TURKEY: Alaçatı, beauty through a crowded view
Our trip to the Urla was a perfect day outing. The summer season and crowds are starting to flow into the more coastal areas. So, knowing this, we headed to the Urla Artichoke Festival super early to beat the crowds. After a few hours of exploring all the festival had to offer and still time left in the day, we decided to pop over to popular, colorful little town of Alaçatı.
Funny enough, Alaçatı use to be just a passerby town for foreigners as they made their way to the more attractive Çesme beaches. Over time, this quiet little town with its’ crystal clear beaches has come to grow in popularity – with boths foreigners and Turks alike. Ironically enough, most people don’t come here for the beautiful beaches, but they spend most of their time getting lost in the town center a couple of kilometers inland. As well, every spring the town host the Alaçatı Herb Festival, and tour buses of people are brought in (even from Istanbul!) to experience this.
Once a Greek town, the Aegean city of Alaçatı is situated on the western coast of Turkey south of Izmir. Before the Balkan wars, vineyards use to be the popular income, but after the “Greece/Turkey exchange agreement” in 1923 when the Greeks and Turks move back to their ‘homelands’, tobacco and livestock took its turn. Over time the tobacco industry died out in the area just in time for windsurfing to start becoming popular in the 1990s.
The town is know as the ‘home of wind god’ and is a perfect location for windmills and its windsurfing. The town itself showcases unique architecture made of the local Alaçatı stone and colorfully painted, flowering shops and restaurants are the major appeal for tourist and photographers alike. The historic old town is full of narrow winding streets which are mostly pedestrians only, even though a few cars and mopeds tend make their way through.
Our experience of Alçatı was enchanting as well but the crowds made the city seem less magical (it always does that to a place, right?). After meandering the local handicraft shops and boutique, we found ourselves at a little shaded patio of the Julio’s cafe where we enjoy a basket of fries and 2 turkish coffee. In Turkey, there is no pressure to move on from a restaurant after you finish your order. So we enjoyed the time to just rest and chat about the area. Just across from the cafe is an old church converted into a mosque. While it doesn’t seem like much from the outside, behind the large curtained wall is a pristine, beautifully ornate Greek Orthodox altar complete with intact pictures of holy saints. It is VERY rare that mosque keep pieces of old churches like this! Definitely check it out if you go.
On our way out of town, we drove through the area of town near the water. Finding a quick, perfect parking spot, we hopped out to enjoy a peek of the sea at Küçük Plaj or small beach. We had heard the water was beautiful, but we truly could not get over how transparent the crystal blue waters were. Even though it the water was a little chilly, the hot day was a great balance for those enjoying an afternoon sunbathing by the sea. For us, it was a perfect sight to finish our outing for the day!
If you would like to travel here, I have a few tips for you:
- Rent a car for a day or weekend: There are buses that go out to this area, but if you are like us and live on the north side of Izmir, it is worth your time to travel by car!
- If you are living locally, come during the off-season: Izmir is such a sunny state. Even though the weather will be chilly, the sun still gives you the beauty of the city like it looks in the summer.
- Stay a night or two in one of the many cozy hotels:You can only eat so much in a day. We didn’t even try any of the restaurants in our short time there. Come and enjoy a few local dining options.
- During the summer, come during the week if possible: If you only come for the day, start early! Spending a couple of nights during the week will give you a more enjoyable time exploring everything this town has to offer.
- Enjoy the beach: Our time was just too short, but if we had come earlier in the day, we would have enjoyed a quick dip in the sea like everyone else there!
Hope you also travel to Alaçatı in the future! Iyi yolculuklar! Good travels!
For Turkey readers:
Have you traveled to Alaçatı before? What did you enjoy about the area? What suggestions do you have for our next trip out there?
For non-Turkey readers:
What do you think of this cute little town? Is it what you thought Turkey to look like? Does it reminds you another place you have visited before?