Three Perfect Days in Alacati, Turkiye’s Aegean Coast Gem

The town of Alacati is a must on a trip to Turkiye's Aegean coast.
alacati street with tables and blooming vines
(Photo: Christine Sarkis)

Alacati is the town that almost wasn’t, and that’s part of its magic. Forged from a drained swamp in the 1850s, this small town on the Çeşme Peninsula along Turkiye’s Aegean coast thrived for a time as a sunny place where vineyards flourished. But political upheavals and inhospitable winds drove out its inhabitants, and for most of the twentieth century, it was little more than a ghost town. 

But in the 1990s, locals say the same winds that had driven people away began attracting windsurfers looking for the next great surf spot. Today, the transformation is complete, and Alacati is now a thriving town fueled by tourism and its own rediscovered beauty. 

Today, the windsurfers still flock to this coastal town between April and October. But so do tourists from Turkiye and beyond looking for a holiday destination that’s both lively and still a little off the beaten path. 

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On a recent visit, as I walked through the tangle of narrow pedestrian streets shaded by extravagantly pink bougainvillea, I tried to imagine what it must have been like 30 years ago as people returned to a mostly abandoned town dreaming of what it could become. Strolling the narrow lanes in the early morning quiet, when the community’s cats outnumber people, it was easy to get that flavor of possibility in the two-story rose-earth-colored stone houses, the lush lemon trees and flowering vines that spring from every patch of dirt, and the bright blue sky overhead. 

view of street in Alacati Turkey
(Photo: Christine Sarkis)

On my September visit, the town felt busy but not overrun. Like a volume dial slowly being turned up, sleepy mornings gave way to midday, when people filled cafe terraces and wandered the boutique-lined streets. On my own ramblings through town, I stopped in at jewelry shops, art galleries, and an antique store (Ibrahim Bey Atolyesi) filled floor to ceiling with everything from serving spoons to old film equipment and lanterns. 

people hanging out at an outdoor cafe in Alacati, Turkey
(Photo: Christine Sarkis)

In the afternoon, I took a walking tour and visited stalls at the outdoor market where I stocked up on dried herbs I couldn’t quite identify but whose wild mint and thyme aromas beckoned from their little bags, I tried the town’s famous mastic gum (damla sakiz) ice cream at the shop Imren, and walked up the hill to the windmills to look out over the town—a view that reminded me that this warren of streets doesn’t go on forever, and the busy world of cars and highways exists beyond its peaceful boundaries.

After dark, the languid sipping-and-strolling vibe gives way to a party atmosphere that feels deeply and specifically Turkish. Everyone—adults and kids alike—comes out in the evening, a time when music fills the streets, people dance and smoke, and every table that lines the sidewalk in front of each restaurant is filled with couples, groups, and families. It felt like such an illustration of Turkiye’s position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia to see women wearing sequined tube tops at one table and hijabs at the next, all of them swaying to the same beat of the music. 

Things to Do Near Alacati

beach loungers along the water at Beach of Momo beach club near Alacati, Turkiye
(Photo: Christine Sarkis)
  • Wine tasting: About a half hour from Alacati, the Urla Vineyard Route is a daytrip-ready mix of award-winning wineries, cycling routes, restaurants, and historic sights. The thousands-year-old winemaking traditions of the region continue today, and vineyards here grow a mix of indigenous grapes like Bornova Misketi, Sultaniye, and Boğazkere along with more familiar varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.

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  • Beach clubs: The coast here is rocky, and beaches are limited. But around the peninsula, a culture of beach clubs thrive. For the cost of the cover fee, you enter a world that feels like part beach restaurant, part well-served hotel beach, and part dayclub. I spent an afternoon at Beach of Momo where I lounged by the water, walked in the waves, and then headed up to the restaurant for lunch overlooking the sea. 

Where to Stay in Alacati

This sounds like an overstatement but I mean it. In Alacati, I found two of my favorite hotels on earth. 

KestelINN Alacati

interior of a room at KestelINN in Alacati, Turkey
(Photo: KestelINN)

If I had to stay at one hotel for the rest of my life, it would be KestelINN. The seven-room boutique hotel occupies a beautiful old stone house built around a courtyard. The hotel is the perfect size for a large family or group–everyone gets their own room but can gather in the courtyard or cafe. The hotel’s owner lovingly restored this historic home with the help of Turkish architect and artist Hakan Ezer. Every detail—from the original artwork to the Turkish linens—feels elegant but grounded. The lobby is a cafe that uses locally sourced produce to create little culinary masterpieces—if you can, eat a meal here; every bite is a delight. The hotel’s farm Ovacık is a few miles out of town. You can visit for a tour or a meal if you plan in advance. 


swimming pool at Alacati boutique hotel Alavya in Turkey
(Photo: Christine Sarkis)

Bigger than Kestell Inn but still intimate, Alavya started life as an open-air cinema in an orchard. The hotel’s six houses hold 25 rooms spread out among the trees, giving this in-town spot a distinctly bucolic feel. Rooms mix contemporary design with original touches like rough-hewn stone walls. A beautiful pool is tucked in among the olive trees, its tilework evoking blues and greens of the Aegean. The hotel has a spa, restaurant,  patisserie, and a little shop with beautiful wares from local artisans (I bought a tiny bowl I use for olives). Of note for families: nightly turndowns include a teddy bear for kids. 

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I left Alacati what felt like too soon. But as I was rolling my suitcase out the door of the hotel onto the worn cobblestone streets, I received a surprising invitation to return. It came in the form of a splash. A pitter patter of drops as they landed on the stones behind me. I stopped and turned around, wondering at the sound on such a cloudless day. Behind me, a few of the people from Kestell Inn smiled and tossed water in my direction. I was flummoxed. The confusion on my face asked the question for me, and they offered the key bit of missing information. “In Anatolia, we throw water after guests as they leave. It’s a wish that you may go smoothly like water and return as smoothly as water.” It’s a hope I share, to return to Alacati as smoothly as water. 

Getting There 

Alacati is an hour by car from the airport in the larger city of Izmir. Izmir has direct flights (many on Turkish Airlines) to Istanbul as well as to dozens of cities in Europe.

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Christine Sarkis
A traveling parent and longtime travel writer and editor, Christine Sarkis is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of FamilyVacationist. She is the former Executive Editor for TripAdvisor travel magazine, she has spent nearly two decades finding and sharing the best places to go with an audience of enthusiastic travelers. Her stories have appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her expert advice has been quoted in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, Here & Now, Life Kit, and California Now. Her stories have been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008, and she is working on a travel memoir. Christine and her husband first met in Paris, and travel remains a big part of their shared experience. With their two kids in tow, they have piloted a barge down canals in France, befriended llamas in Peru, tended olive trees in Italy, and gone snorkeling with sea turtles in Hawaii. The family lives in California and loves traveling around the state. Their California favorites include Yosemite National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.