Trip Index (what we have published so far):
Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and a great base to explore the Western/ Southern Turkey ‘hinterlands’.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Izmir – What you need to know
Izmir is connected to the rest of Turkey by plane (the airport is very modern, via train and modern freeways). However the traffic in the city is not for the faint of heart. Lots of roundabouts – lax traffic rules and enforcement and ‘middle-of-the-road’ parking make driving a taxing task.
Turkey isn’t a land of many fluent English speakers and so is Izmir. You should learn the necessary phrases in Turkish or be prepared for stares mostly.
The city isn’t dangerous but has it’s rather shady areas – if you are in a car nothing should happen – as a pedestrian avoid these, easy to recognize, areas after dark.
Things to do in Izmir – Sightseeing
Izmir has no major historic sights to speak of – but some pretty neighborhoods.
Konak is the de facto Izmir city center – it comes with quiet, palm tree lined streets and a general sense of taking it easy. The Hilton Izmir (Review) is located right in the middle of it and it’s bordering the pretty Izmir waterfront. It’s great fun to just wander around the streets here (without being bugged by honking cars and scooters constantly).
If you wander around Konak you will invariably wander into Alasancak which has lots of pretty old houses and a huge pedestrian shopping zone. It’s certainly less posh than Konak but as interesting.
Things to do in Izmir – Food and Coffee
This stylish coffee shop gets high remarks for it’s design and trendiness but I found the coffee just average.
This one is very close to Awake Coffee & Espresso and roasts their own coffee – again I found the coffee to be just ok.
This Turkish Kebap House is in a ‘foodie alley’ right in Konak. There are a number really good and inexpensive Kebap places around it as well. Just pick and choose – I had a great Turkish meal in several places here.
Even if you do not stay at the Hilton – just go the he 31st floor for an inexpensive drink and a view of the huge Izmir Bay to see the sunset.
I did make a longer list if Things to do in Izmir but ended up spending most of my time on day trips and not heading out to the city’s delicacies.
Things to do in Izmir – Day trips
Let’s face it – Izmir is great as a transport hub and the best Things to do in Izmir are the day trips around town.
Çeşme, Alacati, Urla
Urla, Alacati and Çeşme are strung along the modern freeway that goes westward on the peninsula from Izmir. Urla gets high remarks for its historic city center that shows you Turkey how it used to be. Lots of original shops, restaurants and scooters all fighting for space in the tiny city center.
Alacati and Çeşme are holiday destinations for many Turkish and have some nice beaches (though they tend to be rather rocky and short). The water is incredibly clear here.
Alacati is known for the strong afternoon winds that keep on blowing every summer day and produce a world class Windsurfing environment
I used the Foursquare app in both towns to find beach clubs (they are usually expensive in Turkey), beach access and dining options. It’s a good idea to have your own car when making this trip as many places aren’t easy to reach by public transportation.
Selcuk and Ephesus Turkey
I wrote a longer post about Ephesus Turkey here. It’s about one hour with a cheap mini bus from the main bus terminal in Izmir or even less if you rent a car.
Close to Selcuk is Kuşadası which features one of the best beaches in all of Western Turkey.
Things to do in Izmir – Where to stay
I had a great time at the Hilton Izmir (Review). The hotel is very inexpensive in the off-season and I would have loved to stay a bit longer. Its located right in the city center.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]