Cesme (pronounced ‘chesh-me’) is a beach resort with a difference. Its white sandy beaches and warm azure waters have made it an upmarket holiday destination for generations of Turkish families, but in recent years it has become better known as a surfer’s paradise and a foodie haven, as well as a natural spa resort. In the nearby village of Ilica, natural hot springs were said to have life-lengthening properties, and the Cesme area is still popular with people seeking spa treatments for medical purposes, or simply for a bit of relaxation. The countryside that surrounds Cesme is renowned for its agricultural prowess, with cattle and sheep farming proving to be particularly successful. As a result, Cesme’s restaurants have some of the best meats, cheeses and locally sourced fruits and vegetables in all of Turkey.
Location: Cesme–coastal retreat
Situated in the west of Turkey, just a few miles across the water from Greece, Cesme is easily accessed via the Aegean Sea. In fact, there are two daily ferries connecting the city with the nearby Greek island of Chios, and a number of cruise ships make regular stop offs at the Cesme port. From Istanbul, the easiest way to get to Cesme is by car or by bus, although this is a long journey, which is not, recommended for anyone unfamiliar with Turkish roads.
Business: Playground for the rich
For years, Cesme was known as a playground for the wealthy, and many well-to-do Turkish families had beachfront holiday homes. As more and more Europeans discovered the city, budget-friendly hotels, hostels, and holiday resorts have sprung up, making Cesme a more affordable holiday destination with a thriving tourism economy.
Culture: Ancient customs in a modern setting
Cesme thrived in the 15h century as a major trade hub in the Ottoman Empire and the remnants of this time can still be seen in the stunning Cesme Castle and the Old City. However, these historical buildings are scattered among more modern constructions, such as the Cesme Marina, the beachfront nightclubs, and the nearby spa resorts of Ilica.
Activities: Surfboards to the ready
There is really only one thing you need to do when you visit Cesme: hit the waves. Windsurfing and kite surfing are extremely popular here due to the favourable crosswinds and calm sea. Along the beach there are dozens of surf shops and surf schools where you can learn how to stay on the board and catch the wind, while enjoying the incredible view of the white sandy beach from the sea