The Aegean coast of Turkey stretches alongside the West of the country. Encompassing many civilizations throughout history, it is not only abundant in historical ruins but also with places of natural beauty. A road trip of this region is ideal due to the intense work made by the government in recent years to improve driving conditions and ease traveling times through motorways and toll roads.
The following list of places is a planned route from the North West to the South West. Ideally start with a visit to the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, to spend four days exploring the historical Byzantine and Ottoman sites and then pick up a car to continue south.
Touring the Aegean Coast of Turkey
Opt for an overnight stay in the region of Canakkale to see two of their major attractions, the ruins of Troy and Gallipoli Beach. The first is a UNESCO World Heritage site and in the town centre, there is a replica of the wooden horse of Troy. Gallipoli beach is a major destination every April for New Zealanders and Australians in particular. As the site of a major battle in 1918, it is now also called Anzac Cove.
Drive down the coastal roads, touring small villages before choosing one on the Izmir peninsula to stay overnight in. Cesme, Foca, and Alacati are typically Mediterranean and close to the ruins of Pergamon, once an important city of the Lycian empire and Ionian league. Adults as well as children will also enjoy Izmir Nature Wild Life Park, a collection of animals from around the world.
An hour and a half drive away is the cosmopolitan resort of Kusadasi, a good base for two nights. This location is close to the majestic and grand ruins of Ephesus, the second largest city of the Roman Empire. Its history is steeped in Christianity and further in the green tumbling hills of neighbouring Selcuk, is the house of the Virgin Mary, believed to be her last resting place.
Sirince Wine Making Village is an hour’s drive away. Freed slaves from the nearby city of Ephesus started this old Greek village, many centuries ago. These days, it concentrates on making the countrywide renowned brand of Sirince wine and local handicrafts as well. Good walking shoes are needed and non-drivers can sample wine as they walk around the village.
You can either continue your stay in Kusadasi or move further down the resort to Didim / Altinkum to see the ruins of ancient ruins of Miletos, Priene and the temple of Apollo. Also on the agenda should be Dilek National Park, full of hiking trials, beaches, and places of natural beauty. On the outskirts is the old Greek village of Doganbey. There are also many fish restaurants in the area, serving fresh catch of the day.
Finish your tour by moving to the Bodrum peninsula. A stay in the town centre will ensure you are close to landmarks such as the castle and underwater museum of archaeology. Alternatively, there are many smaller holiday resorts such as Gumbet or Turgutreis. This peninsula is well known for its vibrant orange sunsets.
The airport is half an hour’s drive away, where you can leave the rental car before catching your flight home. Source tours and travel deals from Turkey Travel Centre here.