Serene and peaceful Aegean towns perfect for a weekend getaway
by Sena Alkan
ISTANBULFeb 20, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Sena Alkan
Feb 20, 2016 12:00 am
With vivid blue waters and a serene ambiance with quiet streets, Turkey's Aegean towns and fishing villages are in peak season, beckoning visitors seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life
Sometimes all we need is a tranquil and quiet atmosphere to get away from the tiresome daily routine of working life and the fast-paced life in the metropolis. While Turkey's northern regions endure the cold blast of winter, coastal cities on the Aegean and Mediterranean see mild temperatures during the winter off-season.
Featuring traditional houses, quiet streets and friendly locals, Turkey's western towns offer a relaxing holiday during the winter months without the crowds of locals and foreigners during the summer months. The peak season always brings swarms of locals and foreigners, always willing to pay the seasonal price hikes in local shops and search in frustration for a sunbathing spot on crowded beaches. If you're looking for a quiet place where you can explore hidden beauties away from the crowds on your next vacation, one of these Aegean towns should be your next destination.
Seferihisar, Aegean province of İzmir
The first slow city of Turkey, Seferihisar, in the Aegean town of İzmir, is a place where history meets the sea. Nestled far away from the hustle of the big city, this district is surrounded by the Aegean Sea. Within Seferihisar, there are ancient cities dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The ancient city of Teos, for example, is known as one of the 12 Ionian settlements dating back to the Archaic Age and is home to ancient monuments of the Greek god Dionysus, the Altar, Agora, Odeon and harbor ruins. During a stay in Seferihisar, you can visit these monuments or stroll down the street to the small port of Sığacık, which offers the most serene atmosphere you can find in Seferihisar. There is a castle at this small port, built by the Ottomans in 1522 for the monitoring of naval facilities, which are now open to tourists. This Aegean town has been preserved for centuries due to the archeological sites and military zones around the town, which have been designated as protected areas. Living in this town is dreamlike, as the blue waters of the Aegean Sea gently lap the coastline in the early mornings and the relaxation of daily village life awaits you daily. Imagine that you were starting your day among olive, grape and citrus trees, eating only the most natural, organic products coming from the same village. Turkish delight, jams, tomato paste and many other organic foods in this small fishing village are freshly available to make your dreams come true.
Gökçeada in the Aegean Sea
Known as the largest island in Turkey, Gökçeada (Imbros) is located in the Aegean Sea and is renowned for its unaltered beaches and natural resources. Located between the Gulf of Saros and the Dardanelles Strait, Gökçeada lies at the westernmost tip of Turkey. If you are looking to live the life of an islander in a quiet atmosphere, Gökçeada offers a true slice of Turkish island life with its history, culture and traditions set in a stunning seaside landscape. The island is a perfect spot for surfing as well. Among the key destinations on the island, Zeytinliköy is known as the best for its pristine beaches and natural beauty. The island's Kaleköy is also renowned for its picturesque view. Life in Kaleköy starts in the afternoon and continues until the late hours, with many restaurants, bars and cafes open late there. With every shade of green; notably, pine forests, olive groves, natural life, organic products and alternative sports, Gökçeada is one of the best destinations for those who need to slow down.
Didim, Aegean province of Aydın
Nested between the crystal clear waters, spectacular protected mountain forests, and olive groves of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, Didim is a perfect spot for a getaway. With its Akbük Koyu, which means "White Bay", and its status as a specially protected environmental area, Didim offers you perfect tranquility. Akbük Bay may arguably be the most well preserved bay in Turkey --no building is allowed here. Historically, Akbük Bay was a small fishing village lying off the beaten trail of fish lovers. Although more and more visitors discover it daily, what makes this bay special is that it has the lowest humidity and highest oxygen ratio in the entire country. Recognized internationally with a blue flag, the harbor in the bay is renowned for its serenity and peaceful atmosphere. The bay boasts incomparable brilliant white sands with its sea that does not deepen quickly, no matter how long or far you swim. There are camping sites and hostels in Akbük Bay for those who want to spend a night on this mesmerizing bay.
Selimiye, Aegean province of Muğla
Selimiye, a picturesque harbor in Turkey's western city of Muğla, casts a spell on its visitors. Even though it is nearly 30 minutes away from Marmaris, which is one of the most renowned tourist cities in the country, Selimiye is a small tourist resort strung out along a stunning bay. Most of its visitors arrive by yacht or boat to Selimeye, which features mesmerizing turquoise waters that charm visitors. Selimiye has a strong local reputation for traditional wooden boat building, so on the road into town, you will pass several boat yards where you will see massive wooden gullets being built in time-honored traditional methods. This little harbor may also be the perfect spot for those who want to taste some of the best seafood on the Aegean coast. It has little restaurants where fishermen serve fish they caught that day; their service is simple, but delicious! There are also little hostels serving as bed and breakfasts, and boutique hotels where you can spend a night in tranquility.
Ildır, Aegean province of İzmir
Located 20 kilometers northeast of İzmir's hotspot Çeşme, the İldır village is one of the best-kept secrets of İzmir's alternative holiday destinations. Known as Erythrai during the ancient era, the village's name comes from "erythrostan," which means red. The reason why the village is called red is due to the red soil that surrounds its lands. During your stay, you can visit the ancient city of Erythrai where excavations still continue. On the list of must-haves in Ildır, artichokes and fish top the list. Ildır is known as a little fishing town, which is home to one the most mouth-watering fish you can try on the Aegean coast. On the top of the hills surrounding Ildır, you will catch the best view of the sunset across Turkey, understanding how nature is able to touch your heart.
Bozburun, Aegean province of Muğla
The Bozburun village is no different, calling on you to enjoy a warm and tranquil atmosphere even in the winter. Due to its location in the western region of the country -- across the waters from Rhodes and at the hinge of where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean -- the winter is not as harsh or cold as in other cities and villages in Turkey. If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and prefer a serene, peaceful holiday destination with fresh air and the beach rather than a fast nightlife, then Bozburun is the right place for you. According to the locals, first-time visitors do not like Bozburun, a small seaside town located in the Marmaris district of the Muğla province. Yet, once they stay the night and fill their lungs with the air, they quickly fall in love. While it is a popular destination to visit in the summer, the village, still harboring its Mediterranean ambiance, offers the most incredible scenery and serenity that will meet everyone's desires.
Akyaka, Aegean province of Muğla
In the famous holiday destination of Muğla, Akyaka is a real hidden gem with its perfect atmosphere suitable for a fall holiday. Surrounded by pine trees on the Gulf of Gökova, Akyaka, once a small fishing town, is the home of serene resorts. Akyaka is where you can find absolute peace with no traffic, no loud music and no noise. This magical town not only features organic foods and a serene daily life, but also nature-centric sports and activities such as windsurfing, biking, kitesurfing, sailing, paragliding, rafting, trekking, riding, rock climbing and sea kayaking. Listed as a slow city in 2010, Akyaka is where you can find absolute peace with no traffic, no loud music and no noise. This magical town not only features organic foods and serene daily life, but also nature-centric sports and activities such as windsurfing, biking, kitesurfing, sailing, paragliding, rafting, trekking, riding, rock climbing and sea kayaking. Announced as an Environmental Protection Area in 1988, Akyaka is both a perfect holiday spot and a dreamy slow city destination situated on Turkey's Aegean coast.