How is Spring Cycling in Alanya / Antalya, Turkey? My 3 favourite road routes.

Alanya – Antalya region on the Turkish Mediterranean coast proudly claims itself to be one of the best destinations for spring cycling training camps. Beautiful landscapes and warm weather. We went there for a week and rode some of the routes. Here is my top 3 recommended ones – scroll down for detailed description, with .gpx tracks and photos.

Read until the end for some useful recommendations on how to to enjoy the most your Turkish cycling holiday. We had a lot of questions before getting there so I will try to make it easier for you by answering them in this article. Also, enjoy this video that I’ve made while riding there to see exactly how it looks and feels road cycling in Turkey:

When and how to get there?

February to April is a good time of year for riding in Alanya – Antalya region. We’ve been there middle of march and the temperatures were around 15-20 degrees Celsius, even on rainy days. April should be warmer while in February I think that you will have to bring some warmer clothes on your rides. Still… it is a lot better than the freezing temperatures and the snow that we usually have in Europe in this period.

Getting there is quite easy. Regular flights arrive on a daily basis on the Antalya International Airport and from there you can arrange a hotel transfer or just rent a car.  Good to know: Turkish Airlines transports your bike for free, no extra costs on your flight ticket.

We took the other available option : we drove our car for 2 days, 1500km from Bucharest to Alanya, with a overnight sleep in the city of Bursa. The roads network in Turkey is really good, you have big highways or national express roads so that you can cover distances quite quickly.

Where to stay?

Me and my friends booked the accommodation through Velo Alanya travel agency  (we paid everything, so this article is not sponsored by them). It’s a local cycling specialized travel agency that can help you with hotels bookings, transfers to and from the airport and all other necessary services for both professional or amateur riders. Each year, in spring (February – April), hundreds of cyclists come to this region in search of warm weather and take advantage of the special discounted cycling packages for touristic off-season.

The main hotel in their offer is Justiniano Deluxe Resort. It is located in Okurcalar seaside resort, 90 km from Antalya Airport and 35 km. from Alanya. The price you pay in this period (30 euro/person/night in a double room) is an “All Inclusive” accommodation package with all the meals and beverages included. Also, cyclists benefit from additional free services and access to bike repair and wash area, bike storage, indoor swimming pool and fitness area, Turkish Hammam and Sauna, massage room and massage table, rollers and trainers, free hotel laundry.

For a cycling training camp base this hotel is quite perfect. No wonder we saw there many cycling teams from Russia, Serbia, Hungary, Kazahstan, or Ukraine. It’s great for training but also for early season races as Velo Alanya organizes around 20 competitions (road or MTB) throughout this spring period (more info on their racing calendar: https://cyclingalanya.com/ )

What bike to bring ?

There are a lot of routes available, both for road or mountain bike. Here is a map with the ones that you can do in the Alanya region (click for zoom in):

If you are a mountain-biker than the bike choice is quite easy – hardtail or full suspension, according to your personal preferences.

If you are planning to do a road cycling training week than the answer is more complex because road quality in this region is quite variable:

  • If you stick to the flat national road that runs along the seaside than the asphalt is perfect. Even if the auto traffic can be busy sometimes, everyone cycles on the wide emergency lane so there are no close encounters with the cars passing you by. Perfect for getting those much needed early season kilometers. Also, it’s ideal for triathlon or time trial bikes.
  • If you want to get out of the seaside flat roads and climb the mountains than road quality can quickly change from 100% perfection to a more shaky kind of riding. The local roads have a lot of pebbles in the asphalt. It doesn’t affect you when climbing, but the descents are quite an vibrating experience. There are also times when you find yourself riding on sections of dirt roads (“strade bianche”) – good quality ones but still, dirt roads are not perfect for road cycling. Outside the seaside main road, car traffic is almost non existent.

We brought our road bikes, with 25mm tires. Not the best choice if you are planning to explore more the inland roads than the flat seaside road. 28mm should be best, a gravel bike would be even better.  Don’t get me wrong: you can bring a race bike with 25mm as we did. You will manage to do a lot of routes … just be aware that it will not be a smooth ride everywhere you go.

 

Mountain Bike trails?

We didn’t try them out as we brought only road bikes. However, on the first day we watched riders participating in Alanya Avocado MTB Cup. It was an XCO race with a demanding track  just on the outskirts of our hotel. You can find some recommended routes in the map above made by the guys from Velo Alanya (they can provide you also the .gpx tracks).

Road Cycling routes?

We’ve tried 6 different routes during our stay in this area. I will recommend you the TOP 3 of the ones that we’ve liked the most and that I think you really should try. The first one is in Antalya area, the other ones are around Alanya.

Route no.3: Antalya – Sogutcuma climb :

This route starts form Antalya city center.

There are 2 ways of doing it on the second half of it.

The first half of the 2 options is idendical. You will take the same big climb to Sogutcuma village. It is a long but equally beautiful one: 40km with 1.500m altitude gain. Snow is still present on higher peaks so the views are well worth the effort. The village at the top is a really small and picturesque one. Here, you can find some shops for refueling (food or drinks).

Two of us descended in Kermer and than took the flat seaside national road to get back to Antalya (option number 1) while the others made a different loop and descended directly to Antalya (option number 2). The difference between the two options is that the first one is with better asphalt quality when descending (but 20km longer total distance). Also, on option 1 take in consideration that you will have 30 flat kilometers at the end on a big national road (with 3 dark tunnels included). On option 2, you get to ride local roads all the way to the end.

  • Option 1: 108 km long with ~2000 m climbing to be done in total.

Map, altitude profile and .gpx track file download from here: https://www.strava.com/activities/4956297268 or from here: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/8175639/#10.47/36.7266/30.4987

  • Option 2: 89 km long with ~2000 m climbing to be done in total.

Map, altitude profile and .gpx track file download from here: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/8176044/#10.67/36.7773/30.4955

Route no.2: Alanya – Dimcayi loop:

This route takes you from Alanya city center, along one side of the Dim river, up to a beautiful water reservoir. Make the loop around it and descend back along the other side of the river. Lots of traditional “piknik” places build on the river. Both locals and tourists go there during summer hot months for refreshing, having a meal and drinking Turkish black tea.

I recommend you to do it clockwise so that you have better surface while descending. We did it the wrong way 😉

  • 49 km long with ~800 m climbing to be done in total.

Map, altitude profile and .gpx track file download (counterclockwise) from here: https://www.strava.com/activities/4966470917 or from here: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/8175758/#11.1/36.5443/32.1108

It’s a short ride, not that difficult. You will make a lot of stops for taking pictures, I can promise you that. Take advantage of the rest of the day to visit Alanya. It’s a vibrant seaside city. The climb up to the fortress is a must. Don’t leave without getting there, you will miss this amazing view:

Route no.1: Gundogmus loop:

This has to be the MUST DO road cycling route in the area. You can start it directly from the hotel. It takes you high to the mountain village of Gundogmus.

It is difficult but very rewarding if you manage to complete it. I would compare it with a classic alpine style route, there are places where you feel like being in the French Alps.

Everyone that comes here rides it at least in one direction. Some go back another day to do it again, the other way. Do it clockwise and you will have a better quality pavement on the final descent. Do it counterclockwise and you will have better looking and harder climbs, with lots of hairpins to play around.

Middle distance stop in Gundomus to get some food and drinks. The locals are used to cyclists, very friendly and welcoming.

There are 2 options here also. I will describe them clockwise, but you could also change the direction:

  • option 1: first climb on a local road. When we went, the first 7km were dirt roads (“strade bianche”), good quality ones but not asphalt. Better to climb it (clockwise) rather than descend it (counterclockwise)

133 km long with ~2800 m climbing to be done in total.

Map, altitude profile and .gpx track file download from here: https://www.strava.com/activities/4972852394 or from here: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/8175958/#9.89/36.7063/31.8098

  • option 2: first climb on national road. Good asphalt, better choice even if it’s a 10km longer in total. Works best if you do the route counterclockwise.

147 km long with ~3000 m climbing to be done in total.

Map, altitude profile and .gpx track file download from here: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/8175921/#9.77/36.7063/31.7909

The flat training route:

I’m not a big fan of flat routes but, here in Alanya, lots of cyclists train on the national road along the sea. It’s an easy way to cumulate kilometers if you are in need for that. Use the emergency lane and the cars passing by will not be a problem. Turkish drivers are also quite used to cyclists here. Sometimes you will hear a friendly horn salute and car passengers waiving you through the windows.

Map, altitude profile and .gpx track file download from here: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/8176073/#9.61/36.6675/31.7025

In conclusion:

After riding in this region for the past week here are my thoughts and advices:

  • I believe that, while it doesn’t raise to Tenerife, Gran Canaria or Mallorca level regarding asphalt quality and routes diversity, Alanya & Antalya region is a really good option for your spring training holidays. It is cheaper than the more famous  mentioned regions. It delivers a great experience discovering this beautiful country and interacting with always welcoming and positive thinking locals.
  • The weather is pleasant, up to 20 degrees Celsius in March, with some occasional rain. Small advice: if it’s raining in Alanya, check the weather in Antalya also, it might be totally different even if it’s just 100km away. We rode 2 days in beautiful sunny weather in Antalya while in Alanya it was pouring rain all day long.
  • Even if the local food and Turkish sweets are delicious and the “All Inclusive” accommodation format is quite tempting, try to set yourself a limit or you will come back home with more kilos than you left, even if you ride 100km/day … I speak from experience 😉
  • Check the races calendar on Cycling Alanya website to see if you can synchronize your stay with some of the competitions (MTB or road cycling).
  • Give it a try and travel to Turkey for a cycling holiday! I hope that I offered you some useful information for you to have a pleasant trip there.

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