A hidden gem of the Izmir province in western Turkey, the Cesme Peninsula offers a different kind of Turkish vacation, away from the overcrowded beaches of the Mediterranean and the busy resorts of the southern Aegean. Few international tourists make their way here, which is lucky as the region is blessed with uncrowded pristine sandy beaches as well as friendly family run guesthouses, traditional restaurants and fantastic shopping. There’s even a Cesme to Chios Sakiz Ferry of you fancy a taste of Greece and Cesme has good transport connections to major sites and cities along Turkey’s Aegean Coast.
Explore the Town
The first thing to do in any new place it get out and start exploring and Cesme is a lovely place to take a stroll. The streets of the town centre are lined with pretty white or stone houses, many of which still pay tribute to their Greek heritage with bright blue doors and window frames. Among the streets you can find a range of traditional and modern restaurants as well as plenty of cafes and bars. For history buffs there is the Archeology museum with an impressive display of metal coins and marble busts. In the evening you can enjoy the pleasant vibe, with live music and colourfully lit bars.
Swim at the Beach
The beaches around the Cesme peninsular are known for their golden sands and clear turquoise waters. Altinkum Plaj is the closest to the town and is one of the finest beaches on the peninsula, while Cark Plaj has a shallow bay, perfect for families with young children. If you quickly get bored sunbathing then head to Alacati beach where windsurfers are out catching the breeze from sunrise to sunset. Or, for less tranquility and a little more party you could stop by one of private beach clubs at Piyade Cove.
Spend a Day at the Spa
Just 5 km from the centre of Cesme are the Sifne hot springs and mineral rich mud baths. Said to made your skin look 10 years younger, a visit to the natural pools is an excellent way to spend a day in the Cesme Peninsula. Legends say that the baths were found by an Ancient Greek King who was out hunting when he noticed a sick dog bathing in the mud, apparently upon leaving the bath the animal had completely recovered. The thermal waters are at a temperature of approximately 58℃, so you can rest your weary legs after exploring the area and feel refreshes as you stroll back to the beach for a swim.
Walk to the Castle
The hillside on the edge of Cesme town is a 16th century Ottoman fortress built under the rule of Sultan Bayezid II. It was repeatedly damaged in wars and raids but has now been restored to its former glory and you can explore the castle’s inner chambers and Ottoman tombs as well as visiting the two on-site museums which have over 450 ancient artifact and weapons from previous battles. In the hot summer months a visit to the castle is a great way to escape the heat and bustle of the town. Take a stroll to about the impressive castle grounds and climb to the top of the fortress for an outstanding 360 degree panorama over the Cesme Peninsula and Aegean sea.
Eat Delicious Foods
Aegean Cuisine is certainly some of the best in Turkey and Cesme has a good selection of traditional restaurants serving typical dishes and fresh seafood. The Cesme marina is filled with elegant restaurants and chic bars, or you could stop by one of the small locally owned cafes selling homemade traditional dishes, grilled meats and tasty soups or share some hot or cold mezes with your friends. And don’t leave Cesme without enjoying a traditional Turkish breakfast in one of the peninsula’s small villages. The delicious spread of fruit and veg, cheeses and cold meats, black and green olives, pastry’s, white bread and homemade jams and honey is sure to be one of the highlights of your holiday.
Shop at Markets and Boutique Stores
Alacati a cute Greek town on the Cesme Peninsula, known for its quaint stone houses, local wines and the lively Saturday market, where you can find anything from fresh spices to vibrant textiles, woven carpets, locally produced foods and a mix of real or fake designer clothes and handbags. Get there in time for the fresh fish auction and you can have a BBQ picnic on the town’s beach after. For souvenirs the streets of Cesme offer plenty of quirky shops with a couple of designer clothing and textiles stores hidden between the vibrant displays.
Cesme is only a stone’s throw from the Greek island of Chios and regular ferries travel between the two every day throughout the summer and regularly throughout the winter. You can book ferry tickets and check times online with Alaturka Turkey or pop to the harbour office in Cesme. Theres plenty of beautiful beaches on Chios Island but if you fancy a day away from the sand you can take a bus to the Byzantine villages of Anavatos and Avgogyma, visit medieval towns or Genovese settlements like Kampos and don’t miss the 11th century Byzantine Monastery, Nea Moni, before hopping on a ferry back to Cesme.