Some people say you can see everything of interest in Izmir in half a day, but actually it takes longer just to navigate your way out of the centre of this sprawling concrete jungle housing almost 4 million people. To say Turkey’s third-largest city is now a busy commercial centre is a bit of an understatement, but it’s still dotted with that traditional charm.
Step back in time to Kemeralti’s Kizlaragasi Hani, an Ottoman caravanasi that looks like something out of Aladdin. Or if you prefer fresh air, head to one of the many bars around 1448 Sokak. To take some time, wander 50 metres up the Asanör Elevator or catch a bus to Cesme Beach. Just don’t spend all day there – it’s not like you came to Izmir for rest and relaxation…
Izmir’s Top 10
10. Asanör This lift no longer runs via a water-driven mechanism, but it’s still an excellent way to scale the hill and get a birds-eye view of Izmir.
5. Kadifekale Literally the ‘velvet castle’, this ancient fortress offers unbeatable views. The street kids aren’t quite so pleasant – watch your pockets.
9. Alsancak If you like tea, beer or water pipe, you’ll like this quarter. And if you can play backgammon like a Turk, you’ll love it!
4. Konak Pier This iconic building has housed everything from fish to family cars, but is now home to a cinema and a plethora of designer stores.
8. Archaeological Museum Three levels, over 23,000 works and an entire floor dedicated to grave culture.
3. Kemeralti A huge historical bazaar where you can buy anything you need and even more things you don’t.
7. Konak Mosque Tiny, but eminent. (See, it’s not size that matters!)
2. Konak Square Just as busy and square shaped as any inner-city square in the world, but with far more stunning architecture.
6. Kordonboyu Walk, cycle or take a horse and carriage ride along the promenade, or just sit in one of the restaurants and feast on fresh seafood.
1. Izmir Clock Tower You’d think neon lights would spoil the magnificence of this monument, but somehow they make it even more beautiful.
- Kizlaragasi Inn – Erected in the Ottoman Era, it is being renovated to reach its former glory by the Turkish authorities.
- Athena Temple – An unearthed temple of 7th and 5th century BC.
- Sirinyer and Yesildere Aqueducts – Responsible for supplying water to Izmir during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
- Saint Polycarp Church – One of the Churches of the Apocalypse and the oldest church in Izmir.
- Saat Kulesi – This clock tower stands at the core of the city. It was raised in 1901.
Izmir Art & Culture
- Izmir International Festival – Starts in mid-June and continues till mid-July.
- International Izmir Short Film Festival – A member of the European Coordination of Film Festivals, it displays selected short films to a large audience of people.
- Ahmed Adnan Saygun Culture and Art Centre – Completed in December 2008, it is fulfilling the needs and expectations of art lovers from all over the world.
- Bornova Culture Centre – One of the most prominent cultural and arts centre in Izmir.
- Cigli Cultural Centre – Houses a conference room, library, meeting hall, education office and children's game room.
- Forum Bornova Shopping Centre – The most famous and visited shopping centre in Bornova.
- Kizlaragasi Han Bazaar – Buy famous Turkish carpets and jewellery. Located inside a grand pavilion, it reflects an image of a traditional Turkish bazaar.
- Konak Pier – Located a five to 10 minutes’ walk from Konak clock tower, offers a wide experience of shopping.
- Kıbrıs Şehitleri Street – Walk around the pedestrian avenue and enjoy an experience of colourful shopping in Izmir.
- Sipahi Okey – The best place for Turkish Souvenirs, buy Turkish chilies to spice up your life or decorate yourself with traditional Turkish breaded jewellery.
Izmir Gay & Lesbian
- Mix Beer House – Famous for its dancing and beery environment. One of a kind in Izmir.
- Ehli Keyif Cafe & Bar – Opened in April 2011, offer a bar and dance environments.
- Ka Bar – A gay bar for senior citizens.
- Cixs Bar – Invites and welcomes gays, lesbians and bisexuals equally.
- Pera Patisserie – A gay-friendly cafe in Izmir.
- Ooze Venue – Great place for dancing.
- Levent Marina – Open-air disco with lots of music and ample drinks. Enjoy after a tiring day.
- Club En Velo – Opened in 1990, Club En Velo has gained a reputation through its renowned environment, excellent food and exquisite drinks.
- Cece Bar – An outstanding hit with the younger generations of Izmir.
- Kalyon Pub – Established in 1970, it is the best club in Izmir with a wide member base and frequent visitors. .
- Witness the competitions of volleyball, fencing, basketball and other sports at the Izmir Halkapinar Sports Centre.
- Enjoy volleyball, handball and basketball in Turkish style at the Izmir Ataturk Sports Centre.
- Visit Ege Barakuda for the best diving and snorkelling in Izmir.
- Ride on the waves and enjoy windsurfing in the Turkish waters at Teos.
- Enjoy kite surfing and mountaineering with the experts of Izmir.
The music concerts at January’s Yapi Kredi Art Festival are as varied as the water pipe flavours at Alsancak, ranging from rock and pop to classical and jazz.
Beginning in 1994, March’s Izmir European Jazz Festival must be one of the newest things in Turkey, but it already draws some of Europe’s most renowned artists.
The International Izmir Festival lures culture vultures to the ancient theatre of Ephesus to enjoy giant puppets and rock gigs in traditional 1000BCE style. June to July.
The Izmir International Fair in September is Turkey’s oldest trade show, fair and festival. Great fun for bargain hunters.
The International Izmir Short Film Festival draws thousands of film buffs (and people with short attention spans) to Izmir every November.
When To Go
Temperature can drop to freezing in winter, which brings strong winds and heavy rain.
Summer is hot – averaging 33ºC (91ºF) and sticky.
As a result, spring and autumn are the best times to visit.
Taxis are reasonably priced here, but there’s no real need to use them unless it’s 3am and you’re feeling a little worse for wear. The public bus system covers most of the city.
The best way to get around Izmir is on foot, particularly in the inner city.
Public ferries are also a good option, and come with the added bonus of photo ops.
27 hotels in Izmir, TR
Overlooking the Izmir Bay, BEST WESTERN PLUS Hotel Konak Izmir offers traditional Turkish hospitality and quality accommodation for the guests who are travelling to this city, which has been the... More
Hotel Alican Izmir offers a comfortable base with convenient accommodations and favourable location close to the heart of the city. While on an Izmir vacation, tourists can take in the picturesque... More
Grand Corner Hotel invites discerning travellers to sleek accommodations set in a central location in the metropolitan city of Izmir. Guests can stop by at the historic area of The Agora and the... More
Exceptionally located and offering modern accommodation with personalized attention, the Swissotel Grand Efes Izmir Hotel is a perfect place for all kind of travellers to enjoy a pleasant and... More
Whether in this vibrant Turkey metropolis for business or leisure, travellers find fitting base at the stylish accommodations of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Izmir - Alsancak. This modern Izmir hotel... More
The hotel located in central Izmir is only 300 m away from the Kulturpark Trade Fair. The hotel offers a terrace, a 24-hour front desk and free private parking on site More
Martlight Hotel Izmir is a boutique style hotel and one of the oldest hotels in Izmir. The architecture is grand and contemporary in style. The high end royal interiors offer high quality luxury... More
Susuzlu Atlantis Hotel offers stylish accommodations conveniently positioned in the heart of Izmir, close to shopping and entertainment hubs in the area. This chic hotel makes for an ideal base for... More
With tastefully appointed accommodations and modern facilities strategically positioned close to some go-to places of interest, Susuzlu Hotel makes for a suitable base for travellers seeking to... More