Introducing holidays to Cesme
If you want to go to Turkey but don’t want to take the UK along with you, then Cesme is certainly a place to check out. It’s got a real local character and is popular with Turkish holiday makers.
It’s right out at the western fringes of Turkey – the nearest Greek island, Chios, is just 8km away – and has a long maritime history. The magnificent Genoese castle is right on the seafront and you can look up at is as you stroll along a pretty seafront promenade. The town’s very good value for dining and entertainment.
People have been enjoying themselves here for millennia, and the local Roman amphitheatre still holds concert performances. There are other impressive ancient sites nearby, and the busy coastal city of Izmir, with its major-league bazaar is a bus trip away.
Or you can ignore the history and just lie back on some excellent local beaches, perhaps taking in some traditional thermal spring treatments.
Life’s a beach
You’ll soon be in the Mediterranean waters off Cesme, which is beach heaven, offering a number of excellent stretches of sand.
Alacati Beach is a collection of little coves, some of them served by smart beach clubs. A nearby windsurfing club makes the most of the Med breezes. Atinkum means “golden sands” and the beach of the same name lives up to the description and is definitely one explore while you’re in Cesme.
Aya Yorgi Beach has more in the way of facilities and is famous for its glamorous beach clubs. Boyalik Beach, too, is popular, particularly with the Izmir residents who have summer homes here.
The biggest and most famous of the city’s beaches is Ilica Beach. The clean, clear waters are fully in evidence, but you might want to bring a wind break with you. But shallow waters make for fun and safe swimming and surf that the kids will love diving into.
Take a quick trip out of town to Ildir, the modern name of the 3,000-year-old Ionian city of Erythrai. There’s beautiful coastline to enjoy along the way as you travel there. Although the ancient town has never been fully excavated, there are remnants and remains everywhere in what is now a pretty and quiet fishing village with summer homes and hotels fighting for the best sea views on the hills above the village.
You can’t avoid Cesme’s castle if you spend any time on the seafront. More than 500 years old, the castle is still in great condition, and after renovation is now one of the best examples of a surviving Ottoman castle. The two museums include good ancient and modern naval collections, but perhaps the views over the city are just as eye catching. You might spend an evening here if you call in during the Izmir Festival, which borrows the castle as a supremely atmospheric concert venue.
If you fancy a Greek adventure on your Turkish break hop onto one of the daily ferries for the short journey to Chios, just 8km out to sea. You’ll find everything you would expect on a Mediterranean island: pretty, white-painted towns, ancient and medieval history, and some very high-end mansions built by holidaying Greek aristocrats and local shipping tycoons. You’ll have plenty of chance to work your molars on the most famous local product, mastic, a gummy tree resin that has medical and industrial uses but is turned into tastier sweets and jams on its home island.