Elegant and pretty Cesme is a seaside town on the Aegean coast, 85 kilometres west of Izmir. “Cesme” means “fountain” in Persian, undoubtedly due to the multitude of Ottoman fountains found around the town and surrounds.
Sunny Cesme is popular with holidaymakers for its lovely beaches with their views over the Aegean to the Greek Island of Chios, its colourful houses that line the town centre, its top spas and a new marina that’s attracting sailors from all over the world. Cesme properties are reasonably priced, with generous builds allowing plenty of space for the family.
Cesme is 85km west of Izmir, an hour’s drive from the airport which connects Turkey’s third largest city with Europe, the Middle East and destinations around Turkey. The small Cesme peninsula is compact enough to travel around efficiently, but nonetheless full of attractions. The most popular residential areas in and around Cesme are Cesme town centre, Alacati, Dalyan, Pasalimani, Ilica, Altinyunus and rural Ovacik.
The Cesme peninsula is home to around 40,000 people. The economy is fuelled by tourism - especially the many cruise ships that visit the area each summer - and fishing. During peak season the population swells to almost 500,000 as Cesme becomes Izmir’s holiday backyard as well as foreign visitors mainly from northern Europe, who flock to the area.
Cesme’s climate is drier and cooler than most holiday destinations found elsewhere around Turkey, providing a good alternative for those who dislike the searing heat. During summer the average high temperature is around 33 degrees - a few degrees cooler than the southern resort towns. Cooler months see the temperature dial hovering around the 13 degree mark, and most of the rainfall occurs during this time.
QUALITY OF LIFE
The Cesme peninsula’s pretty towns, gorgeous beaches and emerald green hills provide a backdrop to a very pleasant lifestyle. The peninsula has good amenities: supermarkets, medical centres, affordable produce markets and infrastructure are all easily accessible. Slightly further afield in Izmir you’ll find top notch hospitals and shopping facilities as well as the airport that allows for easy access to the world.
There is a strong expat community in Cesme, making it an ideal place for families and retirees seeking an easy transition to a new life.
Although real estate in Cesme itself is on the high side, property prices are still favourable in the surrounding area, where you can buy spacious Cesme villas with private pools walking distance to the seashore from as little as £120,000. The rental market is healthy here, allowing Cesme homeowners to earn supplementary income from their properties by letting them out over the summer months.
THINGS TO DO IN CESME
Windsurfing and kiteboarding - the steady sea breezes off the peninsula mean that windsurfing and kiteboarding in Cesme is considered some of the best in Europe. Alacati in particular is known as one of the best spots in the Mediterranean for wind-surfing.
Sailing and cruising - explore the many islands, survey the emerald coastline, go seal and dolphin watching and discover what keeps sailors returning to the peninsula time and time again.
Beaches - the many beaches on the peninsula cater to everyone from toddlers to water-sport daredevils. White sands and steady sunny days mean a trip to the beach is on everyone’s itinerary.
Cesme Castle - the 500-year-old castle in Cesme’s centre is also home to a museum. It’s a fantastic place to while away a few hours.
Old Town - the beautiful historic centre of Cesme is filled with old Ottoman residences, Greek houses, ancient fountains and traditional cafes and shops.
Aqua Toy City - This fantastic waterfront waterpark is every kid’s dream - and parents are catered for too, with sun-loungers and decent food.
Thermal spas and mud baths - the area is - rightly - famous for its spas. Healing thermal water and soothing mud baths are offered at the many spa locations around the peninsula.
WHERE TO BUY A HOME IN CESME
For all its compactness, the peninsula is fairly diverse, and property ranges from smart townhouses to rural village houses.
Upmarket Cesme is the hub of the peninsula. With its stately, historical townhouses and seaside villas, it’s a popular destination for home buyers, particularly retirees.
Alacati is a sleepy town that is just beginning to wake up. Once famous solely for its perfect windsurfing conditions - with 330 breezy days each year - and visited only by lovers of water sports, Alacati has suddenly been discovered by tourists and home buyers alike. Its laid back, villagesque charm is complemented by the raft of fashion stores, galleries and swanky restaurants that now appear on its streets.
Alacati was founded in 1850 when Greek workers came to the area to drain the marshes. When the work finished, the workers stayed on, working the vineyards and producing wine for export and domestic use. This industry has remained a mainstay of the area.
Alacati has a sandy, shallow bay located a little way from the town centre. The shores of this once sleepy Greek village are now famous worldwide, and have the impressive title of third best place on the globe to wind and kite surf. It was these water sport fanatics that first discovered Alacati and then later, helped turn the town into a Turkish tourism mainstay.
Property for sale in Alacati range from renovated Greek houses in the authentic village of Alacati several kms inland to new modern luxury villas by the seaside such as the Port Alacati complex with waterfront houses p[providing sea access and mooring.
This small village with its pretty harbour is a sleepy, pleasant alternative to the larger towns of Cesme and Alacati. Not a lot goes on in Dalyan, and those who own Dalyan property consider the village to be a well-kept secret. There are some lovely modern Dalyan homes located at the sea end of the inlet, as well as slightly further inland.
Locals will tell you that Dalyan is the best place to head for a slap up fish dinner, and the inlet that feeds into the harbour is lined with good restaurants. There is a pretty mosque that was once a church, and a statue of the Ottoman admiral Turgutreis (you might know the name from the town in Bodrum which takes its name from the famous sea captain) stands watch over the town where he spent the winter of 1525.
Pasalimani’s crystal clear waters and sandy beach have attracted a number of Turkish holidaymakers who have bought second homes here. The town’s elevated position means that the large villas built in the hills have amazing sea views. The west-facing aspect of the town means that sunsets are also quite spectacular, and considered the best on the peninsula.
The little town 10km from the centre of Cesme is a pleasant spot for a holiday, and although it’s quiet there are enough bars and restaurants to keep even the most restless holidaymaker occupied. There are also a decent number of beach clubs abutting the crystal clear waters.
Property for sale in Pasalimani area of Cesme are among the most exclusive and expensive that Cesme has to offer, ranging from seafront villas with water access and mooring to luxury homes with great sea views.
Ilica’s long, golden sandy beach attracts a fair proportion of the visitors who flock to Cesme each year. The town - five kilometres from Cesme at the western tip of Turkey - began as a wealthy Turkish retreat at the end of the 19th century. Today it’s a very popular holiday spot, drawing people from all over the world. Part of Ilica’s draw are the local thermal springs, which are thought to have healing properties - thermal springs combine with the salty seawater to create a warm, silky bath that is a balm for everything from rheumatism to asthma.
Ilica is a reasonably large town with a number of excellent property options for anyone wishing to buy a home near the beach.
Rural Ovacik is a beautiful and relatively non-touristy spot on the peninsula. Unlike other locations around Cesme, Ovacik is not centered around tourism. In fact, life goes on here as it has done for many generations, with agriculture and livestock breeding forming the basis of the local economy. If you are looking for large farm houses in rural settings then look no further than Ovacik, Cesme. There are some fine examples of country houses for sale in Ovacik.
IS A PROPERTY IN CESME GOOD INVESTMENT?
Cesme’s star is rising. This once quiet peninsula is attracting visitors from far and wide drawn by the area’s beaches, spas and natural beauty. As visitor numbers rise, property prices inevitably follow suit. Cesme property prices experienced a sharp leap around eight years ago with the explosion of visitors brought to the area by increased flights to the region, and have been steadily climbing ever since.
Holiday homes in Cesme are in high demand. Fuelled by the current trend for self-catering accommodation, holiday homes are highly sought after, while hotel visitor numbers are dwindling. Attractive Cesme villas with pools walking distance to the beach are booked up as much as a year in advance, and at rates that make buying a holiday home in Cesme a very attractive prospect. What’s more, the summer season in Cesme is no longer confined to May to September: thanks to a push by the government, as well as increased off-peak flights to the area, the steady stream of visitors landing on Cesme’s shores is in full flow for eight months of the year.