The Manavgat River runs down from the Taurus Mountains all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s most scenic spot is the Manavgat Waterfall (Manavgat Şelalesi). Just outside of Side, the low, wide falls make a stunning backdrop for photos and serve as a popular recreation area, with visitors coming to swim, picnic, or cruise along the river.
Day tours to the Manavgat Waterfall run from Side, Alanya, and Antalya. Most tours combine a stop at the falls with a boat cruise along the Manavgat River, lunch at a riverside restaurant, and a visit to the town of Manavgat, famous for its lively bazaar.
The falls also make a popular stop on tours of the ancient cities. A typical day-trip itinerary might explore the ancient amphitheater of Aspendos and the ruins of Perge—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—in the morning, then stop at Manavgat Waterfall en route to the ancient city of Side.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is an entrance fee to visit the Manavgat Waterfall.
- Facilities at the falls include a shaded picnic area, viewing platforms, restaurants, gift shops, and restrooms, as well as plenty of free parking.
- It’s possible to swim at the beaches along the river, but not beneath the falls or from the boats.
- The viewing areas at the falls are wheelchair accessible, but public transport to the falls is not, so it’s best to organize your own transport.
How to Get There
The Manavgat Waterfall is located just outside the town of Manavgat, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) or a 20-minute drive from Side; by car it’s about an hour from Alanya to the east or Antalya to the west. To reach the falls by public transport from Manavgat, take the dolmuş (minibus) with the sign Şelale-Sarılar from the main street, about a 15-minute journey.
When to Get There
Manavgat waterfalls can be unbearably crowded in July and August, when day-trippers arrive en masse between 10am and 4pm. If you visit during that time, try to arrive in the early morning or evening if possible. If you have your own transport, consider visiting in the evening hours—the falls are illuminated at night and free to enter after 8pm.
Visiting the Ancient Cities
The Pamphylian cities of Perge, Aspendos, and Side are among the most impressive ancient ruins in Turkey. UNESCO-listed Perge dates back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC and includes a hilltop acropolis, huge Roman Gate, agora, baths, nymphaeum, and colonnaded street. Nearby, the Roman city of Aspendos is best known for its impressive amphitheater, which still hosts summer concerts. Magnificent ancient Greek ruins dot the modern coastal town of Side, most notably the Temple of Apollo, which stands in a spectacular spot right on the coast.