Side hasn’t changed much in the past 2,000 years. At various times, the city was used as an outpost of Alexander the Great, a piracy base, a holy Roman site, and a popular tourist destination. Founded in the 7th century BC, it quickly became a major trade hub in the region and flourished under the control of the Greeks, then the Romans, and then the early Christians. However, by 10 AD, the city was left to flounder after a series of earthquakes and raids by its neighbours. Today, the ancient ruins crumble dramatically against the turquoise coast, making Side a popular holiday destination for history buffs and beach bums alike. If you can ignore the souvenir shops and restaurant hustlers, you can almost imagine that you are back in ancient Antalya, hiding your gold from the pirates.
Location: Side - stretching along the Turkish coast
Side’s location is what made it such a draw in ancient times. The city is set on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey (in what used to be known as ancient Greece), on the fringes of the Pamphylian Sea. Today, the easiest way to reach the city is via the nearby Antalya airport. The city itself is very small, so if want to explore the surrounding areas, the local Dolmus, or buses, are a cheap and cheerful option.
Business: The tourist trade prevails
The ancient armies and pirates have long since abandoned Side, leaving it for the tourists, and tourism is big business in Side. As a result, there is no shortage of hotels and resorts, and the main streets are lined with restaurants, nightclubs, and shops.
Culture: Ancient Greece meets modern Turkey
Legend has it that Side was a favoured meeting point for Cleopatra and Marc Antony, and there is still something romantic about Side’s balmy Mediterranean climate and dramatic setting. The ancient ruins are a reminder of the city’s rich cultural history and its inherent romance, but 21st century Side is thoroughly modern, with an array of Turkish cafes and tourist bars offering a taste of Turkish life today.
Activities: Get back to nature in Side
No trip to Side would be complete without a walk through the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, the Roman baths, the old Nymphaeum and the theatre at Aspendos. For more energetic visitors, nearby Manavgat is a treasure trove of natural sights, including the placid Green Lake and the impressive Manavgat Waterfall, which both boast a number of good hiking trails.