With more than 3,000 years of recorded urban history, Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey. Previously known as Smyrna, Izmir received its current name in 1930. Due to its location, Izmir was one of those commercial centers of this region of Turkey for many centuries. Thanks to its position, the city of Izmir has a lot of sites to visit and attractions to admire. Therefore, if you travel to this part of Turkey, you can expect a lot of things to enjoy.
When to Travel to Izmir
Before even thinking about going to Turkey and Izmir, it is better to plan when to travel there. Unlike some countries and locations where the weather is comfortable for most outdoor activities throughout the year, Izmir is worth visiting from May to August. The city is under the influence of Mediterranean climatic conditions throughout the year.
From May to August, the weather is warm enough to sunbathe and swim. September and October are normally warm as well, but the evenings are cooler. The average temperature varies from 64 F (18 C) to 73 F (23 C). As for the wettest months, December and January are not recommended for traveling to Izmir with more than 13 days of rain.
1. Feel Izmir Life at Konak Square
It is a good idea to find out more about Izmir, one of the largest Turkish cities, by visiting Konak Square. This is one of the busiest districts in Izmir, which is considered the place for meeting for most residents. One of the most interesting things about Konak Square is that it was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the famous French architect, author of one of the tallest buildings in the world (Tour Eiffel).
Being one of the key places in Izmir, Konak Square is home to several governmental buildings, stores, restaurants, bars, and several cafes. One of the attractions one can enjoy there is feeding birds.
As for the most famous building there, visitors have the opportunity to admire the city hall, which is the property of Izmir Municipality, as well as Clock Tower, Mosque and central bus station. From one of the parts of this square, you can take a ferry and make a brief cruise to have exceptional views of the coast.
Another building to look at there is Ege University’s Cultural Center, which is home to the modern art museum of Izmir, the opera, and the music academy. Not far from the square, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy more places of interest, including mosques, synagogues, and stalls where you can buy some souvenirs and other interesting items.
2. Kemeralti Bazaar
You can take a walk from Konak Square and reach Kemeralti Bazaar, which is one of the most interesting places in Izmir. Like Istanbul, Izmir has this local market where you can buy food, clothes, souvenirs, etc. The range of goods in this market in Izmir is really impressive, so if you have enough time and desire, you can spend hours there.
This is one of the most popular areas of the city, with a lot of shops around. The market stretches from Konak Square to the ancient city of Agora. It was established in the XVIIth century and still preserves this unique atmosphere of the past.
Apart from simply strolling through the market and finding something to buy there, visitors have the opportunity to taste a true Turkish coffee or even have some snacks around. After taking a break, you can look for famous Turkish jewelry and some other attractive goods.
You can take a walk from there and reach a local mosque to admire the architecture of the past. Along the way, you will be able to buy some dried fruits, including exotic ones. This part of Izmir has its own exclusive flavor and atmosphere, which tells you more about one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey. After strolling through the streets of the bazaar, you can also find one of the most attractive places for history fans. The Agora Archaeological Site is located at the end of Havra Street.
3. Visit Agora Museum
Agora is one of the open-air museums where visitors can learn more about the history of Izmir and this part of Turkey. In the past, Agora was a Greek and Roman market place and a city center in the past. Nowadays, tourists can stroll through its remnants to get some inspiration.
It should be said that the Agora of Izmir is one of the best-preserved agoras in the world. During the Greek and Roman periods (from the 4th century BC), that place served as a market place and a city center at the same time. Some buildings are ruined nowadays due to multiple earthquakes, but they still allow you to imagine what agora looked like back in that time.
Visitors can admire three of the four gates that still rise above ground, as well as Corinthian columns, arches, and many other architectural features of that era. Even the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece are still there, as if they are protecting one of those "living bastions of antiquity.".
Alexander the Great is the founder of Agora. However, later it was restored by Marcus Aurelius, when Izmir was under Roman rule. Close to Agora, there is an old Muslim cemetery with some gravestones.
4. Tour to Pergamon
When traveling to Turkey, it is worth going to Pergamon, one of those ancient Greek cities that even had the status of a capital during the Hellenistic period. Pergamon is close to Izmir (about 100 kilometers from one of the largest cities in Turkey), and the trip will last about an hour. Once in place, visitors will be able to eyewitness the remnants of this once great city that was named the capital of Pergamon Kingdom under the Attalid dynasty.
Why is it a good idea to come here? First and foremost, Pergamon still holds several monuments from that Hellenistic epoch. One of the most attractive sites for antiquity lovers is the Pergamon Altar. The city itself is mentioned in the New Testament, which adds value to this trip.
The tour to Pergamon lasts for six hours and promises a lot of interesting sites to see. Apart from being simply a capital, Pergamon was a cultural center as well. During the tour, visitors will walk to the Acropolis and visit the famous library, which was one of the greatest in antiquity. Pergamon also holds the Temple of Athena, Trajan's, Altar of Zeus, and many other traces of Greek culture. The six-hour tour may be exhaustive without a break, so you will be offered lunch in one of the oldest cities in Turkey. After lunch, you will be able to continue exploring Pergamon and its monuments of the past.
5. Go to Ephesus with Professional Guide
You don’t need to leave the Izmir province to get to Ephesus (or Efes, according to locals). This is another Turkish city that has seen a lot as it was built by Greeks and later was under Roman's rule. Nowadays, visitors can find a lot of traces of antiquity there. During the Hellenistic period, it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League.
During the Roman epoch, Ephesus played a huge role, being the second largest city of the Roman empire just behind Rome itself. By the 1st century BC, Ephesus' population had reached a remarkable 250.000, which made the city the second largest in the world.
The nine-hour tour to Ephesus will bring you to all the most popular places of this ancient city. The tour trip starts in Izmir, from where you will be picked up and taken to one of the most picturesque and enigmatic cities in Turkey. Ephesus will never leave you unsatisfied as it offers plenty of emotions to all those who come there.
The cradle of Christianity boasts a lot of places that still hold traces of St. Paul’s period. Some of those artifacts were excavated in the near past, so you can expect some exclusivity when coming here. If you travel to Ephesus, you will be able to admire the Agora, Odeon, baths, library, houses of Ephesus, and many more. Take a camera with you to add some great photos to your collection.
6. Clock Tower of Izmir
Back in Izmir, there are plenty of sites to visit. If you reach Konak Square again, you can find the Izmir Clock Tower there, which is one of those monuments of Ottoman architecture that rises above the sea like a lighthouse. You can see it when booking one of those coastal cruises as well.
The Clock Tower of Izmir is one of those great places to admire. Even the residents love to come there to enjoy the beauty of Konak Square and walk around the Clock Tower in the evening. This is a good place to take some photos as well, so you shouldn’t miss this opportunity.
The tower has an octagonal structure. It was built with stones and marble and has 24 meters of height. The tour has four levels and four clocks that look at each side of the square. There is a bell on the last floor. The tower was initiated in 1900 and was dedicated to the anniversary of the crowning of Sultan Abdulhamid II, which took place one year later.
7. Asansor: Enjoy Stunning views of Izmir
Asansor means "elevator" when you translate the word from Turkish to English. Asansor is a building in Izmir that can be found in the Karatas quarter of the city. From there, visitors can admire Izmir and its coastline. This manmade landmark should be included in the list of places to visit for its breathtaking views and memories that will live long after you leave this Turkish city.
Asensor hosts two lifts that go up and down the building. Once you are inside, you will find several cafes and restaurants, as well as an observation platform that is located on top of the building. One will be able to enjoy the magnificent scenery from there and take some exclusive photos of Izmir.
The elevator in Izmir was built for good reasons. It helped people transfer goods from the lower coastline to the hillside. Asensor has been operating since 1907 and was offered to the city by a wealthy banker. Nowadays, this is a very popular place, especially for those who come to this city in Turkey for the first time.
8. Cable Car Izmir Overview
Another way to find out more about Izmir is to enjoy one of those 20 colorful cable cars that offer stunning views of one of the largest cities in Turkey. Once in the cabin, tourists will have a panoramic view of the city and the coastline. This is one of the best attractions in Izmir, especially if you take the car in the evening, when the sun goes beyond the horizon and Izmir starts shining with millions of light bulbs.
To take a car, you should reach Sakaya Street in Izmir, which is located in the Balcova district of the city. The starting point can be found right in front of Izmir Economy University. Each cabin accepts up to eight passengers, meaning you can book it for yourself or make a nice ride with your family.
The distance that you will cover in the car is 810 meters, but it will be enough to take some stunning photos or simply look around to admire Izmir from above. The cable car is worth using during the day and especially in the evening after sunset.
There are plenty of interesting things on the other side, once you reach an elevated terrace. Visitors enjoy meals and drinks in multiple restaurants and bars. If you are not in the mood to have lunch or dinner, you can simply occupy one of those benches on the terrace to continue admiring the surroundings.
9. Visit Yali Castle Aquapark
Actually, it is not a real castle. It was built to decorate the aquapark, which attracts many visitors who come to Izmir with their families. Plenty of sliders and a lot of water attractions make Yali Castle Aquapark one of the best places to spend a day with kids.
The aquapark is located 35 kilometers from Izmir. The entrance ticket allows you to enjoy all the attractions inside as well as food and drinks. Visitors have unlimited access to all refreshing carbonated drinks throughout their stay in the aquapark. With a lot of exciting activities, visitors of all ages will have something to enjoy there.
10. What Else to See and Do in Izmir
Another site that visitors often reach in Izmir is the Kizlaragasi Inn. This is a bazaar with a lot of goods inside, including handicrafts, jewelry, leather items, musical instruments, etc. Naturally, one can find great souvenirs there to take with them. The Inn was built in 1744.
There are also a couple of museums to enjoy in this city in Turkey. The Izmir Museum will tell you about the ancient history of the city and Turkey in general. There, you will be able to admire plenty of artefacts coming from various epochs. Some of those items were created and used by the Ancient Greeks.
Those who would like to admire classic cars and bikes should definitely visit the Key Museum in Turkey. The collection presents 165 classic and modern vehicles coming from the UK, US, and Germany. As for models, you will find Ferrari, Porsche, and even a Kaiser Darrin there. After exploring the collection, visitors can take a break in a small café or even buy some souvenirs in a local store.
Tandem skydiving is another option for those traveling to Izmir. It is safe and enjoyable, as you will be accompanied by an experienced instructor. You will be provided with all the necessary equipment.
Ready to Travel to Izmir?
Now that you know more about one of the largest cities in Turkey, you can plan your trip there. Izmir offers a lot of attractions to tourists, regardless of their interests and preferences. When coming to this city, you will enjoy various museums, sites, and landmarks, as well as beautiful scenery.