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12.02.2020

Top Things to Do in the Aegean Coast of Turkey

Turkey’s southern Turquoise coast is still better known than the Aegean Coast, but the latter is the better option for those who like surfing and other water sports. The Aegean Coast of Turkey is also only a few sea miles away from Greece and it’s possible to travel between the two sun-soaked countries with ferries in just 30 minutes. 

Compared to the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea is just as blue but colder so it’s revitalising, and perfect for divers and surfers. Turkey’s Aegean Coast is also home to many Roman and Ancient Greek sites, making it an even more exciting holiday destination. 

Sites to visit on the Aegean Coast of Turkey 

- Hierapolis and Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) 

Unesco World Heritage Sites Hierapolis and Pamukkale are located in Denizli and welcome millions of tourists every year. 

The Phrygians built the first temple in the 7th century BC in Hierapolis that later formed the centre of the town. The ancient Greek city has been a popular spa town for thousands of years, as the natural travertines of Pamukkale are filled with mineral-rich waters, and draw people from all around the world for health and leisure holidays. 

Once you are there, make sure to swim in Cleopatra’s Antique Pool to feel like a true royal. 

- Ancient City of Ephesus, Selçuk 

Ephesus is the biggest and best preserved ancient city in Turkey. 

Another Unesco World Heritage Site built thousands of years ago, it takes visitors back in time. The great city of Ephesus was a busy port city where a lot of the trading in the Mediterranean region took place. 

Ephesus was also believed to be the birthplace of Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele, which Ionians replaced with Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt and the moon. Ionians built a temple dedicated to the goddess, the Temple of Artemis, which was amongst the seven wonders of the world. However, the temple was destroyed twice and you can only see its ruins today. 

Alexander the Great had his eyes on this thriving city and after Romans took over the city, they changed the name of the temple once again, from Artemis to Diana. They also built a library and a theatre, which are amongst the finest examples of ancient Roman architecture in the world today. 

Celcus Library is the best-known monument in Ephesus, and it was restored masterfully. The library was commissioned in the 110s A.D by Gaius Julius Aquila as a funeral monument for his father Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who has a crypt beneath the library. 

The Ephesus Antique Theatre is another incredible historical landmark in the ancient city. Visible from the southern entrance of Ephesus, this 25,000 people theatre was constructed in the Hellenistic Period (3rd century B.C.) and it was enlarged during the Roman Period. The theatre was used for animal fights, religious, philosophical and political discussions as well as concerts and plays. 

- Temple of Apollo, Didim

Didim or Didyma was an ancient Greek sanctuary, where Apollo was worshipped as the main deity. The Temple of Apollo here was once the ancient world's second-largest temple, but today only one column remains, which still allows visitors to imagine its grandeur. 

- Bafa Lake, Aydın 

Bafa Lake in Aydın is a true beauty, it is both a historical site and a natural reserve. It’s a great place to visit for some tranquillity, especially throughout spring and summer when the wildflowers surround the lake. You can spend the whole day here discovering Greek monasteries on the Beşparmak Mountains and prehistoric wall paintings in Mount Latmos. 

- Bodrum Castle, Bodrum 

The construction of Bodrum Castle started in 1402, but rebuilt and restored over time. The castle has four towers named English, French, German, and Italian towers after the nations that built them. In 1523, the Ottoman Empire conquered the castle and the chapel inside was converted to a mosque. 

Waterparks to visit on the Aegean Coast of Turkey 

For those who are travelling with kids, there are many waterparks along the Aegean Coast, usually close to the resorts. We selected the below waterparks for their good reviews and proximity to the hotels. 

Waterparks in Turkey usually sell admission tickets online, which cost around 60-90TL per person, but you can buy at the door on the day if you prefer. 

- Oasis Aquapark, Çeşme 

- Tortuga Pirate Island, Çeşme 

- Didim Aquapark, Didim 

- Pirates Inn Cactus, Bodrum 

Where to Stay on Turkey's Aegean Coast 

There are many beautiful towns on the Aegean Coast of Turkey, whether you want to have fun, or to rest. You can find very peaceful spots for your family as well as young and dynamic places if you are going with your friend group. 

Places to visit in Ayvalık 

Ayvalık is located on the northwestern coast of the Aegean Sea, facing the Greek island Lesbos. It’s a cozy port town where you can see beautiful old, colourful houses and eat local dishes made with olive oil, the most important product of the region. 

You can also visit many historic buildings such as the Çınarlı Mosque, which used to be the Greek Orthodox church of Ayios Yorgis. Since Ayvalık is surrounded by the archipelago of islands, you can choose to stay at one of the islands. 

The most famous one is Island of Cunda, a must-visit place for ice cream lovers as well as fish and mezze enthusiasts. 

The closest airport to Ayvalık is Balıkesir Koca Seyit Airport. 

Places to visit in İzmir 

İzmir was a Greek port city called Smyrna until it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. 

The city has been home to Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Levantines and Turks over the years, and the rich cuisine of the city attests to this. As the third-largest city in Turkey, it’s a must-visit city on the way to Ephesus or Çeşme. During summer months the sun is always shining and the temperatures can get up to over 40 degrees Celcius, which is why its locals run to the windy town of Çeşme nearby. 

The closest airport to İzmir is İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport. 

Places to visit in Çeşme 

Çeşme is a resort town an hour and a half away from İzmir, with beautiful white and golden sanded beaches, countless restaurants, live music bars and techno clubs. There is something for everyone; whether you would like to stay at a hotel where there are pools and daily activities for your kids, or at a romantic boutique hotel at the heart of Alaçatı. 

When in Çeşme, it’s best to rent a car as well to take a few trips out of town to see villages like Sığacık and Ildır. Sığacık is the perfect place to get away from the crowds of Çeşme, whilst still enjoying the colourful Greek houses, an incredible view of the Aegean Sea and delicious meals at restaurants run by locals. Ildır is even more serene, as it’s a fisher village where mostly retired locals bought their summer houses. 

The closest airport to Çeşme is İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport. 

Places to visit in Kuşadası 

Only a half an hour drive from Ancient Ephesus, Kuşadası is a popular tourist destination famous for its luxurious beach resorts. If you are after a hassle-free holiday, you and your family will be looked after very well in Kuşadası hotels. There are also great seafood and grill restaurants in Kuşadası, making it another foodie destination in Turkey. 

When in Kuşadası, it’s best to spend some time exploring nearby sites such as Ephesus and you can even visit the Samos island thanks to daily ferry services. 

The closest airport to Kuşadası is İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport. 

Places to visit in Didim 

Another popular seaside holiday resort town is Didim, which is very close to Bafa Lake, and historic sites like Temple of Apollo, Miletus and Priene. Although it’s small, Didim is still a great option for families who would like to enjoy a luxurious but tranquil holiday whilst enjoying some culture and history. Apart from visiting the historical sites, you can take your family to the Aquapark waterpark nearby or on a one-day cruise trip. 

The closest airport to Didim is Milas Bodrum Airport.

Best Times to Visit the Aegean Coast of Turkey 

The Aegean Coast of Turkey starts getting warm by the end of April and stays warm until November. If you are after a beach holiday, May and September are the best months to visit the Aegean Coast. 

Spring is also beautiful at the Aegean Coast, as wildflowers begin to blossom. However, the sea will be quite cold around this time. By the end of May, the temperature starts increasing but the beaches are still not filled with neither tourists nor locals, since schools are open until mid-June. 

The high season starts from June until September, and the weather can be surprising around November so we don’t recommend risking your holiday. If you are after a very hot summer, July and August are the hottest months in the Aegean Coast. You can still expect some wind, at least in the evenings.