Just a short two-and-a-half-hour drive from Antalya’s city center in Isparta is the charming village of Eğirdir. Located on the western edge of Lake Eğirdir as well as partly on a peninsula that juts out into the water, this relaxed lakeside town is the place to go if you need a break from the crowd or noise in the city. Read on if you want to learn if Eğirdir is worth a day or weekend trip from Antalya, including what there is to do and some tips on where to stay and what to eat.
What is there to do?
Do not come to Eğirdir expecting to go, go, go and see all the things. The town, itself, is not big on museums or historical places to see. Going and doing is not why one visits this picturesque lakeside town. Eğirdir has found its niche as one of Türkiye’s 21 towns that are a part of the Cittaslow Movement. If you have not heard about Cittaslow, it is a network of towns whose leaders have determined to create a town where the slower life can be enjoyed. According to its website, Cittaslow’s goals include “improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down the overall pace, especially in a city’s use of spaces and the flow of life and traffic through them.”
To this end, we say, well done, Eğirdir. If you are looking for a place to breathe in the fresh air, slowly eat some freshly caught fish at a lakeside cafe, and take a leisurely stroll around town, this is your place.
Walking out to the Yeşilada peninsula and the connected island is a nice, flat stroll with cafes, parks with picnic areas, and lakeside wonders to see all around. Out on the island there is an old Greek Orthodox Church and some other Greek era houses that are easy to find as you wander the small area.
At the entrance to the Yeşilada peninsula you will find Eğirdir Castle, originally constructed in 400 B.C. There isn’t much left to see there, but if you happen to find yourself in Eğirdir on a Thursday, be sure to check out the pazar surrounding its base.
Lake Eğirdir is the fourth largest lake of Türkiye, and most of Eğirdir’s charm comes from skirting this majestic body of water. Depending on the direction of the wind, the water on the lake looks to be going in opposite directions on each side of the peninsula, which is an interesting sight to behold.
In summer months you can enjoy beach life at the sandy public beach near the center of town or outside of town at Altınkum Plaji (Golden Sand Beach). Or you can rent a boat tour from various locations around the lake. Boat captains will drive around for awhile and then allow you to swim in the best parts of the lake.
The other benefit of being lakeside is the delicious fresh fish that comes straight from the lake. All of the cafes offer fresh daily fare and it is definitely something you should not pass up.
In the fall, another draw for a day trip from Antalya is the changing foliage and surrounding area’s rolling hills of apple orchards. In October and November, the sweet aroma of apples greets you when you drive into town. Whether it is because of the piles of colorful apples at drop-off points waiting to be pressed, or the cold storage and processing plants squeezing out the delicious juices, the fragrant air heralds one of autumn’s finest fruits. Apple sellers line the road on the east side of the lake, but you can also purchase apples from vendors in the town at the apple shaped booths.
If you don’t mind a steep and curvy car ride up, you can check out Akpınar Seyir Terası. This hilltop terrace offers multiple cafes which give you epic views of the lake and the peninsula.
We visited Eğirdir on a weekend in early November and it was quite cold when we arrived. Keep in mind that we live in Antalya, which doesn’t see temperatures below 5 degrees celsius/41 degrees fahrenheit very often. However, the wind that was ripping through the town was insane. Because of the mountains on both sides of the lake, it almost felt like a wind tunnel on the peninsula where we stayed.
We loved Fulya Pension, the family-run place where we spent two nights. It was not fancy, but it was clean and the staff were so accommodating and friendly. Beds were okay (it is hard to find super comfy beds in Türkiye, but these were not bad), the room was warm and sufficient in size, and breakfast up on the top floor with a panoramic lake view was generous. Its location at the start of the peninsula was perfectly located and close to a plethora of food options. If you stay at Fulya Pension, we highly recommend eating dinner at their restaurant. The food is exceptional.
It warmed up during the day, enough for us to take a leisurely stroll around the peninsula and the city center. The wind was still roaring and the ripples on the south side of the lake were amazing!
Out of all the options for lakeside cafes, we opted for Selanik Cafe & Restaurant. This inviting blue and white checkered tablecloth cafe was peaceful and friendly. You probably can’t go wrong with any of the fish options, but we picked out the göl levreği (lake bass). We could have shared one order after our large Turkish breakfast at Fulya Pension, but we ordered two and both struggled to finish all of our breaded fish. It was a generous portion and most delicious!
Our second day we decided to drive around in the surrounding hills to find an apple orchard that supposedly allows people to pick from the trees. After finding our way there over bumpy deserted farm roads that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, we met some neighbors and stopped and asked about picking apples. We figured out that the apples were all harvested, but if we had been there just two weeks earlier we could have picked our own. We can’t wait to go back another time in the fall and try!
Overall, we had such a relaxing stay in Eğirdir. From the pension staff and cafe workers to the gracious farmers we met while looking for the apple orchard, all of the people we met represented the hospitality and generosity of Turkish people well. This delightful lakeside village is definitely worth a day or weekend trip if you just want to get away and rest while experiencing incredible beauty and good food. We hope to return soon!
How to get there
Eğirdir is a little over two hours from Antalya’s city center. The best way to get there would be by rental car or your own car, but buses from the Antalya Otogar also head that direction.
Be warned that the fastest route on GPS will take you on a windy, steep and crazy zig zag up and over a mountain. This is the road that turns right off of D-685 just after entering Isparta province. We have driven that way twice, once during the day and once at night. Both times it was kind of nerve-wracking because the road narrows tremendously while also curving and climbing. When a vehicle comes going the opposite direction it can be a tight squeeze. If a driving adventure is not on your agenda, we suggest taking the just a bit longer route through Isparta and over. And, if it doesn’t show up on your GPS, just keep going straight when it tells you to turn and it will course correct through Isparta.
Either on the way to Eğirdir or on the way home, one of our favorite stops along D-685 is Karacaören Barajı, another small lake in the middle of a majestic stretch of driving. Gölbaşı Restaurant is a perfect bathroom stop with a market and a delicious breakfast spread overlooking the lake.