6 Aegean Region Cities to Explore
When it comes to bustling metropolises, Turkey is full of them, mainly because of the country’s large size. However, Aegean region cities, despite their low-key reputation, each offer something unique, whether you want to explore or look for somewhere to relocate to. The Aegean region of Turkey covers most of the western coast, and over the decades has built up a thriving tourism industry, ever-revolving real estate market, and booming agriculture industry.
Vastly differing from the rest of Turkey, especially for topography, weather climate and regional cuisine, it also is home to some of Turkey’s top touristic attractions like Ephesus and Pamukkale. Christians also find it interesting because the seven churches of revelation were here, and it includes symbolic places like the Virgin Mary’s house and Saint John’s basilica. Indeed, exploring this region opens your eyes up to Turkey’s diversity, but where should you start?
6 Aegean Region Cities to Explore
1: Izmir: Pearl of the Aegean
Naturally, the first place to mention is Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, known as the Aegean pearl. For decades, before Turkey modernised itself, Izmir was the leader of western trends and influences. Regarding popular city break destinations, it lags behind the fame of Istanbul or Antalya. Yet, those who want to see what a thriving, cosmopolitan Turkish city looks like, should head here. Major landmarks and tourist attractions in the city centre include the clock tower, Kemeralti bazaar, Kadifekale castle, the Agora and Asansor lift. For summer and holiday homes, surrounding coastal resorts make a roaring trade, especially, Alacati and Cesme. These two towns earn fame for windsurfing, and quaint old stone cottages reflecting its Greek heritage. Read more about Izmir city centre and its claims to fame.
2: Bodrum City: The Western Sailing Hub
To indulge in hedonism, head to Bodrum city centre. It excels in the pursuit of leisure, and since its leading trade and income for locals is tourism, the two go hand in hand. This isn’t a newfound trend because for decades, stretching back to the 1930s, artisans and those seeking non-conformity have fallen in love with the city. The main areas of interest; the old town, harbour and marina represent sailing, a leisure activity Bodrum is excellent at. The major landmark, the Castle of Saint Peter, stands on the rocky shoreline and includes the Underwater Museum of Archaeology. We recommend when visiting Bodrum city, to extend your stay by four days and explore surrounding coastal resorts like upmarket Yalikavak, quaint Gumusluk, and Gumbet, a water sports hub. (Guide to the Bodrum Peninsula of Turkey.)
3: Inland Denizli
As Turkey’s 14th largest city for population size, you may be surprised, few foreigners venture here. However, the province with the same name to which it belongs hosts millions of visitors every year, who flock to see the natural landmark calcium pools of Pamukkale and the neighbouring Hierapolis historical site. The most surprising aspect is its name which means of the sea, but this refers to surrounding lakes and rivers because this inland city is far away from the coastline. Regarding tourist attractions, the city centre doesn’t deliver but for an authentic Turkish urban environment then by all means visit. Otherwise, head to Pamukkale and Hierapolis and also seek out the ruined city of Laodicea.
4: Manisa: Festivals Galore
Decades ago, ask any Aegean Turk what Manisa was famous for, and they would say the local mental hospital. These days, the power of the internet and spread of information means it receives more praise for its yearly Misir Paste festival. The story says the mother of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was ill and a Manisa doctor made a paste with 41 herbs and spices that cured her of her illness. The sultan was so impressed; he ordered it distributed throughout his lands. Unlike other Aegean cities, tourism isn’t a strong point of Manisa, and few foreigners choose to relocate there, which is great if you want to immerse yourself into authentic Turkish society. Otherwise fertile plains surrounding the city lay the groundwork for the impressive agriculture industry.
5: Kusadasi and Birds Island
Once a firm holiday destination of the Irish, Kusadasi now welcomes people from all around the globe and features a sizeable expat community who live there all year round. As one of Turkey’s major cruise ship ports, on a good year, millions arrive to jump on buses and head to nearby Ephesus ruined city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city’s heart is a shopping and nightlife hub, yet Ladies Beach, a 10-minute bus drive away is the most popular sandy hub. Kusadasi’s other advantage is the short distance to Dilek national park, so anyone who doesn’t want the urban lifestyle 24 / 7 quickly gets away. Many people also visit Kusadasi on a day trip because Aqua Fantasy and Adaland, two of Turkey’s best waterparks, offer rides, pools, and day time fun in abundance.
6: Aydin: On the Buyuk Menderes River
For foreign recognition, the province with the same name is probably more famous for the city, yet every year, it experiences a population growth. This isn’t through foreigners buying property, but Turks impressed by how Aydin cleaned up its act to improve infrastructure, transport and make the city centre a cleaner place. When it comes to fame, the region is known for figs and as one of Turkey’s first regions to embrace railway travel. Generally, people pass through Aydin by using their central bus station to reach other places. Alternatively, they stay in outskirts towns and villages to visit major attractions like UNESCO Aphrodisias. However, those who like history should visit Aydin Archaeological museum to see impressive artefacts from excavations around Turkey.
Other Notable Places in Aegean Turkey
Many places in Aegean Turkey are seeing population growth and expanding from small villages into bustling towns. In some cases, this is due to foreigners moving for retirement, while in others, investment into local businesses is bringing in investors from afar. Regardless, most have significant attractions worth visiting. Let us look at other places worth visiting in Aegean Turkey.
Didim / Altinkum: Once known as little Britain because of the large British expat population, Didim is now attracting Turks from Germany, Istanbul, and Izmir who buy summer homes there. The major attraction for day-trippers is Apollo Temple on the town’s outskirts that had construction been completed, would have revealed the Delphi. Otherwise, as the name suggests, Altinkum meaning golden sands has a healthy beach holiday package industry.
Selcuk: Many people visit Selcuk for the day to see the ancient ruins of Ephesus, yet if you have time, extend your stay overnight because of highly underrated attractions worth visiting like the Artemis temple, one of the ancient world’s seven wonders. Other notable landmarks include Saint John’s basilica, Virgin Mary’s house, the ancient Aqueduct, and for an added twist, the winemaking village of Sirince.
Datca: If you want somewhere quaint, off the beaten track and with a slightly exclusive ambience, put Datca on your list. Separating into new and old districts, it retains another world atmosphere. The main attraction, Knidos ancient ruins feature stunning views, but life in Datca is all about rest, relaxation and soaking up Aegean vibes.
Bergama: History-lovers should head here to see the ancient city of Pergamon, that was a forward thinker and leader of the western world. They invented parchment paper and opened the world’s first psychiatric hospital, but the main claim to fame is the steep hillside theatre that appears on most picture postcards.
Yalikavak: From history and quaint villages to stylish, opulent living, Yalikavak is where all the rich people hang out. Many sail into the ultramodern marina with the capacity to hold mega yachts; hence celebrities and famous faces often drop by. Others invested in real estate and its impressive luxury villas with distinct architectural styles. Such is Yalikavak’s popularity, the potential to join the ranks of unique Aegean region cities is there. Read about why Yalikavak should be on your bucket list.
About Us: We are Turkey Homes, a property and investment real estate agent with offices all over Turkey. To invest, either for a summer home or a permanent place to live, contact us for more information about Aegean Turkey and which destination could be your next home.