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St. Demetrius Church

St. Demetrius Church

Sirince, which means "cute" in Turkish, seems to be the perfect name for this idyllic hilltop village just a 30-minute drive from Kusadası. However, in an even cuter twist of fate, it was originally called “Çirkince,” meaning “ugly,” as the original inhabitants—freed slaves from Ephesus and then Greeks—wanted to ward off potential busybodies.

The Greeks left following the forced resettlements of 1923, but it maintains much of its older character and is known today as a charming, laid-back village brimming with pretty shops and restaurants. Though famed for its homemade fruit wines, the village sells a wide variety of local products, including olives, peaches, figs, apples, walnuts, and more that are grown in the fertile region all around and sold at the Saturday food market, as take-home gifts along with soaps, spices, hand-made ceramics, bags, and more, and also at the many restaurants and cafes.

A special place to sample a dazzling array of produce as part of a traditional breakfast or brunch is the Sirince Artemis Restaurant and Wine House, set inside a former Greek school built in 1906 that has a handsome museum inside and a beautiful natural outdoor terrace that overlooks the red-roofed village houses and local vineyards and orchards. Don’t miss the village’s abandoned Greek Orthodox church.

For a glimpse into a quiet, unspoiled slice of the coast, Akyaka makes a great destination. Situated at the far end of the Gulf of Gökova, it’s part of the Cittaslow (Slow City) network and way less touristy than bigger towns such as Fethiye and Marmaris.

Known for possessing not only a lovely, laid-back beach but also the cool, clear waters of the scenic Azmak river, its traditional houses are also unique to the area; their pretty wooden stairs, decorative balconies, and comely courtyards are usually covered with bougainvillea and other flowers.

As well as enjoying the intimate, winding streets of the town, you can find restaurants along the riverside promenade serving delicious Turkish and seafood cuisine; the setting here is uniquely peaceful thanks to the shade of the trees, and you can dip your feet in the refreshing water. The main beach is sandy with shallow waters for swimming and an ever-present wind that makes it popular with kite-surfers and kite-flyers.

There are also restaurants and sunbeds here, as well as boat tour operators who can take you out to Gökova Bay and Cleopatra Island. The ruins and rock tombs of Idyma, a former Carian city, ruins are an hour or so away by car if you want a splash of history and some hiking in the nearby forested hills.

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