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Turkey’s Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Alaçati is a Turkish town with a Greek history that today blurs the boundaries of both. It’s a popular place for both tourists and locals to enjoy lazy days by the beach and busy nights in the bars and restaurants that line the cobbled streets. This way of life appeals to us…We loved Alaçati and will definitely return.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Greece or Turkey?

 

History explains the conflict…

In the 1830’s a well known Turkish family reached out to the Greek families on nearby Chios Island whose homes and livelihoods had been destroyed by earthquakes and offered them work in the vineyards and olive farms. Alaçati was built on a swamp and malaria was thriving in these conditions, so the Greeks also helped build a channel to drain the swamp.

The workers set up a town…Alaçati, and built the traditional Greek stone houses that still remain today. With its fertile soils producing excellent vineyards and great wines, the town became and important trading centre and flourished until after the Balkan War in 1914 when Bosnian and Albanian immigrants came to Alaçati.  The Greeks started to leave.  In 1923 a formal ‘exchange agreement’ was signed returning the Turkish Muslims in Greece to Turkey and the Orthodox Greeks in Turkey to Greece.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Wooden houses, blue shutters and trailing bougainvillea in Alaçati

 

What to do in Alaçati

Explore the town

As you walk around the town, you really do feel as though you are in Greece. The old stone houses have been beautifully restored. Painted shutters and doors are covered in rambling bright coloured bougainvillea. Many of the homes have been converted to hotels whilst others are now trendy boutiques, bars and cafes.

Explore the side streets that run off Kemal Pasa Street, the main street of the town that is home to many of these bars and restaurants. Wander up to the 19th century windmills that overlook the town.

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Kamal Pasa Street…The main street of Alaçti.

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Painted windows and doors in Alaçati

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turn into the street just before this coffee shop to head to the Haci Memis area.

 

At the Town Square turn into the side street and head towards the mosque. Follow the winding street on the right hand side that will take you past two of Alacati’s best restaurants and into the Haci Memis Quarter. The old wooden homes and stone buildings have been restored and are now fabulous antique shops, interesting boutiques and busy cafes and bars.

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Dinner at Asmi Yapragi is a must!

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Loved this fabulous antique shop..Eskiden

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Aliçati’s boys club!

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Cobbled street in the Haci Memis area of Aliçati

 

At night, the streets that were quiet during the day are busy. There’s a party atmosphere in town as people head to the bars and restaurants that spill onto the street.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

One of the many bars in the town

 

The Saturday Market

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Every Saturday the farmers market comes to town. Vendors come from far and wide bringing their locally grown produce to town. It’s large market. It takes over several streets in the town. The produce is some of the freshest produce I have seen, with sellers spending time proudly displaying their wares.  I watched one vendor as he hand polished each tomato and stacked it neatly on display. There’s also a textiles and clothing market at the back of the market but it is the fresh produce that most come for.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati    Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

The fish market

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

The daily fish auction is fun to see. Fish caught overnight are bought to the market and expertly sorted into parcels of approximately one kilogram. These numbered lots are then auctioned off to the highest bidder. Go about 10.30 am to catch the action!

 

Go Windsurfing

Alaçati has been the home of windsurfing since the nineties and is now one of the most important windsurfing centres in the world. The strong winds that prevail here have bought windsurfers of all abilities to its shores. Don’t worry about bringing your board to Alaçati, windsurfers can be hired and lessons taken.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

The beaches

Being in the centre of the Cesme Peninsula, Alaçati is surrounded by the water. Its beaches are all are within easy reach. To the north is the sandy, Ilica Beach whilst beach clubs are found along the southern shores. Our favourite was Klum Beach Club where clear waters and a beautiful sandy beach encourage you to lounge all day on bean bags or rent a shaded waterfront bed.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Klum Beach Club

 

Wine tasting at Urla

The Cesme Peninsula has become an important wine producing area again returning to the days when the Greek workers were cultivating the land. One winery not far from Alaçati is Urla Sarapcilik Winery, a stunning modern winery that produces award winning bio dynamic wines.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

The discovery of vineyards over 1000 years old on his property motivated owner Can Ortabas to establish his own vineyards. Today Urla Sarapcilik Winery is one of the leading vineyards in Turkey.  The winery is a beautiful modern building with an ultra modern production plant. There is even a two room hotel in the building with stunning views over the vineyard.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

 

Visit Ephesus

You may be heading down the coast but if not, a visit to Ephesus is not out of the question….you could be there in just under two hours! If this is your only chance to see this UNESCO listed site, you may want to take it! It took us about two hours to see the sights without a guide. Don’t miss seeing the Terraced Houses which require a separate payment. For us, they were the highlight of Ephesus.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Celcus Library at Ephesus

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

The Terraced Houses

 

Where to Eat

Two restaurants stand out from the crowd, both showcasing the fabulous produce that we saw at the markets but in different ways.

Asma Yapragi

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

The display of fresh produce sitting on a table outside the restaurant is more than enough to tempt you inside but the if you’ve done your research on eating in Alaçati you will also know that this is one of the best restaurants in town. We popped into make a booking and wanted to stay. Fresh local greens, peppers and eggplants were being chopped and diced….I couldn’t wait to try the dishes they were being cooked.

That night as we sat in the courtyard garden, the anticipation grew. I didn’t realise that we would be returning to the kitchen to choose our entree from the fabulous selection of meze dishes that now covered the table. Traditional cooking at its best.

Even though this was a meal in itself, once I had seen and smelt the slow cooked lamb, I knew I had to try it. I was not disappointed! A superb meal.

My only disappointment that was they were booked out for the following nights were were in Alacati. The restaurant is very popular, especially in summer so make sure you make a reservation well ahead of time.

Asma Yapragi Web Site

 

Agrilia

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Agrilia may be the historical name of Alaçati but the food here is both modern and inventive. There is a strong Italian influence in the dishes by chef Melih Teksen.

The courtyard setting is romantic, the food sensational. My pasta dish took me back to Italy but the fig dessert was pure Turkey. You can’t beat the taste of Turkish figs!

Agrilia Web Site

 

Babushka

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Table at Babushka. Photo used with permission from Babushka.

Since our visit to Alaçati, there is a third restaurant that I’d like to let you know about. Chef Olga Irez and her husband Özgür have opened a restaurant called Babushka. I met Olga and Özgür at Özgur’s family home in Sapanca where we spent a week with them and photographer David Hagerman visiting the local markets, cooking and experiencing her delicious food. Olga is an avid fan of using the fresh local ingredients and I’m sure the food at their restaurant is just as good.

Babushka Web Site

 

Where to stay

Tas Otel

The first of the boutique hotels, the Tas Otel opened its doors in 2001 and now there are over 100 hotels in the area.

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

Turkey's Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

The Tas Otel is still one of the best. Staying in this small boutique hotel is like staying in a private home. Infact this 120 year old stone building was once a private mansion. A peaceful garden surrounds the pool and the outdoor tables are the perfect place to sit and enjoy the afternoon tradition of tea and freshly made cake. The cakes are famous and all feature in the beautiful cook book that is waiting for you in your room. They were the reason I was back at the hotel by 5!
Tas Otel

 

Do you have a special town you’d like to go back to? I’d love to hear where it is! 

 

Other posts you may enjoy reading:
The Secret of finding the Best Turkish Small Hotels
Highlights of our Turkey Road Trip
Istanbul for the First Time Visitor
What to do in Istanbul 

 

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20 Responses to Turkey’s Aegean Hideaway: Your Guide to Alaçati

  1. Cornelia Weber-Pourmand May 11, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    What a lovely town, so inviting and colorful, makes me wanting to be there right now, because you have captured it’s atmosphere so well. I just went through all your posts from India, they are just amazing. Since I just have been in India for my first time all my wonderful memories connected with your images and stories

    • Jenny Freedman June 2, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

      Thank you Cornelia. Alacati is indeed a wonderful town. India is a wonderful country. I’m glad you enjoyed your time there.India gets under your skin and you can easily find yourself returning time and time again as I have! You’ve reminded me that I need to get back there again myself!

  2. budget jan May 11, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    This is a timely post for me. I have been avidly reading Turkish travel memoir e-books this week and am in a Turkish frame of mind. The streets of Alacati (I’ve not been there) look familiar to me. I think it is a mixture of Ayvalik and Bozcaada Island and Cunda Island (Klum Beach Club) that resonate with me. The meze sound delicious. I follow Olga’s blog and have read of her thoughts on combining foods – I didn’t realise she was who you met up with in Sapanca! I’ve just informed Marty I want to return to Turkey!

    • Jenny Freedman June 2, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

      Turkey is always on my mind too Jan! Though both Alacati and Ayvalik have a similar history, Alacati is more ‘trendy’ than Ayvalik…fabulous restaurants, winebars and boutiques. We loved Ayvalik but it was definitely more low key in comparison.
      Yes, small world isn’t it! I’d love to go back and eat at Olga’s restaurant…I know if would be great!

  3. Athena May 12, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Nice! I think you covered everything ! Turkey is beautiful country and the Aegean side of it. Alacati it is..

    • Jenny Freedman September 5, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

      Thanks Athena. We’re looking forward to returning to Alacati as soon as we can.

  4. Jackie Smith May 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

    Well, let me second what Jan just wrote – however, the street scenes do put me in mind of Greek villages we’ve visited. I, too, want to return to Turkey and that antiques store is calling my name loud and clear!

    • Jenny Freedman June 2, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

      These towns have so much Greek history Jackie that I’m not surprised they remind you of other Greek villages. The antique shop is fabulous! I can see many of their things in your Greek house!!

  5. Turkey's For Life May 13, 2016 at 1:43 am #

    Great set of photos. We were hoping to get to the herb festival there this year but we had family visiting in Fethiye so hopefully we’ll make it next year. The streets remind me of the old area of Alsancak in the city centre of Izmir but guess they would – not too far away. 🙂 We also follow Olga’s blog, too, so would be good if we could catch up with her when we do finally make it here. Lovely post. 🙂
    Julia

    • Jenny Freedman June 2, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

      Thanks Julia. I haven’t been to Izmir yet but I must remember to explore Alsanack when I do. The market was fabulous so I can imagine the fun you would have at the herb festival. Say hi to Olga for me when you do go!

  6. Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun May 14, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

    Fascinating history, lovely architecture, and delicious food – this is exactly the sort I place I like to visit! Will be filing this one away for future reference.

    I’d love to return to Sibenik, Croatia. I only spent half a day there but it was one of my favorite stops of the trip!

    • Jenny Freedman June 2, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

      This is definitely one town worth remembering for when you make it to Turkey’s western coast Heather!It’s interesting that you chose Sibernik. We only had a quick visit there but it was not enough to make us return. Maybe we do have to go back…I wonder what we missed!

  7. Karen (Back Road Journal) May 29, 2016 at 5:09 am #

    It is so beautiful…wish I could stroll down those streets as you have done.

    • Jenny Freedman June 2, 2016 at 11:12 pm #

      Thank you Karen. Alacati is a wonderful town for walking around..so much to see! We loved our time there and wouldn’t hesitate to return.

  8. Daphne June 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

    Amazing, so so beautiful. I am so ashamed to say I had a completely different image of Turkey! It looks like a nicer version of Greece 😉 Is the food there excessively spicy though? I am extremely sensitive and had some major difficulties on my travels to Asia and the middle east. What’s wrong with those people? 🙂

    BR – Daphne, a fellow travel blogger

    • Jenny Freedman June 24, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      This is Turkey on the Aegean coast Daphne which is very different to other places in Turkey. It is a very special town. Like anywhere in the world, Turkish food can be spicy…it’s in their culture to use spices but it is not chilli hot…just tasty! You just have to watch what you order.

  9. Jo June 24, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    The winding streets of Alacati, the food, wine bars, sultry nights turning into magical nightlife with streets lit up and restaurants abuzz – you’ve set my mind buzzing on how we can get to Turkey soon to discover more places like this 🙂 Your photos do it great justice and this is a fabulous comprehensive guide to book mark for the future 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman July 4, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

      Thanks Jo. Alacati was a real surprise to us….we will definitely return. I know you would love it!

  10. Sandy August 20, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

    So very pretty. I fell in love with Greece & Turkey but I remember on both sides they’d exclaim aloud if I said something looked like the arts & crafts of the other land. That was funny ‘coz they did. 🙂 Though I love Ouzo a lil bit more than Raki. Ouzo was milder perhaps. Love the street pictures you’ve posted.

    • Jenny Freedman September 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

      Thanks Sandy. Thankfully, at the moment, it’s a friendly rivalery! They’re the same about food arguing as to which county it was originally from!

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