Topics include Transportation, Things to Do, Dining Scene, Turkey: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Çeşme is a relatively small, quiet seaside town in the Aegean region of Turkey. The town is also a minor port of sorts, since there are a number of Roll-on, roll-off services to and from Italy and Greece.
The main tourist bits are the pedestrianised central street that runs down to the sea-front/quayside, and the quayside itself. The shops in the main street are more or less all tourist-oriented. There is also a former-Greek Orthodox church, which has been almost totally neglected since the Christians were sent to Greece in the 1920s. It has frequent art exhibitions which give an opportunity to see the inside of the church, but it's a shell really. In terms of historical interest, there is also the 15th century Genoese fortress, but again not much to see in it.
The town's only beach is small, and located at the northern end of the quayside. There are a cluster of two and three-star hotels near this beach, in what is a clean, safe and pleasant environment. The Cesme peninsular is blessed with many sandy Blue flag beaches, but they can be very busy weekends in July and August as the area is favoured by the İzmir Turks who come for the weekend, so the all year round locals go in the week. Pirlanta beach is very nice and you can also kite surf there. Altinkum beach (not to be confused with the one between Kusadasi and Didem) has a long sandy golden beach and clear blue waters. İlica beach is great for kids, as very shallow for a long way out and at the Altin Yunus Hotel you can swim with the Dolphins. Some Turks may tell you that Çeşme is a place where the sea is cold but compared to the seas around Britain, it is wonderfully warm...! Due to it's position at the end of a peninsular, there is almost always a fresh northerly breeze there known as the Meltem and the area attracts a large number of windsurfers from all over the world. September see's a large international surfing contest in Alacati. Alacati was discovered by the rich İstanbul Turks and they have restored all the stone buildings and made the town and the Saturday Market such a great place to visit and people watch. Be aware though that prices in Alacati are very high but worth a visit Saturday night to smell the money.
Compared to, say, Kuşadası, Çeşme is relatively free from "hasslers" - people trying to sell you things, force you into carpet shops, or shine your footwear. Of course, there are the inevitable waiters trying to get you into their restaurant if you are walking any slower than a quick march but this is now being policed all over Turkey and getting better in all resorts. İf you go along the quayside during the morning, you will get accosted by people trying to get you to go on a day cruise on their boat. However, these two things are quite easy to avoid. The other good thing about the town is that the drunken yobs seem to stay away and Karioki has not caught on.
Çeşme is not "Instant Turkey". If you want that, go to Selçuk, an eclectic mix of an agricultural/market town and historic centre with a main road running through. No, Çeşme is a place to chill out and enjoy the sea view.
UPDATE August 2007: This is a favourite spot for Turks to go on holiday.
A company called Deniz now operate a ferry service from Istanbul to Çeşme. May be a much more pleasant way to get there than buses or flights and buses.
If you are self-catering or even half-board, there are a couple of reasonably-sized supermarkets in the town. The nearest to the town centre, but possibly the best-hidden, is a Pehlivanoğlu (pronounced "paley-van-OR-loo") which is in an arcade behind "Pizza Pizza". If you have a car, the Tansaş is also worth visiting - it is off the main road between the end of the otoyol (motorway/freeway) and the port.