Think calm relaxing thoughts when touring the Cittaslows, known as ‘slow cities’, you can discover the heart of nature, organic food, tranquillity and the chance to live like a local and retrace many historical steps of the ancient civilisations that left their footprints in Anatolia.
Natural, organic, slow and refreshing…
Together with Gökçeada, Foça, Seferihisar, Yenipazar, Akyaka and Köyceğiz, the Aegean Region of Türkiye is home to 6 villages and towns that suit the slow pace of life and where one can comfortably settle in peace and quiet along the route. And in these Cittalows, you can really just sit back and enjoy “the good life.”
Firstly, we take a ferry and are surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, Türkiye’s largest island is a stunning, tranquil gem. The spectacular Gökçeada offers a beautiful coastal charm that exudes a sense of impeccable serenity and as you walk about, you will realise you are sharing the island with a few goats. It is also the world’s first Cittaslow Island.
From the first underwater national park in Türkiye to the numerous pristine beaches, the island is a treasure trove of panoramas with steely sea cliffs and green hills.
The island’s historical culture can be seen in the quiet streets and bustling meyhanes and tavernas. After observing a little marine life in their natural habitat, you can step into the island’s historic villages, take in the healthy properties of Salt Lake, and view the impressive Cape Kaşkaval the stacked cheese-like rock formation, the island is a must if you are seeking nostalgia, nature, easy-going water sports and the tranquil Cittaslow lifestyle.
Further south lies the old town of Foça, with historic streets and charming beaches. Famous for spotting the Mediterranean monk seal. From the streets lined with picturesque old houses and numerous natural beauties to a romantic sunset view, courtesy of a short climb up Phrygian Hill. If you have a fondness for literature, you can also step out of the pages to the Siren Rocks, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.
Crossing the gulf of İzmir and we eventually arrive at Seferihisar, a beautiful coastal town, and the first Cittaslows in Türkiye. There are many attractions in the area, for a little peaceful excursion, Sığacık in Seferihisar offers colourful, photogenic bay window homes and the organic Sığacık Pazarı (open market) where you can taste local specialities and buy locally made products and not forget the home-grown delicious Clementines.
Seferihisar is also home to Teos, where the Temple of Dionysus stood, Dionysus was known as the god of the grape harvest and winemaking. Teos is also one of the most important ancient cities in Türkiye.
Further out into the foothills lies Yenipazar, in the heart of the Büyük Menderes Valley, and at the foot of Madran Baba mountain.
There are chances for you to taste Yenipazar’s famous Pide, among other things, and particularly, the ancient city of Orthosia, for a chance to delve into its history, the sarcophagi and burial chambers in the city’s necropolis are outstanding examples of the artistry of this period.
The next stop is Akyaka, a small fishing village in the Gökova Gulf. It is one of the quietest towns in Türkiye, with sea, sand, sun, and serenity. For an unusual and enchanting watery experience, you should visit the Azmak, a large underground river that rises to the surface in Akyaka.
A boat trip on the Azmak River through the village gives you the perfect opportunity to see frogs, dragonflies, turtles, and a variety of birds, and the chance for a cool refreshing swimming experience.
Finally, Köyceğiz is a quiet picturesque town, which welcomes you with the sweet smell of citrus, known for its natural surroundings and beautiful tectonic lake. There are many activities to help you unwind and relax, like sailing across the beautiful lake, at a leisurely pace. The tranquil Lake Köyceğiz is one of the largest lakes in the Aegean region. For nature lovers, Köyceğiz is home to many endemic animal and plant species such as Caretta carattas (loggerhead sea turtles) in Dalyan, nile turtles, kingfishers, herons, pine, and eucalyptus forests.
When passing through Köyceğiz, a stroll through Ekincik Bay, considered one of the most beautiful bays in Türkiye is a perfect photo opportunity; you can also visit the pristine Sığla Forests as well as the ancient city of Kaunos.
Worth A Detour
Enjoy the magic of the Aegean Sea and the beach life of Foça, chill and take in the surf and sun from Hanedan Beach, Sazlıca Beaches, Çanak Bay and Voodoo Beach.
Take an incredible boat trip on Lake Köyceğiz accompanied by the perfume of orange blossoms and sweetgum trees, and views of Mountain Sandras.
Seferihisar is the tangerine capital of Türkiye. Each year in November, it welcomes the tangerine season with the Tangerine Festival. Many mouthwatering delicacies made of tangerines are available to taste at the festival.
Try to visit Urla, in 20 km distance to Seferihisar, which is one of the most enticing destinations with its ever-developing viticulture. You can visit the local vineyards in which, the ancient Urla Karası, considered a lost grape variety in the region, has been reintroduced in the local vineyards. Foça Karası and Gaydura, other old and extinct grapes unique to these lands were reproduced and brought back from extinction.
One of the places one must visit in Yenipazar is the Aşağı Dip Lake Nature Park. The park has a viewing terrace, fishing platforms, a bird-watching tower, and hiking trails. While enjoying the silence of nature, you can have a small picnic, fish, and observe the ducks, rails, and various other birds from the bird-watching tower.
The Aegean and Mediterranean waters have excellent wind maps for surfing. If you want to surf and spend your remaining holiday time to the fullest, you are at the right place. Gökçeada is one of the top destinations for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Many of these Cittaslow towns are also members of the Slow Food network. Visit Earth Markets, in, Gökçeada, and Foça. Earth Markets in Türkiye are helping to combat the impact of climate change and protect heirloom seeds, promote organic agriculture, and boost the gastronomic supply chain.
Try cycling routes in Seferihisar. Seferihisar and Teos Marina are a paradise for yacht and surf lovers.
Enjoy sports activities like scuba diving, windsurfing, trekking, biking, and water sports at Gökova Bay
You can reach Cleopatra Island by boat tours departing from Akyaka and also visit the ancient city of Kedrai, which dates back to the 6th century BCE.