Picturesque Towns in Turkey : Filled with stunning natural beauty, from tranquil beaches to dramatic mountains, and an array of well-preserved architecture, Turkey is one of the most extraordinary countries to visit. Ever thought about what Turkey has to offer aside from its famous seaside resorts and the colorful Istanbul? With the country slowly regenerating its tourism after a few turbulent political years, it is now considered ‘generally safe’ to visit these culturally rich lands. However, be sure to read the news on a regular basis when planning a trip in Turkey. In this post we decided to cover some unmissable towns and villages in Turkey. From ‘slow cities’ and all the way to quaint fishing ports, here are some breathtaking places where you can get away when visiting Turkey outside Istanbul.
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.
Eski Doğanbey (Map)
Eski Doğanbey lies on the beautiful Dilek Peninsula, a national park between the Turkish cities of Didim and Kuşadası. The peninsula is a trekkers’ and nature lovers’ paradise that combines some rare Mediterranean fauna and flora with valleys, canyons, and deserted beaches. This truly is a slice of paradise. And amidst all this stunning natural beauty, you’ll find Eski Doğanbey, perched on a hill on the southern side of this peninsula. Eski Doğanbey used to be Greek, which makes sense if you look at the style of the buildings and knowing how close-by the Greek island of Samos is. If you’re into quaint and typical villages, then put this one on your list! It makes a perfect day trip from Bodrum or Kuşadası. You won’t be disappointed, we promise!
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.
Birgi, you’ve probably never heard of it. And yet here we are claiming this may well be one of the prettiest villages in Turkey. Technically speaking, Birgi isn’t a village, it’s a small town not too far away from Ödemiş in the province of Izmir, but it has the feel of a quaint and an authentic Turkish village. If you’re into off the beaten path experiences, Ottoman houses, lovely settings, and great weekend-getaways in Turkey, then add Birgi to your list. We promise you won’t regret it! This is why. The collection of authentic Ottoman houses in Birgi is astonishing! Birgi has a rich history thanks to its location along the famous Silk Road. Its name comes from the medieval Greek word Pyrgion, which means little tower. It has been home to Phrygian, Lydian, Persian, Pergamon, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations. Despite that history, at the end of the 20th century, it seemed as if the beautiful old houses of Birgi were about to fall apart after having been neglected for too long. But, just in time, people started to acknowledge the potential and the beauty of this little town and restored a few houses. Plenty followed after that, making today’s Birgi a delightful place to spend a few days.
Cunda Island (Map)
Nowadays, plenty of old and dilapidated Greek buildings have been restored, and the island is full of joy and life, nothing short of the celebration of the Aegean lifestyle, if there is such a thing. This is a tourist destination with a growing interest and popularity each year. As always, these things are good news and bad news. Good, because a growing amount of visitors bring in the funds to restore the town to its former beauty. Bad news, because too many tourists are known to take the soul out of a community. In the case of Cunda, the town’s seafront is slowly succumbing to the ever-changing demands of tourists, but to those who make an effort to look beyond the glam of the newest hotspots, awaits a fabulous island with a generous mixture of untouched nature, fascinating architecture, inviting little streets and corners, and relatively untouched settlements. For many, the town itself is the big draw to flock to Cunda on a beautiful day. It’s easy to see why. The seafront is dotted with cafés and restaurants, ice-cream salons, and boats awaiting passengers to tour around the nearby islands. One could easily spend a few hours whiling away the day just taking in the views whilst enjoying a deep-fried ice cream. But then the backstreets start calling you. They are mostly narrow and inviting, lined with stunning houses and quirky shops. This town is a buzzing sea of color, day and night.
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.
Why would one want to look for an alternative for Alaçatı, you may ask? Isn’t it almost perfect? Quaint, excellent wining and dining options, close to the sea and Izmir? Yes, it is. But so is Sığacık (or Sigacik if you do not have a Turkish keyboard), in fact, Sigacik has a few things that Alaçatı doesn’t have, or has no longer. This is a seaside Cittaslow village, where life follows a different pace. And while locals will say it is turning into a tourist destination, this is still a village where you can get a great dose of authenticity served with a healthy splash of facilities that tourists (and travelers) love, such as nice restaurants, and quirky little shops. In short, if you like pretty villages near the sea, you will love Sığacık.
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…
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.
A lot of you may never have heard of this town in the Denizli province, little over half an hour by car from world-famous Pamukkale. This industrialized town hides a lovely and very authentic old-town, where the beats of the loom are in harmony with the rhythm of life. The town is famous for its handwoven fabrics, a tradition that has been kept alive since before the Ottoman times. Appearances can be deceiving. That certainly applies to your first impression of Buldan. Upon arrival, it seems as if this town has little to offer as a travel destination. On display are unappealing streets with vale-colored concrete buildings, but the only way is up! Literally, in the case of Buldan, as the more you drive up towards the old city center, the more you get the feeling that something more promising awaits. It starts when you hit the commercial heart of town, and shops showcasing the fabric & cloth products that gave this town its century-old fame surround you. Clothes, peştemals, and all kinds of other robes and gowns create a vibrant and colorful wave of fabric that dances in the wind. This is where your Buldan journey begins.
Kaleköy is a settlement in the Antalya Province of Turkey, neighboring the Mediterranean coast and only accessible by sea. The place is home to a vast archeological site dating back to the Lycians. Built in the Middle Ages, the Byzantine Castle which overlooks the village once protected the inner streets from angry pirates. Today the fortress houses a small theater sculpted into rock formations and offers mesmerizing views of the region. Boat tours in the region head to the nearby island of Kekova, unraveling more historic ruins. Snorkeling in the area is a must.
If you travel 100 km west of Ankara you run into the village of Beypazari. The settlement was a point of great importance not only during ancient times, but also during the Ottoman Period. Today this entire district is known to produce 60% of the carrot production for the entire country. Moreover, the small town is famous for its silver work and high-quality mineral water. From a touristic point of view, this town is sought out for its rich history, gorgeous and well-kept architectural heritage and its proximity to Ankara.
Formerly called as Sinassos, the village Mustafapasa shares the same destiny like 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!
Ormana is a quiet village in the outskirts of the Antalya Altınbeşik Cave National Park. This village is the perfect base for hikers, as it is surrounded by the epic hiking trails of the Taurus Way and far-reaching mountain views. But those are not the main draw for most Ormana visitors. It’s the village’s beautifully restored button houses that are the principal attraction here. Button houses are traditional Ottoman buildings with an architectural ingeniousness. The skeletons of the button houses (or ‘düğmeli evleri’ in Turkish) are compiled with durable cedar or juniper wood from trees from the Taurus Mountains combined with stone piles. These traditional and historic houses for the İbradı area are usually two-story stone homes. They’re called button houses by the locals because the visible part of the wooden beams on the facade looks like a button. Whatever their name, they give Ormana a warm an authentic vibe.