Ayvalik - Town - Waterfront Boats

Ayvalik – Turkey – Information


JUNE 2019:



OVERVIEW:

PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (I will refer to them as T$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = T$5.87).

I was making my way slowly up the Mediterranean (Turquoise) Coast from Antalya to Istanbul. My last stop was Kusadasi:Kusadasi - Castle - 6

It was, now, time to move north to Ayvalik (via Izmir) …


GETTING THERE:

Kusadasi to Izmir:

I walked out of my Kusadasi waterfront hotel to the nearest Bus Stop. I was there at 11:15am. I caught the No 5 bus to the Otogar (T$2.50). A taxi costs EURO3. I was there in 15 minutes.Kusadasi - Bus Station

I found my bus to Izmir easily. For the first time in Turkey, it was a full sized bus. I went to the counter and bought my ticket (T$20). We left at 12 noon. It was comfortable with personal entertainment in each seat. We even got served free refreshment en route (water / tea / coffee / coke with a small snack).Kusadasi - Bus

We arrived at the Izmir Otogar at 1:15pm.

Stop Over in Izmir:

I decided to stop over in Izmir for 3 nights. I can’t recommend it … so, I will say very little about it in this blog. The points worth noting are:

Bus Pass / Bilet35:

You will need to get a bus pass because the city buses don’t take cash. What you need is a Bilet35. To get one, you need to walk 100 metres from the Otogar to the Metro Station. You put T$11 into the ticket machine. This gives you 3 trips on any city bus. With the Bilet35 in hand, you can jump on the Metro and take the 10 km trip into the town centre.

The Old Town:

I decided to stay in the Old Town around the bazaar.Izmir - Walk - 7

This area is interesting for 1 day but, most places close at 8-8:30pm … then it gets pretty ‘dead’. The nicest thing about the bazaar area is the cheap shopping and sitting in the bazaar cafes people watching with a cup of tea …Izmir - Walk - 9

… eating real Turkish food (like a Gozlemecin for T$20) …Izmir - Gozlemecim - T20

And having soup for breakfast in the back streets with the locals (T$6).Izmir - Soup Breakfast T6

Izmir to Ayvalik:

I walked 300 metres from my hotel to the bus stop and caught a No 302 bus to the Otogar. I used my Bilet35 card. It takes 30 minutes. I easily found my bus to Ayvalik.Izmir - Bus Station

Again, this was a full sized bus. I bought my T$33 ticket from the ticket counter (you need to show your passport) The bus left at 10:30am. It was comfortable with personal entertainment in each seat. Again, we got served free refreshment en route (water / tea / coffee with a small snack). We arrived in Ayvalik Otogar at 1:00pm.Ayvalik - Bus Station

The Otogar is about 2 kms out of town on the E87.Bus Station Location

To get into town, walk out of the Otogar to connect with a minibus just outside of the gates.Ayvalik - Bus to Town Centre

They go ‘around the houses’ on their way into town … but, you get there in the end (T$2.50). I alighted 100 metres from my hotel.


ABOUT:

Ayvalik is located about half way between Izmir and the Dardanelles (where you find the famous Gallipoli).Ayvalik Location Map

It is a seaside town on the northwestern Aegean coast of Turkey and one of Turkey’s fast emerging (but still largely untouched) tourism destinations. The town is surrounded by the archipelago of Ayvalık Islands (consisting of 24 small islands). You can catch a boat from Ayvalik to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos. The main ‘tourist’ part of the town is around Ulusoy.Ayvalik Town Map

The vestiges of 18th and 19th century life are still visible in the streets and the eternal feel of Mediterranean culture. The streets are laid perpendicular to the shoreline, and a grid is created by streets that run parallel to the shoreline (similar to the ancient cities of the region).Ayvalik - Night Lights

Ayvalik houses are characterised by their facades of local volcanic ruff stone. The local architecture has roots in the Ionic and Corinthian styles.


PHOTO GALLERY:

Our walk starts on the main road.Ayvalik - Town - Main Road

And we walk past the Tourist Boats to the Marina.Ayvalik - WaterfrontAyvalik - Town - Waterfront Boats

The centre of the shopping area is Talatpasa Road.Ayvalik - Town - 1 Ayvalik - Town - 2

Between here and the Marina, there are some picturesque alleyways.Ayvalik - Town - 4Ayvalik - Town - 7Ayvalik - Town - 5 Ayvalik - Town - 9Ayvalik - Town - 6 Ayvalik - Town - 12Ayvalik - Town - 11

Where you find lots of small cafes.Ayvalik - Town - 3 Ayvalik - Town - 8 Ayvalik - Town - 10

IN SUMMARY:

A nice Old Town with lots to explore.


ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS:

This is an example of what you can get at short notice in June 2019:Ayvalik Hotels June

As you can see, the options are ‘sparse’.

OCTOBER:

So, let’s look at what you can get by booking in advance for the month of October (the other ‘shoulder season’) …

BOOKING.COM:

PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com did not work in Turkey whilst I was there. You will have to pre-book from outside of the country.

HOTELS.COM:

I suggest that you use HOTELS whilst inside Turkey … they consistently offer the best prices, selection, and discounts:Ayvalik Hotels October

PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. Many search sites don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter so, be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details.

HOLIDAY RENTALS:

A good alternative is an Holiday Home:Ayvalik AirBnB October

AirBnB had no properties listed.

PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).

IN SUMMARY:

GRANDPAckers cannot afford to come here in Peak Season: June to September. You will have to come in Shoulder Season (April-May or October-November). For the best discounts / prices, book at least 2+ months in advance. You may need to ‘get inventive’ and use Turkish hotel search engines. I suspect that HOTELS.COM may have more available closer to October: right now, October may be too far away for some hotels to update their availability.


MY ACCOMMODATION:

I used EXPEDIA. I booked a Single Room with Private Bathroom at Hotel Ayvalik Palas. I chose it because of its location:Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Location

I paid T$138 / US$25 per night including Breakfast. The hotel has 2 floors. It has a lift. I was on the 2nd floor.Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Rooms

My room was on the small side:Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Room Entry

Being a ‘single’ room with a single bed, it was below ‘GRANDPAcking Standard’:Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Bed

It came with cable TV (with lots of channels but the only English speaking channels were News), a small fridge, and a wardrobe:Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Room

The bathroom was adequate and it came with an hot water shower cubicle:Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Shower Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Vanity

And, I had a small balcony with a sea view:Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Balcony

The Buffet Breakfast was excellent and it was served in the 2nd floor restaurant.Ayvalik - Palas - Buffet Breakfast 1 Ayvalik - Palas - Buffet Breakfast 2

You could either eat in the restaurant or outside on the terrace.Ayvalik - Palas - Restaurant Ayvalik - Palas - Terrace

The in-room wifi signal was weak. The hotel’s wifi, in general, was disappointing and unreliable.

IN SUMMARY:

It was all that I could afford on a GRANDPAcking budget. My single room was below GRANDPAcking Standard. But, otherwise, everything else was good.


WHERE TO STAY:

I strongly suggest that you stay within walking distance of Ulusoy. Getting somewhere in those cute little back alleyways is going to be very atmospheric.Ayvalik - Palas - Road to Hotel

Alas, GRANDPAckers have few options … you will be where you can afford to be … either that, or you will need to compromise on the quality of your room (to get ‘central’ like I did). I would suggest that this is worth it.


ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Have a look yourself:


Booking.com

Hotels Logo Big


EAT & DRINK:

You are lost for choices in all price ranges.

CHEAP EATS:

There are plenty of cheap cafes in the side streets. Here is a ‘typical’ menu:Ayvalik - Town - Typical Menu

DRINK:

A local 500ml beer is about T$9 in a supermarket. Add another T$1 for the convenience of a corner shop. Expect T$15 for the same in a local cafe. Expect T$20-T$25 somewhere more ‘upmarket’.

Some bars play live music (usually Turkish in an old or new style).Ayvalik - Live Music

I listened to some nice new age Turkish music in a waterfront bar with a view out over the water …Ayvalik - Waterfront Bar

… and a sunset.Ayvalik - Sunset 1

IN SUMMARY:

You should get your Breakfast included in your hotel room rate. If not, expect to pay an average of T$20 each for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.

Expect to pay an average of T$25 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.

Expect to pay an average of T$40 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.


TRANSPORT:

The minibus from the Otogar to the Ulusoy costs T$2.50.Ayvalik - Palas Hotel - Terrace View

A public bus trip to an attraction within a 1 hour drive should cost about T$10 each way.


MONEY:

There are several Banks and ATMs to choose from.Ayvalik - Rustic Bars

ATMs:

Many ATMs charge between 5% and 10% in the main tourist towns. In these lesser known places you should pay 3.5%.

MY ADVICE: Use one of the bigger and better known nation-wide banks for the best rates. I used Garanti several times.


INTERNET / WIFI:

Your accommodation ‘should’ provide good wifi.

You will, also, find free wifi in the tourist-oriented restaurants and bars.Ayvalik - Sunset 2

TURKCELL:

Back in Selcuk, I bought a new TurkCell SIMcard for T$100 and a 1 month Promotional Package for T$25. The latter came with 2GB of Facebook / Twitter data, 3GB of Internet data, 300 minutes of talk time, and 200 free SMSs.

I went to TurkCell in Marmaris to top it up. They had a 4GB 1 month package for T$35. I chose their 6GB package for T$40 that included:

  • 6GB standard internet;
  • another 2GB bonus internet;
  • another 1Gb bonus internet;
  • 500 standard minutes of Talk Time;
  • Unlimited TurkCell-TurkCell Talk Time at the weekends;
  • 1,000 SMSs;
  • Lots of other stuff that I didn’t understand.

I paid a T$2 fee.


HEALTH & SAFETY:

The first thing that you notice is the number of smokers; there is still a large % of smokers here. They even smoke in ‘no smoking’ areas without anyone complaining. Not a surprise when you can get a 20 pack of Rothmans ‘Click’ for T$11.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 11

There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.


WHEN TO GO

Ayvalik has a hot Mediterranean / dry-summer subtropical climate that is mild with moderate seasonality.Ayvalik Climate Chart

Summers are dry and hot due to the domination of subtropical high pressure systems … while winters experience moderate temperatures and changeable, rainy weather due to the polar front.

These climates usually occur on the western sides of continents between the latitudes of 30° and 45°. Seasonality is moderate.

Peak Season is June through September. Shoulder Season is mid April to May and October to mid November. Rainy season is December through March.


WHAT TO DO:

Go Island Hopping. Boats leave from near Ulusoy at 11:30am and return at 6:30pm. The price is T$50.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 1

You cruise out for about 1 hour and stop in a secluded bay.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 3

And get about 1 hour of swimming.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 2

Lunch is included and served at about 2pm. Fish, of course.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 4

My boat had a loud sound system with a DJ that got people up dancing.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 5

I sun-bathed up on the roof and watched the scenery go by.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 6

The boats usually stop 3 times for swimming.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 7

Before heading home …Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 8

With a final 1 hour stop at a village on Alibey Adasi Island.Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 9 Ayvalik - Island Hopping - 10


GRANDPAcking COSTS:

Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.

SPREADSHEET SUMMARY:

Ayvalik GRANDPAcking Costs

MY COSTS:

My costs are broken down into:

  • Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
  • Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):

I did not EXIST within GRANDPAcking standard: I had a Single Room.

My accommodation was T$138 / US$25 per night.

I already had my working and topped up TurkCell SIMcard.

I have apportioned T$28 for my Turkish eVisa.

I averaged about T$53 per day on food and water.

My COE worked out to be about T$150 (US$27) per day.

COST OF LIVING (COL):

I LIVED to GRANDPAcking standard.

In / Out Costs:  My public transport costs were T$51.

Living Costs: I averaged about T$43 per night on drinks.

Entertainment: I spent T$50 on an Island Hopping Day Trip.

Equipment: I needed to replace some broken items and take my laptop to a repair shop.

My total COL was about T$236 (US$43) / day. This was 83% of my budget.

COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:

Again, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).

COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):

Accommodation: I have booked you into the cheapest hotel that I can find near the Old Town. Breakfast is included (which is normal in Turkey).

Transportation: I have budgeted a return bus trip on a local bus each week to somewhere within a 1 hour drive.

Communications & Fees: I have budgeted a TurkCell SIMcard and 1 month promo package. I have included the cost of 2 Turkish eVisas.

Food & Water: Your budget averages about T$131 (US$24) / day for 2 people. This is to eat Lunch and Dinner in Cheap Restaurants.

Your COE is about T$289 (US$53) / day. This is 1% OVER budget.

COST OF LIVING (COL):

This leaves you nothing to LIVE on.


CONCLUSION:

Ayvalik Old Town has ‘character’. To afford a month here you will need to:

  • Come off-season (e.g. in mid April – May or October – mid November);
  • Get a cheap AirBnB / Holiday Home (if you can find one) at a discounted monthly rate and buy in groceries to eat at home.

There are cheaper holiday destinations … but Ayvalik is definitely worth a visit.


RETIREMENT:

Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? NO.

TTFN


Why not FOLLOW US to stay up to date with our Postings and Retirement Reviews.