Ipek Irgit, the stylish Turkish designer and international "it" girl behind the Kiini Bikini is a "self proclaimed beach junkie". She grew up vacationing in ?e?me, the stunning coastal town at the western most edge of Turkey. The cobblestone streets, eclectic cuisine, breathtaking views, and party vibe are all reasons Ipek returns season after season. We recently caught up with Ipek and asked her to share her favorite go-to spots in her most cherished childhood stomping grounds.
Why are ?e?me and Ala?at? Village so special to you?
I have been going to ?e?me since I was a kid (?e?me is the district/coastal town of which Ala?at? is a part). Back then, Ala?at? was a small dusty village sprinkled with old stone houses with cumbas (cumbas are upper rooms overhanging the street), cobblestone streets, and sheeps and goats living in peoples? yards. In the last decade, those homes have been bought and renovated by the wealthy, who are mostly from Istanbul and Izmir. The animals are all gone, and now you find hidden pools or a big international party. While the main street is filled with stores, cafes, restaurants, and boutique hotels, the side streets still have the hidden gems mentioned above.
Traditional Ala?at? homes
From the cute, local bed and breakfast to an over the top luxurious behemoth, where is the best place for the international globetrotter to stay?
For hotels, I recommend Manastir Hotel, Incirliev, Alavya Hotel, Lemon Pansiyon, Yucca, and Ala?at? Beach Resort. Manastir Hotel is one of the most peaceful and beautiful hotels in Alacati. Alavya Hotel is beautiful, luxurious, and brand new. It?s not even advertised because it?s pretty booked for the season by the jetsetter entourage of the hotel owners. I also like Lemon Pansiyon because it?s good for the budget conscious traveler who wants to stay at a very cute bed and breakfast. It truly feels like you are a part of the local village. Ala?at? Beach Resort is your classic ?resort? option. It is set on one of the most beautiful beaches next to the Surf Bay, so the scenery is breathtaking. Yucca is outside the village, so it is a great and cheaper alternative to the hotels closer to the wind and kitesurfing scene. I also like the Manastir Hotel and ?ncirliev.
We know you love the local breakfasts in Ala?at?. Where are your favorite places to indulge on a delicious meal?
One of my favorite parts about Ala?at? is the local breakfast. You feast on various local cheese, delicious olives and olive oil, homemade jams and pastries, Turkish black tea, and more. You usually eat breakfast while sitting in a cool courtyard surrounded by bougainvilleas (a beautiful flower). Priceless! Keep in mind that the restaurants in the Ala?at? Village are expensive, so if you want to do what the locals do, my recommendations for venturing out in the local territory ard below.
Ala?at? Village has a lot of great restaurants, but my favorites are:
Asma Yapragi because it is so authentic. You can go here for the traditional regional home cooking ? there?s no menu ? you eat whatever is in the kitchen that day! I also love Su?dan, meaning ?from the water,? which says it all. The seafood is amazing. Ildir Balik Restaurant is a 20-minute drive from Ala?at?, so you?ll get to witness a beautiful sunset while you eat. You?ll get to experience the fresh, local style with mezes, and you will get better prices here than in Ala?at? Village. Ferdi Baba is also a 15-minute drive from Ala?at? Village, and it?s worth it! The seafood is to die for. I love Dost Pide & Pizza and Kamrucu Savki, both are good for casual meals in Ilica. Dost Pide & Pizza specializes in Turkish flatbread with various topping. So delicious. Kumrucu Sevki serves sandwiches found only in the ?e?me region. And don?t forget Altinkapi in Ilica as well ? it is a delicious kebap house and has the best ice cream! Be sure to try the mastiki flavor, it?s the specialty of the region.
The shopping in Ala?at? ranges from high-end boutiques to Saturday morning bazaars. Where are your favorite places to shop?
I like to discover the antique stores on the side streets. Midnight Express is the outpost of a cool boutique in Istanbul where you can find products from Turkish and international designers. Ipekce is great for tunics and caftans that are mainly made in India. On Saturdays, check out the bazaar and Green Market in town. It is best to go very early in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat. The bazaar used to have more authentic vendors, but it?s still a great place to buy peshtemals for reasonable prices (peshtemals are Turkish towels that are hand-woven from high quality cotton fibers). I?ll give you a tip: I have a secret vendor that I visit every year. He sells antique textiles and handcrafts from the Odemis region. Hopefully you are lucky enough to find him! If you?re going to cook a meal, the Green Market is amazing for local fresh produce.
Kiini Bikini's Lazydays Peshtemal
What are the must-do?s for the first-time visitor to Ala?at??
Since you will be spending most of your time on the beach in Cesme here are some recommendations: If you are lucky you can still find hidden untouched beaches, and because driving usually means a trek through dirt roads, it's best to go by boat. This summer, the most popular beaches are Kum Beach, Okans Place, Bobou Beach, and Fun Beach. Kum Beach is about 10 minutes from the village and Okans Place is a 20-minute drive (and you'll have to cross some dirt roads). Bobou Beach is undergoing construction ? they are building a resort ? but if you look out into the beautiful waters in front of you, then you are in paradise. Fun Beach is about a 20-minute drive from Ala?at? Village and is more for the scenesters and day partiers, and also the water sport lovers.
Windsurf and Kitesurf Bay is about 4-kilmeters from the Ala?at? Village and is one of the best areas in the world for wind and kite surfing. The flat turquoise water and perfect, constant, wind is ideal for surfers, and the shallow areas are great for beginners and kids.
Movie Night: If you have extra time to kill, take a break from nightlife and expensive restaurants to do something cool and local: go to the old open air cinema in Ilica and watch a blockbuster with a bad Turkish voice over. While sitting in wooden chairs (that are not very comfortable), eating sunflower seeds, and watching the kids run around, you?ll have a wonderful time relaxing with your friends and family. Be sure to step out during the intermission to buy ice cream from the vendor outside (yes, there is an intermission during movies in Turkey!) It?s my favorite thing to do on a random night and it brings back so many memories.
Get Local Flavor: Eat corn and stuffed muscles from the beach vendors, the best ones are strolling on the Boyalik/Altinyunus beach! Eat Kumru (a Turkish sandwich on a bun, typically with cheese, tomato, and sausage). Eat something with Mastic (a resin obtained from the mastic tree) and drink Mastika liquor (a liquor seasoned with Mastic).
Party: Ala?at?/Cesme is fabulous for late night partying. Most beach clubs continue their parties until the early morning hours. Nar is a small bar with rock music right in the village and Babylon is where you can see concerts on the beautiful Ayayorgi Bay (it's a 20-minute drive from Alacati Village). Paparazzi is an old favorite also on Ayayorgi Bay. Aqua is a club for the well-heeled party crowd. You can swim in thermal waters here with a cocktail in your hand! Riders is a favorite amongst the international surfers who like to rave. Every year a new slew of places open, while others close. The best way to find out about the hottest parties in town is to do some local investigation once you arrive in Cesme.
All beach towns have high seasons. When is the best time to visit Ala?at??
The perfect temperature is from June to early October. My favorite time to go is in September when the big summer crowds disappear.
What about Ala?at? Village is completely unique, that you can?t get anywhere else?
The incredible climate in the summer! It?s never too humid, there?s always a nice breeze, and no clouds. The crystal clear turquoise waters are unbeatable. Because ?e?me is a peninsula and the northeast winds are dominant, you can always find flat waters to swim in on one side. The cuisine is one-of-a-kind and delectable -- a mixture of Aegean, Medditeranean, and Middle Eastern. You can?t go wrong with that. Ala?at? is also known for its thermal waters (hot springs), which have various health benefits.
Some miscellaneous useful knowledge:
- Ala?at? is perfect for casual resort-wear. Don?t wear high heels in Ala?at? Village, you will be miserable walking on cobblestone!
- Alcohol is very expensive in Turkey, especially foreign brands. Because the peak season lasts only four months, the restaurant and bar owners really jack up the prices. Make sure to find out the price of the wine that is being offered if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- If you are staying at a house or have a place to cook, buy some fresh veggies and produce from the Green Market. Get the catch of the day fish from family-owned Aile Balikcilik in the Dalyan neighborhood. Prepare your own amazing meal!
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