At first glance, sun-drenched, breezy Alacati in Turkey, under an hour from Izmir's popular western coast destination, looks too good to be true. The picturesque destination with sandy beaches, cobbled streets and whitewashed, blue-and-green-shuttered Greek stone houses that glow richly under the Aegean sun feels like what a Turkish seaside town should look like.
However, once you start to wander, you notice the quirks that make this small western coast town unique. In the same way, minor imperfections make a flawless face even more beautiful; Alacati's rustic features and white stone houses improve this picture-perfect town. Sunlight flowed through a broken wall, an olive oil can filled with flowers, and weathered men hawked seafood down at the pier. These unpolished quirks transform Alacati from a postcard-perfect spot into a place with a romantic atmosphere.
Visitors say life in Alacati moves slowly, with lazy summer days stretching on forever. Some might say this makes for the perfect holiday destination. Others might argue perfection doesn't exist. And that might be true, but indeed, Alacati is close. Let's discover more about why Alacati is one of the best Aegean destinations in Turkey.
Welcome to the Charming town of Alacati in Turkey
History on the Streets of Alacati
In the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire expanded into Anatolia. But Alacati's prominent history starts in the 17th century when Greeks settled on the western coast. The harbour area was called Agrilia, and the Greek town enjoyed fertile lands and agriculture, as well as being a port destination for the larger city of Izmir nearby. Alacati's history is closely tied to Greek inhabitants who lived there for centuries. Many historic stone houses and architectural elements bear the influence of Greek culture and craftsmanship.
The village thrived until the 19th century, but by then, cracks started to appear in the Ottoman Empire. After World War I and the Turkish War of Independence in the early 20th century, there was a population exchange between Greece and Turkey. The Greek population of Alacati left, and the Muslim population moved in, but they couldn't settle and left. This population exchange significantly impacted the cultural and demographic composition of the Aegean coast.
The delicate Greek houses crumbled. While the nearby coastline began to win international fame for sea breezes, Alacati remained silent. Shepherds herded their goats slowly through the old town, watching the olive trees sprouting through the foundations. It looked like Alacati would go the way of many old Turkish villages, slipping quietly into obscurity. But that was not to be Alacati's fate.
In the late 90s, an enterprising woman stepped in. Zeynep Ozis saw great potential and a quaint atmosphere. Ozis, a founder of the Alacati Preservation Society, began an ambitious renovation of a 120-year-old Greek mansion, transforming the old stone building into a beautifully renovated hotel. The Tas Otel's opening in 2001 sparked significant interest. Many other entrepreneurs and pleasure-seekers followed suit, lovingly restoring the town and the white stone houses to their former glory.
The Esteemed Reputation of Alacati Today
Today, Alacati's tourism and culture stand out. The restored village attracts tourists with Greek-style modern living. The cobblestone streets come alive in summer with festivals and music events, and antique shops sell art, boutique goods and local crafts. Boutique Turkish hotels are some of Turkey's best, and restaurants are among the finest. Souvenir shops also sell delightful keepsakes to remind you of your time in this place that is no longer a well-kept travel secret.
Summers are hot, but the famously brisk breeze keeps things cool. The beach is just four kilometres from the town centre - far enough to keep the crowds away but close enough for a refreshing dip on a hot day. A long sandbar extends from the shoreline, creating a 700-metre-long shallow shoreline, ideal for small children and those hoping to try windsurfing.
Alacati's quality shops and establishments command higher prices, which means the town doesn't attract package holiday tourists but those looking for quality and willing to pay for it. While visitors tend to come from other parts of Turkey - like Izmir and Istanbul - international tourists have also discovered the delights of the town.
Turkish Food Delights
As with most of Turkey, Alacati excels in culinary delights. But as is fitting for a town that does everything slightly better, Alacati treats food differently: slowly. The slow food movement hit Alacati a few years ago. Since then, the town has embraced the slow living philosophy: eating back to traditional ways, utilising local products and just taking things down a notch - an antidote to our fast-food, need-it-now times.
Locally-grown produce paired with freshly caught seafood from the fish market makes for mouth-watering dishes. Enjoy flavoursome dishes made with sea bass, sea bream, shrimp, octopus and anchovies, sardines wrapped in vine leaves, accompanied by stuffed squash flowers, steamed samphire and pinto beans in olive oil, and rich olives for which the region is famed. High-end restaurants also serve dishes to die for. In the evenings, Alaçatı comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. Charming streets are filled with restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops where windsurfers and visitors can relax and socialise. This town really knows how to enjoy summer evenings alfresco style.
Enjoy the Alacati Food Festival
The Alacati Food Festival (Alaçatı Yemek Festival), which celebrates rich flavours and diverse Aegean cuisine, typically takes place during summer, attracting locals and tourists to streets and popular restaurants. Various dishes, including mezes (appetisers), seafood, grilled meats, pastries, desserts, and more are highlighted. Many dishes served at the festival are also made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, reflecting the region's rich agricultural heritage and Aegean influence.
The festival often features cooking demonstrations and workshops by renowned chefs and culinary experts. Throughout the festival area, numerous food stalls and vendors sell dishes, snacks, and beverages, and the festival typically includes live music performances, cultural events, and entertainment. The Alacati Food Festival is not just about food; it celebrates the local community, culture, and traditions. It's an opportunity for both locals and visitors to come together and enjoy the best of what the region has to offer.
Regional Wine Tasting for the Senses
The region's favourable climate, sunny days, cooling sea breezes, and fertile soil make it ideal for grape cultivation, hence Alacati also earns fame for the wine. The primary grape variety cultivated is Cesme Karası. This indigenous Turkish grape variety featuring deep red colours and rich, fruity flavours is used to produce both red and rosé wines. Other grape varieties include Chardonnay and Viognier for white wines.
Alacati features several boutique wineries focusing on producing limited quantities of high-quality wine. These wineries emphasise sustainable and organic farming practices to enhance the grape's character. Alacati also hosts wine festivals to showcase the region's wines. These festivals feature tastings, food pairings, and cultural events, allowing attendees to experience local wine culture. Alaçatı's wine production is part of the broader Turkish wine industry, which has been gaining attention in recent years for increasing quality and diversity.
Windsurfing Bays and Beaches in Alacati
Now, we come to a major reason for fame. Windsurfing in Alacati attracts water sports enthusiasts from around the globe. The town has even hosted international championships and has been featured in numerous windsurfing magazines. Alacati's consistent and strong winds, called "Meltemi " typically blows from the northwest during summer, creating ideal conditions in windsurfing bays. The Meltemi provides steady and predictable winds, making it suitable for beginners and experienced windsurfers.
Alacati has several windsurfing bays, the most popular being the Alacati Surf Paradise Beach and Çark Beach. These locations offer shallow, flat-water conditions close to shore, perfect for beginners and freestyle windsurfers. More experienced windsurfers may venture farther out to experience stronger winds and waves. Don’t think the town is just for the experts either. Alacati's windsurfing schools and rental shops make the sport accessible for beginners and experienced windsurfers. Many instructors are highly skilled and certified by international windsurfing organisations. You can easily rent windsurfing equipment, including boards and sails, from local windsurfing centres.
Alacati has hosted various international windsurfing championship competitions, including the PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association) World Cup. These events attract top windsurfers worldwide and showcase the area's excellent wind and water conditions. Should you want to take to the water, the best time for windsurfing in Alacati is summer, typically from May to September.
Old Greek Stone Houses
The rustic stone houses on cosy streets reflect charm and Greek influence. These traditional houses, often referred to as "taş ev" (stone houses), are characterised by their two-story structure, with thick stone walls that provide insulation from both heat and cold. The stone facades are adorned with wooden details, including colourful shutters, alcove windows, balconies, and colourful doors.
As the name suggests, these cottages are primarily constructed from locally sourced stone and feature small courtyards or gardens. Natural stone not only gives the houses rustic and timeless appearances but also maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. Wooden shutters, balconies, and doors are often intricately carved and painted, adding to aesthetic appeal.
Many stone cottages date from when Alacati was predominantly a Greek settlement. These houses have witnessed the passage of time and Alacati's transformation into a popular tourist destination. Over the years, many old Greek stone cottages have been lovingly restored and converted into boutique hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, and shops.
The old stone cottages of Alacati, with pastel-coloured doors and coloured windows, are the most photographed landmarks. Their unique blend of architectural styles and charming details make them popular with tourists and photographers. Visitors to Alacati can immerse themselves in history and culture by exploring the narrow streets lined with these quaint and picturesque stone cottages.
They offer glimpses into Alacati's past and contribute to the overall ambience and allure of Alacati as a charming Aegean destination. For those interested in buying renovated or traditional property in Turkey, Alacati is a strong choice, thanks to the stone cottages. However, on the outskirts of the town are new developments for home buyers who want to enjoy the nostalgic charm but live in modern residences.
Stylish Boutique Hotels Reflecting Greek Charm
Boutique hotels in Alacati often feature distinctive and stylish interior designs reflecting the local culture and architecture and win worldwide admiration from the hospitality industry. Many rustic boutique hotels sit in restored historic buildings, such as old stone houses, which adds to their charm and character. The attentive staff are eager to cater to specific needs, recommending local activities and restaurants and ensuring comfortable and enjoyable stays.
Most boutique hotels sit on narrow streets within Alacati's historic centre, so guests can easily explore shops, cafes, and attractions on foot. By far, these hotels are the best accommodation albeit slightly pricy. However, that price is worth every penny. Book in advance if travelling in high season because they fill up quickly.
From Alacati Seaside Town to Ottoman Cesme
Çeşme, a famous Turkish town, sits near Alacati, which belongs to the same region. Overlooking the Aegean Sea, Cesme, approximately 80 kilometres west of Izmir city, has a rich history dating back to ancient times, with various civilisations leaving their mark on the region. The town features seaside ruins, including a medieval castle (Çeşme Castle) and Ottoman Muslim architecture.
Cesme is also famous for thermal springs, and the town's name, "Cesme," means "fountain" in Turkish. The area around Cesme boasts beautiful beaches with clear, turquoise waters. Some famous beaches include Ilica Beach, Altinkum Beach, and Çiftlikköy Beach, and numerous beach clubs, where visitors swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports.
Both Cesme and Alacati belong to the same travel itinerary. While Cesme boasts of historical sites, ancient ruins, and thermal springs and is busier, Alacati features well-preserved Greek architecture, boutique hotels, windsurfing opportunities, and laid-back ambiences.
Alaçatı's popularity as a traditional town has also contributed to Çeşme's appeal. Many visitors to Alacati stay in Cesme or explore the beaches and attractions during their trip, creating symbiotic relationships between them. Visitors often rent cars or use local transportation to move between the two locations. From Cesme, there are also ferry services to the nearby island of Chios. Cesme is also another destination of the Izmir peninsula for those seeking to buy holiday homes or somewhere to retire permanently.
Getting To Alacati in Turkey
You have several transportation options when travelling from İzmir International Airport (ADB) to Alacati. Taxis from İzmir Airport to Alacati are convenient but expensive. Taxis are readily available at the airport, and the journey takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. Otherwise, prearrange private transfer services offering more comfortable and personalised options. For the flexibility of having your own transportation, rent a car at İzmir Airport.
Some shuttle and transfer services operate between İzmir Airport and Alacati, allowing you to share a ride with other travellers. These services may be more cost-effective than a private transfer. Still, they may involve longer travel times due to multiple stops. A budget-friendly option is public buses (Havas Bus) from İzmir Airport to Izmir city centre. From there, catch a dolmuş (shared minibus) or a bus to Alacati. This option is more time-consuming and stressful with lots of luggage. If coming in by sea, head to Alacati Port Marina. Otherwise, there is public transport from all over Turkey to Izmir city centre, and you can catch connecting buses from there.
More About Izmir
Reasons to Buy Property: Alacati in Turkey belongs to the Aegean coast province of Izmir, which has always led Western trends. From fashion to education to homes, Izmir is the destination for working and retired expats who want to enjoy coastal living in Turkey. This article examines what home buyers can expect to find while searching for their dream property.
About the Izmir Province: From ancient cities like Ephesus to the modern districts of the city centre, the Izmir province is nothing short of delightful. Some useful local information will go a long way in ensuring a comfortable stay.
More about Turkey
To know more about the country of Turkey, our blog includes an archive of helpful information, including travel guides, cuisine, history, living here as an expat and buying property. From surrounding Greek islands to stunning beaches, the Aegean and the turquoise coast, our destination guides also help anyone considering buying property in Turkey.
Beautifully crafted throughout, this stone villa for sale is found in the centre of Alacati - a hub of tourism that comes alive during the summer months with a wealth of tourists looking to take in the surf and enjoy the stone cobbled streets and bustling centre that you will find here.