Day Trips on the Turkish Aegean Coast

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Day Trips on the Turkish Aegean Coast

Turkey’s western coastline stretches from the seaside town of Marmaris, where the Aegean sea meets with the Mediterranean, all the way north to Canakkale on the banks of the Dardanelles. The mountainous coastline is scattered with small towns and bustling seaside resorts that were once quiet fishing villages, most visitors choose to base themselves in either the southwestern party capital Bodrum, the modern city of Izmir, to the north, or in Kusadasi, located in the centre of the Aegean coast, from where there are plenty of day trips to make throughout your holiday.

Traditional Towns

Once upon a time Selcuk was just a small farming town with a lively weekly market only 18 km from the Aegean Sea. Thanks to its location this small rural town has become a tourist hotspot and gateway for Ephesus day tours, with hundreds passing through its cobblestone streets every day. The town is filled with Ottoman architecture, traditional restaurants and souvenir stores. Despite this Selcuk has found a happy balance between tourist town and rural village and most businesses and guesthouses are locally owned and family run. The town also has a few of it’s own attractions, like a steam locomotive and old ploughs rusting away on the side streets. On the hilltop overlooking the town is a Seljuk-Ottoman castle and the surrounding area hosts various early Christian landmarks like the St John’s Basilica and the mysterious Cave of the Seven Sleepers.

Wine and Dine

Connected by bus or tour to Kusadasi on the Aegean Coast, Sirince is a quiet mountain village, originally inhabited by Orthodox Greeks. The charming village is now a comfortable mix of Turkish and Greek culture and while most of the houses still boast brightly painted blue doors and windows, the inside layout and decor is generally Turkish. Along the streets you can find local women selling handmade crafts, olive oil and homemade jams and honeys but the main reason to visit the Village of Sirince is to taste some delicious fruity wines and Aegean cuisine in one of the small terrace cafes and relax in the peaceful mountain scenery.

Connect with Nature

The Dilek Peninsula in Kusadasi was declared a national park in 1966, it covers an area of 277 square kilometres of mountainous terrain, filled with rich flora and fauna and thick green forests where wild boars roam and over 250 species of bird nest. Hiking trails lead to breathtaking panoramas before descending to 4 stunning coves and tranquil hamlets. 200 metres from the park entrance is Dilek Park’s main attraction, the Cave of Zeus, where you can swim into the refreshingly cool, royal blue waters. During the summer the park fills up with families and weekend campers, while on weekdays the pebble beaches are fairly empty. Many choose to visit the park on an adrenaline filled jeep safari day tour from Kusadasi.

Breakfast by the Lake

Rarely visited by international tourists, Bafa Lake sits between the 5 Brothers Mountain Range, offering a refreshing retreat from the humidity of the Aegean coast during the hot summer months. Local lakeside cafes overhang the water and make for picturesque locations to stop and enjoy a traditional village breakfast of fresh fruits, tomatoes, cucumber, green and black olives, cheeses, cold cuts, pastries and homemade jams, accompanied by a glass of black tea or freshly squeezed orange or pomegranate juice. Once you’ve filled up on breakfast you can spent the day exploring the village, or hop in a kayak and paddle about the lake. Lake Bafa is also only a half hour drive from the seaside town of Didim where you can visit the Greek Temple of Apollo.

Thermal Pools and Natural Wonders

A few hours drive from the coast is one of Turkey’s most famous natural phenomenons, from looking at pictures you might think that the hillside springs of Pamukkale are coated in thick layers of snow, but the travertine pools actually take their colour from the pure calcium minerals present in the rock. The unique site clings to the edge of a valley with warm waters cascading over natural terraces as people bath in the mineral rich baths. Below this natural wonder is an old roman entrance way leading to the one great spa city of Hierapolis. Built around 2,000 years ago the historic site is well preserved with a grand theatre, sacred spa pools and an extensive collection of artifacts inside a Roman bath house.

Ancient History

Perhaps the most popular day trip along the Aegean coast is to Ephesus, the 2nd largest city of the ancient world and former capital of Roman Asia. The city was once a prosperous trading town for both Greeks and Romans due to its proximity to the sea. Guided Ephesus tours leave from Selcuk and Kusadasi each day and to visit the colossal theatre and the marble column lined entrance way. The library is the best preserved building of Ephesus and a walk below the towering facade will certainly be a humbling experience. Around the edges of this large archeological site is the House of the Virgin Mary, where legends say the maid spent the last days of her life, and the derelict Temple of Artemis.

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