Izmir, previously known as Smyrna, is one of Turkey’s best tourism destinations. It’s a coastal and third most populous city in Turkey with a vibrant history dating back to the Neolithic period. Izmir is the most European-oriented city in Turkey, with a fast-growing young population, due to its economic strength, developed technological infrastructure, and strategic location.
How to get to Izmir
Flying into the Adnan Menderes International Airport is the easiest way to get to Izmir and is the most common way of arriving tourists. There is a direct metro line from the airport to the city.
Top things to do in Izmir
Izmir is the starting point for many trips to great sites like Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Bergama.
Ephesus is an incredible ancient city, about 1-hour drive away from Izmir. You can go by car or take one of the many day trips, including Ephesus.
You will see the fascinating remains of once a great city that surprisingly had a port and direct access to the sea, even though looking at it now, it might seem impossible.
If there’s one ancient site to see in Turkey, that has to be Ephesus, as it has the most considerable amount of well-preserved buildings and structures. Recently they allowed tourists to visit the newly-excavated terraced houses. You can see the layout of old houses that still hold beautiful murals and mosaics on the walls and floors. These houses were most likely accommodating the city’s elite.
Price: The combo ticket for Ephesus and terraced houses cost us around $15 per person, and there are a few more options that you can choose from, for example, the museum, so the ticket price will depend.
Opening time: summer 08:00-18:30 (1.4. – 1.10.), winter 08:30-17:30 (1.10. – 1.4.)
Travel tip: If you’re visiting during the warmer months, come very early because you’re going to be in the sun for quite some time, and it WILL get hot!
Book your Ephesus Tour from Izmir
Konak Square and clock tower (Saat Kulesi)
The Konak Square and its picturesque clock tower (Saat Kulesi) serve as a gathering point and are great for a short visit before going deeper into the city’s streets and markets.
This square is FULL of pigeons and you can create some really cool photos. We were chasing them around for like an hour. 😂
Book your Izmir City Tour
Explore Kemeralti Bazaar and other markets
As with any town and city in Turkey, its bazaar and other markets are the things to do. And Izmir has a lot to offer in that respect as well. Explore its Kemeralti Bazaar and the surrounding area, do some shopping, and stop in one of the many cafes for a meal and tea/coffee.
We had a great time going through the streets and sitting down for some delightful Turkish coffee. If you’re lucky, you might also get invited by the locals to join them, as did we after they photobombed one of our photos of the cafe they were sitting in.
Kizlaragasi Han Bazaar
Kizlaragasi Han Bazaar is a historical and cultural site in Izmir, Turkey. It is located in the center of the city and has been functioning for more than 200 years.
It houses shops on two floors and is quite large. Its shops sell different types of goods such as clothes, shoes, souvenirs, jewelry, and food items.
We made a short stop here for some delicious Gözleme.
Izmir’s urban Culture Park is a great place to unwind. You can find many artistic sculptures, as well as an amusement park.
Enjoy walking around the Konak pier in the afternoon, and catch one of the incredible sunsets.
Try the tasty Izmir pastries.
Each city in Turkey offers a different kind of Simit, the most traditional Turkish pastry covered in sesame seeds. And Izmir offers the mighty Gevrek. It’s a bit different from the Simit found in Istanbul, Antalya, or Ankara, and this is the one we prefer.
We had one of the favorite local bakeries next to our accommodation, so we frequented it much more than we maybe should. It was so good.
The Asansor building in Izmir, which literally translates to “elevator,” is an integral part of Izmir’s architecture. It offers an easier passage between two quarters separated by a steep cliff, and its become one of the most famous attractions in the city. There’s a cafe on the top and several restaurants/cafes on the bottom part.
Kordon Alsancak promenade
The long Kordon Alsancak promenade pronounces Izmir’s reputation as a coastal city. Locals and tourists gather here and enjoy their afternoons overlooking the sea and go for runs or some food in one of the restaurants lining it.
Beaches around Izmir
Even though the city of Izmir itself does not offer a beautiful beach, there are many inviting ones in its vicinity.
Head out from Izmir to Çeşme, Urla, Alaçatı, Foça or Seferihisar to find some gorgeous beaches.
Day trip to Pamukkale
Pamukkale is a fascinating natural wonder in Turkey and is easily reachable from Izmir. You can make a day trip there by car or go on a tour, and it should take you around 3 to 4 hours to get to Pamukkale from Izmir. You can explore its incredible white travertines and hot springs, as well as bathe in the pools or stroll around the ancient city of Hierapolis.
Book your Pamukkale Tour from Izmir
Best time to visit Izmir
The best time to visit Izmir is in the summer for the best beach vacation or even spring or autumn for a bit less crowded beaches and attractions while still offering pleasant weather.
Where to stay in Izmir
Izmir offers some great accommodations like luxury resorts, hotels, apartments, and hostels.
We stayed in a fabulous apartment at Deka Houses in a really nice neighborhood right next to the Culture Park.
Book your stay: Izmir Hotels