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Antalya is a beautifully sunny seaside city located on the Mediterranean in southwestern Turkey. It is surrounded by gorgeous, picturesque scenery and is located on the top of a cliff over the sea. Famous for its beaches, Antalya has 290 km of natural beach on the southern side and is and bordered by the Taurus mountains on the north. The centre of the city is located on a rocky plain right next to the coast. Antalya has become one of the country’s most desireable vacation spots and is a modern city with a relaxed, Mediterranean atmosphere. It is also an ancient city going back to Greek and Roman times, and has many sites that survive from this period. The city was founded in 158 B.C. by the Roman king Attalos and called Attaleia at the time. The strong walls of the city were built by Emperor Hadrian and reinforced by the Byzantines many years later to defend themselves from the Arabs.
Only a little over 25 years ago, however, Antalya was little more than a rustic fishing village with its ancient architecture falling into disrepair. But the building of a five-star hotel in the 1970s put the town on the path toward becoming a resort hotspot, and the restoration of landmarks and new efforts toward historical preservation of the old town quickly transformed Antalya into a real Mediterranean gem. It has a population of approximately 775,157 and is the capital of the large Antalya Province.
Antalya has a typical Mediterranean climate with a great deal of sun, hot, dry summers, and very mild, fairly rainy winters. The city gets around 300 days of sun a year, with most of the cloudy and rainy days falling in autumn and winter. Winter temperatures tend to fall between 6 - 16˚C, while in summer the usual range is between 19 - 35˚C, though temperatures of 40-45˚C are not unheard of. However, even when the weather is extremely hot, the sea breeze helps to make it feel bearable. The sea temperature is always delightfully warm, and almost never goes below 17˚C at any time of year. In summer, the water temperature often reaches 27 or 28˚C.
The language of Antalya is Turkish. English and German are the main second languages and are generally spoken at all tourist sites and hotels, as well as other places if you are lucky.
The currency used in Turkey is the New Turkish Lira, or lira for short. The official abbreviation of the currency is YTL. One lira is made of 100 kurus. Notes are printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lira, and the coins in use have values of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kurus.
Tips are generally more modest in Turkey than other European countries, and can be only a small percent of the price or a rounding up of the bill. However, as Americans tend to leave large tips, many Turks now expect generous tips from them. In restaurants it is much appreciated to leave a tip of between 5 - 10% of the bill. Tipping is not necessary per se, but is customary if the service was satisfactory. In more expensive, luxury restaurants, you should leave a slightly bigger tip, between 10 - 15%.
As far as taxis go, don’t leave a percentage tip, but instead just round the bill up to the nearest lira or a convenient amount. If you go to a Turkish bath, the attendants will expect a tip when they line up to say goodbye. If the service has been good, leave a tip of about 15% of what you were charged, spread out among them. It is also customary to tip tour guides and porters who help with your bags a few lira.
The VAT in Turkey varies depending on what you are buying. Goods and services that are considered essential are taxed between 1 - 8% of the value, depending on what they are. The tax on services from banks and insurance companies, for example, is 5%. VAT for everything else is 18%. Taxes are levied on imports but not on exports. Details of exactly what items and quantities you can bring in to the country untaxed can be found at: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travelg293969c77270/Turkey:Duty.Free.Allowances.Into.Turkey.html
There are many public telephone boxes in Antalya and throughout Turkey. Most of them can only be operated by inserting a calling card, which you can buy in various values at post offices, convenience stores, and some supermarkets. There are also metered telephones located in most post offices, where you pay at the counter after you have completed the call.
If you want to use your mobile in Turkey, it is cheap and easy to purchase a Turkish SIM card from one of the phone shops in town.
The country code for Turkey is +90.
There are many internet cafés in Antalya and many hotels also offer internet access. Wifi access if more limited, but is available at the airport and a few other public places. Internet cafés are generally easy to spot in the centre of town, and can be found on Varlik Mah., Antalya Cad., Corner Cukurbagli cad., and in the Cumhuriyet Meydani shopping centre, for example.
In general, shops are open Mon- Sat from 9 am until 7 or 8 pm, though some close earlier at 5 pm. Some shops are also open on Sunday, but it depends on the owners. The opening times of musuems vary, but are typically from 8 or 8.30 am - 5 or 6 pm. Banks are open Mon- Fri 9 am - 5 pm.
On the following days, most shops, banks and museums will be closed, and public transport is likely to be more limited.
1 January, New Year’s Day
23 April, National Independence and Children’s Day
19 May, Atatürk Commemoration and Youth Day
30 August, Victory Day
28 and 29 October, Republic Day
September/October (dates vary), Feast of Ramadan (3 days long)
December (dates vary), Sacrifice Feast (4 days long)
Turkey is comparable in safety to America and the average European countries. Antalya is basically as safe as you can expect a normal city to be, though it naturally has its share of crime. If you follow basic common sense safety precautions it is very unlikely that you will the victim of any crime during your stay. Pickpocketing and theft are the most common crimes against tourists, which you can avoid by keeping a close watch on your belongings and carrying valuables in a very secure place. Rape and violent crimes are rare, but minimize your risk by not walking alone at night, especially in seedier areas.
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