Fancy a trip back in time? Enter the ruins of Ancient Side, a must see for history buffs and families with kids who like to roam and only 80km east of Antalya. A settlement dating back to 7th Century BC, Side has much to offer its guests these days, from its own museum in the ancient bathhouse to the magnificent theatre surrounded by ruins and a modern-day marketplace.
Most of what you see at Side are remnants from between 1st century B.C. to 3rd century A.D. During the Roman period, Side was known as the slave trade capital of the Mediterranean, which provided the wealth necessary to build the theatre, Roman baths, Nymphaeum, colonnaded streets, agora, library, and monumental gate, all of which you can see signs of today. There are separate entry fees for the museum and the theatre, so if you plan to visit multiple sites in addition to Ancient Side, look into the Museum Card.
The sprawling ruins are intermingled with the beach and marketplace cafés and shops, and outside of the theatre and museum, the grounds can be wandered around without cost. Don’t miss the remaining arch from the Temple of Apollo, proudly keeping watch over the sea. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to wander around the ancient streets and ruins and imagine what life was like thousands of years ago in Side’s hey-day.
The museum is brimming with statues, sarcophagi, jewelry, and artifacts uncovered onsite, and the theater is pretty well restored. If you have visited the Antalya Museum or Aspendos you might consider probably skipping the admission prices of those and enjoy the sprawling, no-cost ruins instead.
If you want to spend a full summer day at Side, we recommend exploring the main area in the morning, eating lunch at a seaside café, and bringing swimsuits and towels to cool off at the beach in the late afternoon. Park in the free public parking area and walk down the main entry road. On the left side there is a vast expanse, bring your comfy shoes, of free ruins you can roam until you get tired. Keep in mind there is not much shade, so bring water and wear sunscreen.
Once you need a break, head toward the sea and find a café to sit and enjoy a drink or snack before heading toward the remnants of the Temple of Apollo and then through the marketplace shops toward the theater. Plan on shop owners approaching you to see their shop as you walk through, but just say, “No, thank you” without pausing and walk on by. Helpful tip: If you have no intention or desire to buy anything, don’t slow down to even look. If you really want to stop them from harassing you, learn how to say thank you in Turkish: “Teşekkür ederim.” When you say thank you in this context, it really means, “No, thank you.”
When you finish seeing the theater and museum, catch a ride back to the parking lot on the fancy train that runs back and forth from the marketplace to the parking lot for a small fee. Grab your suits out of the car and finish your afternoon with lunch and by cooling off in the sea.
Location: Selimiye Mahallesi, Çağla Sk., 07330 Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey
Hours: 15 April – 1 October: 10:00 – 19:00 Daily, 2 October – March 31: 8:30 – 17:30 Daily
(Entrance closes 30 minutes before site)
Entrance Fee: Side Museum: 25TL or Free with Museum Pass (August 2020)
Side Theater: 45TL or Free with Museum Pass (August 2020)