Top 4 Things to Do in Izmir
Turkey’s third largest city, Izmir isn’t really known for its aesthetic appeal. One look at the mishmash of modern white hotels will probably send a slight cringe down your spine, but there’s a lot more to Izmir than initially meets the eye.
Flanked by both mountains and some lovely beaches and boasting a number of fascinating cultural and historical sites within relatively easy reach, Izmir is one city that shouldn’t be crossed off your list until after you’ve visited.
If you need a little more persuasion here are some essential places and things to do in Izmir that you shouldn’t really miss out on.
1. Uncover History at Ephesus
Ancient ruins are a bit like marmite, you either love them or you hate them. If you fall into the first category, you’ll already know all about Ephesus. If you’re a hands-down hater however, you will take some convincing but a trip here is very worth it for it’s not just ‘another pile of rocks’.
Once a thriving city, it is now the largest collection of ancient ruins in the eastern Mediterranean, with close to 80% of the site still to be excavated. The ruins here actually still resemble their original structures, with the Celsius Library and huge Colosseum stealing the show.
This is a step back in history like no other and as an added bonus; it’s just an hour’s drive from the city with Izmir Airport car hire. You won't regret visiting Ephesus, this is one of the best places to visit in Turkey.
2. Lose Yourself in Kemeralti Bazaar
It might not be on the same scale as Istanbul’s Gran Bazaar, but Izmir’s Kemerlati Bazaar is still an experience not to be missed. The warren of narrow walkways soon become jumbled with people from all walks of life, bringing with them a bucket full of atmosphere as they jostle around doing their shopping.
The many stalls and shops are brimming with everything from simple socks, to wedding dresses and mountainous piles of colourful spices to vats of vibrant fruit and veg and just about everything else in between. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs too, like traditional water pipes or leather goods which are a traditional item here. While away a few hours getting lost in Kemeralti.
3. Call in at the Cotton Castle
Hop into car hire from Izmir Airportand head for the Cotton Castle. Whilst, unfortunately, you won’t find candy floss here, you will instead find one of the most fascinating places in Turkey and indeed the world. The Cotton Castle or Hierapolis-Pamukkale as it is officially known is a series of natural, stark white water terraces which are quite unlike anything else you are likely to have seen elsewhere. Hot springs tumble down and fill the oyster shaped pools with mineral rich water which in turn, deposits calcium. The end result is a feast for your eyes!
4. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Travel and food go hand in hand so delight in Izmir’s more than ample offerings! The warm climate guarantees deliciously fresh, local fruit like mouth-watering melons and juicy oranges.
The city’s proximity to the coast means that the variety and quality of sea food is fantastic too with simple but delicious grilled fish and paellas dominating many of the restaurants menus, particularly in and around Konak, the central neighbourhood closest to the coast. Gorge on other delicious treats too from tasty, sweet baklava to traditional doner and dostlar boyoz firini.
After sunset, see Izmir come alive and immerse yourself in the local nightlife. Konak and Alsancak are definitely the best areas with plenty of bars churning out everything from live Turkish music at Nektar bar, to international beats at Outside Club. The nightlife is surprising eclectic so eat, drink and be merry on a great night out in Izmir!