My first time visiting Side is already more than 15 years ago as a kid with my family. It was exciting because back then it was not only my first flight ever but also my first time at the sea. In case you don’t know, I am from Austria, a landlocked country in the heart of Europe without any access to the sea.
Looking back at this family vacation, I still remember how much I loved the Turkish food and the beach. So I was more than excited to return with my boyfriend, who became my fiancée during our vacation there.
I guess I don’t have to explain you why Side is a special place to me. But I’ll give you some more reasons to choose Side for your next beach vacation:
Good price value
Compared to other beach destinations in Europe, prices for flights to Turkey and accomodation are a bargain. At the time of our vacation in October 2018, we also benefited from a weak Lira exchange rate.
Various all-inclusive resorts for every budget are lined up along the beaches of Side. There are differently themed hotels catering to different target groups like family hotels with waterparks, party or boutique hotels like ours.
Side in Turkey has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. Summers are dry and it can rain a lot in winter. Peak season when most tourist visit Side is in July and August. These are also the hottest months.
Planning to travel off-season? Excellent choice! Not only will it be less busy but temperatures are decent.
During our stay at the end of October we had temperatures between 23-29°C and water temperatures between 23°C-26°C which was still good enough to go swimming. We only experienced 2 out of 10 days that we did not go swimming because it was raining or too windy. But we used these days to go shopping and explore the old town – read more about what to do in Side below.
Side is a popular destination for spending a care free beach vacation at one of the many all-inclusive hotels. For those that need a bit of action, there are several options. When walking along the beach, you will find several stands offering water sports activites like Jet Ski, Banana boat, Parasailing, and further activities.
Turkish food is fresh and flavorful. Prominent ingredients of Turkish dishes are lamb, beef, couscous, lentils, beans, yogurt, cheese, rice and nuts. Besides meat dishes like Kebap and Köfte (meatballs) you will also find many vegetarian options.
Some of my favorite dishes that you need to try:
- Mercimek Koftesi: are lentil and bulgur wheat balls, rolled up in lettuce and topped with lemon juice
- Sarma: grape leaves stuffed with a rice, garlic and olive oil mixture
- Dolmas: similar as Sarma, it’s a dish where rice and meat gets stuffed into hollowed-out tomates, peppers, zucchini or eggplants
- Gözleme: pastry with different stuffings as spinach, cheese and/or meat.
- İskender Kebap: thin slices of lamb or beef in tomato based sauce and topped with burnt butter, served over chunks of pide bread with yoghurt
- Manti: small pasta ravioli like shells filled with meat and topped with yogurt sauce
- Ayran: a salty yogurt drink that goes incredibly well with savory dishes
- Baklava: made of layers of crispy golden phyllo, filled with chopped nuts and inundated in lots of honey and sugar syrup. There are many variations of this sweet dessert with walnut, hazelnut, coconut or even pudding filling. I already knew about baklava back in Austria but I discovered at our hotel that there’s also chocolate baklava and it’s a thing. Be prepared to gain some weight on your hips thanks to so much deliciousness.
The old city of Side was a comfortable 30 minute walk away from our hotel. It would probably be faster by taxi but after all the good food at the fabulous buffet of our hotel it definitely didn’t hurt to walk there. When we passed through the city gate, I was totally in awe. We were right on an old cobblestone road walking past the ancient amphitheater.
In former times Side has been an important trading hub due to its strategic location in the region. It was founded by ancient Greek settlers, later occupied by Alexander the Great, then pirates and later on by Romans. So that made it rich in cultures and explains why Side is said to host Turkey’s most famous classical sites. You will find several unidentified ruins scattered all around the village making you feel like you just stepped into an open-air museum. The most impressing and best preserved site is definitely the temple of Apollo right next to the ocean. Don’t miss the sunset here when the light of the sun colors the ancient columns in wonderful orange hues.
From all of the countries that I have traveled so far, I found Turkish people as one of the most hospital.
As the region of Side is a popular tourist spot, Turkish people speak English very good as well as German. So you don’t necessarily need Turkish skills to communicate. But it’s a very nice gesture to learn at least some important words like “Hello” and “Thank you” in Turkish. People will react very positively.
If you feel like shopping or just want to make the best out of a rainy day, then you have several options where to go shopping in Side.
We asked at our hotel reception and they recommended Nova Mall to us, because you get good quality products there for a good prices. They also told us that you can buy products from international brands at lower prices but we didn’t find a notable price difference compared to Austria. But if you shop at local brand stores you definitely can get some better deals.
Furthermore you can stroll down the streets of the old city of Side which are full of shops with all kind of stuff. The majority of these are fake copies of designer handbags, electronic products and many more.
Is Turkey really safe to travel to? Safety is a major concern nowadays when choosing a destination. That is why the tourism industry in Turkey has been very much impacted by the past events. The Turkish Riviera has been a traditional destination by Austrian as well as Germans and many frequent visitors have been intimidated and opted for other destinations instead. But tourist numbers are recovering again.
Depending on the region in Turkey, you will find different security assessments. The following information is by the Austrian foreign office as of February 13th 2019. Please always check back with your country’s foreign office for current data.
There is a high risk travel warning for areas close to the Syrian border. For all other regions there is an increased security risk at level 2. The scale ranges from level 1 – security standards are similar as in Austria – up to level 6 – do not visit.
Use common sense without being too cautious and your visit will be trouble free.