Clock tower in Konak Square, iconic symbol of the city
Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey with a population of around 4 million, the second biggest port after Istanbul, and a very good transport hub. The fact that almost half of its population of 4 million are under the age of 30, makes İzmir a city full of life. The city hosts tens of thousands of university students, educates scientists, artists, business leaders and academics. It is a rapidly growing city on the Central Aegean coast of Turkey.
Once the ancient city of Smyrna, İzmir is now a modern, developed, and busy commercial center, set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centers are dotted with traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th century market, and old mosques and churches, although the city has an atmosphere more of Mediterranean Europe than traditional Turkey.
İzmir owes its position as an economically and socially dynamic city to its location, climate and the fact that it has been a home to many different cultures and religions. Persians, Ancient Greeks, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans are just a few of the dozens of different civilizations that the city has hosted throughout its long history.
The history of Izmir stretches back to around 3000 BC when the Trojans founded the city Yeşilova Mound in Bornova then continued at Smyrna-Tepekule Ruins and then Kadifekalein the northern suburb of Bayrakli. This was the birthplace of Homer, who was thought to have lived here around the 8th century BC. The Aeolians, the first Greek settlers, were eventually taken over by their Greek rivals the Ionians. The Ionians were followed by the Lydians who destroyed the city around 600BC before a brief recovery following Alexander the Great’s arrival in 334 BC.
After his death, Alexander’s generals followed his wishes and re-established Smyrna on Mount Pagos in Kadifekale, and the city then prospered under the Romans. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 178 AD but later reconstructed and became a major commercial port during the Byzantine Empire. After the Byzantines, the city had a turbulent time under the Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders and Mongols, until Mehmet I incorporated it into the Ottoman Empire in 1415. Under Suleyman the Magnificent, Smyrna became a thriving and sophisticated city and a huge trading center, despite its frequent earthquakes. It was a cosmopolitan city , with a Greek Orthodox majority along with Armenians, Jews and Muslims. Numerous languages could be heard in the streets, spoken by locals and visiting traders.
Following World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, and on the basis of the majority Greek population in the area, Greece was granted a mandate over Izmir from the Allies. Athens took control over the whole of the Aegean region.
Rising tensions led the outbreak of war as the Greeks purshed further into the heart of Anatolia in an attempt to unite the Greek communities of Asia Minor. Led by Kemal Ataturk the Turkish army launched a counter-attack and seized the city. Soon thereafter 70% of the city burned to the ground by the Turkish forces. The 'Great Fire' ended multinational authority of the city and the Greek and Armenian populations were expelled.
Ataturk formally took Izmir on 9 September 1922, which is celebrated as the day of the city's liberation.
Due to its geographical location, similar climatic features are observed in almost every part of the province. Since the average number of sunny days reaches up to almost 300 a year, the solar potential is very high in İzmir.
Dry and sunny summers in Izmir are so infernally hot and sticky that, unless there is an air-conditioning in your room, you will most likely have trouble falling asleep at least on your first night, no matter whether the windows are wide open or not. However, a mild breeze coming in ashore from the sea (locally called meltem) may refreshen the evenings, at least in locations close to the waterfront. Temperature can drop down to freezing point (0°C/32°F) in mostly windy and rainy winters, however snowfall is some sort of curiousness in these latitudes, which happens once or at most twice a decade, if at all.
Izmir has two railway stations: Basmane in the city center serves regional trains and the Metro, and Alsancak in the north serves intercity trains and the IZBAN.
The main intercity services include: Ankara (Mavi Tren is the fastest at 14 hours), Denizli (3 express trains daily, 5-6 hours) and Isparta (9 hours). Trains for Istanbul connect with a ferry at Bandirma.
- Basmane Station, ☎ +90 232 484-86-38. edit
- Alsancak Station, ☎ +90 232 458-31-31. edit
Basmane station is linked by metro (which has a seperate station than the train one) to Konak in the west and to Bornova in the east.
The weekend ferry from Izmir to Istanbul has been suspended (2009), one or two weekly ferries between Izmir and Venice (67 hours). All ferries dock at the Alsancak Ferry Terminal, 2km north of the city center.
- Alsancak Yeni Liman (terminal), ☎ +90 232 464-88-64 / 89 (fax: +90 232 464-78-34). edit
Cruise ships call on the port of Izmir all year round at Alsancak. The center of town, Konak, is about 2 km south of Alsancak. When you exit the pier area, turn right at the waterfront and follow the Kordon to Konak, about a 25 minute stroll.
Adnan Menderes Airport (IATA: ADB, ICAO: LTBJ), 16 km south of the city center, has several daily flights to Istanbul, Ankara, and Antalya. There are also regular flights from many European cities.
Iz Air  is a local carrier operating out of Adnan Menderes and offers many domestic connections.
- Adnan Menderes Airport (Adnan Menderes Havaalanı), ☎ +90 232 274-21-87 (fax: +90 232 274-20-71). edit
From the airport, you have three public transport options into the city:
- Airport shuttles (HAVAŞ) meet incoming flights and go to and from the city center for 11 TL (be sure to get off the bus in the centre of town, as the bus continues north to Tersane).
- Public buses run by ESHOT, transportation department of city council, are cheaper than Havaş, at 5.20 TL/passenger (as of May 2018).
- Re-opened in August 2010, renovated and upgraded suburban train line (İzban, ) connects the airport with Alsancak Station in city centre, north of Konak Square with intervals of about 15 minutes between 6AM and 11:30PM. It's possible to transfer to the metro in Halkapınar station (which is, indeed, the last station for some of the services) for trips further into the city centre, e.g. Konak Square.
Tickets can be bought at manned booths ("gise"). There is a local transport card for residents but you can also prefer "3-5 Bilet" (3-5 Tickets) for short term stays. Price depends on how many trips you will make. It costs 6,5 TL and 15,2 TL for 2 and 5 trips respectively. (October 2013) Please note that you cannot buy one way 3-5 Bilet as the minimum fare covers two trips. You can buy a local transport card for 6 TL. When you load money to this card, you can use every buses, trains and ferries for 2 TL for 90 minutes. Like this; you can use train to got to Halkapınar (app. 30 minutes) and then you can use metro line for free to go to Konak (app. 15 minutes) an than you can use ferry for free to go to Karşıyaka (app. 20 minutes) and than you can use train again for free back to go to airport.
The bus station, or otogar, is 6km north east of town although there are plenty of dolmuş that make the journey there from the centre. The bus station is huge and has an internet cafe, plenty of facilities for food and drink and a large number of agencies selling tickets for coaches which, if departing imminently, they will be shouting out the destinations of. It also has pay toilets.
Buses to Istanbul take 9 hours (including a brief trip on a ferry) and travellers are provided with water, hot drinks, snacks and regular stops for toilets and food all for free on the better services for fares around 50TL per person one way.
- Public ferries are easy, fast inside the coast and gives a nice shot of Izmir. Preferable to every other transportation in nice weather. Popular routes include; Konak-Karsiyaka, Alsancak-Karsiyaka, Konak-Bostanli and Karsiyaka-Goztepe.
- There is a big public bus system covers all of the city.
- Many taxis with reasonable price.
- There is also a metro line connecting city centre/Konak Square with the northeastern suburb of Bornova.
- Izban train line can also be used since it covers most part of the city center
- Izmir has public bicycle sharing scheme and you can pick up a bike at several points.
- You can use nostalgic Phaetons in some areas. The Phaetons work double shift between 8.00-23.00 and the price of a one-way ticket is 20 TL.
Due to the Great Fire of 1920s, there is a relative lack of historical sights in Izmir, especially when considered how old the city really is (more than 5000 years old).
- Konak Square — Main square of the city center, famous for the clock tower, one of the unique symbols of Izmir. The clock tower was built in 1901. There are also Konak Yali Mosque and Kemeraltı Bazaar located around the square.
- Asansör (Elevator) — It was constructed by a Jewish businessman in 1907. The purpose was to help residents to go to their districts on the top of the hill. The elevator used to work by a water-driven mechanism. Later, it was restored by Izmir Municipality and now it works by electricity. There is a restaurant located on the top of the elevator with a bird-eye view of Izmir.
- Beaches — Having a coastline on Aegean sea, Izmir owns lots of beaches which are not too far from the city center. There is public transportation available to most of them. The places include Foça, Dikili, Urla, Seferihisar, and Çeşme.
- Alsancak — small streets with lots of bars in old Ottoman era houses, where you can have a Çay (Turkish tea) or a beer and try several waterpipe flavors.
- Karsiyaka — literally means "opposite side", Karsiyaka locates at the other part of Izmir Gulf, has some beautiful views of Konak and Alsancak. Karsiyaka also offers lively nightlife and one of the Izmir's main pedestrian shopping streets. It can be reached by ferry (vapur) and Izban.
- Kadifekale — old castle on the hill which it's named after.
- Some remains of the original Roman city of Smyrna can be seen at Agora.
- Teleferik (cable car) — This has recently reopened after many years of closure. Having served since 1977, it carries people to 423 m. up above the sea level. There are restaurants, cafes and gift shops located on the top of the hill.(in construction)
- Walk along the Kordon, the waterfront promenade, now lined by rows of tall apartment buildings and palm trees on one side and the Aegean on the other, with a large patch of lawn and a cobbled street inbetween, where you can have a 19th-century fayton (horse-drawn carriages) ride.
- Kemeraltı — A must see. A big bazaar, where you can buy clothes, presents etc. There are also a lot of lounges where you can sit.
- Kızlarağası Hanı — An old inn (kervansaray) in Kemeraltı where you can shop for carpets and jewelry.
- Blend in with locals and take the boat from Konak to Karşıyaka.
You can go to Konak Pier, a small mall along the Kordon with a cinema and with local and other known brands.
Another mall is called Forum, in Bornova. Forum is a very big mall with all brands and a supermarket in a Mediterreanean style one floored houses in open air. Kemeraltı (in the city center) offers great deal of souveniers in a nice traditional athmosphere.
Izmir is a member of World Gourmet Cities Network (DELICE), a network with 22 cities from different parts of the world. Became a member in 2015, Izmir is the 23rd city in the network.
- Fish, grilled sea bass and mezes. Usually the fish is fresh and plenty in all seasons. Kordon Ümitköy Balıkçısı offers great deal of fish in Alsancak.
- Kumru, a warm sandwich, made with a special bread with sesame seeds, Turkish sausage, grilled cheese and tomatoes, also a vegetarian version is available without the sausage and with the addition of green pepper. This is something not to be missed while in Izmir, because it's almost impossible to find it anywhere else in the country. It's sold at numerous stalls in the streets. Best to be eaten earlier in the day to have it warm as they find their way out of bakeries in the morning. Two of them is more than enough to appease you hunger and 1.25 TL is the standard price per each throughout the city.
- Melons, because Izmir has a warm climate so melons are always local and fresh.
- Çi Börek, is one of the pastries that has been consumed fondly in Izmir for about 150 years. Also known as Crimean Pastry or Tatar Pastry, Çi Börek is a popular option for breakfast with curd cheese or minced meat. There are businesses specifically making çi börek in Eşrefpaşa and Bostanlı.
- Tulum Peyniri, a kind of cheese specially made in Izmir region.
- Copsis Kebab at Topcu in Cankaya
- Belkahve: Izmir from the eye of Ataturk in 1922 
- Boyoz, another local pastry but much oilier than kumru, to eat with a boiled egg and a cup of tea in breakfast. It is a gift of Jews to Izmir and comes from the Sephardic cuisine. You can find different variations of boyoz, such as boyoz with artichoke, spinach, cheese, and tahini, in bakeries in Alsancak and places selling filled pastries in Mezarlıkbaşı.
- Gümüş Tabak, a cafe-restaurant in Kızlarağası Hanı, Kemeraltı, offers you the traditional Turkish delicacies, from Köfte to Kokoreç with very affordable prices. You should also try the traditional Turkish coffee that is prepared in a special way, boiled in the cup, fincan.
- Gevrek or as known throughout the rest of Turkey as simit, a seeded bread ring. Although it looks similar to the other bagels popular in other cities, gevrek is a pastry unique to Izmir. The "secret" of gevrek is that it is sunk in molasses before baking. This method is a tradition coming from the Caucasian Turks. Crispy, fragrant and hot gevreks with plenty of sesame makes a great breakfast when they are served with a slice of goat cheese, fresh tomatoes, green pepper and a glass of well-brewed tea. You can find gevreks every hour of the day in special glass-fronted cabinets that you can find almost anywhere as well as the bakeries in Alsancak
- KFC, Burger King at the Konak Pier mall where you can eat these staples of American fast food by the seaside.
Join the nightlife on Kıbrıs Şehitleri Caddesi in Alsancak, and go find the Gazi Kadinlar Street. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are when the street is liveliest.
- All pubs and cafes in Kordon (Alsancak's waterfront) are attractive in nice weather.
- 1448 Sokak at Alsancak is full of bars and pubs from one end to another. They also have seats out on the sidewalk, and the uniform price for a bottle of beer (a pint/0.50 litre) is 6 TL all along the street.
- Listen to live Turkish music in Ehlem Türkü Evi café in Konak (861. Sk.) and watch the locals sing and dance. Very authentic. See videos on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ehlemturkuevi. Köfte: 15 TL, beer: 12 TL, lemonade: 6 TL.
In Izmir there are many hotels which are suitable for all tastes and budgets. Hilton, Swissotel and Movenpick are just a few minutes away by foot from Cumhuriyet Meydani (Republic Square) Hotel Ibis is very close to the city center, located nearby Alsancak Railway Station. Also there is Crowne Plaza, which is about 30 min. from center.
- Hotel Yaman, 1440 Sokak No.19, Alsancak, ☎ +90 232 421-12-87 ([email protected], fax: +90 232 421-02-69), . Rooms with en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, air-con, wi-fi, safebox free of charge. €45/€60 single/double rooms. edit
- Güzel Izmir Oteli, 9 Eylül Meydanı, 1368. Sokak No.8, Basmane, ☎ +90 232 483-50-69, . Rooms with shower/toilet, satellite TV, air-con, wi-fi. €35 double room. edit
- Hotel Bodrum, 1362 Sokak No12 Cankaya (5 minutes walk from the railway station towards the sea front.). Rooms have wireless internet hot/cold shower, Turkish TV and air-con. 40TkL per night for single/double room including breakfast. edit
- Zena House (Zena Tourism Agency), ☎ +905416325467-+ 90 544 3977746 Mail : [email protected], . www.zenahouse.com is a Turkish based company for apartment rentals in Izmir at a reasonable price 60-100 Us $ /Per Night. edit
- otel MaSaLa, Tokoglu Mah. 1020 Sok. No:4 (Alacati/IZMIR), ☎ +90 232 716 0578/ +90 532 3572001 ([email protected]), . A "sympathic" hotel in Alacati, each one diffrent furnished six rooms. Room for two person B&B € 85 to 125 (75 km to Izmir). edit
- Oglakcioglu Park Boutique Hotel, 1367 sokak no:9 Basmane, Konak, 35210 Izmir (Basmane Metro Station: walk out the main entrance of the metro cross the road onto Fevzi Pasa Bulvari and then take right at the Oglakcioglu Park CITY Hotel, walk past the Marlight Hotel to the Oglakcioglu Park BOUTIQUE hotel.), ☎ +90-232-425-3333 ([email protected]), . checkin: 1400 HRS; checkout: 1200 HRS. Boutique hotel about 100m or about 7 min walk from Basmane Metro. Warm, quite elegant and with a decidedly Classic style of decor reminiscent of hotels in Italy. Great and friendly staff. Apparently decent facilities i.e. onsite bar/restaurant, good stable-fast-free wi-fi in rooms, an private car park on the same floor as your room, GPRS facility for you to use to locate addresses, 24-hour room service. $42-$275. (N 038° 25.375,E 27° 8.478) edit
- Shantihome, 1464 sok. No: 15, Alsancak 35220, İzmir, ☎ +90 546 235 0805, . Izmir's only hostel. Colourful and friendly place with dorm beds (30TL), single rooms (50TL) and doubles (60TL). Located in Alsancak, near the Kordon and the main bar street of the city. Great breakfast. edit
- Central Park Otel, ☎ +902322341101, . This hotel is located in Cesme, 70 km's from the airport. With free internet, private pool and nice rooms, it's a good option to stay in Cesme. €35 double room. edit
- Hotel Lara, Boyalık Koyu Sakarya Mh. 3200 Sk. No:4 Çeşme İzmir (Cesme/IZMIR), ☎ +90 0232 488 45 90, . A four star hotel in Cesme Alacati which is one hour drive to Izmir by car. Nice and spacious rooms and free WIfi throughout the hotel. edit
- Lotus Garden Hostel, Altınordu, 961. Sk. No:4, 35240 Konak/İzmir, ☎ +90 0535 848 5875 (lotushost[email protected]). Great new hostel in Izmir, with excellent location near Basmane train station, and within walking distance of almost all the atractions in the city. Spacious rooms, free wi-fi, kitchen, helpful staff and a great complimentary breakfast. edit
- Maia Hotel, Alsancak Mahallesi No:73, 35240 Konak/İzmir. Great new hostel in Izmir, with excellent location near Basmane train station, and within walking distance of almost all the atractions in the city. edit
Tourism Information Office
You can call tourism offices for all of your questions.
- İzmir Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, ☎ +90 232 483-62-16. edit
- Central Tourism Information Office, ☎ +90 232 445-73-90. edit
- Adnan Menderes Airport Tourism Information, ☎ +90 232 274-22-14. edit
- Greece, Atatürk Caddesi 366/1A, Alsancak, ☎ +90 232 464-31-60, 464-31-61, 421-69-92 ([email protected], fax: +90 232 463-33-93), . M-F 09.00-16.00, except official holidays. edit
- United Kingdom, 1442 Sokak No 49, PK 300 35220 Alsancak, ☎ +90 0232 463 5151 (fax: +90 0232 465 0858), . "M-F. edit
Izmir is a relatively safe city for its size, however it does have its "shady" areas. The city center as well as populated suburbs are generally safe during the day. Use common sense if walking at night, avoid dark and narrow alleyways (found mainly in Alsancak and Konak). Avoid the streets around the main port as well as the streets around the railway junction (Hilal, Halkapinar). Be weary in Basmane, though it is fine to stay in hostels in this neighbourhood (the Syrian food will keep you coming back). It is important to also be cautious in Kadifekale, which is where one of the city's main landmarks is located. It is not advisable to travel on foot in the neighborhoods on the south side of the train tracks near the city center at night.
Use common sense and you will be relatively safe. If you find yourself in any situation don't be afraid to call the police (155). Izmir Police Department has a "tourism police" section where travellers can report passport loss and theft or any other criminal activity they may have become victims of. The staff is multilingual and will speak English, German, French, and Arabic.
- Tourism Police (Turizm Polisi), Turizm Şube Müdürlüğü, Tepecik, ☎ +90 232 489-47-77 (fax: +90 232 441-11-63). edit
- Alaçatı formerly named Agrilia and inhabited by local Greeks until 1920s, Since 2000s, it is much trendier and has a wider visitor profile, which includes many windsurfers.
- Çeşme a small village for all summer activities, half an hour drive to Izmir to west.
- Özdere Popular destination for it's great publich beaches and several All Inclusive great hotels.
- Selçuk a few hours by bus or train to the south of the city, is a town with much historical sights, as well as serving as a hub to visit nearby Roman city of Ephesus and Virgin Mary’s House, where the Vatican declared an official Catholic pilgrimage site. It is also a few kilometers away from Kuşadası, and the pleasant inland village of Şirince, renowned for its wines.
- Tire takes only an hour to arrive from the city center, a typical Aegean town, you can visit Turkey's biggest open town market on Tuesdays and have a good lunch in Kaplan with typical Aegean foods and famous meatballs of Tire.
- Manisa just to east over Sabuncubeli Pass, is hub for visiting nearby Sardes, the capital of ancient Lycians, and Mount Sipylus, which offers beautiful forest scenery as well as sites with mythological references.