10 Cute Little Towns in Turkey
Located nearby Kusadasi (26 KM) and Izmir (88 KM), Sirince is a big tourist destination to the visitors of Ephesus ancient city, the house of Virgin Mary and people who want to escape form the bustling Izmir city to take a weekend break. Sirince; along with Bugarach; was believed to survive from the 2012 armageddon and hosted thousands of tourists from all over the world. Majority were Turks from neighboring villages, nothing have happened obviously but the village has lived the most crowded day and night of its history. The village was heavily populated by the Greeks before the population exchange in 1923. Most of the houses were abandoned until a bloke started a restoration and a reconstruction process who became the first boutique hotelier in the village. Inspiring the others, more people converted their properties into hotels and created a small touristy but still cute little environment located very close to the tourist hubs like Port of Kusadasi or Izmir city. Cute little hotels, wine houses, souvenir shops and restaurants are scattered among the narrow streets of the village await you for a cool escape after crawling through the ancient city of Ephesus and The House of Virgin Mary.
Formerly called as Sinassos, the village Mustafapasa shares the same destiny with Sirince and many other Anatolian villages and towns; population exchange. The only good thing that population exchange left behind is the architecture and culture of the Greeks once used to live in those places. The Greek culture is so heavy that still, villagers of Cappadocia living in Cappadocia and Greece are calling the village Sinassos. The village named the accent the Greeks speak in Greece today and in the second Sunday of May, led by the Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch of Istanbul. The village is located 75 KM away from Kayseri and 55 KM away from Nevsehir airports and a stone throw away from many touristic towns and spots of Cappadocia. Because of the location, local restaurants are serving beautiful food to the tourists passing by the town on their way to the Underground city of Kaymakli or Soganli Valley. The village has a few churches located in or nearby the village which makes it possible for a day to spend on foot there. You can easily fit the village to your Cappadocia itinerary and have a very good Turkish Food. Apart from the activities you can do around the town, it is also peaceful and quiet unlike many touristic destinations of Cappadocia so just walking around will be a relaxing journey into the heritage of the Greeks because the town has very good preserved examples of Greek Architecture which makes the character of the village Mustafasa or Sinassos!
Meaning full of saffron, Safranbolu town saffron up anything there. Food, delights, desserts and syrups come with saffron which makes you feel that it is the cheapest spice in the area but it is not. Turkish saffron is among the most expensive spices in the world and please don't confuse it with the Iranian saffron available in Turkish Market. Saffron industry and the other fertile areas located around Safranbolu created a wealthy society whose wealth and intricacy of architecture is seen in the old city of Safranbolu today. Mansions located in the old city are converted to tourist hubs one by one and being a member of UNESCO, the town hosts thousands of tourists every year filling the streets of the small shopping quarters. Located 5 hours away from Istanbul and 2,5 hours away from Ankara, Safranbolu is flocked by local tourists as well as the big bus groups driving from Istanbul to Ankara since it is just 1 hour away from the Istanbul-Ankara highway. With the Republic of Turkey and the investments in iron and steel industry in the neighboring city of Karabuk, Safranbolu was able to preserve her Ottoman Heritage and protect herself from rapid development which contributed a lot to the authentic atmosphere the town has.
A village where 70 year old women fish and still knit and repair fishing nets. Golyazi village is located 45 minutes away from agricultural and industrial city Bursa and 3,5 hours away from Canakkale city which is by the Hellespont; the Dardanelles. Because of the location, the village is hard to put to itineraries of Turkey but if you have Bursa and Gallipoli in the same time, you can find a way to insert it to your program. The village has monumental trees, fishing people from 7 to 77, amazing views over the Ulubat lake and 350 years old Greek houses reflecting the north Anatolian Greek architecture. The waters of the lake Ulubat changes seasonally but not daily so don’t be surprised when you see the island bigger in the summer season. The village was a small weekend escape destination for the people in Bursa but with the biennials made in 2006 and some European Union funded projects, the village started to appear in the national press informing the wanderers of her existence. While some older generation is not really comfortable with the crowd they are not used to see around the village, people are friendly and tourism supports their economy. With the planned investments, the village looks like it is going to be a hot spot for more biennials, cultural activities and more...
Located 1,5 hours away from Antalya city, the village Cirali is full of beachfront pensions and hotels. The village also shares her coast with Olympos which is just another world famous destination of Turkey. Because of her location, the village hosts thousands of walking passionates every year. The world famous Lycian Way starts from this cute little village attracting a lot of hikers from all over the world. It is a quiet, peaceful land warm place to rest before or after a long journey over the ancient paths of the people once used to live in the South Western coastline of Turkey. The hotels and pensions are within all budgets but offer same type of service in the end which is a clean and tidy air conditioned room and a wide space to do nothing! Tree houses, tents, caravans are located all over the place during the summer and the weekend breakers from the city of Antalya. The village is located nearby the ancient city of Olympos and the final resting place of the Mythological fire-breathing creature called Chimera. Bellerophon using the advantage of Pegasus has killed the monster and it rests under the rocks of Taurus Mountains. If you climb up hundreds of steps especially at night you can see the fiery fire breath of Chimera still suffering underneath the earth and grill Turkish sausages companied by cold beer or white wine :)
Iskilip is a small interesting town located an hour away from Corum city, 3 hours from Ankara and 1,5 hours away from Hattusa; another UNESCO heritage site of Turkey. It is an agricultural and salt mine area surrounded by forests. The weather is dry but warm enough except the winter making her accessible all year around. The name of the town comes from Asclepius; god of medicine in the Old Greek Mythology. The village is similar to many central Anatolian cities regarding the people, customs, kitchen and agriculture. However the medieval look of the city is unique in Turkey since a small part of the town is located right in the medieval castle which was built many times since it was deconstructed by wars and earthquakes during the history. The town is famous for its Iskilip Dolmasi. Even though dolma meaning stuffed dominates the name, the food is not served stuffed to anything but get the name from the preparations. The rice is stuffed into a small bag and cooked over the steam of the meat cooking underneath which absorbs the flavor and smell of the beautiful Anatolian meat. Considered a regular meat and rice meal but iskilip dolma deserves more respect just because of the process and a it is highly recommended by us if you ever end up in Iskilip.
The photo may remind you the small towns located in Austria or Switzerland and always reminded me chocolates during my childhood. I was very surprised when i learnt that it is actually located in Turkey. Camlihemsin is located 3 hours away from Trabzon city which is accessible from many cities of Turkey with a 1 hour flight. The town is located in the National Park of Kackar Mountains. Walking, camping, hiking, trekking, off-road and climbing passionates are visiting the national park unfortunately for 2 months of the year because of the unforgiving weather conditions except July and August. However; Camlihemsin is accessible all year around and a nice relaxing area away from the crowd, noise, pollution and it is green. You will be satisfied to all types of Green after a couple of nights in Camlihemsin in the spring or summer. People are friendly, food is amazing and the air is so clean that you will never want to leave. The wooden houses, views of the recreational areas located around the city are so different that after a long East Anatolian tour you do not believe that you are in Turkey.
Ayvalik is a small old Greek town located bythe Aegean waters with spectacular views to the Greek island of Lesbos. It is located 3 hours away from Canakkale and only an hour away from Bergama city making it easily fixable to Aegean coast itineraries. Cunda Island is now connected to the mainland with a bridge and full of old Greek houses still used by the local Turks. Bell towers make the skyline of the city along with the minarets which is a proof of tolerance of Anatolian people. Because of the nature of the Aegean coastline, there are many inaccessible bays that are nice stops if you take any daily boat cruise from the port of Ayvalik departing everyday in summer. The city is also a tourist destination to the people living by the big cities such as Balikesir, Bursa, Canakkale, Izmir and Manisa but peaceful as well when you get seated to a waterfront fish restaurant. Ayvalik town is also a big olive and olive oil producer which has the best extra virgin olive oil of Republic of Turkey and please don't miss the Olive oil museum located in town and some boutique olive oil producers selling different olive products. It is a little bit expensive for oil producers like my family but nothing compared to the prices in developed countries markets. You can also find most of the must-try street foods of Turkey as you wander in the streets of Ayvalik so give them a chance.
Midyat is a small city of touristic Mardin cityand is now getting her fair share form South East Anatolian tourism. Located onlyan hour away from Mardin, she is not missed by the tourists wandering in the East Anatolia. Mountains of the East Anatolia start folding up as you leave the plains of Midyat behind. The town is the melting pot of languages and religions.Culture of the Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Assyriacs are well blended in Midyat town. The volcanic stones of the region were carved perfectly and used to build the medieval looking like houses which are used as hotels, cafes, restaurants and by movie producers. Recent TV shows in the area made the town even more famous encouraging the ancient wine and filigree production. Many small shops in Midyat are full of beautiful handcrafts of the people whose ancestors have been living in that geography for more than 2 millenniums. The active Assyrian monasteries and beautiful examples of civil engineering are the must-see sites of the city along with the Assyrian kitchen which is embellished by pomegranate seeds and caper; all quiet profound in the region.
Selimiye is a small fishing town located in a very small bay of the Aegean Sea. It is just an hour from Marmaris and 2 hours from Dalaman airport making it easily accessible to the tourists travelling in the South West coast of Turkey. Calm waters of the village make a perfect shelter to the gullets which are traditional wooden yachts of the Aegean communities used for trade in between the islands in the past but today they are all refit and chartered by peace seeking tourists coming from big cities. Right after the embark, you can easily sail in to the calm waters of the Aegean sea and look for a quiet and peaceful bay to rest with your family or friends. The town itself is very peaceful as well with restaurants located nearby the water, cozy pensions and hotels. There are many foreigners as well living in Selimiye so don't be surprised to hear multiple languages and consider them all tourists :) as you wander in the village.
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