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Ayvalik, Turkey

South of Edremit is Ayvalik – a popular town for its charming Greek houses. Ayvalik’s lively markets, fishing fleet and olive-based commerce are what characterize the town. Though resorts do not dominate the area, it does contain a few along its beaches, such as Sarımsaklı or Cunda. The town of Ayvalik has been inhabited since ancient times and eventually became the most prosperous town on the Aegean coast next to Izmir. Today the town holds a prestigious classical music academy, a publishing house, and many Orthodox churches, which were most likely transformed from mosques after 1923. At the centre of Ayvalık is a uniquely preserved Ottoman market town and fish market. Ayvalik is well known for its dairy and olive products, its whole wheat bread and seafood, so these markets are worth checking out. Ayvalik also has a few sites waiting to be refurbished, such as the Taksiyarhis Kilisesi, which is supposedly waiting to be converted into a museum. Photo by Estorde

Canakkale, Turkey

Classically known as Hellespont, Canakkale lies on the Dardanelles straits and experiences spectacular scenery. Although it’s busy waterfront is home to the Trojan horse replica in the 2004 film Troy, this is not its most popular attraction. Instead, many tourists are attracted to visiting the World War I battlefields of Gallipoli located on the European side of the Dardanelles. Here also lie the ruins of Troy. Clearly Canakkale is the site of much history, as it was also the place where the last two naval battles of the Peloponnesian War took place in the straits and where Mehmet the Conqueror created the elaborate fortresses of Kilitbahir and Çimenlik. Canakkale has since become a navy town, with heavily militarized straits. Other attractions of the city include its temple ruins and the sea-buses that travel seasonally to Gökçeada and Bozcaada, the Aegean islands of Turkey. Photo by ccarlstead

Bergama, Turkey

At the site of the ancient city of Pergamon is Bergama, which is rich in history. Ancient Pergamon had a number of rulers, including Eumenes II, Attalos III, and the Romans. It wasn’t until the rule of the Romans that the city really thrived, becoming renowned as an artistic and commercial centre. Today, Bergama’s main attraction is the Kızıl Avlu or “Red Basilica,” an enormous red-brick structure that sits below the acropolis on the river. Although it was originally built in second-century AD as a temple for the Egyptian gods Serapis, Harpokrates, and Isis, the Byzantines used it as a basilica. Because of this, Pergamon was actually addressed by St. John the Divine as one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. However, this may have been in regards to the not-yet extinct Egyptian cult. Just north of the basilica is the town’s old quarter, consisting of Ottoman buildings, antique shops, and mosques. And finally, another top attraction of Bergama is its magnificent acropolis. Photo by Travel Turkey
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Sergio likes to bike—problem is, he’s not so good at reading maps. Luckily, by virtue of modern technological advancements, you can navigate for Sergio. All you need to do is like one of the three locations to the left. But before you send Sergio on his way, be sure to check out our Rough Guide Visitor’s Centre—we wouldn’t want Sergio to miss anything!

Izmir, Turkey

Izmir is one of Turkey’s most underrated cities. Usually, most travellers pass through here on their way to grandeur destinations without realizing what they’re missing. Izmir is situated in a fairly ideal spot, straddling a 50-kilometre gulf and surrounded by mountains. Being Turkey’s third largest city and housing four million people, Izmir has quite an extensive history. Since the third millennium BC, the site has been constantly taken from its original settlers and ruled by foreigners. Among these rulers include Alexander the Great and Mehmet I. But despite the city’s lengthy history, today it stands a modern city, holding only remnants of old buildings and parks from the past. The lovely seafront is home to the city’s ethnological museum and main cultural attractions, while the lively growth of the café, bar, and club scene has become the most enjoyable part of any traveller’s experience. Photo by Veyis Polat

MEC Pit Stop

Sergio at the Pit Stop!