The central and southern Aegean coast and its hinterland have seen foreign tourism longer than any other part of Turkey. The territory between modern İzmir and Marmaris corresponds to the bulk of ancient Ionia, and just about all of old Caria, and contains a concentration of Classical Greek, Hellenistic and Roman antiquities unrivalled in Turkey. Ephesus is usually first on everyone’s list, but the understated charms of exquisitely positioned sites such as Priene and Labranda hold at least as much appeal. Of course, most of the visitors who come here are drawn especially by the beaches – Kuşadası, Bodrum and Marmaris are among the largest resorts in the whole of Turkey. Bursting with cruise passengers and package tourists they may be, but they remain nonetheless rather likeable places. Independent travellers may prefer to seek more secluded sections of coast: the resort of Çeşme is certainly not overblown, the Datça peninsula is unspoiled and quite spectacular, while the towns and villages on the Çeşme, Bodrum and Hisarönü peninsulas are highly popular with moneyed locals.

There’s plenty to see once you get away from the coast, too. Sprawling İzmir, the third-largest city in Turkey, is an earthy city that attracts almost no foreign visitors, while little Selçuk, though it’s most famed as the jumping-off point for Ephesus, is a delightful place in its own right. The even smaller settlements of Muğla and Birgi are unselfconscious Ottoman museum-towns, while both Alaçatı and Şirince are well-preserved former Greek villages that remain just the right side of tweeness. For much of the time in this region, it’s the extraordinary quality of the landscape itself that provides the attraction, and often it can be utterly compelling – take a look at the eerie lake of Bafa Gölü, or the otherworldly travertine terraces that surround the hot springs of Pamukkale.

If you’ve been travelling in other parts of Turkey, the Aegean area’s high accommodation prices may come as an unpleasant surprise – rates at the coastal resorts go through the roof in summer, though inland (including İzmir, Selçuk and Pamukkale) you can find budget rooms at any time of year. As for Aegean cuisine, it’s unusual in placing far less emphasis on meat, and far more on fresh herbs and vegetables.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Turkey features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Reconsidering Turkey: why the time to go is now

Reconsidering Turkey: why the time to go is now

Turkey is the most accessible of the Middle Eastern nations. A natural land bridge, it connects the eastern part of Europe to the Caucasus, and the viridian Bl…

09 Apr 2018 • Marco Ferrarese
Middle East and North Africa: 10 spectacular sights off the beaten track

Middle East and North Africa: 10 spectacular sights off the beaten track

The Middle East and North Africa have plenty of world-famous attractions – Petra and the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and the souks of Marrakesh, the mi…

27 Mar 2018 • Gavin Thomas
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs