In a world where technology and mechanization have taken center stage, you would think that life would move a little slower. However, it’s quite the opposite scenario; we rush to get to work early, rush to beat traffic, rush to meet deadlines, rush to achieve goals before a certain age, rush to meet our dates before they’re tired of waiting, and you’ll probably rush to read through this post.
It’s almost as if we’re rushing through life, so much so that we forget to pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the beautiful world nature has created for thousands of centuries.
This is why the Cittaslow Movement was started in Italy in July 1999. It’s a worldwide concept aiming to slow down the globalization process to preserve the cultural diversity and unique characteristics of small towns and cities worldwide. The end goal; is to inspire people to adopt a healthier lifestyle by replacing the overwhelming habits of urban city life with constructive habits that allow them to discover inner and outer beauty.
In simpler words, the Cittaslow Movement wants you to slow down. It wants you to pause your busy schedules and enjoy a chill experience, even for a couple of days. And in Turkey, several villages, towns, and cities have fully embraced the Cittaslow movement, allowing you to do this. Here are ten such destinations:
Mugla is a popular destination with historical attractions and incredible nightlife. If you’ve ever visited the province, you most definitely passed through Akyaka or even spent a couple of hours there. But the next time you’re in the village, you’ll want to slow down a bit and extend your stay in town for a couple of days.
Akyaka is a quaint cittaslow town located in a prime location on the Gulf of Gokova. Here, the green of the lands meets the blue of the sea. Sprinkle a little white from the sandy beaches, and you got yourself a serene destination that any human would love to stay in. The town is all about nature and nature-centered sports.
But if you want a little more excitement, you can engage in biking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, rock climbing, sailing, kayaking, rafting, and paragliding. There is also an abundance of organic foods prepared in traditional Turkish design.
Egirdir is a small lakeside town between Konga/Antalya and the Aegean coast. Here, life is all about relaxation and enjoying the freshwater fish from the nearby lake. You can also swim in the cool waters, take a boat ride, or hike the nearby Davras Dagi.
There is nothing else to do except explore the quiet cobblestone streets, visit a crumbling fortress, or sleep in one of the inexpensive small pensions that dot the town.
Did you know that Gokcaeda, the largest island in Turkey, was the world’s first cittaslow island?. It is located in the Aegean Sea between the Dardanelles Strait and the Gulf of Sarro, making it the westernmost point of Turkey. But despite its size, the island has managed to stay true to the cittaslow way of life with its clean beaches and abundance of natural resources.
Visitors of Gokcaeda get a slice of Turkish island life in a stunning setting of white-washed sandy beaches and turquoise waters. You can spend your mornings in charming restaurants sampling delicious seafood cuisines and afternoons on the beaches basking under the warm Aegean sun. Alternatively, you can jump in the waters and swim or surf to your heart’s satisfaction.
Zeytinlikoy is widely considered the corner with the best beaches on Gokcaeda island. It also has considerable natural beauty, but this pales in comparison to Kalekoy, a spot on the island with olive groves and pine forests that give it every shade of green. There is also an abundance of organic products, natural life, and alternative sports activities.
Goynuk sits at the confluence of the Aegean sea and Mount Tahtali, creating a stunning setting of white beaches set against a backdrop of pine forests. The seaside town is a popular holiday resort where visitors spend entire days swimming and sunbathing at the beautiful beaches. There is also an option to engage in watersport activities or explore the local canyon and the ancient city of Phaselis.
Families will enjoy time in EcoFun adventure park, dino park, and a cable car up and down mount Tahtali.
Halfeti is a hospitable town in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa. It’s one of the oldest districts in the region, having been occupied by the Assyrians, Greeks, and Arabs since the area was first conquered in 855 BCE.
Today, Halfeti is a location where stunning scenery, rich history, and diverse cultures combine to create one of the most eye-catching cittaslow locations in the country. Unfortunately, though, 150 homes on the east bank of the Euphrates River in Halfeti have been submerged by the rising waters.
Koycegiz is an idyllic rural town in the Mugla region. It surrounds the vast coastal Koycegiz Lake and is famous for its forest creeks, thermal hot springs, honey, and oriental gum. It also has a fascinating history and a famous market where you can get everything from clothing and textiles to fruits, vegetables, olives, and cheeses.
The lake and its surroundings offer spectacular birdwatching with falcons, herons, eagles, kingfishers, and cormorants. In addition, the lake’s mallet population produces the region’s specialty ‘Dalyan Fiskasi,’ delicious caviar encased in beeswax that you will surely enjoy.
Savsat is a beautiful district in the northwestern city of Artvin. It sits on a prime spot in the highlands, offering its visitors the pristine and unaltered beauty of nature in its rawest form. The locals are also quite friendly and will not hesitate to sit down for a chat or offer you a cup of tea/coffee.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can venture from Savsat into the surrounding areas and enjoy more of what Artvin has to offer.
Seferihisar was the first cittaslow of Turkey. It’s a beautiful village on a secluded corner of Izmir town next to the Aegean Sea. It’s famous for its comfortable daily life and stunning openings to the azure waters of the Aegean. Visitors sleep and wake up to a laid-back village atmosphere and are free to spend the day exploring the town’s clean and unpopulated streets.
The district is also home to ancient cities from the Hellenistic and Roman eras. One of these is the ancient city of Teos, which is one of the 12 Ionian settlements from the Archaic age. The town has an altar, odeon, and impressive monuments erected in honor of the Greek god Dionysus. The remains of a harbor also allowed Teos to trade with its neighbors.
Visiting the ancient site is a welcome experience. Alternatively, you can head over to the ancient Ottoman castle in the city, which was built in 1522 and features several historic naval facilities. These facilities are accredited for keeping Seferhisar relatively underdeveloped and safe from the tentacles of urban life.
The castle sits in Sigacik, a lovely spot and home to a small port. This location offers the most serene atmosphere in the town.
Tarakli is a small town in northwestern Turkey that features old-style wooden houses separated by narrow streets dating back to the 18th century. Located off the beaten track, the town has always been a popular weekend destination among the region’s inhabitants. However, it burst onto the limelight when listed as a cittaslow destination in 2011.
Today, the town treats its visitors with an authentic Ottoman experience. There is also a therapeutic natural spring that you can relax in and several rivers hidden in some of the most picturesque settings in the region.
Yalvac is a chilled-out cittaslow location located in the city of Isparta. Located a couple of miles from the Mediterranean Sea, the town offers a chance to relax amidst a wealth of history and cultural diversity. It’s an old settlement with ancient ruins, museums, and the beautiful Hoyran Lake, a good relaxation spot.
The town is actually where Seleukos, one of Alexander the Great’s generals, established the city of Antioch. If you’re not enjoying the warm Mediterranean climate, you can visit Yalvac’s historic church of St. Paul and a pretty old mosque whose construction dates are unknown. There are also several theaters left over from the Roman and Byzantine times.
Otherwise, spend your days relaxing in Turkish baths or strolling in beautiful apple orchards. The villagers are friendly and won’t hesitate to teach you how to make traditional Turkish cuisine and handicrafts like felting, leatherwork, and metalwork.