The setting of Homer’s epic The Iliad, the Aegean coast has a 5,000-year-history that is unsurpassed. With the fabled lost city of Troy in the north and the Roman capital of Asia Minor, Ephesus, in the south, visitors are able to stay in the various beach resorts and travel to some of Europe’s best cultural attractions on day excursions.
The city of Bodrum was once the site of the Halicarnassus mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and has an excellent crusader castle. North of Bodrum are the hillside towns of Priene, Didyma and Miletus, ancient reminders of the Ionian league.
Further inland from the coast are the Roman ruins of Pergamon, Aphrodisias and Hierapolis. View the travertine terraces of salt at Pamukkale for a different view of the area. Stay in either the chic resorts of Cesme and Ayvalik or the more mainstream destinations of Bodrum and Marmaris.
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Places to Visit
Located 70km north of Izmir, Alacati is one of the best-preserved towns in Turkey where old stone houses exist. Greek migrant workers who transformed the area from marshlands to a fertile wine-growing region built these stone houses. Today, the town is seen as one of the most fashionable holiday destinations on the Aegean Sea and is popular with windsurfers across the world
Assos is an ancient walled city sitting on top of a hill overlooking the northern Aegean Sea. An important stronghold during the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the city, unlike many of the ancient sites in Turkey is still home to a thriving community
Ayvalik is a costal resort and also a centre for olive oil and soap-making industries in the area. The town still maintains its Greek heritage through its Orthodox Churches and the Greek-speaking community. It was here that the first shot of the Turkish War of Independence was fired
Formerly known as Halicarnassus, Bodrum's history dates back to the 7th century. It was first settled by the Carians and later by the Dorian Greeks. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Mausolus was built here, most of which has been removed. Bodrum is also known for its castle dating back to the 15th century. Today Bodrum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey
Canakkale has historically had an important strategic role. Pilgrims, conquering armies and trade caravans stopped here before or after crossing the Dardnelles. Today most travellers come here to visit the Gallipoli battlefields and Canakkale is also the nearest major town to the site of ancient Troy
Cesme is a popular tourist resort located on the Karaburun Peninsula, which is situated on the Aegean Sea. Due to its proximity to Izmir there are a large number of holiday homes dotted around the area. The principal attraction of the city is the Ottoman castle that may have origins dating back to the previous Genoese rulers of the region
Originally known as Phocaea, the town was part of the Ionian League of trading ports. Its present day incumbent is a peaceful town that features a small theatre dating back to antiquity and a restored Genoese fortress
Formerly called Smyrna, Izmir was once an important trading city largely populated with Christians and Jews. Set in a bay and backed by mountains, today Izmir is Turkey's third largest city. Although much of the Old Town was destroyed in a fire in 1922 there remain many interesting sites including the ancient Agora (marketplace) built for Alexander the Great, and the Ethnography Museum housing colourful displays of local arts
Located on the coast of the Aegean Sea, Kusadasi is an ideal base for exploring the many interesting sights of the South Aegean area. In addition to pretty beaches, the town has a small stone fortress and caravanserai (fortified way-station)
Home to a remarkable natural wonder, Pamukkale is a highlight of south western Turkey. The main attraction is a vast white cliff side with scallop-shaped basins of water and frozen waterfalls, caused by hot thermal springs which used to pour down the hillside and deposit calcium carbonate, which solidified as travertine
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"I have nothing but praise for this tour. I was travelling with my elderly mother and we both had the most fantastic time. The group gelled very well and we all had similar interests. Our guide (Sami) was superb. His knowledge of the subject was boundless. The coach drivers were both superb especially Hassan who managed to negotiate the roads in an exemplary manner."