Balıkesir Province, Turkey
Ayvalık is a serene town on Turkey’s northwestern Aegean coast. Surrounded by the beautiful archipelago of Ayvalık Islands, this town offers a sweet getaway in the Turkish countryside with many opportunities for historical sightseeing and nature exploration.
Discover all about holidays in Ayvalık on Ferryhopper, including the best travel tips, beaches and attractions to visit. Learn how to get there by ferry and book your ferry tickets online, without any hidden fees.
Establishments stretching over the coast of Ayvalık
Holidays in Ayvalık
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly destination on the Turkish coast, look no further! As a picturesque seaside resort, Ayvalık provides travelers with several outdoor activities and gastronomic delights, all at a reasonable price.
Ayvalık rewards you with mesmerizing, mostly uncrowded beaches and many opportunities for boat trips across its pristine archipelago! As such, visiting Ayvalık in late spring to early autumn is highly recommended, though it still makes for a great relaxing spot even in the off-season months.
How to get to Ayvalık
To get to Ayvalık by sea, you can catch a ferry from Lesbos year-round and arrive in 1.5 hours at most. You can learn more about ferries to Ayvalık here!
Alternatively, you can catch a plane to Balıkesir Koca Seyit Airport, located in the Balıkesir Province, less than 40 km from Ayvalık. Once you land, you can directly reach Ayvalık by bus or car/taxi. If, on the other hand, you wish to travel by train from other Turkish destinations, the nearest stop is in Balıkesir, meaning you’ll still have to resume your journey by a different mode of transport.
Tip: you can also catch a plane to Mytilene International Airport in Lesbos and resume your journey by ferry.
What to do in Ayvalık
Spend your days on heavenly sandy beaches, explore the dense forestry unfolding around the gulf and visit the many Turkish and Greek sightseeing options found in the area. Ayvalık has many traditional things for you to try out, including local snacks, known as mezze. And even when you think you’re done, a visit to Cunda Island will leave you wanting more!
Plan boat trips to Ayvalık’s neighboring islands, explore the town’s monumental Old Town, the list goes! Not sure where to begin? No worries, you can discover the best of Ayvalık below, including the best beaches, delicacies and things to do.
Beaches in Ayvalık
Ayvalık and its surrounding areas are home to some of the longest sandy beaches in all of Turkey! Conveniently, many of the popular swimming spots are within walking distance from the port and city center of Ayvalık.
The team of Ferryhopper puts the spotlight on the following beaches in Ayvalık:
- Belediye beach: you can find this sandy beach once you cross the first bridge on your way to Cunda Island (on Lale Island, specifically). Access is free, while there are also paid services available.
- Mola beach (Cunda Island): this is one of the most popular spots on the island of Cunda. It provides beautiful views and has relatively shallow waters.
- Badavut beach: this sandy, family-friendly beach is not very close to the center of Ayvalık and is preferably accessible by motorway. It has shallow waters and makes for a great excursion.
- Altınova beach: moving further south from Badavut, you will discover the beach of Altınova, one of the 2 longest sandy beaches in the country. The journey may be long from the city center of Ayvalık but it’s worth it!
- Sarımsaklı beach: here we have the other longest beach in Turkey, which is closer to the urban center of Ayvalık and provides countless services, including sun loungers. It’s a good spot for families with children looking for a brief getaway.
Tip: Ayvalık and its Cunda Island become increasingly popular among fans of water sports, including scuba diving and kayaking.
The famous sandy stretches of Ayvalık
Sightseeing and activities in Ayvalık
Combining Turkish, Greek and generally Mediterranean elements all at once, Ayvalık certainly does not disappoint when it comes to its history and culture. Among the several attractions in Ayvalık, many of which are in the Old Town and on Cunda Island, we’ve listed below our personal favorites:
- The Barbaros Caddesi Street, full of historic local businesses
- The Taksiyarhis Memorial Museum, the town’s first church
- Çınarlı Cami, a mosque echoing the area's Greek Orthodox past with its imposing architecture
- Panaya Church, one of the biggest and most reputable churches on Cunda Island
- The Sevim Necdet Library, a renovated chapel on Cunda Island with a windmill behind it and a library inside
Since there are plenty of things to do and see on Cunda Island, you may be wondering what other secrets lie on the rest of the Ayvalık Islands.
Before you reach Cunda Island (by motorway), you’ll pass through Lale Island, another inhabited island in the bay of Ayvalık. It has several summer houses and a few beaches that you can explore. Another notable island, though uninhabited, is the pristine island of Tımarhane, which is the perfect spot for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts!
With more than 20 islands in the archipelago of Ayvalık, make sure to plan a once-in-a-lifetime boat excursion during your stay on the Turkish coasts!
Nightlife in Ayvalık
There are numerous places across the coast of Ayvalık to go out at night, whether you wish to dine by the sea or listen to live music and socialize. Beachside options are the best way to combine afternoon swimming with golden hour refreshments!
For cozier, more sophisticated options, you can check out wine houses like Vino Sarap Evi, found on Cunda Island. You can also find several bars nearby, all with great views and a warm atmosphere.
Food in Ayvalık
The mouthwatering cuisine of Ayvalık is one of the highlights of vacationing in this untouched Turkish gem. The area is renowned for its authentic seafood restaurants (hence the many cats), but also its top-tier drinks and traditional snacks. We highly recommend trying out the following products in Ayvalık:
- Lokma (deep-fried dough balls)
- Turkish raki (traditional alcoholic drink)
- Turkish coffee
- Ayvalık toast (local meat-based sandwich)
- Rice with octopus
- Zucchini salad
- Local olive oil
- Curd cheese
In the Old Town, you can also find one of the oldest bakeries of Ayvalık, Karamanlar Unlu Mamülleri.
Fun fact: around 40% of Ayvalık’s region is covered with olive trees, many of which are centuries-old. This is why trying out meals with olive oil during your stay is a must!
İstanbul isn't the only Turkish hotspot for cats!
Useful information for Ayvalık
The town of Ayvalık is built on a gulf, which means that finding accommodation on the center of its coast is more convenient than limiting yourself to either corner of the area. The best accommodation options are usually beachside hotels, and you can find both budget-friendly and more luxurious resorts.
Staying in the center of the town means that you’ll be closer to most sightseeing options, the ferry port, and the countless shops and boutiques of Ayvalık. Alternatively, finding accommodation on the islands of Cunda and Lale is also on the rise, bringing you closer to their beautiful natural landscapes.
Also, keep in mind that the official currency of the country is the Turkish lira. Luckily, you can find currency exchange services in the town and go on about your holidays hassle-free.
Tip: check out our shopping guide for the Turkish coast and learn all about the boutique bazaar of Ayvalık.
Sunset views over a fishing spot in Ayvalık's port area
Important phone numbers for your stay in Ayvalık
Below, you can find some useful phone numbers for your stay in Ayvalık:
- Ayvalık Port Authority: +902663121130
- Balıkesir Koca Seyit Airport: +902663761297
- Tourist information center: +902663122122
- Police emergency: 155
- European emergency number: 112
Transportation in Ayvalık
While you can easily get to Ayvalık by bus from other points of interest in Turkey, moving around by bus within the town is not an option. Instead, you can explore most of the coast on foot or by motorway (car or taxi).
You can also join a boat trip to visit many of the Ayvalık Islands, as there isn't any other way to get there. For the popular Cunda Island and Lale Island, however, there are also man-made connections, so you can easily get there by car if boat trips are not your thing.
Note: there are several rental services in Ayvalık if you choose to arrive in the town car-free.
Ports in Ayvalık
The beautiful port of Ayvalık is located in the Balıkesir Province in northwestern Turkey. As a main ferry gateway between Greece and Turkey, it provides travelers with all essential amenities as they wait for their ferry, including petrol stations, coffee shops and boutiques.
The port is located south of the city center of Ayvalık and it is easily accessible by motorway or on foot from most points of interest in the town.
Tip: there is a tourist information center within walking distance from the ferry port.
Ayvalık ferry: schedules and tickets
Specifically, the Lesbos (Mytilene) - Ayvalık ferry route is available up to 2 times on a daily basis, with an estimated travel duration of 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Standard ferry tickets to Ayvalık cost around €20 per passenger. Some ferries also allow the transport of vehicles, allowing you to explore the Turkish coasts more independently.
Tip: given the short duration of the route, you can even plan a day trip to Ayvalık from Lesbos by ferry! Take a look at our dedicated article to learn all about our one-day trip recommendations.
Overlooking the neighboring Cunda Island
Book ferry tickets online to Ayvalık
Still not convinced about planning a tranquil vacation to Ayvalık in Turkey? Take a look at our interactive Map of ferries, visualize your ferry trip to Ayvalık and plan every step of your journey online.