A small village on Turkey’s Aegean coast might be the coolest spot in Europe this summer, said Jonathan Bastable in Condé Nast Traveller (U.K.). Long a draw for residents of nearby Izmir and for windsurfers drawn to its blustery coast, tiny Alacati only recently caught the attention of “moneyed holidaymakers” from Istanbul but has quickly become an international destination. Fine new shops, galleries, boutique hotels, and restaurants have popped up to cater to the smart crowd that strolls the cobbled streets, yet the area even now “has a laid-back otherness about it.” The Aegean people “pride themselves on being more relaxed than other Turks,” and that spirit proves contagious.
Morning in Alacati brings the galleries and antiques shops to life. On my first day in town, I watched auctioneers selling fresh seafood in the square outside the mosque, then wandered off and found a pottery studio whose beautiful tableware made me wish I could fill a house with it. “Pretty much every meal I had” in Alacati turned out to be so good that I decided it would only be a matter of time before Aegean food “has its gastronomic day in the sun.” The cuisine is rich in “intriguing, slightly mysterious ingredients,” including local beans and herbs. If the smoked octopus and mint-stuffed zucchini flowers leave you craving further culinary stimulation, you can head out of town to visit a local vineyard or olive-oil press. Elsewhere on Alacati’s Cesme Peninsula, you can hire a boat or spend a day at a chilled-out beach club, such as Babylon in Aya Yorgi.
I was often happiest exploring Alacati on foot. During one such wander, I stopped at a café and watched men praying outside the mosque before gathering at a nearby stall to share doughnuts and sherbet. Later, I asked an innkeeper about the meaning of the scene and was told I’d witnessed a memorial gathering for someone recently deceased: The treats, he said, encourage those gathered to carry only sweet memories of the dead. That explained, he was suddenly inspired to pour me a shot of his homemade fruit liqueur. “On the house,” he said.
At Alacati’s Beyevi Hotel (beyevi.com.tr), doubles start at $194.