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The main reason why many Turks and foreigners visit Izmir is its history dating back to antiquity. There are many remains found in Izmir from the oldest civilizations, giving us many clues about the history of the human race and their lives. The ancient cities such as Ephesus mesmerizes the visitors of Izmir. If you also want to learn more about the ancient civilizations, Izmir is the perfect place to witness the ancient history.
There are many foods unique to Izmir that you cannot eat their like anywhere in Turkey. Visiting Izmir is a great opportunity to discover new, delicious meals and learn more about the Turkish culture in western Turkey.

Izmir is one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean. It was known as Smyrna in ancient times being founded by Greek colonists in 1 BCE. The city grew and gained importance over the years with many different civilizations and empires taking it over such as Lydians Greeks and Romans. In 2 CE, Symirna became one of the few important cities at the time. However, after the Byzantine Empire took over the city, it started to decline in its importance and growth. As a result, the Byzantine Empire started to be interested in Constantinople.

In 1076, Seljuk Turks conquered the city and used it for naval operations. After the city was lost to the Byzantine Empire, Turks took it over in the 14th century once more. The Ottomans captured the city for the first time in 1389 when sultan Bayezid I was the ruler of the empire. During the War of Ankara between Timur and the Ottomans, Timur attacked the city and massacred its population most of which were Christians. The city was completely lost and destroyed. In 1415, sultan Mehmet I took the city back.

The real growth of Izmir started in the 16th century. Cotton and many other products produced in Izmir attracted many foreign traders to the city, becoming an important trade center in the Ottoman Empire. The city continued to grow in the following centuries. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and the victors wanted to share parts of the Empire. In the hopes of capturing the city, a Greek army attacked Izmir in 1919 but they were defeated and forced to retreat in 1922. After the Greeks were defeated, a fire that lasted for a week destroyed most of the city and specifically Greek and Armenian neighborhoods while Muslim and Jewish neighborhoods managed to escape the fire. Even though the city had been through a lot of invasions and disasters, it managed to rebuild itself to its previous state. Today, Izmir is a metropolitan city and the third most populous city in Turkey.


    It is best to visit Izmir either during the summer, mid to late spring or early autumn to enjoy traveling around the city to the fullest. If you do not like hot weather, then you can opt for spring and autumn where there is a slight breeze, especially at night, making it much easier to roam the streets.
    The language spoken in Izmir is Turkish. You can find English speakers in touristic places and historical landmarks.
    There is only one international airport in Izmir named Adnan Menderes International Airport. You can either fly to Izmir from your home country or from a city in Turkey.
    Type C
    The currency used in Izmir is Turkish Lira or TL.
    GMT +03:00
Izmir is mostly visited during the summer season. Izmir has the Mediterranean climate around the year. Especially the spring months and September are great times to visit Izmir as it is not too hot but there is a soft breeze as well. During the Autumn, Izmir receives a lot of rainfall which is not ideal if you are planning to visit historical landmarks. Therefore, it would be a good idea to visit Izmir during summer but if you think it would be too hot, then try mid to late spring or early autumn to visit the city.

In Izmir, it is quite easy to reach the airport as it is only 15 kilometers away from the city center. You can use Havaş buses that carry the visitors specifically to and from the airport. The buses come every hour and it takes about an hour to reach the city center. The fee you need to pay is only 10 TL.

You can also get on the metro to reach anywhere in the city easily and fast. Alternatively, you can get on the bus numbered 202 to reach Konak district where most of the historical landmarks are located. The buses work 24 hours a day, allowing the visitor to travel even after midnight. In addition, you can take a taxi or rent a car. However, be careful when taking a taxi, make sure the vehicle is registered and use a mobile app to call a taxi in order to avoid being scammed.


In order to benefit from the public transportation services in Izmir, you need to buy “Izmirim” electronic card or Bilet35 for numbered trips. You can buy Izmirim card from certain stations such as Airport and Konak stations as well as Konak and Karşıyaka Ferry Terminals. You can get on the metro, tramway or buses to reach most of the city. Additionally, you can get on ferries and rent bikes depending on where you wish to go.

    Key Hotel is a relatively small hotel with only 34 rooms. The hotel is mostly loved for its city and sea view that is especially beautiful during the sunset. Key Hotel offers luxurious rooms and many services to allow you to have a comfortable stay.
    If you want to make the most of the beauty of the city, Wyndham Grand Izmir Özdilek is a great place to stay as it has huge windows that cover the walls from top to bottom and offers a panoramic view of the coast of Izmir. In this hotel, you can eat Turkish food as well as international food if you are feeling a little homesick. There is a night club, spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as a pool bar for you to enjoy.
Agora Open-Air Museum is located at the heart of the city. Agora is built on pillars of the Roman era. Agora as a word means an open market place. Since Izmir has been one of the most important trade centers throughout its history, this marketplace was an important part of the civilization in the past. However, it is known that agora was also used for political meetings and also as a court where trials were held. The statues of Poseidon and Demeter were the found artifacts in Agora which can be seen in the Izmir Museum of History and Arts. There are also large cisterns in the Agora suggesting that it was an important water supply for the city as well. The water coming from the spring today is believed to has been coming since the first century. Agora is a unique ancient marketplace due to having graffiti from the Roman Era. It is known as the largest graffiti collection, with around 1500 graffiti, from the Greco-Roman era, depicting daily life. Even though the Agora is a Hellenistic landmark, it carries the marks of the empires that captured the city such as Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Agora also is home to tombstones as it was used as a graveyard at some point in history. If you want to learn more about Agora and see the artifacts found in and around the place, you can visit the Izmir Archeology Museum as well as the Izmir Museum of History and Arts.
Ephesus is one of the most famous tourist attractions in entire Turkey. It is an ancient Greek city and was founded in the 10th century BCE. In the 6 BCE, Lydians took over the city and during the reign of Kreisos the Lydian king, Ephesus reached its golden age. At this point, Ephesus became a leading city in the area. After the Lydians, Persians came to Ephesus however, Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 334 BCE. Ephesus flourished with the coming of Alexander the Great. Even there were two ruling systems in Ephesus before Alexander the Great, namely democracy and oligarchy, the oligarchic system disappeared which caused riots in the city by oligarchy supporters. Later on, in 190 BCE, the Romans took over the city and continue to flourish during the reign of the Romans in terms of wealth and luxury. It reached its peak when Augustus became the ruler between the 1st and 4th century CE. Around this time the city became the capital of Asia. After Saint Paul arrived in the city of Ephesus, the city only continued to grow and become a lot more important in the world of Christianity. He went to Ephesus as a missionary to spread Christianity as the citizens of Ephesus were worshipping Artemis. However, the citizens of Ephesus refused to believe in the message of the missionaries at first. Yet, Christianity started to be accepted in the city. It is also believed that the Virgin Mary visited Ephesus and stayed in Mount Bulbul in 42 CE. Even though the Seljuk Empire took over the city in 1090 CE, the Byzantine Empire conquered Ephesus and ruled it for a while. Later on, it was taken over by the Seljuks again in 1307 CE. In the Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis, as well as the Ephesus Theater, are the most visited landmarks. Make sure to check them and witness the ancient history if you visit Izmir.
Pergamon Acropolis is a rare place that survived all that has been done to it and it managed to be listed in the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2014. The first settlement located in Pergamon is Acropolis and it was founded in the 2nd century BCE. Just like many other cities in Turkey, Acropolis was taken over by the Persians and then by Alexander the Great. The city was at its golden age under the rule of the Kingdom of Pergamon between the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE. At its golden age, a huge library was built in the city that is considered to be one of the largest libraries in the entire world. During this time frame, the city was also flourishing in arts, specifically sculptures. When the Roman took over the city, it continued to grow and improve, becoming the most popular city in Asia Minor. Pergamon Acropolis is a city of the firsts. Parchment paper was first used in this city which changed the entire human history forever. This also triggered the library of Acropolis to become a unique one with a collection of manuscripts. Pergamon is an important city in terms of religion as well. One of the first Seven Churches of Christianity was built in this city. First theater, first market law, first trade union and many more firsts came to be in Pergamon. The landmark that attracts attention the most in Pergamon is the remnants of the Pergamon Library. The Pergamon valley which was a theater, the Temple of Dionysus and the sanctuary of Athena are some of the important landmarks that you need to see.
Kemeraltı is a huge shopping area that was built in the Ottoman Empire era in the 17th century. This large bazaar started out as a small one that opened in 1650. It is actually resembling the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in its architecture. As Izmir was an important commerce center, Kemeraltı Bazaar had been an important place for traders until the 20th century. The Kemeraltı Bazaar had spice and herb shops, pharmacies, blacksmiths, copper masters and many other shops within. Today, the bazaar has improved and has been modernized with cinemas and cafes being added to the structure. Similar to the Grand Bazaar, you can find, ceramics, antique, handwoven carpets, as well as wooden and metal works in the Kemeraltı Bazaar.
Şirince was a Greek Orthodox village founded back in the 1st century. The village continued to be inhabited by the Greeks until 1924 when an arrangement made between the Republic of Turkey and Greece. According to this agreement, the Turks living in Greece would be exchanged with the Greeks living in Turkey. Due to its long history, the village is quite famous in the world as it has been mentioned in many novels and documentaries. In time, many of the homes were turned into boutique hotels and restaurants for the tourists to enjoy. Nowadays, Şirince Village is most famous for its wine production. In this village, you can go on a wine tasting adventure to find the best one that suits your palate. There are many different fruit wines the most popular of which being black mulberry. However, you can also find different herbs in the village as well as olives and peaches. During the weekends, the village gets incredibly crowded. If you want to have a calm and quiet time, you might want to visit this place during weekdays.
Kordon is a famous location in Izmir where both locals and foreigners love to spend time. Kordon is the point where Izmir crosses with the sea. You can enjoy nature as well as the view of the sea from here and even watch the sunset with a loved one. Long walks along the Kordonboyu is a frequently done activity in Izmir.
The Hisar Mosque was built between the years 1592 and 1598. It is one of the most breathtaking structures in Izmir, featuring Ottoman architecture of the time. It is located in the Kemeraltı Bazaar. The mosque has one central dome supported by eight pillars. Today, the square in front of the Hisar Mosque is a place for gatherings where people chat and have a cup of tea.
The Archeology Museum in Izmir was opened in 1927 and it is the first archeological museum opened in Izmir. However, a new museum was needed as the number of artifacts being brought to the museum was increasing constantly. A new museum opened in 1984. Now it houses over 1500 artifacts in total. In this museum, you can find the ancient artifacts from many ancient cities in the area such as ceramics, figures vases, statues, masks, coins, busts, portraits and marble works. It is a must-see place if you want to learn more about the ancient cities and life in the antiquity.
Kadifekale is an old castle whose old name was Pagos. It is believed that Amazons were living in this castle on top of the mountain from where they inhabited the area further the mountain foot. The castle was built by one of the generals of Alexander the Great. Only five of the towers and some of the southern walls of the Kadifekale survived until today and the rest of it is in ruins.
The building where Atatürk Museum is today was once a hotel where the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed. The building later was bought by the Izmir Municipality and given as a gift to Atatürk. After he passed away, it was turned into a museum where the writings and the personal belongings of Atatürk are displayed.
Kültürpark literally translates into “culture park”. Kültürpark is a park located in the Konak district of Izmir. It was built in 1936. It is 420.000 m2 in size. The park has 14 indoor exhibition halls, 4 conference halls, an open-air theater, gym, an amusement park and some museums. It also has running and walking tracks, a swimming pool, tennis courts and football fields for the residents to live a healthy life and enjoy sports.
The Ethnography Museum was built in the 19th century near the Archeology Museum in Izmir. The building blocks of the museum were brought from the antique city Ephesus. In the museum, many professions are exhibited by mannequins such as horseshoe making, evil eye bead smithing, carpet weaving, leathercraft and so on. You can also see the first Turkish pharmacy as well as fragments from the traditional lifestyle of the Turks enacted by the mannequins.
The Izmir Clock Tower is located in the middle of Konak Square in Izmir. It was designed by a French architect named Raymond Charles Père and was built in 1901. It is known that the clock tower was actually a gift from a German emperor named Wilhelm II. Even though it was designed by a French architect, the clock tower was designed in the Ottoman architectural style.
The St. John’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to John the Evangelist. It was started to be built in 1862 and finished in 1874. The sultan Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire donated 11.000 gold for the church to be built. Inside the church, you can see a painting depicting the seven bishops of the seven churches of the Apocalypse along with many other paintings.
The Yalı Mosque is located in Konak Square and therefore, it is also known as the Konak Mosque. The Yalı Mosque was built in 1755. It is a really small yet cute mosque with one small dome and one minaret that managed to become an important historical landmark in Izmir.
Asansör means “elevator” in Turkish. It was built in 1907 by a Jewish business person named Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu to make reaching the top of the cliff easy for people and the goods being carried.
    Boyoz is a kind of pastry that is usually eaten during breakfast. Boyoz mostly served with boiled eggs. Unlike the traditional Turkish breakfast, the residents of Izmir can have breakfast with only boyoz, eggs and Turkish tea. You can experience a different kind of breakfast in Izmir.
    Lokma is the signature dessert of Izmir. It is made of dough being fried and then put into a syrup prepared with water and sugar. It is an extremely simple recipe but not everybody can make it properly. Izmir is the place to try out this delicious dessert, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
    İzmir has its own meatball recipe that is quite famous in Turkey. The meatballs are prepared with certain spices and grilled. Then, potatoes are fried and mixed with meatballs in a baking pan. Tomatoes and peppers are added on top along with some sauce and everything is baked in the oven for a short while.
    Kumru is a type of sandwich that is unique to Izmir. Kumru literally translates into “dove” however it has nothing to do with the meat inside. The name is given because the shape of the sandwich is similar to a dove. Kumru has salami, sujuk, kaşar cheese, tomatoes, pepper, tulum cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup inside a bread bun. Depending on your preferences or diet, you can change the ingredients.
  • SURA
    Sura is a meat recipe special to Izmir and it is made of lamb ribs. Spicy rice is stuffed inside the ribs and then cooked in a copper pot. And then it is roasted in the oven with some sauce poured on top.
    Şevketi Bostan is a kind of plant and there are many different recipes in Izmir made with this plant, with or without meat added in. You should try this one out if you want to discover a new taste.
    İzmir tulumu is a type of cheese unique to Izmir. The tulum cheese owes its fame to being prepared only from ewe’s milk. It is also known as “çoban peyniri” which translates into “the shepherd’s cheese”.
There are so many places to visit and explore in Izmir as it has a long history. If you wish to visit every historical landmark and see all the beauties found in Izmir, we suggest that you spend a week in Izmir and plan your days however you wish. In case you do not have a week to spare, you can visit only the most important landmarks in 3 to 5 days. Do not forget that depending on where you want to go and what you want to see, how many days you will spend in Izmir will change. Make sure to plan your trip to last detail, talk to those who traveled to Izmir on forums and figure out the best timeline for yourself.
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