Going to Turkey ? – Yes !
Spending a full week in on of the luxury hotels along the beach ? – No, thanks … Not in my taste …
We wanted to go to the Anatolia region ( also called Asia Minor ) but stay away from Antalya and big hotels located east from Antalya. To our surprise even the kids didn’t go for this option when we showed them one of these beauties in a brochure. They pointed their fingers to a bungalow instead. In order to help them make the right decision we told them some interesting stories about wild animals and how much better the the wild nature is than a concrete block 🙂 Boys, you made the right decision!
Family bungalows located in the gardens of Canada Hotel
About 15km south-west from Antalya begins BEYDAGLARI NATIONAL PARK ( sometimes also called Olympos Beydaglari National Park ) which covers more than 34.000 hectares of area. About 80km from Antalya there is a small rural village CIRALI. The village is located between ancient ruins of Olympos and Chimera flaming rocks (in Turkish: Yanartaş) mentioned in the Iliad of Homer where they were called “The Fire Which Never Goes Out”.
The area is also protected by the WWF for the nesting of Caretta Caretta , also known as loggerhead sea turtles.
Caretta Caretta – Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Cıralı is one of the last unspoilt natural areas along the Antalya coastline. The area remained untouched by the big hotels due to some building regulations which make sure that big investors keep their hand out of this beautiful place. I hope these restrictions will never be removed !
So there are no big hotels here, no mass tourism, no big crowds. A lot of small family-run hotels and pensions. Small shops, quiet bars, nice restaurants. Pure tranquility … This is a perfect place for nature lovers and for those who wants to relax and chill out.
Cirali Beach at sunset
After arriving in Antalya we rented a car and went straight to Canada Hotel where we booked a family bungalow for the whole staying. The family run Hotel Canada with it’s beautiful bungalows (that is where we stayed) is a place with great atmosphere, top-class service, delicious food and marvelous surrounding. Sometimes you feel like visiting an uncle who runs a nice hotel 🙂
The dinner was always delicious !!! You can try other places, looking for something new but the very next day you will certainly appear again for dinner at Canada Hotel !
The family bungalows was ideal for us. Surrounded by orange trees with lots of space for kids to play. Sitting in the evening in front of the bungalow, watching the moon appearing from behind the mountains, inhaling the smell of orange & pomegranate trees was just unforgettable.
This is my must-do list in Cirali:
1) Boat Trip from Cirali beach. It was a day to remember. Lots of fun on the boat, snorkeling in different bays and great dinner served.
A view on Cirali Beach from our boat
Boat Trip – Oskar is the Captain !
Boat Trip – Oskar is looking for Carreta Carreta turtles
Boat Trip – Snorkeling at the Aquarium Bay
2) Visit flames of the Chimaera. Kids loved it. The best time to visit the eternal flames is in the evening after sunset. The walk starts at at Chimera Visitors Centre. After paying a small fee we walked up about 40 minutes a stony path in the darkness to get to the flames. Take at least one torch with you! It is really dark there … The only light are the flames at the top which are only visible after getting to the flames. This is really a fascinating natural phenomenon. A dozen flames burn from a small wholes in the rock. Thousands years ago a gas getting out from these holes stared to burn and it is burning till now … The fire is visible from a very long distance so in ancient times it served as a natural-born lighthouse for boats passing along the coast.
Chimera flaming rocks (Yanartaş)
The legend says that the flames comes from fire-breathing monstrous called in Greek mythology CHIMERA which is buried under the rocks. Chimera is usually presented as monstrous with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that ended in a snake’s head.
Chimera di Arezzo, Museo Archeologico di Firenze
3) Visit ruins of Olympos. I saw some snakes there so keep your eyes open
4) If you are a biker, rent a good mountain bike and make a trip through the mountains. Ask Saban from Canada Hotel where to start the tour. This tour is not for beginners. You need some stamina to do this
5) Take the free bicycle early in the morning from Canada Hotel and cycle through the village up to the beach. Get a fresh squeezed orange juice on the way back
6) Explore the Lycian Way
7) Chill out at the hotel 🙂 enjoy hanging hammock and the pool. Take a cold RAKI shot.
Before leaving Turkey we stayed one day in Antalya where we booked one night at a low budget hotel Ozmen Pension. The pension is located in the old part of Antalya – Kaleci. It is only 10min walk from the Mediterranean Old Roman Harbour. There is no better place if you are visiting Antalya for 1 or 2 days. It is a very good value as well. Hosts were extremely helpful and friendly. Thanks for all your help !!! Unfortunately we could not enjoy the breakfast served at the terrace because our plane was early in the morning. Maybe next time 🙂
Spices in one of the small shops in Kaleici, the historic city center of Antalya
Yivli Minare in Antalya