans in 133BC, the Roman influence became predominant and found expression in the architecture of large buildings, stadiums, gymnasiums, turrets and mosques– many theatres were also built during this period.

Retail therapy in Antalya was satisfying and rewarding. Antalya Downtown offers visitors the chance to spend the whole day wandering down the streets of the old downtown and experience the true culture of the area with all its local spices and traditional food. The old town is also the perfect opportunity for visitors to pick Turkish handicrafts and souvenirs for friends and family back home, in addition to delicious Turkish delights also make nice gifts. We bought lots of shoes and jewellery.

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Antalya Aquarium is a great place to visit, especially if you are with your family. As the world’s biggest tunnel aquarium with a length of 131 meters and a width of 3 meters, it offers visitors a journey with the most colourful, unusual and often deadly marine life. The aquarium also has multi-dimensional movie technology in its Oceanride XD Cinema, with its extraordinary features that are highly impressive.

If you are into sports and a fan of Golf in particular, Belek has 14 huge and beautiful golf courses. Designed by famous names like Feherty, and Montgomerie, these courses have given Turkey international golfing credibility, and have ensured that a golf holiday in Turkey is a once in a life time opportunity.

During our visit we met with Karnak Travel who mentioned that Mount Olympos is a must see for all tourists coming to Turkey. The mountain, which is roughly 15 km north of the city, Olympos offers a beautiful view of the whole town. Visitors can soak in the lush greenery of bay trees, and pines, while appreciating the importance of this historic landmark, which was once one of the members of the Lycian Federation in Lycian times.

The Belek town mosque is one of the town’s most historic landmarks. It is beautiful and relaxing, especially during the evening. Located in the centre of the town, the mosque stands alongside statues and a waterfall. All this, en route to lovely shops which can be found on the tree-lined boulevards of the town.

I loved the Duden Waterfalls as it is a sight worth seeing in the province of Antalya. The waterfalls, formed by the recycle station water, are located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north-east of Antalya. They end where the waters of the Lower Düden Falls drop off a rocky cliff directly into the Mediterranean Sea.

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Among the specialties in Belek, one can have a soup called kulakli whose ingredients are chickpeas and small pieces of diced meat; tahinli piyaz, which is a dried-bean salad seasoned with crushed sesame seeds; tandir kebap; kabak tatlisi (pumpkin desert) sweetened with crushed sesame seeds and grape syrup and bergamot jam.

 There are three modes of transportation inside Belek– city bus, metro or cab. They are all convenient. In Antalya in general, the public bus system is the best method of getting to most parts of the region. It is not necessary to rent a car or taxi. The public transportation options in Antalya are efficient, inexpensive and convenient for tourists trying to get to most of the major destinations and attractions. The dolmus (shared taxi service) is a perfectly legitimate and efficient mode of transportation and visitors are encouraged to try it.

Turkish Airlines offers international flights to Antalya with a one-stop flight in Istanbul or direct flights from Istanbul to Antalya for local flyers. As ‘Europe’s Best Airline,’ for the fifth year running at the Skytrax 2015 awards, Turkish Airlines continues to impress travellers with its award-winning service and unsurpassed country network. Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles loyalty programme rewards frequent flyers, Wingo promotions provide competitively priced tickets, and guests travelling business class can enjoy the recently enhanced luxury CIP lounge in Istanbul.

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