Travel Guide: Things To Do In Ayvalik, Türkiye – Explore With Me


Cunda island Ayvalik promenade

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Rikki

Ayvalik is a captivating town nestled along the stunning Aegean coast, offering a delightful blend of Turkish charm and Greek influences. With its picturesque cobblestone streets, Ottoman-era houses, and breathtaking sea views, Ayvalik is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

Visitors to Ayvalik can immerse themselves in the town’s rich history by exploring attractions like the Taksiyarhis Memorial Museum, which showcases the town’s Greek Orthodox heritage. The museum is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that provide a glimpse into Ayvalik’s past.

For those seeking a taste of Ayvalik’s vibrant culture, a stroll through the old houses of Ayvalik is a must. These beautifully preserved buildings now house boutique shops and artisans selling handmade goods, allowing visitors to experience the town’s artistic side.

Ayvalik’s gastronomy is a feast for the senses, with Aegean dishes that showcase the region’s fresh and local ingredients. From mouthwatering seafood to delicious olive oil-based dishes,  not to forget the famed Ayvalık toast, the town’s culinary offerings are sure to please any food lover.

Just a short ride from Ayvalik lies the enchanting island of Cunda. With its charming old town and bustling nightlife scene, Cunda offers a perfect contrast to the tranquility of Ayvalik. Visitors can explore the island’s narrow streets, admire the Greek Orthodox church, or simply relax on one of the beautiful beaches.

Ayvalik and Cunda together form the Archipelago of Ayvalik Islands, a collection of small islands dotted throughout the Aegean Sea. These islands offer pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and secluded coves, making them ideal for those seeking a peaceful escape surrounded by natural beauty.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Ayvalik is a hidden gem on Turkey’s Aegean coast, offering a delightful blend of Turkish charm and Greek influences.
  • Explore the town’s rich history through attractions like the Taksiyarhis Memorial Museum.
  • Discover the town’s vibrant culture by visiting the old houses of Ayvalik and browsing through the boutique shops.
  • Indulge in Ayvalik’s gastronomy with its Aegean dishes centered around fresh and local ingredients.
  • Experience the contrast of Cunda’s charming old town and lively nightlife scene, just a short boat ride away from Ayvalik.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Archipelago of Ayvalik Islands for pristine beaches and secluded coves.

A Grecian Odyssey Ends in the Tranquility of Ayvalık on The Aegean Sea

After a mesmerizing island-hopping adventure across Greece by ferry, our journey brought us to the captivating shores of Ayvalık, Turkey. While the allure of Ayvalık’s main town was pleasant, we were drawn to the nearby island of Cunda, a hidden jewel of the Aegean. Serendipity led us to the Zarbali Cunda Hotel, and it was here that our adventure took an unexpected yet delightful turn.

Turkish breakfast

Gülden the owner, a gracious lady with an infectious warmth, and her dedicated staff transformed our stay into something magical. Every corner of the Zarbali spoke of meticulous care, and we were embraced with the kind of hospitality that made us feel not as mere guests, but as cherished family.

In the serene setting of the breakfast garden, every morning felt like a culinary parade. We were presented with an extravagant array of Turkish breakfast staples, a true culinary mosaic of Turkish delights that tantalized our palates – from freshly cooked donuts, homemade jams, fluffy omelets, and aromatic herbs to succulent fruits, dates, and nuts. These breakfast feasts were not just meals, but experiences that set the tone for our adventurous days ahead.

Originally, our itinerary had us staying for a mere two nights, a brief sojourn before moving on. Yet, the charm of Cunda and the Zarbali Cunda Hotel proved too irresistible. We spontaneously decided to extend our stay, soaking in an additional week of the island’s enchantments.

As I sipped my evening Turkish tea overlooking the serene waters, it became clear that our previous Grecian odyssey had found its perfect epilogue in the heart of Cunda, the largest of the Ayvalık islands archipelago.

Mike and Trudy have done a wonderful job of showing the wonders of Ayvalik in the YouTube video below…

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Discovering Cunda’s Treasures with Gülden’s Guidance: Attractions and Things to Do in Ayvalik

Our stay at the Zarbali Cunda Hotel was made even more memorable thanks to Gülden, the gracious owner. With her intimate knowledge of the island, she recommended a few must-visit spots, including the Museum and the Windmill.

Taking her advice to heart, we embarked on a journey through Cunda’s charming stone streets, leading us to the Rahmi M. Koç Museum also known as the Church of Taxiarches.

Rahmi M. Koç Museum

This architectural gem, with its beautifully restored interiors and exteriors, offered a captivating walk through history. Exiting the museum, we were tempted by the quaint gift store and the aromatic coffee shop, beckoning us to take a moment’s respite.

The day’s serenity was accentuated by the perfect weather – a mild 25°C (75°F) with a clear azure sky overhead. Our explorations then took us to the iconic Sevim and Necdet Kent Library & Windmill. Here, amidst ancient manuscripts and the gentle hum of the windmill, we relaxed at the adjoining café.

With freshly squeezed orange juice in hand, we were treated to panoramic views of Cunda, nearby islands, and the vast expanse of the Aegean Sea. The day, filled with discovery and relaxation, encapsulated the essence of Cunda’s charm.

Seaside Surprises: Delicious Delights and Chance Encounters in Cunda, Ayvalık

While savoring an Ayvalık Toast at a seaside eatery, we had the delightful chance to meet a charming Turkish man by the name of Ali on holiday from Istanbul. Engaging and warm, he truly personified the spirit of Turkish hospitality.

Author Ali

What caught me by surprise was learning that Ali is a renowned author in Turkey, having penned numerous books on love. His demeanor and the bond he shared with those around him clearly reflected the essence of his writings.

It’s moments like these – unexpected encounters with wonderful souls – that add a touch of magic to my travels!

Cunda Island: Aegean’s Hidden Gem 

Cunda Island (or Alibey Island as some call it), is an absolute gem in the Aegean Sea! As I strolled down its cobbled paths, I was instantly charmed by the beautiful old stone houses that whisper tales of the island’s rich history. And the food? Oh, the food! The seaside promenade is dotted with restaurants offering the freshest seafood. Dining under the stars there is pure magic.

Take some time to unwind at the many beautiful beaches such as Sarimsakli Beach, Cunda Island Beach, Altinova Beach, Sirinkent Beach, Oren Beach, and Kucukkoy Beach.

Visit the local taverns, where you’ll find the air filled with the lively notes of traditional music. Honestly, between exploring, feasting, and just soaking up those sea views, Cunda offered me an Aegean experience I’ll never forget. If you ever get the chance, you’ve got to visit!

Ayvalık: Gateway to the Aegean’s Enchanting Archipelago

Some of the notable islands near Ayvalık are:

Ayvalik Archepeligo

  1. Cunda Island (Alibey Island): This is the largest and the most popular island near Ayvalık. It’s connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island has charming old stone houses, narrow streets, and several seafood restaurants. It’s a popular tourist destination and has a rich history.
  2. Lale Island: Located close to Cunda, Lale Island has beautiful beaches and is a good spot for picnics and day trips.
  3. Camlik Island: Another beautiful spot to visit, it’s known for its lush greenery and pristine environment.
  4. Küçük Cunda: Literally meaning “Small Cunda”, this islet is located near Cunda Island and offers a peaceful escape.
  5. Küçük Maden Island: This is another small island located in the vicinity of Ayvalık.
  6. Tavuk Island: It’s a tiny island that’s perfect for those looking for solitude.

Many of these islands are perfect for day trips, offering a mix of beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and pristine beaches. Some islands have no inhabitants and are perfect for picnicking, swimming, and enjoying nature, while others like Cunda Island have established settlements with restaurants, accommodations, and more.

The Charms of Ayvalik and Cunda Island: Explore the Mosques, Try Ayvalik Toast, and relax on Mola Beach

Ayvalik and its neighboring Cunda Island offer a treasure trove of attractions, showcasing the town’s past and the natural beauty of the Aegean region. Ayvalik, located on Turkey’s Aegean coast, is a hidden gem renowned for its picturesque cobblestone streets, Ottoman-era houses, and breathtaking sea views.

Exploring Ayvalik is like stepping back in time, with its charming historic sites and cultural landmarks. The town is home to the impressive Taksiyarhis Mosque, a magnificent example of Turkish architecture. Visitors can also delve into the town’s history and heritage at the Taksiyarhis Memorial Museum, which showcases artifacts from the Greek Orthodox era.


For nature enthusiasts, Ayvalik is surrounded by olive groves and offers stunning vistas of the Aegean Sea. The town’s rich gastronomy is a delight for food lovers, with its Aegean cuisine that celebrates fresh and local ingredients. Exploring the old houses of Ayvalik is a treat for the senses, as they have been transformed into artisan shops where visitors can find unique handmade goods.

Cunda Island adds to the allure of Ayvalik. The island boasts a charming old town with narrow streets and traditional Greek Orthodox churches. In the evening, Cunda comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene, offering a taste of the local culture and entertainment. With its tranquil atmosphere and natural beauty, Ayvalik and Cunda Island are the perfect destinations for those seeking a peaceful escape on the Aegean coast.


Although not on every tourist’s radar, Ayvalık and its surrounding archipelago are hidden gems that truly deserve a spot on any Turkey itinerary. This coastal town, nestled on the Aegean Sea, offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

boutique shops cunda

Beyond the charm of Ayvalık’s streets, the islands beckon with their pristine beaches, historic sites, and unique character. Whether you’re seeking weekend nightlife or solace on a quiet islet or indulging in fresh seafood at a local tavern, this region promises an authentic and unforgettable Turkish experience. Don’t miss out on this lesser-known treasure when exploring Turkey!


Q: What is Ayvalik?

A: Ayvalik is a town located in the Balıkesir Province of Turkey. It is known for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and charming old town.

Q: What are some popular attractions in Ayvalik?

A: Some popular attractions in Ayvalik include the Taksiyarhis Church, the old town with its narrow streets and historic buildings, and the famous Ayvalik toast.

Q: What is Ayvalik toast?

A: Ayvalik toast is a delicious local specialty that consists of toasted bread topped with a variety of ingredients such as tomatoes, cheese, olives, and herbs.

Q: What is Taş Kahve?

A: Taş Kahve is a historic coffeehouse in Ayvalik that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee.

Q: What are some places to visit around Ayvalik?

A: Some places to visit around Ayvalik include the island of Lesbos, Bergama with its ancient ruins, and the archipelago of Ayvalik islands.

Q: How can I reach Ayvalik?

A: Ayvalik can be reached by flying to Balıkesir Koca Seyit Airport, which is the nearest airport, or by taking a ferry from Lesbos or other nearby Greek islands.

Q: Does Ayvalik have long sandy beaches?

A: Yes, Ayvalik is known for having some of the longest sandy beaches in Turkey. These beaches are perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

Q: What are some other attractions in Ayvalik?

A: Other attractions in Ayvalik include the Çınarlı Mosque, the Altınova Beach, and the town center with its shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Q: Is Ayvalik worth a visit?

A: Yes, Ayvalik is definitely worth a visit. It offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that will captivate any visitor.

Q: Can I take a boat trip from Ayvalik?

A: Yes, you can take a boat trip from Ayvalik to explore the nearby islands and enjoy the beautiful Aegean Sea.

Q: Is it safe to travel to Türkiye?

A: In light of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, one might harbor concerns about the broader safety of traveling within Türkiye. If you wish to delve into Turkey’s safety, this article aims to alleviate the concerns of the modern nomad.

Hi, I’m Rikki

I’m a passionate author and blogger, sharing my thoughts and experiences on life and travel.

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