HalalBooking guide to halal-friendly holidays in Alanya
If you’re looking for the best possible choice of halal resort, Alanya should be your first stop. It has everything you could ever want, including world-class halal hotels. Alanya is in a stunning setting on the Mediterranean, surrounded by beautiful countryside and has wonderful beaches, a wealth of history and delicious halal food.
How to get to Alanya
Most people visiting Alanya arrive at Antalya International Airport, which is approximately 2 hours’ drive away. There are regular shuttle bus and taxi services between the two. It is one of Turkey’s busiest airports, with flights from over 300 different destinations, both international and domestic.
There is a smaller domestic airport, Gazipașa Alanya Airport, approximately 1 hour from central Alanya, which is served by domestic flights from Istanbul and Ankara.
Halal-friendly hotels in Alanya
Alanya is the world’s leading beach resort for halal-friendly hotels – whatever your budget you are sure to find a property to suit your requirements and budget. Many of the resort hotels have women-only leisure amenities such as women-only beaches providing complete privacy for female guests. Some of Alanya’s halal resorts have a separate women-only area, which is staffed only by women and which cannot be overlooked from the outside. Security measures include the fact that no mobile phones are allowed. Here women can swim and sunbathe in the company of other women. Many of these areas offer beach sunbathing and swimming, outdoor and indoor swimming pools and spa areas as well as cafés and prayer facilities.
Seafront hotels offering ladies-only beach swimming and sunbathing include Adenya Resort, Wome Deluxe and Adin Beach Hotel. Those with a more limited budget might want to consider a stay at Modern Saraylar – although it has a hillside setting, it does have a free shuttle service to its own private beach area in Alanya.
Islamic hotels such as these offer Muslim families the perfect blend of relaxation and security for a relaxed beach holiday.
Halal food and restaurants in Alanya
There is a huge choice of great local restaurants in Alanya, some with fantastic views, others with a warm family atmosphere. Since almost all of Turkey’s population is Muslim, halal is the default option when it comes to meat. It is also relatively easy to find alcohol-free options, which are mostly restaurants and cafés catering for the local community.
Alanya has a warm climate all year-round, which means the region is particularly suitable for growing bananas, oranges and lemons. In fact, you will find fresh fruit and vegetables on the menu wherever you choose to eat.
Turkish cuisine is renowned throughout the world. Start your meal with the small plates known as ‘meze’ with tasty dishes to share, such as stuffed vine leaves, vegetables drizzled with olive oil and crisp parcels of filo pastry stuffed with cheese and spinach. The main course is usually fish or meat, often simply grilled or cooked over charcoal. It is most common to find lamb or chicken, both of which are always halal.
Finish your meal with sticky ‘baklava’, soaked in honey, or a freshly-made milk pudding such as ‘sütlaç’ (rice pudding) or simply a plate of fresh fruit. Of course, you must leave room for the strong Turkish coffee – it is made with sugar so make sure you specify ‘sade’ (no sugar) ‘orta’ (medium sugar) or ‘șekerli’ (sweet).
When it comes to food, Alanya has plenty of regional specialities for you to try. For starters, taste the ‘kabak çiçeği dolması’ (stuffed courgette or squash flowers) and the ‘taze bakla yemeği’, (fresh broad beans in olive oil). Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the sweet sesame helva known as ‘çiğirdik’ and the ‘burnt milk’ ice cream ‘yanık sütlü dondurma’. Enjoy the ‘turunç reçeli’ (mandarin jam) for breakfast or for a really authentic and unusual breakfast treat try the ‘Alanya bohçası’, which are pancakes filled with cheese and tied up into a tempting parcel with the green leaf of a spring onion.
Even those staying on all-inclusive basis in one of Alanya’s halal resorts should make sure they eat out at least once during their holiday.
With so many local delicacies it seems a shame to even think about fast food, but those travelling from Europe will, no doubt, be tempted by the fact that international fast-food chains in Turkey all use halal meat.
Alanya’s mosques & prayer facilities
In Alanya, halal resorts mostly have their own masjids, with separate prayer facilities for men and women. There are also many local mosques which will welcome visitors for prayers such as the central Kuyularönü Mosque, Alanya Merkez (Central) Mosque, Kazim Bulut Mosque, Develiler Mosque, Hacet Mosque El Aksa Mosque and Sugözü Mosque.
In terms of historic mosques, you should definitely pay a visit to the following:
The Gemili Masjid literally translates as the ‘masjid with ships’. It is situated on the way up to Alanya Castle and takes its name from the many graffiti style drawings of ships which adorn its interior walls. There are around 170 pieces of graffiti in total, dating from the 14thto 17thcenturies. They are a historic record of the many different types of ship which came in and out of Alanya harbour during those times. The building itself is a fine example of the Seljuk style.
This mosque was originally built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad in 1231, but the original structure was hit by lightning and destroyed. It was rebuilt in the 16thcentury by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, using the original stones for the building. The narthex is crowned by a hemisphere dome and divided into three parts by diagonal arches and covered by three smaller domes.
Alanya’s islamic heritage
The Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad conquered this area in 1221 and made it his home. He named it ‘Alaiye’ from which it takes its modern name. Many of the most impressive local monuments date from the time of his reign.
The history of Alanya’s distinctive fortress, which sits on a promontory, surveying the coast to both sides, stretches right back to the 2ndcentury BC to the Hellenistic period. It was first built by Roman pirates and took its current form in the 13thcentury, reconstructed by Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad to protect his most important port. He used it both as a palace to house his family and as his administrative headquarters. It was used as a palace right up to the Ottoman period. Don’t forget to use this impressive vantage point to take some beautiful pictures of the Mediterranean coastline below.
Historic Alanya Houses
Alanya municipality has opened a number of fascinating houses to the public. Built in traditional local style with stone and wood, they are beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture. Their interiors have been restored to show the traditional way of life of the people who lived here. Visit the Hamamlı Ev, Hasanağalar Konağı, Sandık Emini Kayhanlar Evi and Ömürlü Kemal Atlı Kültür Evi. You could also pay a visit to the Alanya Municipal Culture House and Herbarium where you will find 322 species of plant and 38 different butterflies.
This octagonal tower was built by Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad in 1226 and is one of the most important examples of Seljuk architecture. It takes its name from the distinctive colour of the red bricks which were used to build it. It is said that eggs were used to glaze the bricks and give them an even more strikingly red appearance. Inside the tower is the Alanya Ethnographical Museum.
Ancient Alanya Shipyard
Seljuk Sultan, Alaeddin Keykubad, was known as the ‘Sultan of the Two Seas’. Having built a shipyard in the Black Sea port of Sinop, he built this shipyard as the first one on the Mediterranean. You can see his coat of arms over the entrance gate. Today it houses a fascinating ship and maritime museum.
Alara Han was built in the 13th century in the Seljuk period, on the outskirts of Çakallar village, near to the Alara stream. It was the first inn or ‘khan’ on the road between Alanya and Konya and became known as the ‘Dervish Inn’ as it was open not only to nobles and merchants but also to dervishes. It is now used as a restaurant and shopping centre spread over 2000 metres squared. The masjid, Turkish bath and fountains, which are inside the travellers’ inn, can all be visited. Nearby is the Alara Fortress, which was built to protect it, but which is not open to visitors.
Sightseeing in and around Alanya
In addition to the sights mentioned above, there is plenty of historic and natural interest to see in and around Alanya. Although those staying in one of Alanya’s halal resorts may be tempted to spend all of their time on the beach, it is definitely worth venturing out so as not to miss out on so many fascinating places.
Alanya Archaeological Museum
The Alanya Archaeological Museum will take you on a wonderful journey back through time, right to the Bronze Age. One of the museum’s best-known treasures is a 2ndCentury bronze statues of Hercules. You will find many fascinating objects including clothes, weapons, arts and handicrafts. The museum’s garden is also home to many historic works and remains.
Ancient city of Aspendos
Visit the Roman theatre and ruined city of Aspendos, one of the most impressive in the region. It was built in the 2ndcentury AD and has a capacity of 15,000. It is still in use as an entertainment venue, most notably for the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival which takes place each year in June and July. Other nearby Greco-Roman sites include the ancient city of Perge and the spectacular ruins of Side, set on the beachfront, and the nearby Temple of Apollo.
These unusual caves are said to help those who suffer from breathing complaints. They are well worth a visit to soak up the other-worldly atmosphere and admire the unusual rock formations and stalactites.
What to do in and around Alanya
Go to the beach
Alanya is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, which, combined with its fantastic climate, draw visitors from all over the world. Perhaps the best known of its beaches is known as Cleopatra’s Beach – it is said that it was given to Cleopatra by Mark Antony and some have found that the sand here has a different structure than that elsewhere in the region. In Alanya, halal hotels often have their own private beaches, which are ideal for Muslim families. On hotel family beaches, modest dress is usual and many also have women-only beaches, providing complete privacy for women to sunbathe on the beach and swim in the sea.
Head to the mountains
Alanya is sheltered by the impressive Taurus Mountains and there is nothing better in the heat of summer than to escape into the cool green countryside. The foothills of the mountains with their fragrant pine trees and rushing rivers offer respite from the heat. Enjoy a meal in one of the charming restaurants floating on the Dim Çayı River or head to Manavgat to see the impressive waterfalls or take a boat trip on the Manavgat River.
Enjoy an active holiday
Alanya is a great choice for those who want to try watersports. You can find everything here from kayaking to scuba diving. If you’re feeling very adventurous you can try white-water rafting on the nearby Köprüçay River or take a jeep safari or mountain biking trip into the foothills of the Taurus Mountains.
Play golf in Belek
The nearby resort of Belek is the capital of Turkish golf. Keen golfers will find more than 14 world-class golf courses in a stunning natural setting.
Visit the Land of Legends Theme Park
Belek is also home to the popular Land of Legends theme park, which is sure to be a hit with children of all ages. You will find many different fun water-themed rides together with more than 40 water-slides providing entertainment for all the family. There is even an open-air aquarium with many unique experiences on offer such as the opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Take a Boat Trip
The Turkish coast is the origin of the sea voyage known as the ‘Blue Cruise’, a boat trip taken on board a traditional wooden vessel called a gulet. Boats leave every day from the harbour – it’s a great way to explore the surrounding coast and you can hire a boat just for your family group, for greater privacy.
Shopping in Alanya
Turkey offers great value for money, so it makes good sense to take home some souvenirs of your holiday. Textiles such as cotton and silk, leatherware and handicrafts all make great gifts or reminders of your holiday.
Why not enjoy a trip to one of the local markets for an authentic shopping experience? Friday is market day in central Alanya – visit the city’s main street market and soak up the colours, smells and sounds as you buy your holiday souvenirs. There is a Tuesday market held in the west of the city. If you prefer international brands then there are plenty of shopping malls in Alanya too.