The claw-like mass of land that extends west from İzmir, the Çeşme peninsula, terminates near Çeşme itself, the least touristed and most relaxing of the central Aegean’s main coastal resorts. A one-hour bus ride from İzmir, it makes a decent base for the few attractions within shouting distance of town – most notably ancient Erythrae, the hip town of Alaçatı and Altınkum beach.
The immediate environs of Çeşme are green and hilly, with added colour from the deeply aquamarine sea and the white of the wind turbines on the approach to the peninsula. The climate here is noticeably drier, cooler and healthier than anywhere nearby on the Turkish coast, especially in comparison with occasionally hellish İzmir or muggy Kuşadası. These conditions, combined with the presence of several thermal springs, have made the peninsula a popular resort for over a century.Read More
The architecturally stunning old Greek village of ALAÇATI is one of the most upmarket locales on the Aegean coast. With an undeniably Mediterranean air, it’s one of those places that makes you question whether you’re still in Turkey at all – the lone call to prayer is heeded by next to no one, while cafés, shops and wine bars run a brisk trade. However, this is no Brit-packed beach resort. Most of it is manifestly inland, for a start, while the overwhelming majority of visitors are Turkish – mainly cosmopolitan, moneyed sorts from İstanbul and İzmir, who pop by on weekend trips.
Things have changed considerably since 2001, when Alaçatı was just another charming peninsular village. Then one of the town’s old stone houses opened up as a swish designer hotel. Within a few years it had spawned a dozen tasteful imitators, and a similar number of gourmet restaurants. There are now something like 150 hotels and 50 restaurants, and numbers are still growing; however, strict building regulations have ensured the rapid growth has had little effect on Alaçatı’s architectural character. Its old lanes and cobbled streets, particularly on the main thoroughfare, Kemalpaşa Caddesi, are dotted with antique shops, art galleries and snazzy boutiques selling designer goods.
Most visitors head to the town’s 300m-long sandy beach, 4km south, to take advantage of unique windsurfing and kiteboarding conditions. The strong, reliable “Meltemi” wind, combined with shallow water and lack of waves, makes the bay ideal for learners.