* Prices may differ from that shown
The best holiday I have ever had was in SIDE in turkey, at the time when I went, which was nearly 10 years ago, it was mainly like a land of building sites, but even that being the case, I had a brilliant time.
The locals are very very friendly; they made my families stay a brilliant one! Although we did come on a few that were over friendly but you get that everywhere.
At every restaurant we visited we were made to feel very comfortable, offered a free drink to start with and the food was amazing and unbelievably dirt cheap, I think the one night my parents paid £20 in total for the four of us to eat, that was including our side orders and our drinks.
To view the ancient ruins was an amazing experience, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, taking picture after picture to keep as memories of my time in this country. We did happen to come across a male who offered to show us round as he explained he was a local, unbeknown to us, he was going to end up charging my parents for the 5 minutes he showed us round, we know not to fall for that stunt again.
We had brilliant entertainment in and around the apartments we stayed at, even visited the lighthouse, to see the reps put on a show, which was the highlight of the fortnight.
I would advise side to anyone planning on going abroad, only the prices have rocketed since becoming a more known part of turkey.
My ideal holiday destination.
Side (pronounced See-da, stress on the first syllable) is a small seaside resort of about 10,000 inhabitants on the south coast of Turkey, the so-called Turkish Riviera, 75 km east of Antalya where the international airport is. We chose a hotel about 3,5 km west of Side for our hols in October, the idea was to not only lie on the beach or swim but also take in the culture the town has to offer.
3,5 km isn't far, I've walked longer distances in my life, but due to a health problem I wasn't able to cover even this distance, so I can tell you that a one-way trip by taxi from our hotel was 7,50 Euro (5,90 GBP, taxi drivers want Euro), a trip by dolmus (pronounced 'dolmoosh', stress on the first syllable) a mini van with 14 seats 1,50 Turkish Lira (56p). The dolmus constantly cruise up and down the big streets, one doesn't have to wait longer than ten minutes to find one. When all seats are taken, the dolmus isn't full by Turkish standards, I haven't had any exotic experiences, but have heard strange stories from experienced travellers.
I knew that there was a lot of old stuff to see but when we approached the town and suddenly were in an area full of ruins, standing columns, lying pieces of columns, stubs of columns before we had passed a normal house, I was dumbfounded. And then the Roman amphitheatre came into view which once seated 15,000 spectators. Wow.
When I was younger, I prepared my travels more thoroughly, nowadays I only have vague ideas and superficial knowledge of the places I'm going to visit and I avoid looking at too many photos before departing. In this way I'm still able to be surprised which is a good thing. If you have too much information beforehand, your only reaction after reaching your destination is to compare, "Oh, I thought the statue was much bigger." etc.
The dolmus stop in front of the old town wall, the taxis beside the amphitheatre. Tourists can go through the site by a mini-train pulled by a tractor (I don't know the price) or walk around individually, only small areas are fenced in, excavations are still going on. Unfortunately my imagination isn't vivid enough to see Side as it was thousands of years ago, I'd be grateful for some reconstructed houses to help me along.
We visited the amphitheatre, a ticket costs 10 Turkish Lira (~3,70 GBP). Pity that its condition is too bad so that it isn't used any more like the one in Aspendos (about 40km away) which is 1,800 years old and the biggest Roman theatre in the Eastern Mediterranean, in summer concerts and operas are performed there for about 15, 000 spectators.
But tourists don't go to Side to see only ruins, what else is there? Just in front of the entrance of the theatre modern Side begins, a bustling seaside resort. I'd advise visitors to turn left and walk along the narrow street (no cars) parallel to the coast, it's full of shops and restaurants on the right side which have their tables outside on the left side of the street meaning that you're looking at the sea while you're eating.
Is Side full of touts hassling tourists? Full of touts, yes, but I don't feel hassled, my husband does. I don't react when they talk to me, I don't look at them or only with a cold, vacant, outer space stare, I'm deaf mute, I never answer a question, don't shake outstretched hands which turns them off. My husband is too friendly and communicative, if a tout asks him if we want to eat / buy XYZ, he says no and explains why not, the guaranteed beginning of a conversation which can be difficult to get out of. Of course, many tourists like being addressed, if that weren't the case, there wouldn't be any touts, but if this is not your thing: Do. Not. React!
The street ends in front of the remains of the Apollo temple from the 2nd century AD, five columns are still standing or have been put up again. To the right are ruins of Roman buildings and behind the temple is the marina, a pretty sight. It's enclosed by a mole with many benches facing the sea as well as the town. From there it's possible to see the coastline in the direction of Antalya and how Side has grown. The mole is the southern point of the peninsula - about 1km long and 400m across - on which Side is built, please have a look at the photo at the top of the site to get an impression.
Modern Side sits on the remains of the antique settlement which was founded in the 7th century BC, the name Side means 'pomegranate' in the language of the first settlers and tasty, healthy pomegranate juice is offered everywhere (one glass 1,50 Euro). In ancient times Side was an important port, the Persians, the Greek, the Romans, Cilician pirates, who established their chief naval base and a slave-trade centre there, and Arabs fought for supremacy. In 333 BC Alexander the Great conquered the place, the invasions of today come from tourists from central Europe and Russia.
According to my guidebook the streets are packed with tourists and it's hardly possible to move and at night the whole town is a party zone. Well, deffo not in the second half of October, the number of tourists was just right, one wouldn't like to see a seaside resort without any tourist, would one? I can't comment on the night life, sorry.
From the central square at the marina, dominated by a more than life-size bust of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), the founder of modern Turkey, the main shopping street (reduced traffic) leads up to the entrance of the theatre where we started the tour. You can either walk straight up or zig-zag up through some side streets which also have shops and restaurants but are a bit quieter.
I visited Side twice because I liked the town so much the first time, on my second visit I went to the museum in the old Roman bath house which I hadn't been to before. The entrance fee is 10 Turkish Lira (~3,70 GBP), no concessions, an impudence for what is exhibited if you ask me. Two rooms full of Roman sarcophagi, statues and heads, some well preserved, some not, and remains of columns and more sarcophagi in a garden beside the building. Each artefact has a short description in Turkish, German and English, but the leaflet lying at the entrance is only in Turkish, two showcases have texts in Turkish and English (kind of) which are so high up the wall that even tall people have problems reading them. Not good.
On the other hand, if a museum offers only few artefacts, one looks closely at them which is a good thing. When I see a piece of a column with chiselled ornaments, I imagine the craftsman doing the job and I'm deeply impressed. No matter where the piece was, maybe high up where it couldn't even be seen by the onlookers standing in front of the temple, it's perfect, line upon line of floral ornaments without a flaw. So, all things considered, a visit to the museum may be recommended if you've got an artistic or historical vein. It's forbidden to take photos using a flash inside the museum, I know that flashlight can destroy paintings but have never heard that it can damage stone so I took some photos inside without qualms of conscience.
Should you ever visit the South coast of Turkey in spring or autumn, include a visit to Side, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I spent two splendid weeks with my wife and son in Side Hotel on 11-25 June 2000. Ours was an "all inclusive" package, and I will expand below on major points of that "all". The h o t e l is situated in Kumkyi, a village some 70 km away from Antaliya. It consists basically of two blocks of flats: Side Annex (4*) and Side Hotel (5*) itself. The former is negligibly further away from the beach than the latter. The restaurant is in the five-star building, with an open terrace offering a picturesque view of the sea and the cove. The Annex is encircled by shops (including a very aggressive audio retail outlet), cafes and canteens, and is at an end of a major street of the village, which is very busy in the evenings. This season they reportedly opened a disco in the basement - the last straw for spouses living on the ground floor (and would rather go to bed at night). The p e r s o n n e l were well trained and helpful. A lot was done to entertain the kids. And there was a plenty of them (the kids), which was a pleasure. The c u i s i n e was good, in the European tradition, healthy and sumptuous, but generally lacking in inventiveness and experiment. Strong drinks (vodkas, cognacs) and dry wines of Turkish make were good enough, too (and went for free). S p o r t f a c i l i t i e s. If I were the big cheese at Side Hotel, I would make its fitness corner twice as big. In addition, they have a tennis court, two swimming pools for adults (one in-house) and one swimming pool for the kids. Most of the v i s i t o r s were either from Germany or from Russia. My impression was that the Germans were of almost every age group, and the presence of the elderly among them was particularly notable, whereas most of the Russians were middle-aged couples with kids and young adults. E x c u r s i o n s were good, but the guides (I mean those working with Russians only) were inevitably pressed for time and often made us feel somewhat
guilty and uncomfortable. The guides wouldn't let you have enough time to enjoy yourself. I would especially recommend going on a two-day visit to Pamukkale famous for the beauty and scope of its unique lime rifts and ruins of an antique town of Khiyerapolis (abt. 133 B.C.), including an ancient theatre (abt. 60 A.D.) and some other enjoyable and noteworthy sights. In fact, I fell for Pamukkale so much that I do believe that it may be not a bad idea to settle somewhere near it when on holiday in Turkey even at the price of having lost any access to the sea. The b e a c h was immaculate in terms of cleanliness (in comparison with what we saw this year in Malgrat de Mar in Spain), safety and entertainments. The s e a was calm, inviting, warm and as beautiful as young topless sunbathers that never failed to catch my eye on the beach. They and the thrills of parasailing, and the colour of a red wine in a glass the moment it catches the rays of a setting sun, the pure joys and dances of the kids at Mini-disco parties are some of other minor spinoffs that you are likely to take away. Go to Side, visit the seaport to enrich your Mind's Eye Snapshot Collection. In short, if "sea-sex-sun" is your idea of a summer holiday, go to Side whereabouts by all means. If you are an inveterate Barcelona fan (I mean the city and its sights - not the FC!) like I am, then still go there for a change and visit Pamukkale. N.B. 1)Do not be afraid of the superhigh temperatures - they are easy to get used to. 2)Go to www.tripprep.com for health tips for those travelling to Turkey well in advance and take all the necessary precautions!
I had wanted to visit Turkey for some years and always ended up elsewhere so, December 2000, we went to Side. We were staying just down the coast at a brilliant, all-inclusive hotel in the tourist 'compound' at Titryengol and only went into Side itself once. It's a really interesting old town with Greek and Roman ruins but it takes no more than half a day to get round it. The Roman library and amphitheatre are two of the most spectacular ancient sites I have ever seen (better than Knossos/Stonehenge/Carnac/Newgrange etc...) but getting around the town itself is such hard work. Right from the start, touts start shouting to try to get you into their bar,cafe or restaurant. We even decided to tell them that we were Welsh speakers when they shouted the usual "Deutsch? English? Francais?" at us only to find that the first one we said it to had studied in Cardiff and knew a bit of Welsh!! The shop owners are the same - browsing can become a very lengthy pastime. In Manavgat, the nearest large town, bars, restaurants and boat trips sit comfortably alongside the hardware shops and market and the atmosphere is more 'Turkish'. I would recommend a holiday to the area but Side is really just a day trip - anything more would be too laborious and, undoubtedly too expensive!
After doing the package deal to Olu Deniz three times we decided to just get a flight and book ourselves into pensions. (It was so cheap in Olu Deniz we thought we would try it ourselves.). We got a flight to Dalaman and back handed a rep to get us on her coach to Side. We had no trouble getting a pension (small hotel). Really cheap. The trouble was, although an advertised resort, there was nothing to do there. The resort was about the size of a 400 metre track and most of it was stalls with a few ancient relics. I got through about 4 books during our stay! We wondered about going to Olu Deniz but the coach and taxis would take too long and prove costly. Still, we know not to revisit. (However there was an excellent hotel that had a casino if you had LOTS of money though, the hotel was pretty exclusive..even by Turkish standards).
Side has become a resort town on the southern coast of Turkey. It was once occupied by Alexander the Great in 333 BC and is rich in history and ruins.