Known as the Pearl of the Aegean, Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey with a population of around 4 million. Almost half of the population is under 30, making it one of the best places in Turkey to meet young solo travelers.
Izmir is also the second biggest port after Istanbul, and a very good transport hub.
How to get to Izmir
Izmir is located on Turkey’s West Coast and reachable by air, rail, road and sea.
- Flying to Izmir: Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport is located 20 km south of the city center, has several daily flights to Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara.
- Train to Izmir: The main train station is Basmane Gar with train service east to Ankara on the İzmir Mavi Tren and Karesi Ekspresi, and south to Adnan Menderes Airport, Selçuk (for Ephesus) and as far as Nazilli and Denizli (for Pamukkale).
- Driving to Izmir: Izmir’s Büyük Otogar (bus terminal) is huge and busy, with bus service to all parts of the country.
- Ferry to Izmir: Bus service between Istanbul and İzmir runs in conjunction with IDO fast catamaran ferries four times daily, and one overnight. You depart Kabataş (Istanbul), stop at Bursa.
Distance From Istanbul to Izmir
- The distance between Istanbul and Izmir is 480 km. 5 hours if you drive or 1 mins 10 mins by flight.
From Cappadocia to Izmir
- The distance between Izmir and Cappadocia is 670 km. 1hour 20 mins by flight or 11 hours of you travel by bus.
From Ephesus to Izmir
- Ephesus is about 1 hour from Izmir (80 km).
Things to do in Izmir Turkey
See the Clock Tower
İzmir Saat Kulesi also known as the Izmir Clock Tower in English, is a historic landmark located at the Konak Square. The Clock Tower was built in 1901 as a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the succession of the throne of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Some architectural features of the Clock Tower:
- Symbol of the city like a pearl
- The architect of the tower, Raymond Charles Pere
- The city gas installation built inside it
- Stonework ornamented with geometric figures
- Surrounded by 4 fountains in a circular pattern
- A clock that works perfectly
Shop like a local at Kemeraltı
One of the oldest markets in Turkey and the liveliest area’s of Izmir. In Kemeraltı, you can also see artifacts from the Ottoman era such as mosques and historical fountains and take a picture of these historical assets.
History Lesson at the Atatürk Museum
Located in Kordon (Atatürk Boulevard) wasbuilt in between 1875-1880 by a carpet merchant, Takfor, as a resident. Founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a Turkish army officer, revolutionary, and the first President of Turkey.
Ride the Izmir Cable Car (Izmir Teleferik)
For breathtaking views especially in winter, go on the Izmir Cable Car. You need to buy a ticket for the cable car located opposite Izmir Economy University in the district of Balcova. The cable car will take you to the top of a mountain where you can go hiking or walking or just have tea at the restaurant and return to the ground.
Go on a submarine tour at İnciraltı Sea Museum
After their active duty, the Aegean Frigate and the Piri Reis submarine were converted into a museum. Walk through the submarine and you’ll find a gallery, conference halls and the Naval Scouts dockyard.
Walk along the Kordon
The 6 km sea front-coastline- beginning from Konak Pier to Alsancak train station is called Kordon, because locals believe it’s shaped like a cord. It’s a great place to watch the sunset or simply just sit and enjoy the breeze.
The Best Day Trips from Izmir, Turkey
Located on the coastline that spans 29 km, Çeşme hosts numerous beaches, each with its own unique texture, thermal facilities, historical and natural beauties. In Çeşme, you should visit the bazaar, the marina, and the historical Cesme Castle.
Çeşme’s world-famous Ilica Beach is an ideal place for families with children with its shallow sea and its golden sandy beach. Yildizburnu, which gives its name of Ilica, offers a tremendous swim experience at a point where the hot water spring meets the sea. The beaches of Deliklikoy, Altinkum, Ciftlik, Diamond, Ildir, and Sifne are full in summer. It takes an hour by car from Çeşme to İzmir
The ancient Greek city of Ephesus is located on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province in Turkey.
Ephesus served as a crossroads between the East and West for centuries and was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, which was sadly destroyed in the fifth century A.D.
Euphesus is an important Christian site with the first church dedicated to Virgin Mary located in the area. She also lived her last years of her life in a small cottage near Ephesus.
The magical cotton castle of Turkey is an area of surreal, brilliant white travertine terraces and warm, limpid pools of in Turkey’s picturesque southwest.
There is no other location in the world where you can enjoy millennia from limestone deposited by the abundant hot springs, and the colonnaded streets, temples, bath houses, necropolis and theatre of the remains of an idyllically located Greek-Roman spa city, Hierapolis.
The acropolis of Pergamon was the capital of the Hellenistic Attalid dynasty, a major centre of learning in the ancient world. Monumental temples, theatres, stoa or porticoes, gymnasium, altar and library were set into the sloping terrain surrounded by an extensive city wall.
The quaint village of Şirince lies across a hill about 12 km from the ancient city of Ephesus, 85 km away from Izmir. The village is an interesting example of the synthesis of Greek and Turkish influences.
Şirince Village was formed when people were fleeing Ephesus. They settled in the mountains and named the village Cirkince which translated to ugly in Turkish. The reasoning for this was to keep outsiders from getting curious and coming into the village. The name was eventually changed to Şirince, which means pretty. Greeks settled in the village and today It’s one of the best regions for olive oil and wine tasting.
Get Insurance before traveling to Izmir
Use travel insurance while visiting Turkey t so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in Izmir, and it’s best to have peace of mind while swimming, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.