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Sustainable travel adventures in the Turkaegean

Whether you seek adventure or antiquity, the western coast of Turkey offers sustainable travel options galore

The whole western part of Türkiye (the original word for Turkey) borders the shimmering Aegean, a storied sea of myths and legends with a labyrinth of breathtaking bays and beaches. It’s also home to a trove of archaeological treasures as well as world-class culinary indulgences.

The region embraces slow travel and ecotourism with plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy green experiences as you explore the beautiful landscapes.

Whether you are into adventure or antiquity, culture or cuisine, there’s something for everyone in the Turkaegean.

Dive right in

With some 2,800km of coastline, the warm Turkaegean waters are a playground for water sport enthusiasts and a haven for marine life.

Great visibility, two reefs, historic wrecks and marine parks make the Turkaegean a sensational destination for scuba divers. As you explore the vibrant underwater world of the Aegean Sea, keep your eyes peeled and your camera close to hand as you are sure to encounter some majestic sea creatures, including turtles, dolphins, sea horses, stingrays, octopi and scorpionfish.

Ride the waves

For those who prefer being above the waves, the Turkaegean is a world-class destination for wind-powered, adrenaline-fuelled adventures. There are plenty of calm, clear spots for beginners to try windsurfing or kitesurfing, and experts can head to the beaches where local winds called “Deli [Mad] Mehmet” blow all year long. You can also take to the skies and try paragliding or to the rapids and rivers for kayaking and paddleboarding.

Bask in nature

Turkey has a unique and exceptionally rich biodiversity and there are beautiful nature parks and wildlife protection areas all across the Turkaegean. These tranquil destinations are ideal for going off-grid, basking in the solitude and enjoying the unspoiled great outdoors.

For botany enthusiasts, bird watchers or keen photographers, the national parks offer magnificent landscapes to discover. Enjoy the “thousand springs” mentioned by Homer in the Mount Ida region, hiking in the national park, relaxing in the thermal springs and exploring the villages nestled in the hills.

Blue Flag beaches

The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised and prestigious eco-labels and more than 100 Blue Flag beaches dot the Turkaegean. With swathes of sparkling soft sand tenderly kissed by warm, crystal-clear waters, the setting is postcard-perfect. From hidden valleys to secluded bays, protected lagoons to cave-filled coves, the pristine beaches of the Turkaegean are waiting for you.

Roaming the ruins

The Turkaegean is the cradle of ancient civilisations, including Ephesus, Troia, and Pergamum. There’s a trove of archaeological and architectural treasures and an impressive four Unesco World Heritage sites, including Aphrodisias the ancient city devoted to Aphrodite, and Hierapolis, an ancient spa city with its remarkable cotton-white terraces of Pamukkale. You can roam the ruins, marvel at the otherworldly landscapes, and discover what life was like in ancient times.

Eco-friendly exploration 

From hiking the trails to hoisting the sails, there are many environmentally friendly ways to explore the Turkaegean region.

Lace-up those boots and hike in the footsteps of ancient Carians, Lelegs and Lycians. Marked eco-trail routes will guide you as you walk among the native sweetgum trees. Swap your boots for a bike and follow the EuroVelo 8 Mediterranean Route along the coast of the dazzling Izmir Peninsula. This 500km cycling trail takes you on a journey through history and heart-stirring scenery, passing by 17 ancient cities, the Urla Wine Route and many Blue Flag beaches.

Enjoy the slower pace of life that the Turkaegean is famous for on a sailboat or blue cruise. A sailing sojourn is a unique way to experience the magnificent coastline and allows for full immersion in nature without leaving behind a heavy carbon footprint.

Eat locally

Eating the local food and shopping at farmers’ markets reduces food miles and is a great way to travel more sustainably. The Turkaegean region is renowned for its bounty of fresh local produce, which you can buy in the many vibrant outdoor food markets. Wild greens and herbs, seafood, figs, artichokes, olives and olive oil are key ingredients in the dishes and recipes, which have been made the same way for generations.

In 2009 Izmir’s Seferihisar became Turkey’s first “cittaslow” (slow city) inspired by the Slow Food movement. The Cittaslow International Coordination Committee awards the title to towns devoted to improving the quality of life for residents and visitors.

Festivals of flavour

If you plan a visit in early April, you can attend the Alacati Herb Festival, which is a celebration of hundreds of different herbs that grow in the fields nearby. Savour the delightful natural flavours of the region as you tuck into a variety of locally made dishes as well as take part in cooking demonstrations.

Be sure to take home some extra-virgin olive oil produced in Aegean town of Milas; recognised by the EU, it is produced exclusively from the “Memecik” variety of olives grown in the district.

Ecotourism accommodation

If you are looking to ‘sleep green’ in the Turkaegean there are plenty of eco-conscious accommodation options, including restored old stone houses and mansions, secluded resorts and boutique hotels. Many of these are located in beauty spots so you can sleep surrounded by nature. You can also camp on some beaches under a blanket of stars with the sound of the lapping waves lulling you to sleep.

For more information visit www.goturkiye.com