About a one-hour drive from Antalya’s city center, Çıralı is one of the province’s most laid back and natural beaches that just happens to be next to an ancient Lycian city.
How to Get There
If you have a rental car you can drive from Antalya to Çıralı in 1.5 hours along the D400 highway that mostly follows the coast. If you’d rather take public transportation, you’ll have to get to Antalya’s Bus Terminal and take a bus that goes to Kumluca, Finike, Demre, or Kaş and tell the driver you want to get off at the Çıralı intersection. Once you reach this intersection, there are always minibusses waiting to drive people down to the seaside, which is still pretty far down (around a ten-minute drive).
Where to Stay
Çıralı doesn’t have any major resorts or hotels, which is why it hasn’t lost its charm as a laid back and somewhat deserted beach. There are lots of small family-run pensions and the local favorite is Cemil’s Pansiyon and Restaurant. Simple, clean, and comfortable wooden cabins are surrounded by a beautiful garden where flowers bloom in the summer, while the outside terrace restaurant serves breakfast and dinner daily. Coming back from a day at the beach and having a beer in a chilled glass at Cemil’s is definitely something you’ll remember for a long time.
If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious you can choose Olympos Lodge, which is located right by the beach. The 20,000 square meter space includes a themed garden surrounded by 14 elegant rooms that always let the summer breeze waft in through the glass doors. The private beach is also one of the best places to really enjoy Çıralı’s clear blue water, while the restaurant serves the best of Mediterranean cuisine.
What to See
Once you’ve settled into your room and taken a dip in the beautiful sea surrounded by dark green mountains, it’s time to get a little active and do some sightseeing. At the end of Çıralı’s beach, you’ll find the ruins of Olympos, an ancient city that belonged to the Lycian Empire, built during the Hellenistic Period. After walking along a river studded with flower bushes and small streams, you can follow the signs to see the ruins of the historic city including the remains of a Roman temple, bathhouse, and more.
After having experienced the ruins of Olympos, you should also visit the area’s most famous natural phenomenon: the eternal flames of Chimera. Be forewarned that the hike up to the flames is quite steep and can be quite arduous in the height of summer, however, the reward is a unique experience that has its roots in mythology. Known as Yanartaş in Turkish, natural gas emerges from small holes within the rocky landscape, catching fire immediately when coming into contact with the air. The result are eternal flames that are especially stunning at night and seem to emerge out of nowhere. It’s no wonder that the site inspired the Greek myth of Chimera, a creature that breathed fire and had the body of a lion, goat, and snake.
Photos by me