The Best Villages in Turkey to Visit
Urban travel is excellent fun, but visiting villages in Turkey is to explore a different lifestyle. Some of the small communities are stuck in time, others earned claim to fame for a specific reason, while most never feature in any travel guides and are off the beaten track.
While life in Turkey seems to revolve around major cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, villages are still a core feature of many local societies. There are over 30,000 including fishing hubs of the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean to remote mountain destinations of the Kackar mountains. Since villagers rely a lot on their environment and natural surroundings, life differs from the dry southeast plains to the western sandy beaches.
What is the best part of visiting these villages? Well, we love old houses, getting to learn about regional cuisine and learning about Turkish culture and traditions in its rawest form. So, here are our favourite places to visit, and see Turkey away from modern urban landscapes.
The Best Villages in Turkey to Visit
1: Simena: Turkey’s Mediterranean Delight
You know that when the best way to reach a village is by sea, then it is something special. While many land travellers may not have heard of Simena, also called Kalekoy, yachts sailing the Turkish Riviera adore it. Sitting near Kekova city sunken ruins, its Byzantine castle gives off a fantastic peninsula view unmatched by other places in Turkey.
Despite its popularity on the sailing scene which is upmarket and stylish, Simena locals don’t pretend to be something they’re not, and that’s why people fall in love with it. Another bonus is the locally made traditional ice-cream of which there are some flavours you have never even heard of.
2: Kayakoy Abandoned Ghost Village Near Fethiye
Before visiting Kayakoy ghost village, read Louis de Bernieres’s book. He also wrote Captain Corelli’s mandolin. Kayakoy was the setting for this fiction love story told amidst the backdrop of the Turkish war of independence and events that led to Kayakoy’s ghost status.
Once a thriving village of Turks and Greeks living side by side, the Treaty of Lausanne ended all that, and these days, visitors tour crumbled, roofless houses, churches, and schools, the only traces of this once profitable community. Explore it on foot or horseback tour, but make time to enjoy traditional, quaint restaurants on the outskirts serving up delicious delights like lamb tandir.
3: Beautiful Alacati: Upmarket Village Life in Turkey
Sitting side by side with Cesme, Alacati’s profile has risen in recent years as Turks look to buy authentic stone cottages in the village heart. Desperate to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities, it is easy to understand why Alacati lures in holidaymakers and retirees.
Cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and a laid-back Aegean lifestyle have led to it become one of Izmir’s most popular destinations. Alacati’s other claim to fame is as the best windsurfing spot in Turkey and on summer evenings, there is nothing better than beach BBQ’s and music beach side.
4: Sirince Wine Village in Aegean Selcuk
Sirince, the most famous village in Aegean Turkey, shot to fame for its local wine production using fruits from surrounding orchards. Now sold all over Turkey, visitors sample wine in one of many village shops. The picturesque landscapes are a bonus, and local women sell handcrafted items as souvenirs. Started by freed slaves from the ancient city of Ephesus, Sirince’s remote location displays stunning, old architecture in the houses portraying its nostalgic roots as a Greek village. While there, take a tour of cobbled lanes to find the skeleton remains of Aziz Dimitrios church.
5: Rustic Gumusluk: Bodrum’s Prize Gem
Mention the Bodrum peninsula to any Turk, and they will talk about a vibrant nightlife, prominent sailing reputation and the local's knack of perfecting the pursuit of pleasure. Comprising the main town centre and smaller coastal resorts, first-time visitors could think they have arrived at the most cosmopolitan destination in Turkey, yet Gumusluk village doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks or does.
Known by its landmark Rabbit island, it has a rustic charm and insistence for enjoying the moment regardless of what it brings. The laid-back, don’t-care attitude has led many foreigners to buy villas in Gumusluk. Enjoying quiet days beach side and evenings feasting on fresh fish and seafood, once you arrive, you will discover Gumusluk’s charms are quite addictive.
6: Cirali: Turkey’s Hidden Paradise
If ever there was a place to get away from it all, be at peace and indulge in Mother Nature, Cirali fits the bill. Sitting within the Antalya region, it shares a long sandy / pebbly beach with Olympus, a favourite backpacking spot.
With the Taurus mountain range looming in the background, it is a quiet haven, and where to go if you want to see the burning Chimaera flames. Think mountain bike rides, basking in the Mediterranean Sea, outdoor BBQs and beautiful flora and fauna that makes you forget about a fast-paced lifestyle.
7: Amazing Views in Faralya
Sitting in Turkey’s Mediterranean region, outsiders rarely get to hear about Faralya, yet for locals, it is a quiet, peaceful destination with amazing Mediterranean Sea views. Anyone looking to buy property in Fethiye will stump up some extra cash if they choose Faralya village.
Its remote location and lack of space for building mean it will never turn into an urban landscape, and that is a big lure for some property buyers. Keeping a traditional Turkish lifestyle theme, such is its adherence to being at one with nature, some yoga, spa, and wellness centres have opened there.
Remote Mountain Villages in Turkey
All the above sits on Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines, but to really get off the beaten track, head to the northeast Kackar mountain range, where life is as rustic and basic as you can get. Traditionally, locals head to plateaux regions to escape the summer heat.
In some places like Demirkapi, whose names translates to iron gate, they build their own houses using wood from surrounding forests, make their own bread and milk, farm their chickens and cows, and some villages don’t have telephone or internet access so are indeed cut off.
Before visiting, research the Laz and Hemsin cultures of Turkey for a good insight into their local cultural heritage. Also visit Savsat in the Artvin Province, that during summer, is a stunningly green place but covered with a blanket of snow in winter.
Villages to Visit in Cappadocia, Turkey
One could spend a week exploring Cappadocia villages in the central Anatolian region. Cappadocia is already the second most popular tourist destination, and places like Goreme are well known, but many more small communities open their doors to curious travellers.
Ortahisar, a traditional working town, presents a fantastic sunrise view, and homes carved out of tufa rock, while remote Mustafa Pasha is home to an old and the quaint Christian church. Uchisar, an upmarket luxury destination for five-star hotels, is home to a castle, and the highest viewpoint in Cappadocia, while Urgup, the fastest paced village, is home to some of Cappadocia’s best wine growers.
Ibrahim Pasha is on the verge of being a ghost town, and Cavusin home to the ancient ruins of Saint John’s church are both delightful places to visit. Last, on our list of villages in Turkey include nearby Avanos. Using the nearby Red River as a source of clay, it is renowned throughout Turkey for its artisan pottery works.
Cities to Visit in Turkey: While travelling around Turkey, also visit some of its most famous cities including the bustle of Istanbul, the beating heart of Ankara, conservative Konya, and traditional Bursa.