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Izmir Tourism And Travel Guide
13.3° C / 55.9° F
April to October
2 to 3 Days
Adnan Menderes International Airport (24 kms)
Alsancak (4 kms)
The beautiful city of Izmir lies on the western coast of Turkey, facing the Aegean Sea. It is the third most populated city in Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara. Crowned as the Pearl City of Turkey, it is a major commercial hub with a large seaport. Nearly 5000 years old, this city was formerly known as Smyrna. Settlements of various tribes like the Trojans, Lydians and Hittites have been found here. The city has been in the hands of many, including the Greeks, Romans and Ottoman rule. With so much of history, tourism in Izmir has flourished through its beautiful architecture, cultural events and the modernity of a thriving city. Read our travel guide to Izmir to get greater insights into this wonderful place.
How to Reach
Izmir's airport is called Adnan Menderes Airport and is 26 km away from the city centre. There are plenty of flights from Istanbul and Ankara that fly to Izmir daily. From India, the best way to reach Izmir is to fly to Istanbul via Turkish airlines and then take a domestic flight to Izmir. The local flight is just about 1 hour and is a quick yet affordable option.
The bus connections all over Turkey are quite commendable. Izmir is also well-connected to other cities by road, but the journey is quite long. From Istanbul, an overnight bus journey would take around 8-9 hours. The bus terminal of Izmir is known as Büyük Otogar and is well equipped with many food joints and an internet cafe as well. Alternatively, you can make this into a road trip by hiring a private vehicle. You can go via the scenic route which is slightly longer via Edremit, or the more straightforward route via Balikesir which would take 6 hours straight.
Izmir has 2 train stations. Basmane station is for the Metro and regional trains, while Alsancak is for intercity trains. To get to Izmir by train, you could take a direct from Denizli, Konya or Ankara. From Istanbul, you would need to change trains at Eskisehir and the journey would take you around 14 hours.
Izmir is a coastal city and is connected with the Aegean Sea so many international cruise ships from Italy & Greece dock here. There are also some options for local ferries from other coastal parts of Turkey like Antalya. From Istanbul, there is no direct ferry, instead, you can ferry to Bandirma and then travel via Train to Izmir.
Izmir is a big city, though the main city centre can easily be explored by foot with most of the tourist spots near to each other. You can also hire a local taxi if walking isn't your style. To get to the other districts within Izmir, there are local trains, the metro service as well as public buses. All of these options are easily available around the city. There is also a mini-bus service from the bus terminal, which covers many of the sightseeing places.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring (March to May):
Spring is a pleasant time for tourists to visit the city of Izmir. There is still the cool winter breeze in the air in March but it is not too cold to enjoy any seaside activities. The temperature is 18°C on an average but the night is much colder as it can go down to 10°C. During April and May, there are many flowers that bloom in Izmir, making the city very colourful and pretty. A lot of cultural events also take place during this time - the most important one of this season is the Jazz Musical Festival.
Summer (June to August):
The summertime is always a great time to be at a seaside city. Watersports and parties are at its peak but things tend to get overcrowded. The temperature during the summer can get quite hot and sweaty - averaging 28-30°C. There is hardly any rainfall during this period. Some of the best events take place in the summer including many arts & cultural festivals, but the most prolific one is The International Izmir Festival, which is a tribute to all performing arts from Music, Theatre, Ballet and the Opera.
Autumn (September to November):
The weather during the fall season is pleasant with temperatures ranging between 23°C to 28°C. The colours of fall are always a sight for sore eyes and the countryside of Izmir is especially beautiful during this time. If you're looking for a more peaceful and relaxed holiday, this would be the perfect season to visit Izmir.
Winter (December to February):
Izmir can have a harsh winter as the temperature can go below 0°C. There is a chance of snow or rain for about 2-3 days a month during this period. Not many people prefer to visit or holiday during the winter - but if you like the cold weather, you could benefit by getting good discounts. All the main historic sites are open throughout the year, so you would not miss out on much.
Things To Do
The promenade at Izmir is a beautiful 6km stretch from Konak Square to Alsancak station. You can walk or cycle alongside the path and enjoy the cool breeze while sipping a hot mocha at one of the many cafes. It's a romantic place for couples who can come here to enjoy a beautiful sunset. There are some statues and other art displays which make for pretty pictures. Plenty of restaurants and bars will make you pass your time here easily.
Enjoy a long day out on the beach at Alacati which is located in Cesme district. There are numerous beaches here with some of the most stunning views of the sea. Relax on the beach or go on a boat excursion from the many tour operators that you will find. Alacati is also famous for its calm waters and is the perfect place to try on a few watersports like Wind Surfing, Para Sailing or Diving.
Izmir Wildlife Park:
This wildlife park is the largest natural park in the continent of Europe. It's a beautiful park with many animals and the trip can be enjoyed as a family. It is located 30 km from the city centre of Izmir. You will find Tigers, Bears, Elephants, Giraffes, Birds, Reptiles and many more species. It is open through the year and is a must especially if you are an animal lover.
Izmir's rich history has left it with many architectural wonders from different eras. Visit some of its oldest mosques and the newer ones that have been built in true Ottoman-style. Hisar Mosque & Konak Mosques are the most famous from the lot, but there are many more. Saint Polycarp Church is a famous church that also is a must-visit for its beautiful frescoes. This is part of the 7 churches of Asia and is of great holy significance.
Where to Eat
Izmir has many great places to enjoy Turkish cuisine. Seafood around the Kordon area is a very popular choice as it offers a beautiful combination of great food and beautiful views! For some mouthwatering street food, visit Alsancak district of Izmir. You will find a variety of foods such as kokoreç, söğüşçü, Gevrek and Boyoz. Another famous place for food is Kemeralti Bazaar where you can find awesome Turkish Coffee and Kumpir (baked potatoes).
For some amazing local desserts, head to Konak district, the main city centre. Try the Profiteroles at Reyhan Pastanesi. Another place is Şortan Pastanesi which is famous for its Lor Tatlısı, which is a pastry made with lor cheese and a sweet sherbet. Şambalı is yet another must-try dessert made with semolina, yoghurt, and sugar. You can find this at Meşhur Hisarönü Şambalıcısı.
When going shopping is a tourist attraction, you have to believe that Izmir is a shoppers paradise. From designer boutiques to antiques and local crafts, they have it all.
The Kemeraltı market is the most famous in Izmir for street shopping. Crowded with people and shops, this maze of narrow streets can keep you occupied for hours. You can shop for clothing, jewellery, craftwork, pottery, spices, carpets and more. The experience is similar to that of the Grand Bazaar at Istanbul. Don't be afraid to haggle and get the best bargains.
If you are looking for something fancier, go to Alsancak or Bornova. Alsancak has streets of branded stores and designer outlets and Bornova has 2 of the largest malls of the city - Park Bornova and Forum Bornova. Or you could also visit Agora Shopping Centre, which is an open-air market filled with shops that sell practically everything from household items, electronics, clothing & accessories to toys, textiles, entertainment and more. It has over 150 shops and also a play area for children.