- What’s On
Turkey’s Aegean coast takes on many guises as you head south from the cool waters of the Dardanelles, across the Troad peninsula to the classical world of the Ionian Greeks and conquering Romans, at Troy and Ephesus, the country’s most spectacular ancient site. At its centre is Izmir, once a trading centre for the western world, and still buzzing with life. There are many other ancient sites, too, culminating at Knidos on the Datça peninsula, while fishing villages have become popular tourist destinations, from Ayvalik and the Cesme peninsula in the north to Bodrum in the Blue Cruising grounds of the Gulf of Gökova.
The Aegean makes a magnificent out-of-season drive. In early spring it is perfectly possible not to come across a single tourist between Izmir and Gallipoli. Assos is a favourite place at this time, and Mount Ida offers the easiest and most rewarding of climbs, though it does need planning. Wineries are flourishing on Bozcaada (ancient Tenedos) and the Çeşme peninsula. Figs are still gathered in Ephesus, and rugs dyed the old fashioned way by the Yörük in the hinterland of Ayvalık, where olive oil of the finest quality is made.
Spring or autumn are the times to go. Winter is wonderful, too, but beware of icy roads. Most car-hire companies allow you to start in Istanbul and end in Izmir, or vice versa.