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BLOG Turkey’s Gateways to the Greek Islands

17 January 2017 / Travel


Gateways to Greek Islands

It has recently been announced that the Northern Aegean Islands Economic Development Agency are adding a new ferry route which will connect mainland Turkey with the beautiful Greek Islands. From May 2017, two high speed catamarans will provide transport and tours from Turkey’s third largest city, Izmir, on the west coast, to a Greek island that has truly suffered as a result of the Syrian migrant crisis, Lesbos. The agency hopes to boost tourism in Lesbos by 30%, but the ferries will be run by Turkey’s Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, which will also benefit the Turkish economy. The service hopes to provide for the 4 million inhabitants of Izmir city and of course, the millions of foreign tourists who visit Turkey each year.

Despite a perceived ongoing cultural rivalry between Turkey and Greece, a significant portion of both Greece and Turkey’s coastlines front the Aegean Sea and travelling between the two countries has for a long time, been as simple as hopping on a ferry. Greece has numerous islands that are situated directly off the western coast of Turkey, some a mere 40 minute journey away from the Turkish mainland. Unsurprisingly, the Greek islands have long been a popular choice of holiday destination for Turks and now travel between Turkey and Greece is coming to the forefront of international tourism as ferries become more frequent and travel companies have begun to add customised holidays and tours between the two countries. While Izmir may be the most recent gateway to Greece, there are many other spots across Turkey that offer an easy passage to the islands.

Bodrum

Bodrum has become a hotspot for trendy and high earning individuals thanks to its recent influx of celebrity tourists and home owners. It is fondly known as the St Tropez of Turkey and has earned its position as the place to own a holiday home with Turkish elite and high powered foreign businessmen who enjoy mixing with international stars such as Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and Naomi Campbell. Shopping is definitely high-end, attracting top designers such as Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger and Gant to the hip new Palmarina. Fine dining and cocktail bars are also aplenty on the fashionable side of town where you can sip champagne next to a view of expensive mega-yachts.

The city and its surrounding areas such as Yalıkavak, which has had over $45 million of investment since the opening of the Palmarina port, are fast attracting property investors and easy access to the Greek islands are just another reason to choose Bodrum as a second home. Just as there is something for every holiday maker in Bodrum, there is something for every home buyer too. Apartments range from an incredibly affordable £40,000 for a two bedroom apartment to an impressive £2 million villa of 8 bedrooms and incredible views of Palmarina and the Aegean Sea. The difference in cost really depends on which area of Bodrum you choose to buy.

Browse our Bodrum properties here.

Ferries from Bodrum run regularly during the summer season to the Greek islands of Kos, Rhodes and Symi. Kos is particularly popular as travel time is short at just 40 minutes and the island can easily be visited in one day. The island is home to a 14th century fortress at the entrance to its harbour which was built by the Knights Hospitaller, the very same that built Bodrum Castle. Another must-visit is the Ancient Agora, an ancient market place which was considered one of the biggest in the ancient world. The ancient physician Hippocrates is thought to have been born on Kos and in the centre of town you can find the Plane Tree of Hippocrates, a dream temple where the physician is traditionally supposed to have taught; there is also a museum dedicated to him. A fantastic excursion from the island of Kos will find you on Nysiros, an island built around an active volcano which can be climbed, offering fantastic views across the Aegean in one direction, and of red hot lava in the other.

Marmaris and Fethiye

The jewels of Turkey’s south coast, both Marmaris and Fethiye have long been staples of the tourism industry, attracting millions of visitors every year. Like Bodrum, Marmaris is a port town on the shoreline of the Turkish Riviera and Fethiye too has a beautiful marina. Both are exceptional locations with sea vistas and mountain backdrops with plenty to keep people occupied. Marmaris is particularly well known for its sandy beaches and incredible sailing and diving opportunities, with crystal clear waters and hidden coves at every corner. Fethiye is just as popular with tourists, particularly with the British, and offers very attractive property deals to wannabe expats, already home to over 7,000 British citizens.

Anything between £60,000 and £100,000 will buy you a beautiful holiday home with up to three bedrooms in Fethiye, such as this wonderful, luxury apartment, located in the peaceful residential resort of Ovacik; ideal as a second home or as an investment for summer rentals.

Browse our other Fethiye properties here.

Both Marmaris and Fethiye are the top summer destinations, with fantastic all inclusive resorts, beautiful beaches and a good deal of activities in both areas, such as historical finds, natural beauty, sporting activities and beautiful beaches. Both towns offer ferry access to the stunning Greek island of Rhodes. Just a short stroll around either Marmaris or Fethiye, not to mention other fantastic holiday spots along the coast between the two, and you will find tour companies who will arrange a day trip to Rhodes for you if you don’t want to do it alone.

Several ferries a day travel to Rhodes from both Marmaris and Fethiye, with passenger only options in addition to ferries that can accommodate vehicles. The journey time from Marmaris to Rhodes is about an hour and from Fethiye, approximately 90 minutes. Rhodes town is immediately accessible from the port, though you would need transport to explore the island any further. The city itself is home to numerous landmarks, many dating back to antiquity. The Grand Master’s Palace, a 15th century, medieval castle, is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece and the Acropolis of Rhodes, which dates back to the Classical Greek period is a partially reconstructed site which consists of the Temple of Apollo. Crossing cultures and religion, you can also visit the St Francis of Assisi Cathedral for a taste of Catholicism, or the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent for contrast.

Kuşadasi, Çeşme and Izmir

 To discover some lesser known of the Greek islands, visit the resort town of Kuşadası, just 95km south of Izmir, or Çeşme, 85km west of Izmir, where both coastal towns offer ferry transport into Greece. From Kuşadası, you can be on the island of Samos in just 80 minutes, arriving at the port of Vathi, the capital of the island. Çeşme will get you to the small, quiet island of Chios, famed for its Easter time Rocket Wars, in 70 minutes. Both islands are ideal for day trips or short overnight stays.

Both Turkish towns are holiday spots in their own rights, with Kuşadası catering to tourists arriving by land or by cruise ship to access the ancient city of Ephesus; one of Turkey’s top sights. The town has a beautiful seafront, decorated with traditional old Turkish houses, many converted into bars and cafes. The area also features several well-known beaches, including ‘Ladies Beach’, named so as historically, only women were allowed to swim there during the Ottoman Empire. Çeşme is the prized location of country houses and secondary residences for the well-to-do inhabitants of Izmir, and has been for over 100 years. Tourism has become a driving force in the area over the past 50 years. The town is known as the windsurfing and kite-surfing capital of Turkey and is the third best surfing resort in the world. Many surfing schools are located in Alaçatı, a nearby town, also host to a Surf Festival every year.

For investors, it is all about budget, sea view apartments in Kuşadası and as the area is so popular at the moment, there is a opportunity to buy off-plan, offering investors a chance to create a living space suited to them. Each of the apartments in this exclusive modern complex will house two bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, with spectacular panoramic views of the town and the Aegean sea. The communal facilities are fantastic, with an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, Turkish bath and a Cinema.

Properties in Kuşadası may be the lower price bracket in the region of Izmir, but investors with more capital can look to the town of Çeşme for the beach bums who love a piece of luxury. If you want to watch those surf festivals from the comfort of your very own home, you will need to spend around £1 million to acquire a private 4 bedroom villa with panoramic views of the sea below. When you’re not watching the windsurfers and water sports enthusiasts however, you can easily hop on a ferry to Chios in Greece as the seafront is just a 10 minute stroll away!

From Kuşadası you can travel to Samos in just 80 minutes. As with many of the Greek islands, Samos does have a thriving tourism trade, though the island is much quieter than others. Wine lovers will find paradise on Samos, as much of the island is covered in vineyards which grow the Muscat grape, producing the Samian wine, Muscat of Samos. From Çeşme, you are just over an hour from the Greek island of Chios, ferries run there four times a day during high season. Chios is famous for two reasons; mastic gum, used widely in Turkey in Turkish Delight and dondurma (Turkish ice-cream), and the Rocket Wars. Rocket Wars takes place once a year on Easter Saturday as a tradition which dates back to the Ottoman rule, when the Greeks of Chios would stage a battle to prevent the Turks from invading. Today, thousands of homemade rockets are fired from one church to another in remembrance.

If you are interested in taking advantage of the new ferry service to Lesbos, then the city of Izmir is where you should looking to invest and buyers will be pleasantly surprised by the affordable prices. A modern, 2 bedroom, luxury, designer apartment in the city could only set you back by around £90,000!

 

 

Tolga Ertukel founder of Turkey Homes says ‘’ Turkey’s Aegean coast line is absolutely stunning. You can explore miles of sandy beaches and sail around the bays of this magnificent country. There is also variety of choice for property buyers in Aegean coast whether your taste is budget apartments in Fethiye or modern luxury villas of Bodrum with stunning sea views. Something for everyone in Turkey.’’

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