The Aegean Sea is a stretch of water that lies between Greece and Turkey. It is a beautiful part of the Mediterranean area which is very popular for tourists from all over the world. The Greek islands probably get the most publicity, but you can have an equally good vacation on the Turkish side, and often pay a bit less for it as well.
The largest Turkish city in the area is Izmir, which now has a population of about 4 million – a big increase from its ancient beginnings as the city of Smyrna. With history going back thousands of years, there is plenty of interest to see around Izmir – the local transport system is pretty good, or you can simply take a walking tour of the city.
Walking along the promenade, the Kordon, you can admire the apartments and palm trees on one side, and the beautiful Aegean Sea on the other. If you want to do a bit of shopping, head for the Kemeralti bazaar, where you’ll find lots of great shops, coffee houses, and craftsmen. A perfect place to find some local souvenirs, and then take a breather and soak up the atmosphere.
Kusadasi is a little bit south of Izmir, which has become the second-busiest port for cruise liners in Turkey after Istanbul. One big reason for this is the amazing historical site of Ephesus, which is not far from Kusadasi. The ancient remains make the site a really interesting destination for a day trip, or several days if you’re very keen on your history. It is probably the best site for Roman remains in the whole of Turkey. Also near Kusadasi is the Greek island of Samos, and there are regular daily ferry services.
Carry on further south: Bodrum is a popular resort which is also the site of an ancient city – Halikarnassus, famous for the tomb of Mausolus. Bodrum has attractions for different types of visitors; the castle and the other monuments will interest those who like history; the marina will please the sailing enthusiasts; and the beach with its bars will satisfy people who want to just enjoy themselves in the sunshine. Bodrum also has many accommodation options from cheap B&Bs to Luxury hotels.
Obviously these coastal resorts are very busy during the summer, but you don’t have to go very far to find a bit of peace and quiet. Dilek Peninsula National Park is only 30km (19 miles) from Kusadasi, from where you can catch a bus. The peninsula has lush forests, rare animals, and some quiet beaches. There is no accomodation or legal camping in the Park, but it makes a wonderful day trip, and a nice break from the built-up resorts and busy beaches.
The local airports of the Turkish Aegean have flights from some European cities, but travelers from further away will usually arrive in Istanbul or Antalya. Istanbul is a 10 hour drive from Izmir, but if you have the time, it’s a great way to see a bit more of this fascinating country on the edge of Asia.