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At the heart of the Turkish Aegean coast lies the metropolis of İzmir. The city, with its high-rise buildings, bustling shopping streets, and colorful nightlife is ideal for a big-city getaway or a fun day trip for those on a sunny beach vacation along the beautiful coastline. İzmir's modern cityscape, however, is contrasted by the remnants of its past as the ancient port of Smyrna, with many archeological sites found within the city center. History, parties, and sunshine, this city has it all!

Good To Know

  • Many young people know basic English. Nevertheless, you should prepare some basic Turkish or have Google Translate close by. Don't be afraid to ask for directions, as the locals are very friendly and helpful.
  • While exploring, be sure to connect with the locals who will most definitely want to tell you about their favorite İzmir activities!
  • Get the "izmirim kart", an electronic ticket that will give you access to almost all measures of public transport. İzmir has a great transportation system, with metros, trams, and busses connecting the center. Explore the outskirts and province by train or Dolmuş (mini-bus).
  • Stay in Karşıyaka or Alsancak to be where the nightlife is, or in Konak for close access to historic sites.
  • İzmir is generally a very safe place for tourists (yes, also female solo-travelers!), just make sure, as you should in every major city, to keep your belongings on your body to discourage pickpockets.  
  • Want to go on day trips and/or explore the area more? Check out Ancient History of the Turkish Aegean for important ancient cities along the coastline or find the best beach-side towns in the province here.



Take the tram to Konak Station and explore Kemeraltı, İzmir's city center. Following the crowds will directly take you to İzmir's symbol Saat Kulesi, a beautiful clock tower from the Ottoman era. The 25 m (82 ft) tower marks the center of Konak Square and is surrounded by fountains on four sides. Have your picture taken in front of the intricate tower among the masses of pigeons wandering the square! From Saat Kulesi it is just a short walk to Kemeraltı Çarşısı, the main bazaar of the city. Here, you can buy almost everything; from clothes and jewelry to beautifully ornate, handmade Turkish items. Taste traditional Turkish food at one of the food stands (Simit, a sesame ring, is the perfect snack) while enjoying the bustling atmosphere of the market. Walk up the steep residential streets just behind the bazaar to the archaeological site of İzmir Agorası. Constructed in the 4th century BC, this Greco-roman market square was the center of the ancient port city of Smyrna, a major hub along the Silk Road. Excavation of the site began in 1933 and is ongoing. Nevertheless, for a small fee visitors can take a self-guided tour and learn about the Agora with the help of extensive signage. 


As a city built on a hillside, the streets of İzmir can get quite steep. Oftentimes, large flights of stairs connect two streets running parallel, yet at different elevations. An extreme example used to be the 155 steps residents had to climb to get from the shore to their district on Mihatpasa Street. To put an end to this, Asansör, a 51 m (167 ft) tall tower housing two elevators, was constructed. Nowadays residents still use the historical building to navigate the elevation difference, however, it is also a famed touristic sight. Walk from Karataş station through the storybook-like and alleyways of David Moreno Street and maybe stop for a cup of coffee at a small café. Proceed to take the elevator of Asansör (free of charge) up to Mihatpasa Street for an amazing view of the Gulf and the city's rooftops! 


The Kordon is İzmir's sea-side promenade. It stretches along 10 km (6.2 miles) of shoreline and is great for running, cycling, or just taking a stroll along the water. It is also where the main tram-line runs, so you can hop on and off as you please! At its lower end lies the district of Göztepe. Here, you'll find plenty of cozy cafés, where locals like to spend their evenings enjoying a beer along with some live music. On the way north, Kordon passes by Asansör and Konak Square until it reaches Alsancak, another major district. Explore Alsancak by day for some light shopping and keep your eyes open: running perpendicular to the wide shopping streets are tight alleys with restaurants seating only a few guests, painted in bright colors and lined with flowers and lights! By sunset, Alsancak's nightlife takes over. Thematic bars in the alleys and small clubs open up and invite visitors to join the party!


In the district of Balçova, outside of the city center awaits an experience not typically found in large cities: a cable car takes visitors from a packed residential area up to the top of a mountain in a mere 3 minutes! Enjoy the panoramic views of the diverse greater İzmir area, you'll be able to see the Gulf and city and as far as the Aegean Sea and the mountains further inland. Spend some time here if you'd like, as there are plenty of small restaurants and ice cream stands and the area is great for a short hike. A roundtrip costs just 13 TL, but of course, it is possible to hike back down (or up, if you're ambitious!) instead of riding the cable car. Just make sure to avoid standing in line at lunchtime, as the wait for a spot in a car will be considerably longer. While the Teleferik can be reached by public transport, it is easiest to take the tram to Fahrettin Altay Station and hail a cab for the last mile.


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