Ayvalik is a district of Balikesir province of Turkey. Its full-time population is over 75 thousand but it goes up to several hundred thousands during spring and summer months, especially during holidays. Located on the Aegean Sea coast, 155 km (96 miles) from Izmir and 406 km (252 miles) from Istanbul, the district is one of the most important tourism centers in Turkey. There are also domestic flights to the Balikesir Koca Seyit Airport in Edremit which is just 45 km from town center. And there are ferries every day between Lesbos island and Ayvalik.
In ancient times the area was ruled by Mysians, Hittites, Phrygians and Lydians. There were Greek colonies living on the group of islands in front of Ayvalik, and later ther settlement it was moved to where it is today. During those ancient times, Ayvalik was called Kidonia, meaning a type of wild quince. It is thought that the first settlers in the region may have come from the Kydona village of Lesbos or the Kydonies region of Crete in the 4th century BC. Later it was ruled by the Romans and then the Byzantine greeks settled here.
The foundation of today's Ayvalik town dates back to 15th century, built on a hill overlooking the port. The Ottoman Empire established a naval base on Alibey Island. The region was an autonomous region inhabited by non-Muslims in the 18th century. After the Greek uprising in 1821, the town was evacuated and made a district of Karesi Sanjak in 1840. In accordance with the Turkey-Greece Population Exchange specified in the Treaty of Lausanne signed on 24 July 1923, Turks from Crete, Macedonia and Lesbos were settled in the district. Ayvalik, which was affiliated with Burhaniye district, became a district of Balikesir on 19 May 1928.
The temperate Mediterranean climate prevails in the area; while the summer months are hot and dry, the winter months are warm and rainy. The "imbat" and "meltem" winds blow in scorching heat of the summer, generally starting in the afternoon, and the northern winds (Poyraz in Turkish) blow in the winter months. These winds give strength to the olive trees and add flavor to its oil. The region has one of the highest oxygen levels in the world, carried from Kaz (ancient Ida) mountains.
The district's economy largely depends on olives and tourism. There are many boutique hotels on Cunda island and in the center of Ayvalik town, as well as many fish restaurants. There are approximately 22 islands, large and small, around Ayvalik. The largest of these is Alibey Island, also known as Cunda Island. On all of Ayvalik islands, except Alibey (Cunda), settlement is prohibited. Ayvalik has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2017. In addition, camel wrestling match is traditionally held every year in Ayvalik during the winter months.
Places to visit are; Cunda island, Devil's Table (Seytan Sofrasi) hill, old Greek houses and Macaron neighborhood in the town, Sarimsakli beach, Saatli Mosque from 1928, Taksiyarhis Church from 1873, Ayazma Church from 1890, Küçükköy (Yeniçarohori) village.