Çeşme (pronounced chaysh-may) is a beach resort in the Central Aegean region of Turkey. It's at the tip of a peninsula 85 km west of Izmir, but only 10 km from the Greek island of Chios. It's the largest town in a municipality taking in several smaller resorts and villages, which in 2022 had a population of 48,924.
Çeşme is a port at the tip of a long peninsula. The name means spring or fountain, likely referring to the geothermal hot springs on the coast a couple of km out of town. In the Middle Ages it was a more important port than Izmir, trading with the Genoese who held nearby islands such as Chios. It surrendered without a fight to the Ottomans in 1566, but trade thereafter shifted to Izmir. In the 18th century Russia under Catherine the Great expanded south and came into conflict with the Ottomans, with a big sea battle fought just off Çeşme. Russia won, and retained a navy in the Aegean for some years thereafter, but the lasting territorial repercussions were around the Black Sea.
The town continued in a small way with trade and agriculture, until the big growth from tourism in the 1970s. It's within a short transfer time of Izmir airport but international tourists mostly bypass Çeşme for the fleshpots of Marmaris and Bodrum further south. Much tourism is therefore domestic.
Get in edit
By plane edit
For long-distance routes travel via Izmir, which has an international airport (ADB IATA) and frequent buses from Istanbul and Ankara. A few buses per day continue to Çeşme, taking 8-9 hours from Istanbul for a fare in 2023 of 650 TL.
By bus edit
Buses and dolmuses from Izmir run frequently round the clock, taking 30 min to Çeşme along the fast dual carriageway O-32. The local bus line is Çeşme Seyahat.
1 Otogar the bus station is south of town centre at the terminus of O-32.
By boat edit
Ferries from the Greek island of Chios are either fast cats taking 20 min or standard vessels taking 45 min. Operators are Erturk Lines, Turyol and Sunrise. There are four per day in summer, fewer in winter when the standard vessel is less likely to be disrupted by bad weather than the catamarans less stable in rough seas. The adult fare in 2023 is €20. The ferry from Lavrion near Athens was suspended during COVID-19 and has not resumed.
2 Çeşme Port is west side of the bay, along Atadağ road off Highway D300.
Get around edit
Dolmuşes link Çeşme, Alaçatı and the outlying hotel strips.
- Çeşme old town has many 19th / early 20th century Ottoman buildings and charming back alleys around the castle and lower part of Atatürk Blv the main thoroughfare. 2500-year old artifacts have been found hereabouts but there's no trace remaining of the ancient city.
- 1 Çeşme Castle, 1015th Sk, ☏ . Daily 08:30-19:30. The Genoese probably built the first stone citadel, but after the town was twice attacked by Venice it was rebuilt in 1508 under Sultan Bayezit II. It was bombarded along with the rest of town during the 1770s war with Russia. The small museum within explains this history, and you can wander round the battlements. Adult 100 TL.
- Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa (1730-90) is the subject of the monument in front of the castle, accompanied as always by his pet lion. He was a captain in the sea battle of 1770 in the bay: the Ottomans were smashed but he distinguished himself and was promoted, eventually to admiral and grand vizier. Originally a Georgian slave, he'd learnt his naval fighting skills with the Algerian pirates.
- Ayios Haralambos is a former Greek Orthodox church on Atatürk Blv 100 m northeast of the castle. Built in 1832, it's now an art gallery and cultural venue, hours erratic. Saint Charalambos (Ἅγιος Χαράλαμπος) was a 2nd century bishop in Magnesia, the vicinity of Ephesus. His name means "shining with joy" and he was supposedly martyred by cartoonish serial violence in such a devout way that bystanders were instantly converted and had to be martyred in turn, in such a devout way that et cetera et cetera.
- Beaches: Dilaila is south towards Çiftlik. Altınkum is further south across the headland. Boyalık is the closest on the Ilıca strip, with several more on the peninsula north.
- Windsurfing and kiteboarding: these beaches are windy and well-suited.
- Thermal springs: Çeşme means "spring"; Ilıca means a spa and is where you find them. Some bubble out in the sea, others feed hotel spas along the resort strip.
- Lots of little stores, with Carrefour, Migros and A101 the main franchises. They're mostly open daily 08:00-22:00.
- Banks and ATMs are in town centre along Atatürk Blv.
- Kumru is a warm wrap with salami, garlic-flavoured sausage (sucuk), grilled cheese and tomatoes. A vegetarian version is also available.
- Atatürk Blv is the main eating strip, with İmren, Çark, Seyir Et, Friendly Corner, Hülya'nın Yeri Et, Evim, Levent and Meydan.
- North waterfront has Asucan, Carpe Diem, Rihtim, Çeşme Deniz, Yücel Balık, Miss.ina and Capa.
- Çeşme Marina has Fuente, Ferdi Baba and Meyhane Şerefe.
- Alacati village centre top picks are Fava, Leblebili Meyhane and Imren. Plenty more south by the marina.
- Dondurma is local ice-cream. Try the balbadem (honey and almond) and the black currant.
- The distinction between cafe and pub is not always obvious here. Some in town centre are MelBu, Star Bar, Valentino and Kirmizi.
- Ertan Hotel, Cumhuriyet Meydanı 12 (waterfront at town central plaza), ☏ . Slick clean place on the waterfront. B&B double 2000 TL.
- Rıdvan Hotel, Cumhuriyet Meydanı (north side of castle), ☏ . Showing its age, but a simple acceptable hotel on the town central plaza. B&B double 1500 TL.
- Kanuni Kervansaray just south of the castle is a 500 year old caravanserai, now a very basic hotel with cramped rooms and a lot of noise.
- Yalçın Otel is a pleasant pansiyon in an old Greek house at 1002nd Sk 14. It's quite a climb from the harbour and rooms are small.
- Antik Rıdvan Hotel, 1015th Sk 10 (by marina), ☏ . Pleasant small hotel run by the newer Ridvan. Some street noise. B&B double 1000 TL.
- 1 Ilıca Hotel, 3443rd Sk, Altınyunus, ☏ . Smart efficient hotel on Ilıca beachfront, good service, with spa and wellness facilities. B&B double 2500 TL.
- Radisson Blu Resort, 3435th Sk 25, Altınyunus (200 m west of Ilıca Hotel), ☏ , email@example.com. Chain hotel on Ilıca beachfront, cleanliness and maintenance erratic. Two swimming pools and spa. B&B double 2000 TL.
- 2 Nill's Stone House, 19th Sk 46A, Çiftlik, ☏ . Charming friendly little pansiyon a short walk to Çiftlik waterfront.
- Central Park Otel in Çiftlik gets rotten reviews.
Çeşme and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next edit
- Alaçatı is an attractive large village with trad architecture, cobbled streets, cascades of bougainvillea and a photogenic windmill. It has accommodation and other visitor amenities, plus a marina and water sports facilities further south.
- Izmir is a bustling modern city with good museums.
- Chios is the Greek island seen from Çeşme, an hour by ferry and easy day-trip.
- Ephesus to the south is must-see, an extensive and well-preserved Roman city.
|Routes through Çeşme|
|Izmir ← Alaçatı ←||N S||→ ENDS|
|ENDS ←||W E||→ Alaçatı → Izmir|