Weekend Break: Charming Alaçatı

  • A
  • A
  • A
  • A

Alaçatı has long been a popular destination for windsurfers, but in recent years the town’s abundant charms have also helped transform it into a major tourist destination. This is certainly one of the most tasteful towns in all of Turkey, with its narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, their wooden shutters painted various shades of blue and green, and a wealth of upscale shops and restaurants.

 

Located on the Çeşme peninsula, less than an hour from Izmir airport, Alaçatı’s star has risen as a tourist destination over the past decade. The town was originally settled by Greek migrants from nearby islands in the 1800s, who were brought over to drain the swamps in order to curb the spread of malaria. These Greeks settlers called the town “Agrilia”, and established vineyards and grape-processing factories. Many Muslims from Thessaloniki also settled here following the population exchange in the 1920s. However, most of the old stone buildings were eventually abandoned, and the town became an under-developed backwater.

 

This all changed with the opening of the Taş Hotel in 2001, which took an old crumbling Greek home and turned it into an upmarket boutique hotel. This project was a great success, and since then many others have followed suit. Today you will find dozens of boutique hotels housed in both new and renovated buildings. Many of the newer and slightly larger hotels are located on the outskirts of town, just a short walk from the center. They often have swimming pools, exposed stone walls, and lovely courtyard gardens. Alaçatı hotels are famed for their delicious breakfast spreads, which include tomatoes, olives, local cheeses, honey and clotted cream, homemade jams, and a selection of fresh breads and pastries.

 

Unlike many other resort towns in Turkey, Alaçatı is not flooded with foreign tourists. The area is a bit pricier than other popular tourist destinations, as it is not aimed at low-end packaged tourists, but at those who are looking for quality and are willing to pay for it. The majority of visitors are well-heeled Turks, mostly from Istanbul and Izmir. They come here either for a weekend getaway or for the entire summer.  Many new holiday homes have also been built to accommodate this demand. That said, some discerning foreign tourists have recently started to discover Alaçatı.

 

Although it gets very hot here during the summer months, the constant wind, for which the city is known, keeps things cool. Of course, one of the main draws remains the Alaçatı beach, which is located in a small bay about four kilometers from town, and is a great place for both windsurfing experts and novices. There is a sandbar that extends some 700 meters out from the shore, creating a shallow shoreline, so even if you’re not a confident swimmer, you can easily learn to windsurf here. A wide range of equipment is available for rent, with professional instructors on hand.

 

Nearby Çeşme is known for its beaches as well as its castle, and now has a sparkling new marina. For those who are not interested in windsurfing and just want to enjoy the water, Ilıca beach in Çeşme makes for an ideal day-trip. Unlike most beaches in Turkey, the color of the water here is light aqua, with fine white sand.

 

Alaçatı has such a relaxed vibe that you could easily while away many days or weeks here enjoying the fresh air, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and the town’s simple and unpretentious style. Alaçatı has much of the best that Turkey has to offer, all wrapped up in one tasteful and charming little package. 

 

Where To Eat

In terms of restaurants, foodies will be spoiled for choice, as the standards in Alaçatı are very high. One of the oldest restaurants in town is Café Agrilia. Housed in an old tobacco factory, this local favorite serves well-executed Mediterranean dishes with a strong Italian influence in an elegant and romantic setting. 1005 Sokak No. 68, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 85 94

  

More like an adorable home than a restaurant, Asma Yaprağı’s blue and white xterior with lace curtains and a homey little kitchen with the day’s specialties written on a chalkboard make for a sincere and delicious meal. On the menu are home-cooked classics like köfte, Aegean style moussaka, oven baked pasta with Aegean herbs and pumpkin and much more. Now that it also has a garden there is more space to enjoy the specialties and comfy vibe. Tokoğlu Mahallesi 1005 Sokak No.50, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 01 78

 

For more of a fine dining experience, the modern glass and steel façade of Alancha speak of the modernity of its menu. Owner Kemal Demirasal’s aim to bring innovation to the Turkish kitchen manifest most perfectly through the confluence of the region’s freshest ingredients and imagination. The secluded location and unique presentation of dishes create an all-round original experience. Demirasal’s other endeavor, Barbun is another marriage of traditional Aegean ingredients and recipes using modern gastronomy techniques with impressive results, including edible flowers that add unprecedented color to the meal. Alancha: Tokoğlu Mahallesi 1036 Sokak No.1 Değirmen Dağ Mevkii, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 83 07 & Barbun: 1001 Sokak No.5 Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 83 08

 

Café culture is satiatedat Dutlu Kahvesi, a cool hideaway under the shade of trees where the Dutlu Katmer (flaky pastry with mulberry) is somewhat legendary. Köşe Kahve is a quaint little stop in all white serving such favorites as lemon meringue and lemonade to the joy of locals and visitors alike. Dutlu Kahvesi: 2001 Sokak No.85, Alaçatı & Köşe Kahve: 1001 Sokak, Alaçatı

 

Dalyan Restaurant Cevat’ın Yeri is a local favorite situated on a pier with boats anchored just a step away from the outdoor seating area. Fresh fish and meze are the word. Liman Caddesi No.161, Çeşme; T: (0232) 724 7045

 

Pla’Ceis the latest addition to the restaurant circuit and also serves seafood dishes under a green roof of vines and chandeliers in its beautiful garden. Tokoğlu Mahallesi 1044 Sokak No.4 Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 86 26

 

For something sweet head to İmren Helva Tatlı Evifor its sakızlı muhallebi (mastic pudding) and mastic ice cream. More sweetness, specifically in the form of mastic ice cream, must be tried at Veli Usta. İmren Helva Tatlı Evi: Tokoğlu Mahallesi, Kemalpaşa Caddesi No.65, Çeşme; T: (0232) 716 83 56 & Veli Usta: Uğur Mumcu Caddesi No.1, Çeşme; T: (0232) 716 08 80

 

A Bit of a Drive (But Well Worth It)

If you are up for driving to the nearby town of Urla, then make sure to spend an evening at Yengeç Restaurant located by the pier. Everything from the large array of meze to the fresh grilled fish is simply excellent, although because of this the restaurant is extremely popular and requires reservations. Limaniçi No. 8 (Urla Iskele), Urla; T: (0232) 752 05 85 

 

Where To Stay

Alavya Otel offers guests six different houses with 25 different rooms abiding to a natural Aegean aesthetic with a modern flair. The hotel’s main restaurant Mitu begins the day with a breakfast buffet that presents the freshest ingredients and recipes of the region, and continues until the late hours of the evening. Yeni Mecidiye Mahallesi 3005 Sokak No.6, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 66 32

 

A renovated 120 year old Greek mansion greets guests as Taş Otel with rooms whose simplicity is much welcomed by city dwellers. Take a dip in the pool or make a trip to the nearby beaches, but make sure to enjoy the breakfast with homemade jams, olives from the hotel’s own garden, and eggs brought specially from the nearest village. Kemalpaşa Caddesi 132 Yeni Mecidiye Mahallesi, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 77 72

 

A renovated Greek house with a garden of mulberry, mandarin, and lemon trees, awaits guests at İncirliev, which gets its name from its protected fig tree. Have your breakfast in the garden including more than 30 kinds of homemade marmalades and local and seasonal fruits, cheeses, olives, and more. Yeni Mecidiye Mahallesi 3074 Sokak No.3, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 03 53

 

Housed in a beautiful renovated stone structure, Bey Evi Alaçatı offers 15 different rooms designed in minimal white. The lobby and garden bar (with a pool) exude more color with potted plants, antique carpets, and unique decorative objects. Start the day with a specially prepared breakfast and enjoy being close to all of Alaçatı’s main attractions without the crowds. Yeni Mecidiye Mahallesi Kemalpaşa Caddesi No.126, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 80 85

 

Located in a restored stone house with dark blue doors and window frames the new, Alaçatı Hotel Viento is the epitome of island aesthetic with a total of 20 rooms in the heart of town. Services include 24 hour room service and all day breakfast of local delicacies as well as tours, airport transfers, and water sports. Yeni Mecidiyeköy Mahallesi 1039 Sokak No.18 Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 98 78

  

What To Buy

The Alaçatı Pazarı (Market) every Saturday on Şehitlik Caddesi (3000 Sokak), is the place to buy the region’s organic produce, especially seasonal Aegean herbs, as well as a whole array of textiles.

 

Many of the best upmarket Turkish brands have opened shops here, including Yastık by Rıfat Özbek, with its assortment of colorful and unique pillows; Haremlique, which specializes in high-quality linens and textiles; BNG, which carries a range of designer clothes and accessories; and, most recently, check out Midnight Express, where a slew of local designers display their unique clothing and jewelry creations or Bazen Alaçatı with a great list of Turkish designers who create home décor, arts & crafts, clothing, and jewelry. Midnight Express: Yeni Mecidiyeköy Mahallesi Kemal Paşa Caddesi, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 02 44 & Bazen: Hacımemiş Mahallesi 2012 Sokak No.12, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 0180; Yastık by Rıfat Özbek: 1001 Sokak No.2, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 02 80

 

The latest addition to this list of exclusive boutiques dedicated to Turkish design is Bashaques. Run by fashion designer Başak Çankes, the space is simultaneously boutique, showroom, and gallery, selling unique garments, lifestyle products, and chic accessories. Zeynep Tosun's clothes are available alongside with Müz terrariums, Marble&Co. bags, Tohum by Verda Alaton jewelry, and many other brands and products to make your time by the sea even more beautiful. 2017 Sokak (Jandarma Sokağı) No.5, Hacımemiş, Alaçatı 

 

There are also many independent shops, often run by owners who came here to escape big city life. Isla Bonita is one such shop, and sells a range of decorative and gift items, including high-quality peştemals (traditional Turkish towels), natural soaps, ceramics, and accessories, as well as jams and sauces from Agrilia restaurant (see below). Red Horse Red House sells chic home accessories, which make the perfect finishing touches for a weekend home. Ipekçe, which also has a branch in Bodrum, carries a range of unique decorative items and jewelry, often with a strongly ethnic look, as many of the items are custom-made for the store in India. As the name implies, Fash carries a range of stylish, high-fashion beachwear from the likes of Missoni and Diane Von Furstenberg.

 

There are also many antique stores, mostly located in the Haci Memiş area of town. This neighborhood is far less developed than the town’s main strip, and is an unexpected delight. Stray dogs pad about, cared for communally by the local shopkeepers. Wandering through the streets, you will find a number of stores selling a range of antiques, including furniture, vases, glassware, and decorative items.  You could easily spend hours wandering around and searching for little treasures.  Judging from the number of restaurants, shops, and hotels that have opened this year, this area won’t remain unknown for long. In fact, the neighborhood has become so popular that internationally acclaimed textile designer Lisa Corti even opened a shop here this summer. Lisa Corti: Tokoğlu Mahallesi 2000 Sokak No.14, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 98 16

 

For some unique antique finds drop by Eskiden Antika where everything from glass vases to ornate wooden doors bedeck this treasure trove of a store. More antique hunting is on the cards at Camergan Cam Atölyesi with a focus on glass and porcelain ranging from figurines to hand painted vases. Eskiden Antika: Hacımemiş Mahallesi 2012 Sokak No.18, Alaçatı; T: 0532 311 15 76 & Camergan Cam Atölyesi: Tokoğlu Mahallesi 1017 Sokak No.2, Alaçatı; T: 0532 283 8523

 

Beaches (and Nightclubs)

An inspiring white sand beach is available at Okan’ın Yeri where a snack facing the calm sea at the Bar Restaurant is unbeatable. Altınkum Mevkii, Çeşme; T: 0532 394 01 31

 

Ulus 29, an establishment famous for its elegant atmosphere and for serving up Turkish cuisine coupled with colorful nightlife, opened Club 29 in Port Alaçatı. Plans to open up a hotel are also in the works. Hacımemiş Mahallesi, 8000 Sokak, Pruva Evleri No.15, Alaçatı; T: (0232) 716 03 03

 

Most beach clubs in Alaçatı have the habit of morphing into nightclubs after the sun sets into the sea. We chose the most popular ones:

 

If you enjoy sipping your cocktail right next to the sea with a good  range of music by known Djs, then Otto Alaçatı is an essential nightlife stop. Alaçatı Beach Resort, Çark Plajı, Liman Mevkii, Alaçatı; T: 0533 339 06 00

 

During the summer months, one of Istanbul's favorite live music venues, Babylon, packs up its bags and head for the beach. Kick back in the citrus groves with Radyo Babylon laying on the summer tunes, and various DJs getting the crowds on their feet. Aya Yorgi Mevki, No. 6, Çeşme Merkez; T: (0232) 712 63 39

 

Paparazzi is one of the oldest venues in the Aya Yorgi region and aims to operate its beach club, restaurant, and bar persona without disturbing its natural surroundings. The restaurant by the sea, set under the trees and bamboo roofs, serves Mediterranean and Aegean cuisine. Aya Yorgi Koyu, Çeşme; T: (0232) 712 67 67

 

Whats On

The Alaçatı Herb Festival takes place every year in April and aims to promote environmentalism and natural nutrition through the introduction of the area’s many herb varieties. Traditional dishes and cooking techniques are celebrated during a time when the region-specific herbs bloom.

 

This year, the first ‘Kaybolan Lezzetler Festivali,’ sought to preserve traditional recipes that are facing extinction. Various recipes from different regions are researched and chosen and then promulgated through workshops, events, and contests with the final aim of putting together a book as a printed collection. 

 

This article was updated on July 3, 2014.

 

Share »  

Comments

Only members can leave comments
The Guide Istanbul If you are already a member, please click here to log in.
If you are not a member yet, click here here to sign up.
You May Also Like