By Justin Mays:
Previously known as Smyrna, Izmir is one of Turkey’s best tourist destinations. It is the third-largest Turkish city and one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean region. Izmir has a blend of cultural, historical, and archeological sites making it a great place to visit if you want to explore Turkish culture and enjoy its unique history. The city offers many fascinating cultural heritage sights, coastal climates, outdoor activities, and remarkable local gastronomy. Izmir has a most European touch than any other Turkish city, a fast-growing young population, a strong economy, a developed technological infrastructure, and a strategic location.
If you are planning your visit to Izmir, be ready to have a wonderful experience because this city has some of the best places to see and chill at! We suggest you visit Izmir in the summer for the best beach vacation and pleasant weather. If you enjoy less crowded places, plan for spring or autumn. Let’s see how you can make your Izmir memorable.
Is Izmir worth visiting?
Izmir is just the opposite of Istanbul. It's a quiet town but definitely worth a visit. Travelers looking for international food, beaches, and vibrant nightlife, might not be interested in Izmir. You're a sun and sand person? Go to Bodrum or Antalya. Interested in historic Ottoman mosques? Go to Bursa and Istanbul.
Izmir city can give you a better sense of what a modern and nationalist Turkish city looks like. It's a reflection of a "Turkey for the Turks". Izmir is Turkey's third most populous city in Turkey full of history and memories. You can easily spend a couple of days enjoying this dazzling city followed by Cappadocia and Greece.
Izmir offers you captivating and fascinating museums. You'd love to spend some time in the Aegean area with your family and stay in the excellent resorts for quality time with your loved ones. The best thing to do in Izmir is to visit a museum. There are 13 museums ranging from modern art to archaeological findings.
Visitors enjoy eating and drinking in Izmir a lot. The traditional food, especially in summer is phenomenal. Not just great meat, there are a lot of vegetarian options as well. Plus, there are countless bars in the city to hang out.
One must visit Izmir to simply see a "real" Turkish city. You will find just a bunch of people going to work every day, teaching their children, planning for their retirement, and discussing politics with their neighbors. If you wish to see what Turkey looks like away from its tourism industry, head to Izmir!
What to do in Izmir
Kemeraltı Bazaar & Surrounding Markets
If you love to see the crowd and chatter of a busy market, don’t miss out on the markets. A visit to the Kemaralti Market is a yummy thing to do. The friendly marketers smile and shout, inviting visitors and locals. Treat the child in your with the local candy expertly twirled onto a stick for you. The sweet, sticky Turkish delight is available in every color along with salty sour olives from black to green. You can wander the market for hours finding dried herbs, dried vegetables, traditional foods, local teas, colorful spices, clothes, or knick-knacks. Having a traditional Turkish coffee near Hisar mosque along with some snacks is a great idea. Also, don’t forget to check out the jewelry and antique shops in Kizlaragasi Hani. The Havra Steet will be perfect for a leisurely walk and Kestanepazari (Chestnut bazaar) mosque on your way will offer colorful sights. Visiting here can be combined with a visit to Konak Square. The bazaar has beautiful smells, flavors, coziness, and a local atmosphere.
Explore Konak Square and Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi)
Konak is Izmir’s core historic area known for its busy square full of pigeons. The Clock Tower is an iconic landmark here. The Konak Square and its scenic clock tower (Saat Kulesi) are famous gathering points. This place is great for a short visit before going exploring the city’s streets and markets. The Saat Kulesi was built in 1901 and is the most photographed monument in Izmir. This square is full of pigeons hence you have some amazing photos and dramatic videos here. Besides the Clock Tower, it’s also a fantastic area to walk around, dine in or shop at the Konak Pier, or simply enjoy the fresh sea air.
Trip to Pamukkale
Begin the trip that takes you through the hot springs of Pamukkale. If you're visiting in the off-season, nothing like it! You’ll also stop at Hierapolis and its theater which is on top of many travelers’ bucket lists. Hierapolis is a Greek-Roman spa town with white travertine terraces, formed by the natural hot springs that flow down the hillside. Pamukkale’s pools are made from deposits of mineral water. There are seventeen hot springs with temperatures varying from warm to extremely hot! Once you have explored the ancient temples of Hierapolis and walked along the Pamukkale path, spend some time soaking in the hot mineral pools just as the Romans used to.
Agora Archaeological Site
The Agora of Smyrna is an open-air museum in Namazgah. It is one of the only agoras in the world built within a major city with a three-layered structure, basilicas, marble columns, arches, and ancient graffiti. Izmir Agora is just a part of the daily landscape for most residents. It's surrounded by hillside residential neighborhoods, bustling market streets, and towering commercial buildings. Inside the Agora floors, the ruins of a Roman-Greek marketplace take you back to the days when Izmir was a crucial stop on the Silk Road. The archways on the lower floor are still undamaged and the same freshwater that reached the ancient market still bubbles out of fountains through a channel along.
In the heart of the city is the bustling Alsancak neighborhood, the center of culture and entertainment. If you wish to indulge yourself in the local Turkish culture, this is an ideal place. There are many interesting restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, and nightclubs to have a good time. We recommend you try the tasty different local foods here! Alsancak has something for everyone. The port area has a variety of food joints and places for a laid-back time. You'll find small boutiques, cool hangout places, and some fantastic bars to keep you busy and entertained. Spend an evening in La Puerta for different drinks, and go to the Alsancak Dostlar Firinio bakery for some snacks and tea and try breakfast at the local diners.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Ephesus is a must-visit for history and archaeological fans. It's a very popular tourist attraction with the famous Library of Celsus (one of the biggest libraries in the Roman world), the amphitheater, the Temple of Hadrian, and the nearby Temple of Artemis. Ephesus was once considered the most important Greek city and the most influential trading center in the Mediterranean region. Throughout history, Ephesus survived multiple attacks but what’s truly special about this place is how well the ruins are preserved. You can still find ancient toilets, a library, theaters, and many other things. A few kilometers from here is the 5th-century house of Mother where she spent her last years here. It has now become a pilgrimage site.
Exploring a Turkish city without enjoying Turkish cuisine is incomplete. The dishes start with shared plates of olives and a few crusty pieces of bread to snack on. Soon the table gets filled with nicely roasted eggplant, grilled fish, savory greens in sour cream, potato, lamb stew, salads, cheese, fresh peppers, and radishes and it just never ends. From the local market, you can try many 12-15 authentic flavors. Wash down that amazing food with some Raki (clear anise-based alcohol) followed by an overabundance of tempting Turkish sweets. It's practically impossible to leave the table without feeling achingly full in Izmir.
The majestic hilltop city of Pergamon dates way back to the 5th century BC and was known as the cradle for learning, culture, and invention. Only the leftovers of the city’s most crucial structures remain like the Acropolis, the Red Basilica, aqueducts, a main medical center, the amphitheater, and a historically valued library. The ruins include the remains of the great Library of Pergamum having more than 200,000 manuscripts. The ruins of Trajan Temple still have their glorious white columns and the enormous heads of Hadrian and Trajan stand above the ruins of the library.
Izmir Cable Car
The Izmir Teleferik (cable car) is located on Sakarya Street offering a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the city and the Aegean Sea. The cable car starts from the opposite of Izmir Economy University Balcova. 20 colorful cable car cabins can accommodate a maximum of 8 people. One cable car can carry around 1200 passengers in one hour. Each new ride is only three minutes away. On the top of the cable line, there are many nice cafes, restaurants, and benches to sit, relax, photograph, and enjoy the landscape. If you're a meat lover, don't miss the Meat House for its barbeque services.
Living in Izmir as a foreigner
Those who prefer smaller but more pleasant cities often choose Izmir. The climate here is mild and pleasant all year round, the residents are very peaceful and loving and live a polite and comfortable life.
The cost of living in the city is very low and you can find a job easily. Business in Izmir is relatively simpler. Immigration to Izmir is increasing every day due to the affordable cost of living.
If you are planning to buy a house in Izmir, you'd be glad to know that the overall cost of living along with all the personal, social, entertainment, cultural, and related expenses is very reasonable and acceptable.
Not to forget, just like other cities in Turkey buying property in Izmir can easily get you Turkish citizenship.
Looking for a suitable property? You can have a look at the option here and for more details and further discussion, feel free to contact Prime Property Turkey and we shall help you with the best deal there is!