• Photo: Lefteris Papaulakis / Shutterstock

Çesme

Known for its hot springs and beaches, Çeşme has always been a summer resort for İzmirians, but in recent years the gorgeous sands have been luring Istanbullus and an international crowd, too. Despite rapid and often unsightly development, the town retains its provincial charm, and it’s still more off the beaten path than the resorts of the Bodrum Peninsula. The real lures, understandably, are the beaches that span 29 km (18 miles) of coastline.

Çeşme has a large marina, but for sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, head to one of the nearby seaside villages. Ilıca, with its deluxe hotels, is closest and the most popular, with a long sandy beach. Dalyanköy is on the northern tip of the bay and is quite quiet and peaceful, known more for its fish restaurants than its swimming. The most beautiful beaches, Altınkum and Pırlanta, are in Çiftlikköy. Alaçatı, with its almost constant wind, is a windsurfer's paradise–-it hosts the PWA Windsurfing World Cup each August and is extremely popular with upscale Turkish tourists for its restaurants and old stone houses converted into boutique hotels. Boyalık Bay and Ayayorgi attract a hip crowd. The villages are close enough that you can move around by car or public transportation quite easily, though some routes are more frequently served by dolmuş than others.

Public beaches are generally crowded and don’t have amenities, so if you’re planning more than a quick dip, you’ll do well to spend 20 TL or so to secure a spot with chaise longues, umbrellas, towel service, and often a restaurant and bar. The swimming season starts in April and continues until mid-November—high season is July and August.

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