Explore Turkey’s Beautiful Olive Tree Routes

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Goya

For centuries, the olive tree has been a symbol of peace and prosperity in Turkey. In recent years, the Turkish government — with the help of the Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB) or various non-profits— have sought to honour the olive tree’s legacy by creating a network of olive tree routes throughout the country.

These are scenic routes that connect some of the most beautiful and culturally significant sites in all of Turkey, perfect for those looking to explore this amazing country.

So, whether you’re a nature lover seeking serene vistas, a history buff hungry for tales of antiquity, or just an avid traveller eager for new horizons, join me on this adventure as we explore Turkey’s beautiful olive tree routes. As someone who has crisscrossed Turkey and walked some of these olive tree routes herself, I can assure you that this is a journey you won’t want to miss.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes
By Victoria Todorova

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Turkey’s Olive Tree Routes | What You’ll See Along The Way

The olive tree routes are designed to let travellers explore both the cultural and natural heritage of Turkey in one journey. This incredible journey lets you explore some of Turkey’s most beautiful and historic areas, from the rolling hills of İzmir to the stunning coastal towns of Turkey’s Aegean Coast.

Every route is guaranteed to take you through several historical sites and lush landscapes, giving you a complete picture of what makes this country so special. Along the way, you’ll find yourself immersed in ancient olive groves and traditional villages that are sure to captivate your senses.

In addition to learning about the historical significance and cultural importance of olive production in these areas, you’ll be able to sample some delicious local delicacies made with freshly pressed olive oil.

TIP: While on the road, don’t forget to try the “zeytinyağlılar” of the region you are visiting which can be translated as “those made with olive oil” and refers to practically any locally available vegetable or herb that has been cooked in olive oil.

North Aegean Stops

The North Aegean region of Turkey is home to some of the most beautiful stops along the olive tree route. From the historic city of Çanakkale and its ancient archaeological sites to the spectacular mountain views of Balıkesir, these regions are sure to captivate your senses. Manisa, with its rolling hills and vast olive groves, is also worth a visit.

As you move through this vibrant landscape, you can explore the traditional architecture and culture, enjoy the local cuisine and learn about the olive production process. In the words of Ray Charles, “Can anyone ask for more”?

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes: North Aegean
By Mert Kahveci

#1: Çanakkale

Çanakkale, located in the northwest of Turkey, on the southern coast of the Dardanelles, is the perfect destination to start exploring Turkey’s olive tree routes. The region has been cultivating olives for centuries, with much of its rich history entwined with the famous Mediterranean staple.

The city has a long and proud agricultural tradition (as displayed in Adatepe Olive Oil Museum), and its surrounding green landscapes are dotted with traditional olive groves. Local farmers still tend to the old trees, which are believed to have been planted by generations of family members before them. With historical ties to this crop as deep as the roots of the trees, and a harvest-perfect climate, it’s no surprise that Çanakkale is considered one of the country’s most important olive-growing areas.

Of course, there is more to Çanakkale than just olives. The city has a vibrant culture and scenery that make it an ideal spot for visitors to both relax and explore. And the area is well known for its stunning natural beauty with rocky cliffs and winding bays providing gorgeous vistas from every corner. Visitors can take in the sights by taking part in local boat tours, which meander along the coastline and around nearby islands. With its tranquil scenery and fragrant olive groves, Çanakkale is a perfect destination for those looking to reconnect with nature and indulge in some of Turkey’s finest delicacies.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes: Troy
By Emir Eğricesu

The city also boasts an array of historic sites, including a number of ancient ruins, as well as the ancient city walls. A visit here will guarantee not only stunning views but also a unique experience that takes you back in time and connects you with Turkey’s rich cultural heritage:

  • History and movie lovers will enjoy a trip to the legendary city of Troy (or rather, the Archaeological Site of Troy) with its iconic — albeit unreal — Trojan Horse, and see the remnants of one of antiquity’s greatest cities.
  • Or, a visit to the 15th-century Kilitbahir Castle, which uncovers the history of this region and Ottoman castle life.
  • For those interested in World War I history, Gallipoli battlefields and cemeteries offer an insight into some of the darkest days in human history and the most ferocious battles during World War I.

Overall, whether you’re a foodie looking to try some delicious local olives, a lover of all things historical and antiquity, or an adventurer seeking out stunning natural beauty, Çanakkale is the perfect place to start your unforgettable journey on the North Aegean olive tree route.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes: Adatepe
By Mert Kahveci

DON’T MISS: Ayvacık & Adatepe Olive Oil Museum

While here, don’t forget to visit Adatepe village in the Ayvacık District of Çanakkale, which not only boasts wonderful views from the Ida Mountains and Zeus Altar but also provides an even more detailed look into the area’s fascinating relationship with olives.

This cute little village is home to Adatepe Olive Oil Museum (Adatepe Zeytinyağı Müzesi), the first olive oil museum in Turkey or, as recently renamed Türkiye. Here, visitors can browse through a collection of tools and artefacts used in traditional production processes, and marvel at the immense number of traditional olive presses that were used to extract oil from the fruit, as well as folkloric material from around the region.

The best part? Admission to the museum is free, and visitors can indulge in the sales stand to take home high-quality olives, olive oil, and soap!

#2: Ayvalık, Balıkesir

Ayvalık, located in Balıkesir Province, is another breathtaking destination for visitors exploring Turkey’s olive tree routes. This picturesque seaside town has been home to olive trees since antiquity and today boasts some of the most fertile groves in the country.

Ayvalık is known for producing some of Turkey’s finest extra-virgin olive oils, some of which are recipients of several international awards. Visitors can sample these award-winning creations while exploring the town — or over at Cunda Island, off the coast of Ayvalık —, or visit one of its many shops offering top-quality olive oils and other local delicacies.

While here, you can take a tour of traditional farms to learn more about local production methods, or simply wander through the lush olive gardens and enjoy a picnic amidst its greenery. Those who are not afraid to get their hands dirty can learn how to use local ingredients, including olives and olive oil, in traditional Turkish cuisine with a cooking class from a local chef.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes: Ayvalık
By Aylin Çobanoğlu

The area also boasts an impressive selection of local dishes made with olives, from traditional mezes to hearty mains. Whether you’re stopping in for a bite or looking to take home some authentic delicacies, Ayvalık’s olive-inspired specialities (or “zeytinyağlı”) are sure to delight your tastebuds.

TIP: If you are visiting Ayvalık at the end of October or early November, keep an eye out for the annual “Ayvalık Olive Harvest Festival“, which celebrates the olive harvest with parades, music, dancing, and delicious local food and drinks.

#3: Kırkağaç, Manisa

Kırkağaç, Manisa is a region that has been producing olives since ancient times. The traditional cultivation techniques used in these groves are still practised by local farmers, who take great care to ensure that each tree produces only the best fruit. Visitors can explore these picturesque olive gardens and learn about their cultivation processes, or even take part in a traditional harvesting ceremony.

Here, the visitors can find an olive tree that is more than 1650 years old and even registered as a “monumental tree”. This tree is a symbol of the region’s rich history and deep connection to nature, and it stands as a living representation of the area’s long tradition of olive cultivation.

Visitors to Kırkağaç can marvel at the tree’s gnarled trunk and sprawling branches, which offer a stunning glimpse into the past while also serving as a reminder of the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations. For anyone with an appreciation for the natural world and the wonders of the past, a visit to this magnificent olive tree is an absolute must.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes
By Kris Sevinc

Did You Know?
Kırkağaç is not only renowned for its olives but also for its delicious Kırkağaç melon. These sweet and juicy fruits are grown in the fields surrounding the city and are considered a local delicacy. During summertime, these succulent melons can be found everywhere from roadside stands to farmers’ markets and supermarkets. They make an excellent snack, alone or served with feta cheese.

South Aegean | İzmir Olive Route

Since ancient times, İzmir has been revered for its prized possession, the olive. It’s not just a staple food item, but also an integral part of the region’s cultural and economic fabric. In fact, the world’s first modern olive oil workshop can be traced back to the ancient city of Klazomenai in Urla.

Today, the history of olives lives on through the numerous olive trees scattered across the peninsula, some of which are estimated to be between 300 and 2000 years old!

With such a rich history and close ties, it is safe to say that İzmir’s passion for olives runs deep and is here to stay. So it is no wonder that the İzmir Olive Route is one of the most picturesque and historic olive tree routes in Turkey as well as the most established one.

This remarkable route owes its existence to a collaborative effort between the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and the Zeytince Association for Supporting Ecological Lives. Comprising 7 stages and 19 tracks, it invites you to immerse yourself in the captivating tale of İzmir’s olive heritage.

#1: Karaburun Stage

Karaburun is a small town whose economy is largely based on fishing and agriculture, with olive and fig groves dotting the hillsides. The town is known for its stunning natural beauty, with crystal clear waters, secluded beaches and rocky cliffs.

As a charming and picturesque rural town that offers visitors a chance to experience a slower pace of life and connect with nature, it is no surprise that the tracks on this stage of the route tend to have local experiences rather than overtly touristy attractions:

  • #1: Balıklıova – Çatalkaya – Mordoğan
  • #2: Eski Mordoğan – Eğlenhoca – Kösedere – İnecik – Kaynakpınar – Boyabağ
  • #3: Amberseki – Saip – Karaburun Merkez – Bozköy – Tepeboz
  • #4: Yeni Liman – Hasseki – Sarpıncık – Parlak – Salman
  • #5: Balıklıova – Eğriliman – Küçükbahçe – Yaylaköy – Karaburun Merkez

As you travel along these tracks, you will come across numerous olive oil workshops that are either abandoned or still in operation, as well as a distinctive local museum: A personal collection turned into a museum, Müesser Aktaş Etnografya ve Tarih Evi is dedicated to showcasing the cultural heritage of the region, particularly the ethnography and history of Mordoğan and its surroundings.

#2: Çeşme – Urla Stage

The Çeşme-Urla stage of the Olive Tree Route is sure to provide a breathtakingly beautiful journey for tourists looking to enjoy the local culture, natural wonders, and historical sites along the way.

The tracks here pass through serene villages (tracks #7-9) that are home to centuries-old olive trees, as well as towns like Çeşme and Alaçatı (track #6) both popular summer holiday destinations in Turkey.

While Çeşme boasts stunning blue waters and a rich historical heritage, Alaçatı charms visitors with its cobbled streets, colourful architecture, and lively nightlife. In Çeşme, visitors can witness the iconic Çeşme Castle, built in the 16th century, and explore the town’s popular beaches, known for their glistening clear waters. On the other hand, Alaçatı is famous for its windsurfing and lively market that offers a diversity of local goods, from handcrafted ceramics to fragrant spices, and for its iconic windmills that date back to the 19th century.

  • #6: Çeşme – Çiftlik – Ovacık – Alaçatı
  • #7: Zeytinler – Birgi – Barbaros – Kadıovacık – Ildırı
  • #8: Zeytinler – Uzunkuyu – Nohutalan – Germiyan
  • #9: Karaköy – Zeytineli – Posköy – Dağovacık

On this stage of the olive tree route, you can visit Çeşme Castle, which is home to an archaeology museum and an ancient olive oil press stone. Or, simply enjoy the many olive and olive oil-based dishes served in local restaurants after a day spent soaking in the sun or reading a book under the shade of an olive tree.

DON’T MISS: Köstem Olive Oil Museum

Technically part of the idyllic town of Urla, Turkey, but located in between Çeşme – Urla, Köstem Olive Oil Museum in Uzunkuyu (track #8) is a must-visit destination for anyone with an interest in the rich history and production methods of olive oil.

The museum is dedicated to showcasing the story of olive oil production in the Aegean region, stretching back over 4,000 years. Here, the visitors can marvel at the centuries-old methods for producing olive oil that are on display, as well as catch a glimpse of the evolution of olive oil production, from the earliest farming techniques to the modern methods in use today.

#3: Urla Stage

In addition to being an important stop on the olive tree route, Urla is a charming town that provides visitors with a myriad of activities and attractions. As the capital of the Aegean gastronomic revolution, it is a great destination for gastronomic travellers.

In the summer, Urla shines with its pristine beaches, warm waters and an array of watersports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. Visitors to Urla can experience the local culture by visiting the antique shops, local art galleries, and its many wineries. Whether you’re interested in food, history or water sports, Urla is sure to please.

TIP: If you are visiting Urla in April, keep an eye out for the annual “Urla Artichoke Festival“, celebrating another popular crop of this region: the mastic artichoke or gum artichoke. The festival attracts visitors from all over the country and is dedicated to showcasing the versatility and deliciousness of this unique vegetable.

The festival features a variety of artichoke-based dishes created by local chefs, along with cooking demonstrations and workshops. In addition to the food, there are also music performances, art exhibitions, and a range of activities such as wine tasting and visits to farmers’ markets where you can purchase fresh, locally grown produce.

Urla tracks include:

  • #10: Urla Merkez
  • #11: Urla – İskele – Burgaz – Özbek – Yuvaca
  • #12: Kuşçular – Yağcılar – Demircili

Each of these tracks takes you through villages blanketed with olive groves, old oil factories and even ancient olive oil presses standing as a testament to the region’s olive legacy.

DON’T MISS: Klazomenai Ancient City

Visitors to Urla can explore the ancient city of Klazomenai, which was a significant centre of olive oil production in antiquity. In its heyday, the city produced a vast quantity of olive oil, much of which was exported to Greece and other countries in the Mediterranean region. Today, visitors can see the remains of the ancient olive presses that date back to the 6th century BC.

#4: Seferihisar Stage

The only track on this stage is:

  • #13: Seferihisar – Kavakdere – Orhanlı – Beyler

Sığacık in Seferihisar is home to the ancient port city of Teos. The ruins of this once vibrant city, which was one of the most thriving cities in Ionia during antiquity, have been extensively excavated and can now be explored by visitors.

Teos was an important site for trade and transportation in ancient times, as well as a centre for philosophical thought and scientific research. Visitors today can still see many aspects of its past glory in the archaeological remains that are scattered throughout its streets.

From its marble temple dedicated to Dionysus, its impressive fortifications, and even remnants of its aqueducts, Teos is a captivating destination that invites exploration into an ancient world far removed from modern-day Turkey.

#5: Güzelbahçe – Seferihisar Stage

While this stage does not have as many ancient sites or olive presses to see as some of the others, it is home to many thousand-year-old olive trees, operational flour and olive oil factories, and some charming villages:

  • #14: Gölcük – Gödence – Çamtepe – Efemçukuru
  • #15: Güzelbahçe – Küçükkaya – Payamlı – Kavacık
  • #16: Güzelbahçe – Yelki – Çamlı – Bademler – Ulamış

#6: Menderes Stage

The tracks on this stage include:

  • #17: Görece – Dereköy – Akçaköy – Çatalca – Yeniköy – Menderes Merkez
  • #18: Menderes – Küner – Şaşal – Tekeli – Değirmendere – Çamönü – Ataköy

Here, you can find some ancient olive presses, and mortars lying around, anywhere from the village centre to a private garden. These relics are a testament to the region’s history of olive oil production and speak to a time when local farmers relied on this essential commodity for their livelihoods.

#7: Selçuk Stage

The Selçuk stage of the olive tree route is a single-track route that takes travellers from the historic city of Selçuk to the charming hillside village of Şirince:

  • #19: Selçuk – Şirince

With full-on stops at both ends, one could easily spend an entire week exploring this stretch alone. In Selçuk, visitors can explore awe-inspiring sites like the ancient Ephesus ruins, St John’s Basilica and the Isa Bey Mosque. Meanwhile, in Şirince they can take in picturesque views of lush hillsides while feasting on local delicacies or sampling the area’s renowned wines.

There is also plenty to do here during leisure time with activities such as biking, trekking and horseback riding just a short drive away.

From admiring ancient artwork and architectural structures to tasting delicious local food specialities and learning traditional crafts, there is never a dull moment when travelling along this scenic route.

South Aegean | Beyond İzmir

#1: Kuşadası, Aydın

Nestled along the stunning Aegean coastline, this coastal paradise is not only a great stop on the olive route, but also a treasure trove of historical wonders and a haven for those seeking sun, sea, and culture.

Visitors here can experience this rich heritage by visiting the Oleatrium Museum of Olive & Olive Oil History, a fascinating repository of information about olive cultivation in the area.

For a dose of natural beauty, take a boat trip to the Dilek Peninsula National Park, where pristine beaches, perfect coves (like Zeus Cave) and hiking trails offer a serene escape. Kuşadası also offers vibrant markets, where you can shop for local crafts, textiles, and delicious olive products. And, of course, indulge in the town’s vibrant culinary scene, sampling delectable dishes infused with the region’s renowned olive oil. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Kuşadası has something to delight every traveller.

DON’T MISS: Oleatrium Olive and Olive Oil History Museum

The museum (Oleatrium Zeytin ve Zeytinyağı Tarihi Müzesi) showcases an array of artefacts and documents relating to Turkey’s 2500-year-long olive oil-making history, from ancient farm tools to modern equipment.

The museum is open from 10:00-18:00 (Tuesday to Friday) and 10:00-19:00 (Saturday to Sunday) and closed on Mondays.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes: Kuşadası
By T. Selin Erkan

#2: Milas, Muğla

The very last stop on our olive tree route is Milas, a town teeming with history, culture, and natural beauty. Steeped in antiquity, Milas boasts archaeological wonders like the ancient city of Mylasa, which once thrived as a prominent city in the Carian region, offering glimpses into its rich past.

Milas’ olive groves produce some of Turkey’s finest olives and olive oil, a testament to its deep-rooted connection with the olive culture. Explore bustling bazaars like the Milas Bazaar to savour local cuisine and indulge in olive-based delicacies. Don’t forget to venture to nearby Lake Bafa, a serene nature reserve that’s a haven for birdwatchers and a tranquil escape.

As you traverse Turkey’s olive tree route, don’t miss this hidden gem that weaves together history, culture, and natural splendour, leaving you with cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for Turkey’s olive heritage.

Explore Turkey's Beautiful Olive Tree Routes: Milas
By Muhammed Demir

While you’re here, why not check out nearby Bodrum with beautiful gems like Gümüşlük?

Final Thoughts: Turkey’s Olive Tree Routes

Exploring Turkey’s olive tree routes is a unique experience that every off-the-beaten-path traveller should have at least once in their lifetime. Whether it’s for two or seven days, these routes provide an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in nature while learning about some of the country’s most fascinating history and culture.

On these olive tree routes, you can also experience some of the best food that Turkey has to offer at traditional restaurants or street vendors along the way. Don’t forget to stop at a few wineries too! And if you’re lucky enough, you might even catch glimpses of wild animals like deer or boar as they roam through some of these beautiful landscapes!

No matter where you go in Turkey’s olive tree routes, there will be plenty for you to see along your journey, as the sights and smells of this ancient fruit follow you. So if you’re looking for an adventure that will delight all your senses, then make sure to add one (or more) of these routes to your next trip itinerary!


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