My husband and I were eager to take an overnight trip to the ancient city of Side (pronounced Seede’) located northeast of Antalya. Other than having planned to see the ruins, we had no other plans or expectations of what else we could see or do in Side.
So, without making a hotel reservation, we packed the car and set out to drive along the coast and not down the express highway so that we could enjoy the view and discover other coastal cities along the way.
Just a little history about Side, it is a modern resort town, best-known for its classical ancient ruins that come from the periods of the 1st century BCE to 3rd century CE. They call this coastal area Pamphylia Coast which is within the province of Antalya. This ancient city has a small peninsula about 1 km long and 400 m wide where most of the ruins are still standing today.
Once we arrived in the city of Side, we thought we better find a boutique hotel first for our overnight stay and to drop off our luggage. I was also eager to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. We found the perfect place, SunPrime Dogan Beach Resort. This lovely boutique hotel is located near the beach, along the sea wall with private access to the beach. If you prefer to swim in a pool instead of the sea, the hotel has a tropical pool area as well to enjoy. A free delicious breakfast is included served on the patio overlooking the beautiful turquoise water… and if you wake up early, you could enjoy this breakfast with a good serving of Sunrise. The hotel owners live on-site and are such a sweet couple and are the perfect guides about where to go and see as they were born and raised in Side.
Make sure to explore the boardwalk where you will find many shops and restaurants. It is a lovely place to take an evening stroll as the sun sets and the moon shines bright in the sky and the refreshing sea breeze.
After checking into our hotel, it was time to explore the ruins of the ancient city of Side. Although the area where the ruins stretch for miles, I will only share with you some of my most interesting finds.
Nymphaeum (the fountain), the most outstanding fountain in the Anatolian region. Nymphaeum, in ancient Greece and Rome, was a monument consecrated to the gods of nature or spring. During the 2nd century this structure once stood three-stories but today the lower floor is the only piece remaining.
Exhibits shown in the museum are mainly the artifacts found during archaeological excavations conducted in Side by professor Arif Müfid Mansel in 1947-1967. Most of the statues and sarcophagi (tombs) are a collection from Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods, as well as a collection of weapons, jewelry, and utensils from different periods of history.
The theatre was built early in the Hellenistic period. It also has influences of the Roman and Greek architectural period. The theater could accommodate up to fifteen thousand people. During the late Roman Empire times, gladiatorial combats and shows with wild animals became more popular, so the theater was modified for this type of entertainment adding a thick wall to separate the audience. At the end of the 5th century A.D., the building was transformed into an open-air church.
State Agora served as the governmental center for the city of Side. In this area, you can see many pieces of decorative ruins lying about. On one side you will see dunes which are also a popular area for swimming.
Temple of Apollo is the most famous structure, and it draws many tourists to visit this beautiful city. Within the three temples located in Side, the temple of Apollo is one of the best-preserved temples in the group located on the tip of the peninsula dedicated to the Greek God of beauty, light, the patron of the arts and the guide of the Muses. The frieze placed above them depicts the heads of Medusa-a mythological monster that had the face of a female with venomous snakes in place of her hair.
Make sure you check out the Temple of Apollo under the moonlight. At night, the structure is lit and makes for a great picture at night.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ruins within Side. Walking the ancient city of Side will take at least a half-day if not more depending on how much time you have and whether you enjoy this history stuff.
City Center and Harbor
From here we walked toward the boat harbor and enjoyed a little snack and drinks at ApolloNik. This bungalow style restaurant sits at the corner of the harbor where you could enjoy the boats and the view of the temple Apollo.
After enjoying a small salad and iced tea, we walked through the city center and enjoyed window shopping at many of the stores. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir to take home.
Our walk took us back to our hotel where we changed into our bathing suits and enjoyed an afternoon swim and sunbathing.
If you desire a beautiful atmosphere over the water along with great food for a romantic dinner, I suggest stopping at Arzume Lounge. This Spanish-style restaurant offers not only delicious food but also a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea from its beautiful and very romantic balcony.
My mouth started to water when I read avocado dip and tacos on the menu. Both dishes were flavorful and tasty and filled my appetite. I highly suggest this restaurant while visiting Side. However, in the summer season, a reservation is highly recommended.
Side has so much to offer for a family on vacation, honeymoon for two, or just a getaway for a holiday. If you enjoy history and archeological sites, Side will most certainly satisfy your curiosity as to its history dates to 2nd century BC. The beach is excellent if you enjoy hunting for seashells and rocks as well as swimming. The water stays shallow for a good distance with a sandy bottom. Restaurants are scattered throughout the city so no matter where you are staying, you can find a great place to enjoy a meal.
Ancient City Side – if you are visiting here in the summer, you will want to go early in the morning or
late in the afternoon as it is very hot during the day and no shaded locations are provided.
- Bring a hat, sunglasses, wear good walking shoes, face mask, water, and your camera.
- Do not forget to wear your sunscreen!
Museum of Side – Open daily. In summer (April-October) it is open from 9 am to 7
pm and in winter (November-March) – from 8 am to 5 pm. When visiting the venue make sure you spend sufficient time in the garden where some of the most impressive artifacts are displayed.
- The cost is 30TL without a museum card. Museum Card can be used here!
Beach – public beaches are available so bring your chairs, umbrella, and towels or rent for
approximately 30 TL.
Restaurants – when dining in the evening it is recommended you make reservations. TripAdvisor is a
a good place to make reservations.