The best part of a road trip in the Aegean coast of Turkey is that you can combine a cultural visit to an archeological site with beaches. The cities of ancient Greece such as Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus, Sardis, Miletus, Priene that were once part of Ionia and Lydia are all located in this area and open to public visit.
You may create your own itinerary with one of these places and a beach town, and while traveling you may visit the villages of the Aegean which are also known by their gastronomy.
Cesme, which was once the summer residence town for the locals of nearby cities is now one of the most popular summer destinations in Turkey. It is an hour drive from the airport of Izmir, five hours drive from Istanbul. A peninsula with several beaches and towns, moving from one beach to another will be much easier if you have a car. Thanks to its mild temperature and the wind it gets all year it has become a popular kite surf destination as well. The town of Alacati which is located right at the entrance of the peninsula was once known as a town for kite surfing and than became a somewhat too popular place for tourists of all kinds. It is lively, picturesque, colourful, full of restaurants and cafés and worth a visit. From Cesme you can also take a ferry to the Greek island of Chios, the ferry ride takes only twenty minutes to this gorgeous and less discovered Greek island.
If you drive from Cesme to Ephesus like we did you can stop for lunch in Urla. In recent years it has become known with its olive oil brands and gastronomy tours, wine yards, olive tree farms and a couple of restaurants with a sophisticated cuisine.
Among the villages of the Aegean part of Turkey maybe one of the most touristic one is Sirince. A mountain village in Selcuk, it is known with its traditional Ottoman style houses. Built one after another on a hill there’s no house whose view is blocked by another one. A picturesque village with wooden windows, narrow steep roads, churches, shops selling regional wine, we do recommend you to stop for a coffee when you are visiting Ephesus- which is a must. The early Christians who used to live in this village would visit every year the place known today as the House of the Virgin Mary.
Pictures: Alacati, Cesme; Urla, Sanatcilar Str, Sirince