From Selcuk, we did two different day trips. While this increased our driving, not having to pack and unpack multiple times made a huge difference. Particularly with kids, I’d rather stay in the same place when possible. The day after exploring Ephesus back in August, we took a day trip to Çeşme and Alaçatı which are on the Aegean Sea. Çeşme is about 1.5 hrs from Selcuk/Ephesus if you take the toll roads (reminder, you need a toll sticker to use a toll road and normally can’t pay on the road itself at a toll booth).
We went to Çeşme mostly to see the Aegean Sea as downtown Alaçatı was our primary goal. (Pronunciation reminder–the squiggle under the c and s make them say /ch/ and /sh/ respectfully. So Çeşme is “chesh-meh” and Alaçatı is “aa-LAA-chaa-tuh.”) Çeşme’s water view was beautiful.
We parked in a small parking lot here and walked just a few minutes to the water. There were boats to see and a pretty view. It is a nice pedestrian walk. We ended at a small beach. We were not dressed for swimming, mostly because the changing and de-sanding process afterwards would have been a pain. The kids really wanted to swim and were disappointed. The beach was small and the water was calm. We got there in the morning and it was pretty empty. Bring your own chairs! The beach is here. While we didn’t eat in Çeşme, there were several restaurants along the water which would have had nice views. There is also a castle/museum in Çeşme, but we didn’t visit those either. It was hot!
After our walk in Çeşme, we drove to Alaçatı and parked in a small lot. Get there early if you’re going to use it. Alaçatı is super cute and very photographic. It is mostly cafes and shops and not our kids’ favorite spot. It was also hot and uncomfortable in a mask. It would be a really great spot to go with only adults or as a romantic couple event and spend the night in a cute hotel, wander the streets, eat in the cafes, and browse the shops. The kids just kept asking when it was time for lunch and then when it was time for ice cream. August with kids during Covid was probably not the best combination!
Along with shops and restaurants, there are old, historic windmills on a hill that offer a pretty view. We also stopped in Gemici Sarapcilik, a nice store selling tons of local wine. Very near the windmills.
After Alaçatı, we started our drive back to Selcuk. We stopped at the Köstem Olive Oil Museum (Köstem Zeytinyağı Müzesi) on the drive. It is well done and teaches you more than you’d want to know about olive oil and its production! There is a good parking lot, nice bathrooms, and large gift shop. There is also a small cafe attached to the gift shop. There was a restaurant, though it wasn’t open when we were there. The Museum is closed on Mondays (common here).
Our guide from Ephesus suggested several restaurants in the peninsula for their fine dining. This wasn’t going to work with children (some don’t allow kids at all, and others had strict dining hours). But if you’re without kids and a foodie, they might be worth checking out. OD Urla was one that looked great. There are many wineries too, including this one.
While we didn’t do the beach, the beaches at Alaçatı are quite good I’ve heard. Friends stayed at a resort on the northern side of Alaçatı and liked it. Depending on your schedule, it’s worth checking out.