The ancient city of Aspendos and Roman theater is one of our favorite day trips from Antalya. It’s a little over a 30-minute drive and fun for the whole family. You can enjoy exploring the ruins, climbing up to the top of the theater, and experiencing some great views of the surrounding area. Aspendos’ theater has a wow factor that makes you so glad you came to visit. Most importantly, we’ve got all the details on what you need to know to plan a great trip!
Know Before You Go
COST: 60 TL or Museum Pass | Kids under 6 Free
HOURS: 8:00am – 4:45pm
BEST TIME TO GO: April – October
LOCATION: 40km from the Antalya | Center Serik, Turkey
TIME NEEDED TO VISIT: 2 – 3 hours
- Kid Friendly | Aspendos is kid-friendly and welcoming. Climbing and exploring are encouraged!
- Accessibility | There are paved paths and dirt trails when first entering the site. You will not be able to use a stroller or wheelchair the dirt trails behind the theater.
- Trails | The steps are steep in the theater and may scare younger kids from being up so high. Trails behind the theater are easy to moderate. There are a few places where you climb up a few rocks to get to the next part of a trail. For easier routes, there are several trail options to choose from.
- Photography | An early morning visit to Aspendos is best for photos.
- Food & Drinks | There are markets on-site at the entrance to buy water & snacks. On the road right before you reach Aspendos, there are several small markets that make gozleme. A must-try while you’re in Turkey!
- Restrooms | There are restrooms on-site to the right once you’ve entered through the ticket area.
- Itinerary | Go to Aspendos in the morning, then head to Perge in the afternoon. If you have time, go over to Kursunlu Waterfall Nature Park for a short 2km hike to the waterfall.
Aspendos Ancient City Fast Facts
- Founded around 800 B.C by Hittite settlers.
- Conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. He had to return to Aspendos because they didn’t keep their word. The result was a much harsher agreement.
- Aspendos’ theater has a capacity of 15,000 people and is one of the largest Roman theaters built in Asia Minor, built in the 2nd century A.D.
- The Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is held in June – July in the theater.
UNESCO World Heritage Site (Tentative List)
Brief History of the Ancient City of Aspendos
Aspendos’ history goes back to the 6th century being ruled by the Lydians, then the Persians. After conquering Perge, Alexander the Great made his way to Aspendos. The Aspendians asked him not to occupy their city and he agreed if they paid taxes and horses. Alexander went on to Side, only to learn the Aspendians did not hold up their end of the bargain. Alexander marched back to Aspendos and had much harsher terms for them to agree to this time around.
The Aspendos great theater was built in the 2nd century A.D., during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, by local architect Zenon. The theater is the largest Roman theater built in Asian Minor making it a highlight of visiting Aspendos.
Next, we’ll look at what to see in Aspendos when you visit.
What to Do at Aspendos
Ancient Roman Theater
The ancient Roman theater in Aspendos is a bucketlist site to see and fun for the kids. It is located near Antalya, near the Mediterranean coast. When you enter the theater, you can climb up the steep steps for the scenic views. You feel it’s grandeur when you’re walking through the arches that cover the top tier of the theater. We were in awe!
With my youngest kid (age 6), once we arrived at the top of the theater, she realized how high up we were and how steep it was down. She was a little scared but still enjoyed walking through arches over the top tier of the theater.
Don’t miss our guide of fun things to do in Antalya with kids.
International Opera & Ballet Festival
Also, the International Opera & Ballet Festival performs in the open-air theater every year in June & July. The acoustics in the theater are on point. You can stand in the theater and hear someone speaking clearly from the stage area or across the theater. I have had the pleasure of watching a performance in the theater. It is difficult to put into words how magical it is sitting watching a ballet in a theater over 2000 years old.
View from Above the Theater
Next, you do not want to miss this! Hike up the path from the theater. A little way up it splits into two pathways, one looks easy, the other looks hard – climbing some rocks and then up a steep hill. Our advice to you: Take the hard road! You can hike up to an overlook that sits above the theater for some spectacular views. You’ll see the theater, the mountains in the background, plus the lay of the land with some local orange orchards and greenhouses.
Explore the City Ruins
After viewing the theater from the overlook, we continued the path back to see the basilica, agora and nymphaeum, exedra, and roman bath. They are probably the most impressive structures to view. We walked around the back wall of the nymphaeum into a hum in a field of daisies. Looking closely, you could see bees out in the field. It was quite a sight to see and hear. It sounded like a motorcycle off in the distance. In addition to the theater, this was my favorite part of our morning of exploring.
Lastly, we walked around to the back of the city to see the aqueduct from a distance. The aqueduct carried water from the mountains down into the city. As you looked out into the distance, it was fascinating to see sections of it still standing in portions of a small village. Later, when we left Aspendos, we drove back to a section of an aqueduct in the village. It was in the middle of a field next to a storage shed. No big deal! 🙂
As we walked back towards the theater, there were views of the stadium from a distance. Being up on a hill, you have a better understanding of how the city is laid out and what you are seeing
How to Get There
There are several transportation options to get to the ancient city of Aspendos. We suggest renting a car if you want to explore the area or head to another site afterward. It will give you the flexibility you need traveling with kids, as well as the ability to travel at your own pace.
If you are not up for driving, you can hire a private driver or book a small group tour to go to Aspendos. Your hotel can help you book your preferred tour locations.
See our Route Guide: Antalya to Alanya for a stop at Aspendos.
Where is Aspendos?
Aspendos is an ancient Greco-Roman city located 7kim from Serik, in the Antalya Province, Turkey.
When was the Aspendos Roman theater built?
The Aspendos theater was built in the 2nd century A.D. and is one of the largest theaters built by the Romans in Asia Minor.
Which ancient city is better, Aspendos or Perge?
Both sites of much to offer in terms of their history, architecture, and culture. Perge is closer to Antalya, making it easier to get to. For small kids, Perge is an easier walk because of its flat terrain and layout of the city. Perge is known for its defense system, urban planning, and marble statues, which are all quite impressive.
Aspendos’ ancient city has the largest and most complete Roman amphitheater in Asia minor. Kids and teens will have a blast walking around the ancient site, climbing the stairs in the theater, and seeing some great views from the hilltop. Aspendos is a little farther away from Antalya, but we believe the drive is worth it for all you can experience there. If you must choose only one, we recommend Aspendos.
Can you see Termessos, Aspendos, and Perge on the same day?
Seeing Termessos, Aspendos, and Perge on the same day would be a long and tiring day. Termessos is across Antalya, about 60km and about an hour away. Termessos is a great hiking activity with the family, and the mountain top views from the theater are breathtaking. It is worth the trip.
We suggest planning a trip to Perge, Aspendos and Kursunlu Waterfall in one day and then planning a day trip to Termessos.
How far is Antalya to Aspendos?
It is approximately 44km from Antalya to Aspendos. A short 34-minute drive by car.
Antalya, about 60km and about an hour away. Termessos is a great hiking activity with the family, and the mountain top views from the theater are breathtaking. It is worth the trip.
We suggest planning a trip to Perge and Aspendos in one day and then planning a day trip to Termessos.
How far is Perge to Aspendos?
It is approximately 28 km from Perge to Aspendos. A short 27-minute drive by car.
How far is Side to Aspendos?
It is approximately 33 km from Side to Aspendos. A short 30-minute drive by car.
What other ancient cities can I see in Antalya?
There are several ancient cities worth visiting during your trip to Antalya: