TRY: Turkish lira
Turkey’s third-largest city, Izmir, offers a gateway to the country’s picture-perfect North Aegean coastline. The city’s modern architecture rubs shoulders with ancient ruins, built up around the impossibly blue Bay of Izmir. Sailing boats bob in the harbour, and the vibrant waterfront is lined with bustling seaside cafes, bars and restaurants. Take a stroll along the promenade to breathe in the sea breeze and admire the sunset, before venturing out to get a taste of the lively nightlife scene. The city’s bazaars and shopping malls rival those of larger Istanbul, yet there’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere here that feels more like a small town.
Sun-dappled beaches and historic museums dot this ancient city, which has stood as a strategic port for thousands of years. Once part of ancient Greece and known as Smyrna, Izmir’s heritage reflects the multiple cultures who have called it home over the years. Izmir holidays in 2020 provide the perfect base for exploring nearby attractions like the ancient city of Ephesus, as well as the white sandy Aegean beaches up and down the coast.
Izmir at a glance
Discover the best beaches
Izmir's beaches vary from intimate stretches of sand to livelier beach areas
Sample the local food
Find a local restaurants near Izmir Town's harbour for tasty Turkish cuisine with a view
Must-visit historical sites
Visit one of the best preserved Roman sites with a trip to Ephesus which boasts an amphitheatre, libraries and more
Hit the nightlife & bar scene
Roam down Bar Street in Kusadasi for a range of fun pubs, bars and clubs
Explore the local markets
Head to the Grand Bazaar for clothes, lamps, jewellery, leather goods and more!
Fun water parks
Izmir's coast is home to three waterparks, including Adaland - the largest of them all!
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Things to do in Izmir
From Turkish baths to ancient architecture, there’s something for everyone in Izmir. This cosmopolitan city is known for its iconic Clock Tower, the Saat Kulesi. This Ottoman Empire landmark was gifted to the city by the German Emperor Wilhelm II and today sits at the centre of a bustling square. Shopping is a particular pleasure of holidays to Izmir. The Kemeralti bazaar district has served as the centre of city life for centuries and features stalls brimming with spices, embroidery and jewellery.
Don’t miss the chance to take a day trip to the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, one of the world’s best-preserved examples of this culture. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is only an hour’s journey from Izmir and features impressive stone columns and temples that draw visitors from around the globe. A number of idyllic beaches are also within easy reach, although you can enjoy waterfront life with a stroll along Izmir’s colourful promenade and marina.
The Northern Aegean region of Turkey offers plenty of beaches known for their bleached white or golden sands. These sit within easy reach of central Izmir, which is positioned along the Bay of Izmir. One of the most popular beaches for Izmir residents is Ilica, famed for its natural hot springs that warm up the sea water for comfortable year-round bathing. Its golden beach is well-tended with a number of water sports facilities on offer. The area’s wind conditions make it a prime destination for sailing and windsurfing.
Another option within Izmir province is Cesmealti, about a half hour’s drive away from the city centre. It features long, sprawling beaches that heave with visitors during the summertime. But the beach is large enough that you can find a stretch of soft sand to call your very own. Relax in the nearby swimming pools for a refreshing dip, or try your hand at surfing, snorkelling or boating in these clean, warm waters.
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