The lovely town of Kemer is found where the Taurus Mountains meet the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. Green forests accompany the everlasting trio of white sands, turquoise sea and warm sun. Ancient cities and the best in cantemporary entertainment, shopping and accommodation provide the ideal setting for a complete holiday.
Kemer is one of the most popular holiday destinations of both Antalya and the Mediteranean coast with its yatch harbour; its sub-districts, Göynük, Çamyuva and Tekirova, surrounded by pine forest; and its cobble Stone streets lined with palm trees, cafes, bars, restaurnats and boutiques. This small district leans on the pine forest clad Taurus Mountains, and visitors find both tranquillity and the opportunity top it themselves against natue in adventure sports.
Boat tours departing from Kemer Yatch Harbour visit untouched beaches in local coves amidst promontories surrounded by crystal waters, while following the trial of the glorious Lycian Civilisation through the coastal cities of Antiquity. The boat trips to ancient cities make visiting Kemer an unforgettable experience.
Kemer is the ideal place to see the ruins of the major settlements of Lycian Civilisation, and visitors enjoy breathing in history while immersed in the natural beautiful scenery.
The Karain Cave proves that human habitation in Antalya dates to the Palaeolithic Ages, and consequently has a great importance for Anatolian as well as world history. The Beldibi Cave, situated on the highway between Antalya and Kemer, also provides fascinating clues to the human history of the region, and is a focus of interest for visitors as well as cave experts. Its striking wall paintings depict animal and human figures as well as symbols indicating the life styles and belief systems of the ancient inhabitants. Excavations at the cave, which is a protected archaeological site, have brought to the surface the shells of sea creatures, as well as flint tools dating back to the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Ages.
These historical artefacts and the ruins of ancient cities in Kemer and its environs help us touch the common past of humanity and better understand ourselves. Those ancient cities were established on the littoral of the sea and their natural harbours made them significant trading posts.
Ancient city of Phaselis, the first stopover for yatchs;
The first stop on the routes of yachts departing Kemer to visit the local coves and settlements of Antiquity is the Ancient City of Phaselis. That visitors swim in the same waters which cooled bathers thousands of years ago makes them feel a sense of antiquity and provides a unique experience.
Phaselis is located on a promontory covered by gren forest. The site of the ruins is easily accessible from kemer and it is situated on the lower slopes of the Mount Tahtalı that were once surrounded by the rose gardens.
The city of Phalesis was famous for its rose oil extraction and agricultural produce, and its three natural harbours gave it a privileged trading position on the coastral trading routes of the eastern Mediterranean. The city was founded by the Doran colonists coming from Rhodes Island in the 7th century BC. The trading importance of Phalises endured, and in the 6th century BC the city fell into the hands of Persians. In 333 BC, Alexander the Great took the city from the Persians. The important position of the city on the naval trading route was demonstrated by the Egyptian rulet hat lasted more than a century after the death of Alexander the Great, as it is one of the important stopover ports on the route to Egypt. Until 160 BC, when it came under Roman rule, the city remained yet under the domination of rulers of Rhodes. Under Roman rule Phalesis became a part of the Lycian League. However, it fell to the hands of corsairs, who were attracted to its harbours and favourable situation and repeatedly attacked there and the city was retaken by the Romans after a while. During the Byzantine Period, the city became the seat of a bishopric and yet again became the target of corsair attacks. Its power waned in the 3rd century AD, and during the Seljuk rule of Anatolia, the hrbours at Alanya and Antalya became more prominent and Phaselis lost its importance.
The three harbours of Phaselis are known as the North harbour, military harbour and South harbour. Today, attractive ruins line both sides of the main road connecting the military harbour to the South harbour. The sidewalks on both sides of the flagstone road are elevated and can be reached by three steps. The drainage and sewage system laid under the road represents the developed city planning skills of the Lycian Civilisation. On the west side of the road, leading up to the square, there are shops, a marble floored bathhouse and a gymnasium which had a mosaic decorated flor. On this side of the road is also an agora, surrounded with statues, shops and porticoes in the past and was named after the Emperor Hadrian as it was commissioned during his reign (117 – 138 AD). A rectangular plan basilica and a cistern are situated next to the agora. Adjacent to the large square is the Domitian agora with two Gates one of which bears an inscription in honour of the Emperor Domition (81 – 96 AD). At the end of the road, Hadrian’s Gate, erected to the glory of the emperor, had a magnificent view over the South harbour.
The ruins on the east side of the road include a theatre built into a hill, with a commanding view of the site. The archaeological features of the theatre suggest that it was built earlier, but was extensively repaired and altered during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Below the theatre was the bathhouse, and to the south of the bathhouse were the mosaic decorated city lavatories. Up the slope from the theatre was the city acropolis. In the acropolisi apart from the palace and official buildings, was the Temple of Athena, which housed the spear of Achilles, the Temple of Heracles, the Temple of Hestia and the Temple of Hermes.
Phaselis was surrounded by aqueducts, as well as defensive walls to protect it from corsair attacks, both of which can be visited and are interesting additions to a tour of the ruins along the main road.
The underwater ruins of Phaselis are definetely worth a visit, and are visible to swimmers in the bay. Among the ruins are the wave breaks and several Sarcophagi. The extension of city walls in the sea forms the wave breaker fort he military harbour. The ruins of the necropolis next to the North harbour contain various types of tombs and sarcophagi.
The enchanting coast of Olympos
Charming Olympos, with its natural beauty and superb accommodation options, is a favourite stopping point for yatchs departing Kemer. Olympos is the ideal place to explore and rest in the peace and quiet of enchanting nature, forgoing time and space on a fantastic coastline, amid the splendid ruins of Antiquity, among forests and tree houses, and the fire that has been burning for thousands of years. With its accomodation facilities togother with its nature, Olympos is one of the most preffered destnations for a holiday.
The Olympos coast attracts many visitors every year – including migrating loggerhead sea turtles (caretta caretta)! The beaches are one of the few breeding grounds of the sea turtles, and have been taken under environmental protection.
The beaches and ruins of Olympos, adorned with nerium oleanders and bay laurels, are about 35 kilometres outside Kemer. The road from Kemer leading west follows the coastline until it reaches Ulupınar Village, then passes through the forest to reach Olympos. The Ancient City of Olympos is situated to the South of Phaselis, near the Çıralı Village, and it was one of the prominent members of the Lycian League in the 2nd century BC. Just like its neighbouring city Phaselis, Olympos too suffered the corsair raids on account of its attractive position, and was famous during the Roman Period for the cult of Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalwork. Later, Olympos once more became a target of corsairs and lost its riches and importance. However it had not departed the scene of history until the 15th century A.D.
The ruins of the ancient city that survive from the Roman and Byzantine eras are adorned with bay laurel trees and situated along the stream (Akdere) once passing through the middle of the city. During the Antiquity the sides of the stream were walled and became a canal allowing ships to come into the city as far as the bridge connecting both sides of the city. Today, only the pillars of the bridge are visible. The main road of Olympos runs paralel to the stream. A hill, which is visible from the beach, bears the ruins of the defensive walls belonging to Olympos acropolis that was later converted into a fortress during the Middle Ages. Under the acropolis there are two burial chambers used in the 2nd and 5th centuries A.D. There is one sarcophagus in one of the chambers and two sarcophagi in the other. The floor of chambers containing two sarcophagi was decorated with lion and soldier depicting masaics. One of the sarcophagi bears a relief of a ship and an inscription mentioning the voyages of the Captain Eudomos who is believed to be the person interred in the tomb. Along the stream are the ruins of a monumental tomb containing two sarcophagi. Near the tomb are the ruins of a bishop’s house which had two storeys and mosaic adorned floors from the 5th century A.D. Also a temple of lonic order is visible among the ruins. The temple once erected on columns lie scattered among the trees. Only the gate is standing at present. The inscription over the gate states that the temple was built during the region of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
The other side of the stream can be reached by stepping stones, and is the site of the bathhouse, theatre, walls and basilica ruins. The theatre probably from the Roman period while the walls and the basilica are Byzantine. On that side are also the three side colonnaded large building believed to be the agora and gymnasium, another Byzantine building and the city’s necropolis.
Yanartas, the eternal light for seafarers and the legendary fire setting alight the olympic torch
Yanartas, is about an hour’s walk from the Olympos ruins and famous for its role in mythology. The tale tells the story of the hero Bellerophon, who captured the legendary wingd-horse Pegasus, and vanquished the monster Chimera, which had a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.
Bellerophon had been slandered as he refused the love of the wife of Proethus, King of Argos. The Queen lied to her husband and told him that Bellerophon since he was a guest at this table, and was afraid of Zeus, as enemy to those who broket he rules of hospitality between host and guest. So he devised a scheme which would result in the death of Bellerophon, asking him to carry a letter to the King of Lycia. The letter explicitly said that Bellerophon should be punished with death. The King of Lycia, similarly fearing the wrath of Zeus, could not kill bellerophon directly, but charged him with killing the monster Chimera, a task he believed would be fatal in the attempt. However, Bellerophon overcome all difficulties with the aid of his winged horse, Pegasus, and he managed to bury Chimera to the seventh layer under the earth. Proethus gave Bellerophon further difficult tasks, but was finally unable to overcome his luck and courage. Bellerophon won Proethus benevolence and was given his doughter’s hand.
As the legend goes, the fires of Yanartaş, which have not been extinguished for thousands of years, were the flames pouring out of the Chimera’s mounth. It is also claimed that the Olympic torch was originally lit by from those flames. The holy site, which was renowned as the seat of the cult of Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalwork in the distant past, bears the ruins of a church from the Byzantine Period, and reflects the zeitgeist with its charming flames.
Idyros an important harbour for ancient mariners
At the heart of Kemer, near the marina and Ayışığı Beach stand the ruins of the Ancient City of Idyros. Idyros, as a good harbour was one of the important waypoints for coastal sea journeys during the Antiquity. Among the ruins it is possible to see an early Roman watchtower, a basilica dating to the 3rd century AD, a bridge as well as a church, believed to be from Byzantine Period, with its impressive, geometric flor decorations made of large and colourful mosaic pieces.
The only example of Turkish – Islamic architecture
History enthusiasts will be interested in the Seljuk Hunting Lodge, which dates to the first half of the 13th century, and is the only example of Turkish – Islamic architecture in Kemer. The lodge, surrounded by pine trees, is very close to the entrance of Kemer.
Yörük Park to get in touch with recent past
The existing settlement in Kemer was begun at the beginning of the 20th century. In that period the nomadic Turcomans (Yörüks), who spend the winter months on the temperate coast and in summer climb high pastures to avoid sweltering heath, settled in Kemer. Two town’s name also dates to this period. In those days, an arch shaped wall was erected to prevent flood waters running from the higher slopes. The inhabitants were inspired by the wall and started to call the settlement “Kemer”. The arched wall is known as “Kemer” in Turkish, hence the name.
The Yörük Park is one of the symbols of Kemer, and it is well worth a visit. The park is an open air museum revealing through artefacts the hidden life and culture of nomads, who live in Kemer in winter, and migrate to the high pastures of the Taurus Mountains during the summer months. Visitors have the opportunity to become acquainted with a traditional life style on the verge of disappearing, and to enjoy traditional Yörük Food. Local dishes include gözleme, thin flat bread baked on a hotplate laid over open fire and stuffed with cheese and wild herbs accompanied with ayran, a yoghurt drink. Also, the visitors can sit back at wooden tables and benches to enjoy the panoramic scenery overlooking the coast of Kemer and Ayışıgı.
How to enjoy the attractive beauty sports in Kemer and its environs
Archaeological riches, untouched hidden coves, pebble beaches with clear waters, cool high pastures and the oxygen rich atmosphere of pine forests enable Kemer to offer activities for all types of discerning visitors. Sun bathing, swimming. Diving, skiing, mountain climbing or trekking to the ruins of Antiquity are all available within a short distance of town.
Olympos-Bey Mountains National Park
Kemer is part of an environmental protection zone because of its rich diversity of flora and fauna. The zone, known as the Olympos-Bey Mountains National Park extends from the Konyaaltı Beach in the centre of Antalya, and covers the natural and historical sites on the mountains runnings paralel to the seacoast up to the Kırlangıç Peninsula. The National Park is full of archaeological riches, beautiful natural beaches, camp sites where the forests meet the sea and tranquil picnic areas. The worth visiting parts of the Park are especially Çıralı, Phaselis, Olympos, Topçam, Çatlıcak, Beldibi, Göynük, Kındıl Çeşme and Alacasu.
Unavoidable triad: Sea, sun, and sand
The blue flag coastlines of Tekirova, Göynük, Çamyuva and Kiriş, the Municipal Beach in the centre of Kemer and Ayışığı (moonlight) Beach near the marina are the best options to enjoy the bright sun and clean, crystal clear sea. Along with swimming and sun bathing, these beaches also provide facilities for alternative water sports such as windsurfing, water skiing, jet-ski and parasailing.
Tahtalı cable car
Tahtalı cable car allows visitors to enjoy cool mountain breezers and spectatular panoramas just in minutes after swimming in the sea or to ski in autumn, winter, and spring. Departing from sea level, the cable car reaches the summit of Tahtalı Mountain in just ten minutes, and carries its passengers to the ski runs, and the summit restaurants through a mgnificent panaromic view over the mountains and coast along the longest cable in Europa. The sight of the shimmering Mediteranean, the intircate lace work of coves and bays, and the magnificent peaks of the Taurus Mountains, is beyond description.
Adventures in nature
The Mediterranean’s wealth of natural wonders offers diving enthusiasts the opportunity to explore the enchanting underwater world. There are some rewarding and exceptional diving sports along the Kemer coast. The wreck of the French naval ship, Paris 2, which was sunk just outside the Kemer Marina during the first World War, is one of the most exciting diving sports. Reaching the wreck requires experience and fitness and offers a unique opprtunity to connect with a piece of history. In Kemer are also several diving schools catering to the needs of divers at all levels of experience.
The Jeep Safari on the high roads along the Taurus Mountain range at places such as Sogut Cumasi, Altinyaka and Dereköy is another way to enjoy the striking beauty of forest an sea from above. The adventure drive through the sweet scent of pine trees and wild flowers includes opportunities for picnicking along streams and visiting the ruins at Olympos.
Horseback riding is another option for those who wish to enjoy oxygen rich atmosphere of the high pastures above Kemer but are not keen on driving a jeep. There are many horse farms in Kemer that provide the facilities for horseback riding.
One of the longest trails of the world is the Lycian Road that passes through Kemer, and a must activity in Kemer is to trek at least a part of the road. In Goynuk Canyon the trekking is quite demanding and walkers may be obliged to dive into the cool water. There are many opportunities for photography enthusiasts to snatch fnatcastic photos on the road. The canyon is thickly lined with magnificent trees and, on many occasions, trekkers are obliged to descend to the river and swim across. The panaromic vista only enjoyed by those who reach the head of the gorge makes it worth all the effort.
The rhythm of music and dance
Kemer provides a lively and enjoyable night life, with abundant clubs, bars and discos. Near the marina there are two streets well known as the bar and disco streets. They are lined with bars where various types of live music are performed and discos where colourful parties are enriched by the performances of renowned Djs. Any visitor, passing unawares through these streets, is liable to become caught in the rhythm of music and dance, and stay until the first lights of daybreak.
Adventures at International events
Every year international festivities and sports competitions are organised in Kemer where locals and visitors alike participate and enjoy. The lively and colourful Carnival of Kemer held every year is full of concerts, sports activities such as beach volleyball tournament and street shows. The World Rally Championship takes various routes through the slopes of the Taurus Mountains, and brings crowds of paticipants and motor enthusiasts to Kemer. Speed and adrenalin lovers also enjoy the Kemer Offshore Powerboat Race, which is part of the Championship of Turkey.
Where to stay?
Kemer offers varied accommodation options; pensions, apart hotels, 5 star hotels, holiday resorts… In short, accommodation options to cater to every taste and budget. The coasts of Kemer, Tekirova, Göynük, Çamyuva and Kiris are lined with hotels and holiday resorts. The facilities have a large capacity and are able to meet every demand. Kemer has also become one of the prime locations for conferences, on the merits of its exceptional natura and comfortable hotels and facilities.
How to get there
Kemer is about 45 kilometers from the city center of Antalya, and is accessible by road, sea and air. Antalya Airport is about 55 kilometers from Kemer, and there is a regular minibus service from Antalya to Kemer running at 10 minutes intervals. The road west from Antalya towards follows the coastline and offers a pleasant journey through scenic mountains and seassapes.
As the Kemer Yacht Harbour provides landing and mooring facilities, Kemer is also easily and comfortably accessible by sea.
Dont leave Kemer unless you have
Visited the ruins of the ancient cities of Phaselis and Olympos, which whisper history, myth and legend;
Enjoyed the cable car ride above the magnificent scenery of the Mediterranean, its coves and inlets;
Lost yourself in the mythological story of Yanartas and enjoyed the romantic evenings there;
Trekked at least part of the Goynuk Canyon and one of the high pastures of Kemer;
Enjoyed a fresly caught trout alongside Ulupinar Stream where the ice cold water flows by;
Hunted for souvenirs through the shops selling indigenous carpets, kilims, jewellery, home decorations and clothing items while strolling around the cooble-stone streets of Kemer.