The Aegean Sea region is one of TÜRKİYE’s true highlights. It’s a fabled sea, home to incredible folklore and legend, to island landscapes and impressive coastlines. This is the sea that claimed its name, and the numerous islands and bays that speckle the storied waters, from the now-submerged mountain peaks of the former landmass that went by the name of Aegeis.
The best way to explore this region is to take to the waters for a veritable ‘blue voyage’. The longstanding history of this seafaring setup has paved the way for modern explorations and summer getaways. The routes through the bays – first travelled by intrepid early Europeans bridging relations between the bordering continents – are today primarily taken aboard gulets, traditional wooden boats purpose built for these waters. What better way to explore than by slipping into life at sea as you dip in between islands and explore hidden coves and coastlines.
On land, whitewashed houses make up beautiful villages where sea views take you back out to the turquoise waters. This region is home to a cornucopia of tastes from verdant vineyards, olive groves and abundant orchards. Stop in at a bay or find a spot on the mainland to toast the balmy nights at seafront trattorias where you can nestle your toes in the sand as the waves lap nearby and you enjoy the day’s freshest catch.
Highlights of this coastline include Alaçatı; a traditional Turkish town where a warren of narrow paths lead you through traditional architecture, windmills and vineyards. Alaçatı’s charm is boundless; it’s not difficult to understand why it’s known as the Pearl of TÜRKİYE. Towns including Datça, Marmaris and Bozburun equally entrance visitors to this captivating region. Further land-based adventures could also include the iconic Lycian Way long-distance walking trail which is the country’s number one hiking hotspot tracing this iconic sea.
UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites like Ephesus show just how the region has held importance for civilizations throughout the ages. This now-crumbling, former city is a fine example of a Roman port, whose scale and grandeur still impresses today. UNESCO has also acknowledged the significance of ancient sites such as Pergamon and Hierapolis. Elsewhere, fishing harbours pepper the coastline offering satisfying doses of the simple, seafront life and fishing traditions.
Whichever way you choose to discover the Aegean region, you’re guaranteed an adventure. This iconic area attracts those looking for the good things in life. In fact it’s been dubbed the ‘Coast of Happiness’ and it has long been a place to relish in the unadulterated forms of nature. It was, in fact, one of the region’s ancient philosophers, Thales of Miletos who was the first to claim that he observed nature objectively for the sake of curiosity, rather than to please the ancient gods.
This age-old practice continues today as the region attracts curious visitors drawn to explore, experience and appreciate this blissful setting. It seems the tone has been set for Aegean adventures and long may it continue.
With so many beautiful sites, natural and historical, preserving this enriching environment for the future is crucial. With this in mind, last year the Turkish government committed to working with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to accelerate and broaden sustainable practices around everything from accommodation and transport to food and drink, to ensure the protection of these places of interest for years and generations to come.
For more inspiring TÜRKİYE travel ideas, from so-cool city breaks to secret retreats and incredible adventures and experiences, visit Go Türkiye