Assos - Adatepe - Edremit - Ayvalık - Cunda - Bergama
We are in Assos, a peaceful town of Ayvalık, on the north of Türkiye’s Aegean region, south of Çanakkale. Assos is an old settlement with plenty of oxygen and natural wonders dating back to the Bronze Age. Aristotle, in fact, chose Assos to establish his school of philosophy. Assos is an earthly paradise by virtue of its geography, history, and cuisine!
An Aegean breakfast with lots of herbs and fresh vegetables will be waiting for you at the start of the day. Then, you can spend your day lying on golden sand and swimming in the turquoise waters. Kadırga Cove is a popular destination in Assos for sunbathing and swimming.
Seafood is a must for dinner. Following an afternoon snack of midye dolma (fresh mussels stuffed with rice), you can choose grilled octopus for dinner. There is no doubt that you will find the freshest octopus in Assos. A walk after dinner can be accompanied by delicious local ice cream.
Local attractions not to be missed are the ancient city of Assos, which is like an open-air museum, the ancient harbor, and the narrow streets of the village of Behramkale that are filled with historical houses.
Let's leave Assos and stop by the village of Adatepe, located a few miles east. Adatepe is a small Aegean village, famous for its historical stone houses, at the foothills of Kazdağları (Mount Ida). At the Adatepe Olive Oil Museum you can learn all about olive oil production that has been flourishing in the region for almost a century, and you can taste fresh olive oil. You should also try Aegean herbs cooked and/or served with locally produced extra virgin olive oil.
We leave Çanakkale Province for the province of Balıkesir. Our first destination is Edremit which is at the tip of a gulf with the same name (Gulf of Edremit). It is located between Assos and Ayvalık. Edremit faces the bay with its back lying on Kazdağları. In ancient times it was known as Pidasus and Adramis.
The local cuisine is extremely healthy with lots of Aegean herbs and fresh vegetables which are served throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Green herbs served with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers form the basis of a typical breakfast in Edremit. Local Ezine peyniri (white cheese) served with the olives and olive oil of the region is a staple of local breakfasts.
Before lunch, we recommend relaxing at the Güre and Derman Thermal Springs. Or, perhaps spending some time at the golden beaches, swimming and sunbathing.
There are many options for lunch. Ot kavurma, local herbs sautéed in olive oil, is a very special dish which showcases the taste of the fresh olive oil. You can have kıymalı semizotu (fresh purslane cooked with minced meat) as a healthy and filling main course. The local dish börülce (cowpeas) can be enjoyed both as a salad and a main dish. Şevketibostan (Cnicus benedictus, St. Benedict’s thistle) is an endemic plant of the Aegean region which is not easy to taste elsewhere.
We have two recommendations for places to visit before dinner. The first is Hasanboğuldu and Sütüven Waterfalls, and the second is Şahindere Canyon in Kazdağları National Park.
What about dinner in a small, chic restaurant in Edremit? We recommend arapsaçı (fennel) cooked with lamb. If you’re not a fan of herbs, you can try saçaklı mantı, a local specialty made with fresh noodles and shredded chicken. You have two options for dessert: zerde, a type of rice pudding with saffron, or höşmerim, a typical dessert of the region made with fresh cheese.
Our next destinations are Ayvalık and Cunda Island. Ayvalık is a quiet holiday destination on the southwest of Edremit Bay. The town has all the characteristics of an Aegean town: a quiet and clean sea, Blue Flag beaches, dinners with lots of mezes... Yet, what comes to most people’s minds when we they hear “Ayvalık” is Ayvalık tostu. This special toast is a combination of local cured meats such as sucuk, sausage, and salami, pickles, and other fillings. The hearty toast can be eaten for lunch, dinner, or as a snack.
Cunda Island, or Alibey Island, is a small village a few minutes’ drive from Ayvalık and promises you an unforgettable dinner. There is a great variety of alcoholic drinks to choose from depending on the meal, but rakı is different! Rakı is the star of the table - that is to say, the meal is to be chosen to be paired with rakı. Rakı is generally served with fish and mezes. Cunda is the ideal, much preferred location for “rakı sofrası” (rakı table).
Papalina, also known as sprat, lives exclusively in this region. That's why its best friend is rakı! Papalina does not keep company with many foods but rakı does. Mezes are usually prepared with fresh Aegean herbs and/or vegetables. Lots of mezes, prepared daily, will be waiting for you in local restaurants called “meyhanes” in Cunda.
You should spare a few days for Ayvalık and Cunda. Some places not to miss for swimming and sunbathing are Sarımsaklı Beach, Badavut Coast, and Ortunç Cove. You will need half a day to visit Ayazma Church and Aya Nikola Churchin Ayvalık. And of course, the sunset... You should watch the stunning sunset in Ayvalık at least once in your life!
For our last destination on this route, we are going a bit south. We are on the northern part of Aegean coast in Bergama.
Bergama, formerly known as Pergamum is İzmir’s 1st, Türkiye’s 13th, and the world's 999th UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pergamum was a very important cultural center in antiquity and was the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamum. Numerous well-preserved structures and sites from the past survive: the Pergamum Acropolis, the Sanctuary of Asklepius, the Red Basilica (known in Turkish as “Kızıl Avlu”)… The Bergama Museum houses many of the findings from the excavation around Bergama.
Not to be missed is Tukey’s longest-running outdoor market area Bergama Arasta (Ottoman Bazaar). A team which gathered on Atatürk’s order for promoting Bergama re-established this historical bazaar in 1937 and made it famous in the whole country.
The district north of İzmir has a rich history and cuisine. In fact, there is a meatball named after this district: Bergama köftesi. You can try it - for lunch or for dinner – at the small restaurants in Bergama. Do not forget to order piyaz (white bean salad with onion, parsley, and sumac) and ayran to accompany your meal!
Another famous dish in Bergama is patlıcan çığırtma - eggplants cooked over a low heat with a generous amount of fresh tomatoes and local olive oil. Patlıcan çığırtma is generally preferred for dinner.
At a typical breakfast here, Bergama tulumu has the place of honor. This unique cheese, mostly made of ewe's milk and aged in sheepskin sack, is known and consumed all around Türkiye. You can find the best tulum in Bergama – make sure to enjoy it at breakfast alongside fresh vegetables and herbs, and a hot cup of Turkish tea!
- Ancient city and harbor of Assos
- Narrow streets of the village of Behramkale
- Adatepe Olive Oil Museum
- Hasanboğuldu and Sütüven Waterfalls
- Kazdağları National Park
- Şahindere Canyon
- Sunset in Ayvalık
- Sarımsaklı Beach
- Ancient city of Pergamum (Bergama)
- Local Aegean herbs (şevketibostan, semizotu, arapsaçı, etc.)
- Fresh octopus
- Local Aegean olive oil
- Local cheeses (Ezine beyaz peyniri, Bergama tulumu)
- Various mezes in Cunda
- Ayvalık tostu
- Bergama köftesi
- Patlıcan çığırtma
- Fresh air and abundant oxygen at Kazdağları (Mount Ida)
- The anise flavor of rakı
- Extra virgin Aegean olive oil
- Golden sand and turquoise sea at the local Blue Flag beaches
- Hot healing waters of Güre and Derman Thermal Springs in Edremit
- The silence at the beaches of Assos
- The stories about philosophy and history in Assos
- Rakı culture in Cunda and Ayvalık
- The story of the Bergama Arasta
İzmir – Urla – Çeşme –Alaçatı
İzmir, Türkiye’s third-largest city and one of its most popular tourist attractions, is the meeting point of the historical and modern Aegean lifestyles. Urla and Alaçatı are touristic towns in İzmir Province, and reflect all of the cultural and historical richness of the city. This rich background can be seen in İzmir cuisine as well.
İzmir cuisine highlights simple, healthy, plant- and vegetable-based dishes which are mainly cooked with extra virgin olive oil. The local organic farms grow mouthwatering produce that are natural immune boosters and feature in all local dishes.
The region’s cuisine showcases a variety of herbs, grapes, and wines, different types of cheeses, fresh fish, and seafood.
Typical fish and seafood dishes include grilled seabass, grilled sea bream, grilled grouper, seabass cooked in salt, stuffed mussels, fried mussels, grilled octopus, grilled calamari, fried calamari, stuffed squid, scorpionfish soup, smoked fish, balık pastırması (cured fish) and kipper.
When you stroll down the streets of İzmir, you’re sure to come across a round pastry sold on the streets and in shops. Boyoz is a traditional pastry consumed as an on-the-go breakfast, usually with a hard-boiled egg, generously sprinkled with black pepper. If you wish to have a typical İzmir breakfast during your visit, the menu is simple but extremely delicious: boyoz, eggs, and tea. Boyoz is usually made plain, without the addition of meat, cheese, or spinach filling, and is cooked by a handful of master boyoz bakers.
İzmir lokması is an incredibly tasty and well-known dessert that you should definitely try in its hometown. These deep-fried dumplings are soaked in plenty of syrup and can be found at every corner downtown. Another typical calorie bomb you should taste is İzmir şambalisi, a semolina-based cake drenched in sugar syrup and usually sold by street vendors.
In the evening and especially at sunset, walking by the sea along İzmir’s promenade, known as the “Kordon,” is a very popular local activity. Eating fresh midye dolma (stuffed mussels) with a cold beer is a great idea!
After enjoying the nightlife in İzmir, kelle söğüş is the best option to end the night. Kelle söğüş is boiled mutton’s head, seasoned with red and black pepper and cumin, and garnished with tomatoes.
Apart from all these culinary treats, there’re many places to visit in İzmir. You should start with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pergamum and Ephesus. İzmir, known at the time as “Smyrna,” was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation and hosted many important centers of early Christianity. The House of the Virgin Mary is located on the slopes of Bülbüldağ, just a few kilometers from Ephesus.
Located 40 km west of İzmir, Urla hosts the bays where the turquoise sea of İzmir is the calmest. It is a frequent destination for gourmets!
Urla is famous for the Urla Karası grape and in the local vineyards you can experience delicacies paired with wonderful local wines. You should also visit fine dining restaurants with “farm-to-table” concepts. Urla is especially known for dishes prepared with local herbs and Urla artichokes.
The first olive oil production facility of Anatolia is located in Urla. The olive oil ateliers in the ancient Ionic city of Klazomenai stand witness to the beginning of the tradition of producing quality olive oil in Urla - a tradition that continues to this day.
Now, it’s time to head to the western and most touristic district of İzmir - Çeşme.
The chic restaurants in Port Alaçatı are the perfect destination for a delicious dinner. After your meal, as you walk along Çeşme’s and Alaçatı’s narrow streets, don’t return to your hotel before tasting sakızlı dondurma (gum mastic ice cream).
Kumru, consumed generally as a snack, is typically associated with the province of Çeşme. It is a toasted sandwich prepared with artisanal bread and filled with kaşar cheese (which is typically griddled before it’s placed in the bread), spicy sausage known as sucuk, and tomatoes.
Alaçatı is the windsurf center of Türkiye - windsurfing opportunities abound here! Also, make sure to visit to Altınkum and Pırlanta Beaches and to touch their golden sand.
- Ancient city of Ephesus
- Ancient city of Pergamum
- The House of the Virgin Mary
- İzmir şambalisi
- İzmir lokması
- Fresh seafood
- Midye dolma
- Kelle söğüş
- Urla Karası wine
- Sakızlı dondurma
- Lemon and tangerine blossoms
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Magnolias and daffodils
- Şevketibostan (Cnicus benedictus, St. Benedict's thistle)
- The wind of Alaçatı
- The golden sand of the Blue Flag beaches
- The soothing sounds of the sea
- The healing water of the hot springs