“You are living in Burhaniye? You know that here in Turkey we call Burhaniye the silent town because it’s so quiet and slow.”
The shop owner was not kidding. Quiet and slow are two adjectives which describe the town perfectly. I would also add in hospitable and traditional. And we like it that way.
When people ask us for advice for what to do in Turkey, our advice is simple. There are the big tourist spots that are not to be missed: Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Pamukkale. They are annoyingly touristy but for a very good reason – they are simply stunning, and worth every amount of praise they get.
But if that is all any tourist sees, then they haven’t really experienced Turkey. This incredible country has so much more to offer beyond the sights. There are so many charming people, colorful markets without vendors trying to rip you off, and giant, empty beaches just waiting to be enjoyed.
So break away from the sheep path and forge a new trail. There are plenty of options to get a real Turkish experience, and we’ll introduce you to ours, in a tiny western stretch along the coast of the Aegean.
This sleepy coastal town comes alive in the summer with Turkish (and some German) tourists. The boardwalk is the real draw, with plenty of seaside shops and restaurants to comfortably relax and watch the world stroll by.
Ören / Iskele / Burhaniye
If you are looking for a beach with a party, and more English spoken than Turkish, then Bodrum is your place. But if you are looking for a sleepy beach town, a gorgeous beach, and plenty of dining options, consider Ören. The town pretty much hibernates from October thru May, but on hot days the beach will still most likely be empty. Grab a couple of lemon Efes and spend the day soaking in the sun. At night, there are is one club in Iskele, or you can practice your Okey or Backgammon skills at many of the tea cafes along the waterfront.
And while Burhaniye itself may not be the prettiest town, it has plenty of Turkish charm and delicious food available (and the best chocolate baklava we’ve ever eaten), at a mere fraction of the price compared to the rest of Turkey.
The port town of Ayvalik might just be our favourite. It serves as an easy getaway to the neighbouring Greece via quick ferries to the island of Lesvos. On Thursdays, many Greeks and other tourists make a day trip over to take advantage of the relaxed but well stocked weekly market. And after a day of wandering through the maze of streets that house the market, there are many waterfront restaurants to enjoy an Efes and watching the fishing boats work in the harbour.
If ruins are your thing, you will most likely be visiting Ephesus on your grand tour. Nearby Bergama should really not be missed. While the ruins of Pergamum are not quite as stunning as Ephesus, the setting is, as they are high up the side of a hill and tower over the town below.
This is just one little slice of Turkey, there are so many other areas that we have yet to explore on another visit. If you are looking for more off-beat locations within Turkey, check out the following two blogs who have a great array of ideas:
Great article guys and thanks for the mention – I am yet to visit all these places. They are on my never ending bucket list. Read somewhere that you are on the move now?
Natalie recently posted..The Colourful Greek Island of Meis
I highly recommend Bozcaada! Beautiful little island where locals go too. Stay at the Aika hotel. We loved the flavour of the island and the beaches there are amazing.
Andrea recently posted..Reflections On Eight Years Abroad
Wow Andrea, we had never even heard of that place! So many great spots to discover in Turkey!
I would definitely hit Istanbul and then follow your advice to head south. Divine R-n-R, and as you point out, a great opportunity to experience a variety of Turkish life. Those views might make it difficult to get me to leave though 😀
Maria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Peru
And we haven’t ventured east yet at all, which is a whole other world as well. SO MUCH TO DO.
Oooo, love this! I love alternatives to the “usual” destinations. It’s been great learning about other parts of Turkey on your blog. Ayvalik looks awesome; I can see why it might be your favorite.
Amanda recently posted..Photo of the Week: Pittsburgh From Above
Ayvalik is very worth a visit, and there are very few tourists. Best combination!
I have recently been to Bergama, great place, not only the Pergamon but city itself as well.
Marysia @ My Travel Affairs recently posted..Friday Lens Affair #22
Yes! The ruins on their own are spectacular, but we really enjoyed our time in Bergama too. Such a cute little town and very friendly people.
I think I could live with the peace and quiet in Burhaniye, sounds like a great place to catch up on some zen inspired reflection! Love hearing about off the beaten path places that you find. Ayvalik looks so quaint perhaps I could find a little Zen there too!
Some people have told us that Burhaniye is one of the last truly “Turkish” towns. So, it’s got a lot going for it, really, even if it’s not the prettiest. 🙂
I am studying up on Turkey prior to our trip in September/Oct., and have a sticker on Ayvalik in my Lonely Planet. Sounds like our kind of place, and now you have confirmed it. As we make our way from Cannakale south, do you think local buses or a hire car would be best? Or bus it to a locale and then hire a car? I have heard the fuel price is 1 Euro 90.
budget jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday – Dunking in Granada is Messy
Hiring a car is very expensive, plus the pricey gas on top of it. There are plenty of good bus options and they are all really comfortable – some even have wi-fi and waiters in tuxes!! If you get on any bus from Cannakale to Izmir, they will all stop just outside Ayvalik. You should have lots of options for that during the day. And then once you get to Ayvalik, you could rent a car for the day to explore some of the other towns, although local transport can be just as easy as well. Once you get an idea of what all you want to do, feel free to send me a message and I can help you out with that.
Beautiful. I love the more off the beaten track locations where you dont have to be elbows out just to see a pretty sight.
Wonderful photos! Ayvalık and nearby Cunda Adası were 2 of my fav places along the Aegean as well. A year later and I still miss living in Turkey!