Foca coastal town in the stunning region of Izmir, Turkey, effortlessly captures the essence of seaside serenity. As you venture into this picturesque town, be greeted by tranquil ambiences, blended history and modernity, and captivating atmospheres. Whether you seek seaside relaxation, cultural immersion in historical treasures, or beautiful nature, Foca in Izmir promises to fulfil your desires. With timeless charm, picturesque landscapes, and warm hospitality, this idyllic town invites you to experience unforgettable journeys along the Turkish coast. In this article, we look at the rise of Foca from the first settlement, how to get there, and of course, how to experience the best of what this Turkish town offers.
About Foca in Izmir
History of Aegean Phokaia
Phocaea town (Phokaia) was an 11th-century BC Greek settlement from Phocis. Positioned strategically on the coast, the Greek settlement flourished as a maritime power thanks to skilled seafarers and navigators. Phocaea (Phokaia) was a bustling commercial centre and cradle of intellectual and artistic achievements.
Among notable figures from Phocaea (Phokaia) was the philosopher and mathematician Thales. Despite its prosperity, Phocaea town faced numerous challenges throughout history. The Persian Empire expanded in the 5th century BC, and Phocaea fell under Persian rule. Rather than submitting to foreign control, Phocaeans abandoned Phocaea town. Over time, ancient Phocaea lost prominence, and ruins gradually succumbed to time.
Today, remnants of Phocaea can still be explored, with archaeological sites and artefacts shedding light on the grandeur. The Genoese Castle, overlooking the town, reminds every one of its medieval heritage and fortifications built to protect it. The town's maritime connection is also celebrated through the fishing boats and the annual International Phocaea Festival, which pays homage to the Phocaeans' maritime achievements and cultural heritage.
Where is Foca in Turkey?
Foca, on the shores of the Izmir Gulf, about 69 kilometres (43 miles) northwest of Izmir city, is part of the wider Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and a prominent coastal town. The whole region belongs to the Aegean part of Turkey, which covers the western shores.
Need to Know - Yeni Foca and Eski Foca
A vital note, even if you plan to just holiday there, is that there are two parts to Foca. The Eski part means the original old town district and Yeni Foca refers to the new town district. Most attractions and those cute stone houses lay in the old part. There is not much to do in Yeni Foca, but the surrounding areas are the best place to watch the sunsets. Both places are separated by roughly 20 kilometres.
How to Get to Foca Fishing Town
- By Car: Foca is approximately 69 kilometres (43 miles) northwest of Izmir. Take the D550 highway, also called the Izmir-Canakkale Road, which connects Izmir to Foca. The journey takes about 90 minutes, dependent on traffic conditions.
- By Bus: Regular bus services from Izmir to Foca depart from the main bus terminal in Izmir, known as the "Otogar." The journey takes 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the bus route and traffic.
- By Dolmus: Dolmuses are shared minibuses or vans that operate as public transportation options in Turkey. They offer more flexible and cost-effective alternatives compared to buses, but they may not follow strict schedules.
- By Private Transfer: For a more convenient and personalized option, arrange private transfers or hire taxis directly from Izmir to Foca.
- By Air: The nearest airport is Izmir which is 80 minutes away. You also have the alternative, Bodrum airport, 3 hours’ drive away.
Explore Foca – Things to Do and Places to Visit
- Explore Eski Foca: Admire the well-preserved Ottoman-era houses with charming architecture, colourful shutters, and traditional wooden facades. The Genoese medieval fortress offers panoramic town and sea views. Explore the castle's ancient walls, climb the towers, and immerse yourself in the historical atmosphere.
- Discover Foca Islands on Boat Trips: Embark on boat trips to explore the Foca Islands, off the coast. These islands, including Orak Island, Incir Island, Fener Island, and Siren Rocks, boast stunning natural beauty and provide opportunities for swimming, snorkelling, and enjoying peaceful picnics amidst breathtaking landscapes. The boat tours are top-rated during summer.
- Foca Museum: Visit the Foca Museum to delve into the town's rich history. The museum displays artefacts, archaeological finds, and exhibits that shed light on ancient Phocaea, maritime heritage, and cultural significance.
- Water Sports: For adventure seekers, Foca offers various water sports activities on the beaches and boats. Dive into the Aegean Sea and explore underwater wonders through scuba diving or snorkelling. Alternatively, try windsurfing, kayaking, or sailing on boats.
- Enjoy Local Cuisine: Foca town centre is known for its delectable seafood cuisine. Indulge in freshly caught fish grilled to perfection, or try local specialities like stuffed mussels and shrimp casserole. Visit the local markets to discover fresh produce, olives, and homemade goods that showcase the region's culinary traditions.
- Tas Kule: The Persian Monumental tomb near Foca was influenced by Persian architecture from the 4th century BC. It is 4.5 metres high and consists of two storeys with the sarcophagus on the top. The Persian Monumental Grave is made of limestone and is 7 km east of Eski Foca.
The Delightful Foca Monks Seals
While in Foca, you might even see the Mediterranean monk seals. Half of these mesmerising creatures dwell in the Aegean Sea, nestled between the captivating lands of Turkey and Greece. In contrast, the other half gracefully roams the vast depths of the majestic Atlantic Ocean. Turkey took decisive action in 1991 to establish protected havens for the beloved Monk Seals in Foca and Bodrum.
The Mediterranean monk seals choose the most pristine waters, with hidden caves, as their preferred homes and breeding grounds. These beautiful species have been attacked by relentless urbanization, greedy industries, contamination of their precious waters, overzealous fishing boats, and hordes of tourists descending upon their once peaceful homes. Hence, the shores of Turkey and Cyprus are home to just roughly 20-50 Mediterranean Monk Seals.
Foca Castle – The Main Landmark
Foca Castle, overlooking the charming coastal town of Foca, tells tales of the region's storied past. This ancient fortress, Foca Kalesi, signifies the town's historical significance. As you approach the medieval castle, the imposing stone walls and majestic towers dominate the landscape. This 15th-century medieval fortress guards the town while offering panoramic views.
Weathered by time, the castle's sturdy walls witness past generations' struggles and triumphs. Built during the Byzantine era and later fortified by the Genoese, the court testifies to the strategic importance of Foca as an Aegean maritime trade centre.
Upon entering the castle grounds, wander through labyrinthine passages and explore nooks and crannies. At the castle's vantage point, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of red-tiled rooftops and picturesque landscapes surrounding Foca.
Famous Beaches for Summer Days
Nestled along the Aegean Sea waters, Foca's remarkable coastline stretches for miles. The pristine sandy beaches, adorned with gently swaying palm trees, invite you to bask in the sun and surrender to crashing waves. Most beaches in Foca have all amenities for fun-filled days out.
- Kozbeyli Beach: Situated approximately 5 kilometres (3 miles) south of Foca's town centre, Kozbeyli Beach offers crystal-clear waters and a peaceful ambience.
- Yeni Foca Beach: Located near the newer part of Foca, Yeni Foca Beach offers scenic settings with a long stretch of sandy shoreline. This beach is quieter and less crowded than other famous beaches in Foca.
- Gunes Beach: Situated about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) west of Foca's centre, Gunes Beach is known for its pristine waters and tranquil atmosphere. It offers picturesque settings surrounded by rocky cliffs and lush vegetation.
- Eski Foca Beach: While Eski Foca is Foca's historical centre, the area boasts a lovely beach to enjoy the sun and sea. This beach provides blends natural beauty and historical charm with pleasant views.
Shopping in Foca and Izmir
Regarding shopping, Foca and Izmir offer delightful options with unique charm and atmosphere. In picturesque Foca town, shopping takes on relaxed vibes. Stroll through Eski Foca to find charming boutiques, gift shops, and artisanal stores. These establishments showcase locally crafted items, including handmade ceramics, intricate lacework, and traditional textiles.
Foca's weekly market, held on Fridays, is where to immerse yourself in vibrant atmospheres and browse through stalls filled with fresh produce, aromatic spices, and local delicacies. As the vibrant cosmopolitan centre, Izmir city offers diverse shopping scenes for all tastes and budgets. From modern malls to bustling bazaars, the city has something for everyone. Kordon, a lively promenade along the waterfront, is famous for shopping and leisurely walks.
For more traditional shopping experiences, head to the historic Kemeralti Bazaar in Izmir city centre. This sprawling maze of narrow streets and alleys is teeming with shops. Izmir's modern shopping malls, like Forum Bornova, Agora, and Mavibahce, house international and local brands, fashion boutiques, electronics stores, and entertainment options. Indulge in some retail therapy, watch movies, or enjoy delicious meals at many restaurants.
Nightlife and Eating Out
Foca boasts numerous fish restaurants to savour the freshest catch prepared with exquisite local spices and ingredients. From succulent grilled fish to mouth watering mezes (appetizers) and delectable seafood pasta, the fish restaurants offer treats for the taste buds, and every meal is an opportunity to indulge in gastronomic delights. Located by the waterfront, Liman Restaurant specialises in seafood dishes, serving freshly caught fish and seafood prepared with local flavours and culinary expertise. Otherwise, expect more sit-down evening entertainment scenes rather than loud parties. Foca is all about rest and relaxation after dark.
Real Estate in Foca and Izmir
One defining feature of Foca is the architectural style. Wander through narrow cobblestone streets lined with quaint Ottoman-era stone houses and charming cafes, and feel transported to bygone eras. Eski Foca exudes nostalgic charm with preserved wooden facades, vibrant shutters, and flower-filled balconies. However, these properties are hard to come by.
Yeni Foca features new developments, but once again, the lack of available land to build upon means there is high demand but low supply. This is why many people look to the larger Izmir region instead. As the third-largest city in Turkey and the name of the larger province, Izmir offers vibrant real estate markets with several investment opportunities. Buying property in Izmir provides access to cosmopolitan lifestyles, diverse cultural experiences, and excellent infrastructure.
Izmir's real estate market offers many options, from luxurious apartments in high-rise towers to charming historic houses in neighbourhoods like Alsancak and Karsiyaka. The city's strategic location on the Aegean coast and the growing tourism industry makes Izmir an attractive destination for residential and commercial real estate investments.
Investing in Izmir also presents opportunities for long-term capital appreciation. The city is undergoing significant urban development and infrastructure improvements, including expanding transportation networks and constructing new cultural and recreational facilities. These developments contribute to the overall value of real estate.
The key to successful investments is to work with experienced professionals and make informed decisions based on preferences and financial circumstances. See our portfolio of property for sale in Izmir here, and read this article that outlines good reasons to buy property in Izmir.
About Izmir Province and the Aegean Region
The Izmir province of Turkey, nestled along the stunning Aegean coast, captivates with natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant modernity. Whether you prefer the bustling beaches of Izmir or the tranquil coves of Cesme, the region offers multiple coastal retreats for all preferences. Izmir, the region's vibrant capital city, boasts a rich heritage dating back thousands of years. Explore Ephesus's ancient ruins, the Library of Celsus, and the impressive theatre. Nearby, ancient Pergamon city showcases the famous Asklepion.
Beyond Izmir, the region has charming coastal towns and picturesque villages. Cesme entices with the chic marina, vibrant nightlife, and pristine beaches. Alacati captivates with stone houses, cobblestone streets, and boutique shops. Seferihisar welcomes visitors with laid-back charm, olive groves, and a slow-paced lifestyle. At the same time, Foca in Izmir enchants the historic centre, quaint cafes, and captivating sunsets. More about places and what to do in Izmir.
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