turquoise waters, sandy beaches, pristine coves, a refreshing sea breeze, idle afternoons and much more await you in Turkish Aegean.
The land of Türkiye which stretches to the Aegean Sea knows how to impress its visitors with modern coastal towns, traditional small villages, and splendid nature, olive groves, vineyards and fruit orchards. Generous Mother Nature provides delicious fruits and vegetables in the region, and this explains the delicious local cuisine based on olive oil and fresh ingredients.
A Journey Through Time
Turkish Aegean is the perfect destination for anyone dreaming of a journey through history. The region has been home to numerous cultures, and it is full of archaeological sites and artifacts. You can walk in the footsteps of different civilizations and admire the multi-layered cultural fabric of the region across the coastline. The archaeological site of Troia -added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1998- has housed various civilizations. As the 10 different layers of Troia were established on top of the previous throughout the centuries, every ancient site and city of the Turkish Aegean reveals similar stories. The impeccable city structure and earliest form of temple walls warmed by the Aegean sun remain brilliant and intact despite thousands of years.
Troia is not the only archaeological site on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list in the region. Pergamon has been on the list since 2014, not only for its ancient marvels, but also for the multi-layered landscape of today’s Bergama, carrying the history from antiquity to Ottoman characteristic of the town. Ancient Pergamon is quite a site, reminiscent in classical splendor, as its striking remains of Acropolis overlook the town of Bergama.
Ancient Ephesus is another important UNESCO Heritage site -inscribed on the list in 2015- with its grand theatre, Celsus Library and well-preserved Roman terrace houses. The reflections of the rays on the marble blend perfectly with the lush green of the trees surrounding the sites. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” and the 5th century House of the Virgin Mary has drawn visitors of different faith for centuries.
Pamukkale, literally “the cotton castle,” offers a unique experience in inland Aegean, another asset in the UNESCO World Heritage List -inscribed in 1988. The cotton-white travertines of Pamukkale are practically surreal, as hot pools form on each shelf cascading down from the ancient city of Hierapolis to the ground below like a fluffy waterfall.
The region is favored by Mother Nature: the soil, fed by numerous streams and worked for thousands of years, provides tasty fruits and vegetables. The Aegean is the king when it comes to growing olives -75 percent of all olives grown in Turkey come from the Aegean Region. And another product of the region that has been around for thousands of years is wine. Turkish Aegean is home to beautiful vineyards growing both international and local grapes. You can take the impressive wine route to admire stunning views, do some wine tasting at beautiful vineyards, and pair these wines with favorite dishes of the local gastronomy.
Traditional seafood restaurants along the Aegean promenade offer delicious mezes as local herbs soaked in olive oil accompanying fresh fish. Aegean cuisine highlights simple, healthy, plant and vegetable-based dishes prepared mainly with extra virgin olive oil. The local organic farms grow mouth-watering produce that are natural immune boosters and feature in all local dishes. Edible wild herbs are an important part of the local cuisine: herbs like arapsaçi (wild fennel), radika (dandelion greens), deniz börülcesi (samphire) or sevketibostan (holy thistle) are either boiled or sautéed and served with extra virgin olive oil and lemon as salads or cooked with lamb and onions to make delicious dishes that are served warm. As for side street delicacies, pastries such as boyoz and gevrek join midye dolma (mussels stuffed with rice and spices) and seasonal fruits.
Izmir: The Pearl of the Aegean
Victor Hugo once wrote, “Izmir is a princess adorned with a necklace.” Türkiye’s third largest city is a lively modern hub. The beauty of this coastal city is complemented by its gastronomic and cultural scene.
From classical music festivals to jazz performances in small venues, colorful nightclubs to side streets full of musicians with a constant buzz, the city’s cultural calendar is never empty. Izmir is home to many local and international festivals and events such as Izmir International Festival, Izmir European Jazz Festival, International Izmir Short Film Festival, Izmir International Puppet Days, Windsurfing World Cup, Alaçati Herb Festival and Urla Artichoke Festival. Check the city’s events calendar before you organize a trip and choose a few among many events and festivities.
Izmir offers a fresh and inspiring art scene that draws the attention of art aficionados. While art centers in renovated century-old buildings exhibit classical collections, institutions and galleries around the Konak neighborhood promise surprisingly rich selections of artwork.
The city of Izmir also has breath-taking sea vacation options within its boundaries. Pamucak in the south and Dikili in the north have long coasts with the finest sandy beaches. Surrounded by sandy beaches and turquoise waters, the Çesme peninsula attracts beach lovers, surfers and yachting enthusiasts every summer. The small bays which extend side by side in the south of the sub-district of Alaçati and Seferihisar Teos Marina are paradise for yacht and surf lovers.
With its crystal-clear waters, and secluded bays and lagoons, remains of ancient civilizations only accessible by sea, Aegean Türkiye is a great sailing destination. You may opt for a yacht or a gulet -a traditional two or three-masted wooden sailing boat- to explore pristine coves around Göcek, Fethiye, Marmaris and Datça peninsula. The ancient city of Knidos, situated on the Datça Peninsula, is connected to the mainland with a narrow, sandy isthmus. The beauty of Knidos rivals the beauty of the landscape it offers. The two harbors of the ancient city are now favorite anchorages for day-cruise yachts and sailboats stopping for lunch, a swim, and a visit to city ruins.
Favorites of the Aegean Türkiye’s coastline include more than glitzy marinas and emerald blue sailing routes, Alaçati is a true paradise for windsurfers, Ayvalik and the surrounding islands are the diving center par excellence, and the coast is full of small villages offering the chance to enjoy a delightful vacation on beautiful beaches.
The charm of the colorful Bodrum peninsula surrounded by fragrant bougainvillea, mandarin, myrtle, and sandalwood trees goes back to ancient Halicarnassus. Being home to one of the “Seven Wonders of Antiquity,” the tomb of Mausolos, known to world as Mausoleum, defines the well-deserved reputation of the town. A 15th century castle welcoming visitors by the sea, is now the site of Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology where one can enjoy a spectacular view from its four towers. Top luxury brand resorts, fine dining restaurants, glamorous beaches and open-air nightclubs all along the peninsula promise a splendid holiday in every aspect.
A Welcoming Community
Aegean Türkiye promises much more than just an ordinary holiday! Anatolia has been home to various different cultures and people who have formed a colorful cultural mosaic over the years. The popular saying of “living like a local” takes on meaning here.
The richness of different cultures has enabled people of this country to have a genuine and unpretentious hospitality, to welcome guests and even unexpected ones with open arms. So, it’s time for a real experience. Meet real people, get a genuine smile, be their guest, discover their country and admire their way of life.
The Aegean Way of life
Understanding the Aegean way of life would mean three essential things: slowing down the pace of life, savoring every moment and allowing yourself to be inspired by every little thing whether it is the juicy texture of a sun-drenched tomato, the scent of wild thyme or the sound of the waves at night.
Wander through the orchards to taste juicy fruit straight from the tree. Watch olive oil produced from the olives picked in the vast olive groves. Take time to taste wine made of endemic grape varieties to admire the pairing with authentic dishes prepared with all that is fresh and good. In short, slow down to enjoy life. Come and visit us in Aegean Türkiye!