Olive oil takes centre stage

Due to its favourable climate and geography, the Aegean coast has always been one of Anatolia’s highest olive production regions. This deep-rooted culture and cultivation history also explains why Aegean cuisine is shaped around olives and olive oil. The region’s delicious olives and olive oils are a time-honoured centrepiece of Aegean cuisine. Olive oil, flavoured with herbs like thyme, rosemary or mint, is a mainstay of breakfast tables in the Aegean as a dip for fresh-baked bread, while olive oils add flavour, health and lightness to salads, appetisers and main courses at lunch and dinner. Here, vegetables such as green beans, eggplant and artichokes, the harbingers of spring, are transformed into wonderfully tasty dishes with the miracle of olive oil, the secret of longevity. Other famous flavours in Aegean cuisine are derived from the Aegean herbs native to the region. Festivals are organised to celebrate delicious and medicinal herbs such as Şevket-i bostan (Blessed Thistle), asparagus and dandelion, which are blended with delicious olive oil and served as main dishes or appetisers.   


Fish-laden tables

Naturally, Aegean cuisine encompasses the bounty of the fertile Aegean Sea. From Ayvalık to Alaçatı and from Bodrum to Datça, restaurants in Aegean coastal towns present the freshest seafood, including sea bream, sea bass, grouper, oysters, octopus, squid and shrimp. Octopus and squid dishes, shrimp casseroles and grilled seasonal fish highlight an unforgettable dinner.


Centuries of viticulture

Along with rakı, the delicious wines made from local Aegean grapes are the best accompaniment to seafood. Because of its soil and climate, the Aegean region is considered among the world’s most desirable geographies. Wherever you travel in the region, the roads will take you to centuries-old vineyards and their luscious grapes and wines. On your trip to the Aegean, you can explore these vineyards and make extraordinary discoveries. You can sample many internationally renowned Turkish wines in Urla, home to some of İzmir’s vineyard routes and Michelin-starred restaurants; in Şirince, named the “Best Tourism Village” by the UN Tourism last year; and in Bodrum, Türkiye’s premium holiday destination. Bozcaada also offers a variety of wines, including reds from the endemic Kuntra and Karalahna grapes and whites from Çavuş and Vasilaki. Urla, known for its vineyards, offers local grape varieties like Bornova Misketi and delicious wines made from Foça Karası and Gaydura grapes, which have been saved from extinction through reproduction.


Fine dining

The Aegean region of Türkiye presents numerous fine dining options. In recent years, innovative chefs have opened upscale restaurants showcasing the ecological and cultural sustainability of Aegean cuisine through the products and traditions of this fertile region.


In this context, particularly in İzmir’s Urla district, one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations, you can sample local dishes at restaurants following the farm-to-table concept and a zero-waste approach. The MICHELIN Guide includes Urla in İzmir and Bodrum in Muğla, another well-known tourism destination.