Side Holidays – Golden beaches and ancient Roman ruins
Formerly a sleepy fishing village, Side has long since abandoned its roots to explode into a bustling, vibrant tourist town. This is one of the most popular destinations in Turkey; you’ll find an almost overwhelming number of souvenir shops, tavernas, cafes, restaurants and bars along the city’s central drag, as well as in the labyrinth of alleyways that come off it. Juxtaposed with this are the ancient Hellenistic ruins that dot the resort, including the Temple of Apollo, a 15,000-seat Roman Amphitheatre, bathhouses, fountains and gateways.
The resort is on a peninsula, at the peak of which an attractive harbour is set, providing a lovely setting for an evening meal in one of the waterfront restaurants. Either side of the harbour are two long golden beaches that stretch out like arms. Most of the nightlife is concentrated along the beachfront, where there is a variety of boisterous bars and clubs.
Popular excursions here include trips to the ancient sites at Aspendos and Perge, and boat trips up the Manavgat River up to the Manavgat Falls. For families, there’s plenty to do here including horse-riding, camel rides on the beach, many watersports, quad biking and white water rafting. Side has something for everyone; whether you’re after a beaches, culture, lively nightlife or family activities.
When to go
Being a beach resort, Side will be most crowded during the peak months of June-August. These months will see the hottest temperatures and the highest accommodation prices. If you don’t like the crowds and heat, and you’re not here solely for the liveliest nightlife scene, visiting out of season can be a great option. Temperatures are cooler, making activities such as cycling and walking far more comfortable, and you’ll find lower prices. What’s more, the character of the town changes – it reverts back from a lively touristy place to something of the charming Turkish fishing village it used to be.
If you visit in early September, you’ll get to enjoy the Side International Culture and Arts Festival; several days of theatre productions set in the city’s impressive ancient venues, as well as art exhibitions, music and food stalls.
The weather in Side
Holidays to Side can be taken virtually throughout the year, due to the resort’s warm Mediterranean climate. The spring months of April-May see pleasantly warm temperatures of 21-25C, and around 9-11 hours of sunshine a day. The summer begins in June, when the mercury hits around 30C, before peaking in the hottest months of July-August at around 33C. During this period, daily hours of sunshine rise to an impressive 13 hours a day.
It stays hot into September at around 31C, before beginning to cool during the autumn period of late-September-October to 27C. November marks the beginning of the ‘winter’ season, with an increased chance of rainfall. Most days will remain dry however, and with temperatures of 15-21C between November and March, a winter sun holiday here is definitely possible.
Getting the best deal
You’ll get the best deals to Side by booking as early as possible. This resort can become very busy during the peak summer months, meaning the best-priced rooms in the most popular accommodation tends to sell out fast. Visiting off-peak in the spring or autumn can see some fantastic savings, with generally lower prices. You may also be able to pick up some fantastic last-minute deals during this time as well, which are generally not available in peak season due to increased demand.
Consider you’re board options when looking to save money; all-inclusive holidays to Side have the benefit of ensuring all food and drink prices are accounted for upfront, so holiday spending money is minimised. At the other end of the scale, self-catering options are a great way to save money for those who don’t mind cooking their own meals on holiday. Find the best prices we have to offer by looking at the deals below or alternatively by visiting our late deals offers here.
Airport and transport need to know
Holidaymakers visiting Side will fly into the Antalya International Airport (AYT). It takes just over 4 hours to fly here from the UK, and you can depart from a number of UK airports, including London Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff and smaller regional hubs such as Newcastle and Bristol.
When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a large, modern and busy airport with three terminals. T1 and T2 are for international traffic, T3 is for domestic flights. There is a huge range of shops, bars and restaurants that service the lounge, Arrivals and Departures areas, with everything from clothing and watch shops to duty-free alcohol and tobacco. The main stores are open 24 hours. You’ll find cashpoints at T1 and money exchange facilities at both T1 and T2.
The easiest way to get to Side from the airport is by taxi. Taxis wait outside the Arrivals halls at the international terminals – you can’t miss them. A large sign indicates the price tariffs to the various resorts. Taxis are generally metered in Turkey, but they operate on a fixed price basis from the airport – make sure you clarify the fee first to avoid a nasty surprise when you arrive at your resort. It takes around 50 minutes to reach Side and you should expect to pay around £55.
Alternatively, you can take a shared shuttle taxi. These tend to be minivans, and you will share the journey with other holidaymakers. The price for this mode of transport is lower, at around £15 per person for a journey to Side, but it can take up to 50 minutes longer depending on where the other passengers are dropped off. Companies such as HolidayTaxis.com offer both private and shared taxis, available to pre-book.
It is possible to catch a public bus to Side, however the journey can take the best part of 3 hours. This is by far the cheapest option however, at under £5. Catch the number 600, Terminal-Otogar bus to the main bus depot in Antalya, where you can pick up a connecting bus to Side.
The best beaches in Side
As one of the most prominent beach resorts on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, it’s perhaps no surprise that Side boasts some fantastic beaches. In fact, the western beach is the second longest white sand beach in the country.
Side’s East beach
The beach east of the harbour at Side is long and sandy, stretching all the way to the mouth of Manavgat River. The beach is backed by undulating sand dunes, and is generally quieter than the West beach, with less development. Amenities include parasols and sun loungers, as well as numerous watersports such as banana boating, jet skiing, scuba diving, parasailing and windsurfing. The waves at this beach can get quite rough, meaning it will not always be suitable for those with small children.
Side’s West beach
The more popular of Side’s beaches, the West beach is a huge stretch of long white sand that you can follow all the way to Colakli. There are plenty of beach bars, small restaurants and cafes along the promenade behind the beach. The sand here slopes gently into the warm Mediterranean, which is both shallow and calm. As such, this beach is favoured by those with families. The West beach also has a range of watersports on offer, from pedaloes to parasailing. You’ll find lifeguards, sun loungers and parasols here, as well as walkway connecting the resorts Old Town to the beach, with wheelchair accessibility.
Travel approximately 20 miles west of Side and you’ll find the attractive seaside village of Colakli. An extensive golden sand beach stretching for miles and a charming promenade of cafes and restaurants makes this a great place for couples to take a romantic stroll. Plenty of watersports are on offer for those looking for some beach activity.