A Coastal Gem of Turkish Culture and Heritage
Izmir is Turkey’s third-largest city, after Istanbul and Ankara. Izmir has a diverse range of cultural, historical, and archaeological monuments.
This city offers a wide range of activities, from the city’s iconic attractions like the clock tower and Konak Square to the bustling Kemeralti and Kizlaragasi Han bazaars. Izmir is the ideal spot if you want to experience Turkish life outside the staged photographs on Instagram. Enjoy a relaxing vacation along the Aegean Coast, taking advantage of the pristine beaches, upscale resorts, breathtaking coastline, and vibrant nightlife.
History of Izmir
The narrow, 100-decare-long peninsula in the northeastern corner of the Izmir Gulf was the location of the ancient city of Izmir (Smyrna). Dirt flooding from the Meles River through Sipvlos (Yamanlar) Mountain over the previous several centuries created the present-day Bornova plan, and the little peninsula transformed into a hill.
Zmir is among the oldest cities in the Mediterranean region and has been significant historically for about 5,000 years. Excavations suggest a village that existed at the same time as the original Troy, which dates to the third millennium BCE. It was captured by Alyattes of Lydia in 600 BCE and lost its status as a city for almost 300 years before Alexander the Great, or one of his lieutenants refounded it in the 4th century BCE. Greek troops conquered Zmir in May 1919, and Turkish forces led by Mustafa Kemal took it back on September 9, 1922.
The modern city, with its wide streets and buildings built in 1924. Zmir’s commercial area, Konak, is where most of the city’s residents live. To the southwest, in Karantina and Güzelyalı, and to the north of the bazaar, in Eşrefpaşa, are where most of the city’s residents live. The original Izmir citadel was situated on Kadifekale (Mount Pagus), south of the commercial district. The freshly expanded harbor is located in Alsancak to the north, while the industry is mainly found in the suburbs along the gulf to the northeast.
How to Reach Izmir
Izmir is easily accessible by all kinds of transportation. We would like to highlight the ways to reach Izmir as listed below;
“Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport” is a major international airport that serves the city and is situated in the Gaziemir area 18 kilometers from the city center. Pegasus Airlines and SunExpress mainly use the airport.
There are several ways of getting to and from the airport.
Airport Shuttle Bus
Havaş operates a direct bus route that connects the airport to the city. Two bus lines exist; one terminates in Alsancak and the other in Mavisehir. Further details and timetable are available at the official website
There are three bus routes that connect the airport and various areas of Izmir, and they both can be used to travel to the city center of Izmir.
The Izban suburban train is another method. Due to its affordability, this method of transportation is preferred between the airport and Izmir. You may pick between trains to Alsancak and Aliaga from the station, which lies in front of the New Domestic Terminal.
Taxi services are available to travel between the airport and city places. Consider using a cab if you want to escape the congested public transportation, but keep in mind that this is the most expensive choice.
If using public transportation or a cab is not an option for you, think about ordering a private transfer online.
a Car or Bus at Izmir Airport
The best choice is to hire a vehicle or bus right at the airport for those who would rather get to the city and tour the surroundings on their own. There are several different rental companies available in Izmir.
The efficient bus service connects Izmir to the rest of Turkey. The major bus station, Büyük Otogar, is not far from the city center, and there are several buses that will take you straight up to the city. The terminal is fairly large and has an internet café as well as a variety of food and beverage options. The drive from Istanbul might take 7 to 10 hours and is best done overnight.
You may either drive yourself or rent a private vehicle to go to Izmir from anywhere in Turkey. The journey from Istanbul is around 480 kilometers long and takes approximately 6 hours through Balikesir. A more picturesque route would be via Edremit, which passes through the Dikili beach region. This trip is significantly longer and might take well over 7 hours.
Izmir has two railway stations: Basmane and Alsancak. Basmane operates regional trains and the Metro service, whilst Alsancak operates intercity and commuter trains. Trains go directly from Izmir to Ankara, Denizli, and Konya. To go to any other city, you’d have to change trains; for example, to get from Istanbul to Eskişehir, you’d have to change trains at Eskisehir.
Details on the Turkish rail network can be obtained through this link.
Izmir has a busy harbor. Many international cruise ships from Italy and other Mediterranean nations stop here. There are other ferries from other Turkish cities to Izmir. You may take a boat from Istanbul to Bandırma and then a train to Izmir.
Weather in Izmir
According to the Köppen-Geiger classification, Izmir has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. Izmir’s yearly maximum temperature is 23°C (ranging from 12°C in January to 35°C in August). The average annual rainfall is 886mm, with a low of 3mm in July and a high of 169mm in January.
- The climate is adverse throughout the month of January. The temperature rises to 12°C°C, while 169mm of rain falls in January.
- Between February and March, the weather is tolerable but still acceptable. On average, the temperature is 11°C in the morning, and it rains approximately 87mm in March.
- During the months of April and May. This month’s high temperature is 36°C, and it rains approximately 12% of the time.
- The weather is ideal from June through September. By early evening, the average temperature is 25°C, and it rains approximately 25mm in September.
- The weather is pleasant from October through November. This month’s high temperature is 29°C, and the average monthly rainfall is 74mm.
- In December is tolerable yet still acceptable. By early evening, the average temperature is 10°C, and six days of rain are forecast in December.
The best time to visit
March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November are the finest months for beautiful weather in Izmir.
Other Key Information
- July and August are the hottest months on average.
- Has dry periods in July and August.
- The month of January is the coldest of the year.
- January and December are the rainiest months.
- June, July, August, and September are the finest months for swimming.
Attractions and Things To Do in Izmir
Visit Konak Square & the Clock Tower
The downtown area’s Konak Square ought to be your first destination in Izmir. A lovely clock tower can be found here; it was a gift from the German Emperor Wilhelm II to the Ottoman King Abdulhamit II and serves as the city’s emblem. There are connections to buses, a tramway system, and urban ferries at this entrance to the old market as well. Konak Square is a well-liked rest area and an excellent place to people-watch.
Stroll Through Kemeralti Bazaar & Surrounding Markets
Along the curve of historic Anafartalar Street is the ancient market known as Kemeralti Market, which dates back to the 17th century. Today, Kemeralti is undoubtedly one of the most popular shopping destinations for both locals and tourists. Numerous shops sell valuable local handicrafts, jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and other items.
Explore Agora Archaeological Site of Smyrna
Greeks constructed the Agora of Smyrna sometime in the 4th century BC, and the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius reconstructed it after the earthquake destroyed the area. When excavation work on the site commenced in 1933, the Agora that you see today began to take shape. Since that time, the site has been cleaned up, certain areas have been tastefully restored, the streets have begun to take shape, and Izmir’s Agora has been designated as one of the world’s cultural treasures.
One of the features that can catch your eye is a subterranean roadway that is surrounded by enormous stone arches. It appears to be a labyrinth of gigantic arches and columns. There is a fountain in the middle of this labyrinth that is still in operation, and the water flows into tiny channels all over the place.
On your tour, an Ottoman cemetery may be found in the Agora’s right-hand corner. Of course, many gravestones are damaged or shattered, but some were maintained and still have their original appearance.
Another thing to see here is Pagos Castle (modern-day Kadifekale). In addition to serving as the city’s acropolis, Kadifekale served as the defensive system’s nerve center and most revered shrine in ancient Smyrna. Its location allowed for a single point of observation, the acropolis, from which one could see the entire Gulf of Izmir, from the Aegean Sea to the Yeşildere Valley and the Bornova Plain (on land).
Due to many repair initiatives, Kadifekale’s western walls are still standing today. Unfortunately, the southern, eastern, and northern walls have all been significantly damaged.
According to various academics, the Smyrna Theatre is “one of the most exquisite marble theaters ever to have existed in Asia”. In order to hold political, cultural, and religious events, the Romans constructed the Smyrna Theatre in the second century BC on the slope between the Agora and the Acropolis hill. The ruins of the Theatre can be seen on your visit.
Spend Hours in Izmir Kültürpark (Culture Park)
Izmir’s Kulturpark is a pretty lovely park. Along with the art and sculpture museums, it has several lovely statues, ponds, and fountains. From downtown and the waterfront, it is fairly simple to stroll there and find it. After a long day of visiting the city, you may easily spend a few hours just strolling along the serene walks or relaxing. When in Izmir, a very wonderful site to visit.
Feel the Ocean in Konak Pier
The Konak Pier, an ancient seaside structure on Izmir’s promenade, contains boutique stores and classier eateries with white linen tablecloths inside. You can have pleasant outdoor seating right on the water.
This was a nice place to unwind, refuel on caffeine, and observe the seagulls making a racket in the ocean.
Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower, also created the Konak Pier.
Visit a Museum
For history buffs, Izmir has a variety of museums to explore. Here are some museums worth checking out;
- Archaeological Museum – An outstanding collection of Roman and antique antiquities have been found in local excavations.
- Key Museum – Collections of cars, model cars, and memorabilia
- Arkas Art Center – Historical building, wonderful architect, and of course the art.
See the City Up From Above at Asansör
In the Karataş district of Izmir, there is a historic elevator tower called Asansör. This is a fantastic location for aerial photos of the city. The usage of it is likewise free. The tram is a simple way to get to Asansör; it takes around 30 minutes to walk there from the Konak Pier along the promenade. There are many charming cafés and businesses in the Karatas neighborhood, and they all have a welcoming atmosphere.
Gondola Travel in Izmir Teleferik
The Izmir Teleferik is a gondola that takes people to the top of a mountain situated away from the promenade’s main thoroughfare, offering panoramic views of Izmir.
Bike the Promenade
The promenade is a must-see when touring Izmir, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can ride the full length from Kordon to Göztepe. Renting a bike is simple because you can just pick one up that is parked along the boardwalk. These bikes are quite clever since you can leave them at any other station along the promenade and unlock them with a credit card.
Best Day Trips from Izmir
Visit the Village of Şirince
Şirince is a charming little village with an interesting past, stunning scenery, delicious food, warm hospitality, and much more. Perhaps the best of both traditional Turkish and traditional Greek villages can be found here. The two-story design of the village’s dwellings contrasts beautifully with the rich vegetation of the area’s natural surroundings. The village appears to be a painting from a distance, and its houses are just as charming from a distance as they are up close. The homes are connected by winding, narrow alleyways with cobblestones that transport you to a time before automobiles and modern industry.
You can’t use vehicles in the city center. Visitors can either walk through the charming streets or travel with horses.
It should come as no surprise that the food you’ll consume here is exceptional given that Şirince is recognized for its fresh vegetables. The village breakfast features a never-ending selection of cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, jams, and other delicious Turkish breakfast foods. Picked from the hills and frequently prepared with local olive oil, local herbs are used in many of the more substantial meals.
One of the major markets along the Aegean coast is the Şirince bazaar. It consists of various elements. Every stall you visit offers the most delicious and fresh items imaginable, including meals, jewelry, soaps, dried fruit, handmade clothing, souvenirs, and much more.
Bathe in Pamukkale Thermal Pools
Bathing in the sparkling white travertine pools is the one thing you must do while visiting Izmir.
The calcium deposits from the local hot springs formed these natural rock pools. These deposits developed on Pamukkale’s steep slopes in a manner similar to how stalactites grow in caves. Over the years, they spread out into pools. The pools near the top of the site have the hottest water, while those near the bottom have lukewarm water.
The Turks claim that swimming in the pools will treat ailments like eye and skin conditions, digestive and circulatory issues, nutritional and chronic disorders, etc.
Explore the History at Ephesus
One of Turkey’s most visited tourist destinations, Ephesus is unquestionably the greatest day excursion from Izmir. Ephesus is a historic port city that dates back to the 10th century BC. It was once a prosperous Greek metropolis and was regarded as the most significant commerce hub in the Mediterranean area.
Feel the Water at Çeşme and Alaçatı
Eşme and Alaçat are two beach towns that make excellent day excursions from Izmir and may be visited together in a single day. About an hour’s drive from Izmir.
The beaches, historic stone homes, and winemaking customs of Alaçat are well recognized. Esme is a little community that has a waterfront view. Clear seas surround Esme Castle, making it a fantastic place to go diving.
Cuisine in Izmir
Here are some dishes and drinks you can enjoy while in Izmir, ranging from a variety of selections.
People from Turkey’s Aegean area make this delectable meal using leftover roasted lamb fat and scraps from trimming the meat for the traditional shish kebab. They often marinate the meat in a mixture of olive oil, oregano, and black pepper, then season it with garlic and tomatoes before skewering it on split wood and quickly roasting it.
People make İzmir köfte, a Turkish comfort cuisine, by combining köfte (meatballs), peppers, and potatoes in a simple tomato sauce. They can either bake the meal in the oven or cook it on a burner. Common ingredients for köfte include ground beef or lamb, onions, flour, stale bread, and eggs. A variety of spices, including red pepper flakes, cumin, black pepper, and mint, are used to flavor them.
Sephardic Jewish immigrants from Spain introduced Boyoz, a Turkish pastry, to the nation in the late 15th century. Currently, people make the pastry only in Izmir with the original recipe, using tahini, sunflower oil, and wheat.
People make Kumru, a toasted sandwich, using artisanal bread that they often enhance with chickpea flour. Initially, street sellers used sinik, a round loaf of bread to make Kumru, but in the 1950s, when sandwiches became popular in Turkey, they took on their present form. Kumru has modern variations that may include pickles, red pepper flakes, other types of cured meat, or even mayonnaise or ketchup, though the latter two are frequently frowned upon. People typically fill it with kaşar cheese, spicy sausage known as sujuk, and tomatoes.
- Kopanisti peynir
Historically, breeds raised on the Cyclades in the southern Aegean Sea used cow, goat, or sheep milk, or a mix of the three, to make this cheese. They frequently used the cheese in traditional meals and sandwiches, and typically served it as an appetizer with a drink of ouzo, retsina, or raki due to its creamy and spreadable texture.