A little bit Roman, a little bit Greek, Izmir is a beautiful port city and undoubtedly the most liberal destination in Turkey. Enclosed by the azure Aegean Sea, the city is a perfect escape from the daily atrocities of life. Famous for its cultural heritage, seafront, coastal plains and forests, the city has been under the radar of many travelers. A holiday in Izmir can be enjoyable as there is plenty to see, eat and drink.
Since a long time, Izmir has been a little more than a stopover for travelers to Ephesus –a Roman city that is a home to one of the Seven Wonders of Ancient World. The Temple of Artemis is located in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia and was a city of Christian Councils in the 5th century. The temple was once dedicated to the goddess of the hunt, but now only the foundation and one column is left.
Library of Celsus is the highlight of the ruins today. Built in AD 115-25, the architecture reflects the Roman culture and is believed to be the signature form for Roman libraries. The library was dedicated to the governor of Asia and his sarcophagus was located under the apsis.
A journey in itself, the city offers splendid perennial tourist favorites to lesser known delights. Bodrum, a popular tourist attraction is a town located on the southern Aegean coast is the site of the ancient city of Halikarnassus. Famous for Mausoleum of Halikarnassus, it is a fascinating place to visit.
Selcuck is located around 56 kilometers away from Izmir and is a regional center with number of cultural sites and mausoleums to visit. With House of the Virgin Mary, Isabey Mosque and Basilica of St. John there are many other interesting sights to go back in the past centuries. For those who take their beer and sports seriously, a visit to Izmir Halkapinar will fill you up with momentum. Spend some time with fellow sports fans in the Izmir Halkapinar Sport Hall.
If you want to gain some insights into the intriguing history of Izmir, head towards Bodrum - Aegean Region's art museums. There are also open-air markets and open-air exhibits to keep your shopping cravings at bay.
Take out some time upon the water with ideal spots of scuba diving or boating. Treat yourself to a high-altitude experience while you are in this region. Try parachute jumping; it's an experience to remember.
Izmir vacations are the perfect way to spread your wings and fly, leaving behind all the worries. Each and every place, region and city here will give you a unique experience. Dotted with number of tourist spots and famous landmarks, the city leaves no stone unturned to surprise you.
Hierapolis- Known as Pamukkale, Hierapolis is an ancient city of the Lycus River Valley which is famous for its natural hot springs. These hot springs are considered as sacred. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, its main highlight includes the thermally heated pool which is considered as sacred. You can swim here among the remains of ancient Roman columns which were tumbled into the water due to various earthquakes.
Pergamon-Built in 5th century BC, the site was a cultural hub and had a library with over 20,000 volumes and a medical center. Listed in the Bible as seven churches of Asia, the Pergamon flourished until the 14th century after which it was abandoned. Visit here to witness the magnificent remains of this once opulent city, which is visible even from a distance, thanks to its hilltop position.
Izmir Museum of History & Art- Spread over three pavilions; the Izmir Museum of History & Art is one of the richest reserves of ancient artefacts in the country. Often overlooked by the visitors, its Sculpture pavilion is adorned with masterpieces from ancient Smyrna, Miletos, Pergamon and Teos. A chance to lay your sight on coins, pots and jewelry shouldn`t be missed.
Kadifekale- Kadifekale also known as Velvet Castle is located over the town from its vantage point on top of a hill of the same name. The castle was built by the successor of Alexander the Great --General Lysimachos. Kadifekale appears to have served the role of both a castle and a fort by providing the clear views over much of the city and across the Gulf Of Izmir.
Izmir is full of exhaustive list of local attractions for your ultimate entertainment. From historical sites to cultural attractions, seafront to buzzing markets, you can discover something new every day. If you want to take a stroll in the markets, visit to Kemeralti Market of Izmir. A legendary market has colorful goodies on display and the awesome deals the engage the travelers. Drop in for clothing, leather goods and jewelry and also for great coffee.
Go to Saat Kulesi which is a historical clock tower located in the iconic Konak Square of Izmir. The clock tower was built in 1901, but the Levantine French Architect Raymond Charles Pere, to mark the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II's accession to the royal throne. The clock of the tower was gifted by German Emperor Wilhem II. Adorned with Classic Ottoman architecture, the tower is 25 meters tall and has four fountains arranged at the base in a circular pattern. The columns have a touch of Moorish themes which adds up to its beauty.
Craving for a peaceful walk? Kordonboyu is a spectacular walking area along the bay which is a popular hangout in the evenings. It also has some of the most amazing restaurants and cafes serving great food.
There are few important reasons which makes Izmir cuisine one of the richest cuisines of Anatolia. Although the package includes delightful meals, it is still advised to go out to enjoy one meal in its famous restaurants. There is variety of dishes that you can try.
A traditional Turkish breakfast includes cheese (usually feta cheese), black olives, tomato, honey or jam, sausage, bread, salami, bacon and hard-boiled eggs, as well as black tea in small slender glasses.
Kebabs are the specialty of the city. Cooked in barbecued oak coal or wood-burning ovens, they are mostly made from beef, lamb and mutton. It is one of the most famous Turkish meals. Adana Kebab and Doner Kebab are the most ones.
Lahmacun is a kind of pita that baked in a stone oven. It includes ground beef, parsley, onion, garlic black pepper and chipotle (red pepper) on the dough.
Dolma has an important place in Turkish cuisine. Eggplant, bell pepper and many other vegetables are used for filling with wheat or rice with other ingredients which depend on the region.
Although Turkish is the official language spoken in Izmir, you may hear other languages spoken including English, as this is a popular tourist resort. It’s polite to try and learn some of the local language before you go there. Also if you are not well versed with the English or Turkish language, you can reach out to tourism police which is available at every popular junction.
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira from 100TL notes to 10 kuru coins, but apart from Scottish notes Euros, Sterling and Dollars are accepted in all the major places. Turkish coins cover everything up to 1 TL, with notes starting from 5 TL. Major credit and debit cards are also widely accepted. You can also avoid individual transactional fees by withdrawing cash from an ATM.
Visitors seeking entry to Turkey need to apply for an E-visa which allows staying in the country for three months. Generally there are two types of tourist visas –a single entry and a multiple entry visa which allow single entry and multiple entries to the country. Earlier you could purchase a visa upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport counter by providing all the required documents, but since 2014, visitors need obtain their visa electronically after entering required information and making payment by credit card. After successful application, e-Visa is e-mailed to the applicant.
As the city is located on the Aegean Sea, the climate is Mediterranean with relatively hot and sunny summers along mild winters. The city is relatively quiet rainy and relatively mild, with the average temperature dropping up to 7 degrees in January. The months from mid-March to May are very mild with relatively low rainfall. Summers are dry, hot and sunny.
Adnan Menderes Airport is the primary airport in Izmir. The airport is the third most populous city in the country. Located in the Gaziemir area of Izmir, the airport serves both domestic and international flights. The airport is located at the short distance of Ephesus and Selcuk.
Izmir's main airport is located 18 km, southwest of the city center in the Gaziemir district on the way to Ephesus, Selçuk and Pamukkale. Designed by Yakup Hazan Architecture, the new international terminal was opened in September 2006.The new domestic terminal was opened in March 2014. It replaced Çiğli Air Base which is now used only as a military base. Many popular airlines haven on-stop flights from all the places around the world. 68 non-stop flights are operating from Turkey, Istanbul to Izmir today. Turkish Airlines has the most nonstop flights between Istanbul, Turkey and Izmir.
The airport can be reached from Izmir via the buses owned by ESHOT or by HAVAS airport shuttle busses which runs from every 20 minutes to 60 minutes. Izban commuter rail trains stop at the Airport Station about every 10 mins at peak hours and 20 mins off peak. Intercity trains operated by the Turkish State Railways also stop at the Airport Station.
Other Transport Options
The easiest way to reach Izmir is obviously by air. But if you reach to Izmir-port, then it is located in Alsancak in the very center of the city. If you have limited time in Izmir, then using a taxi is advised to reach, for example, the bazaar at kemaralti. It would take around 45minutes to walk there from the cruise port. However if you want to save some money, the cheapest way to reach Izmir from Istanbul is to rideshare which will not cost you much.
Being the third biggest city of Turkey, Izmir has a good network of transport system. By utilizing the possibilities available on land and sea, you can easily get in and around the city. If budget is not the constraint, then the easiest way is to take a taxi. There are free shuttle bus services also that will bring passengers from the bus terminal to Basmane Square, the city center.
Within the city Izmir, the main public transport means is the red municipal buses. At the bus-terminal, take the service bus to the city center. These service buses usually drive to the central parts of the city. You can use the local money or ‘Kent Kard’ to travel around the city. The card can be obtained from bus ticket offices or at some shops. When you board a bus, show the card on the device which located behind the driver and the cost will be deducted from the card. Using this card is the best and cheapest way to get around, since it`s good for the buses, the metro and the ferries.
The urban rail in Izmir consists of two lines:
• First line connects city centre or Konak Square with the northeastern town of Bornova and western town of Balçova (currently, the line ends at Fahrettin Altay square, which is located at the border of Balçova)
• A line connecting Aliağa (to the north) and Tepeköy (to the south). It also provides connection to Foça and other places north from Izmir.
The taxi fare is reasonable and they do not have special night fare. The taxis are not allowed to go beyond their province, which means a taxi with Izmir registered number, can`t go beyond Izmir provincial boundaries.