Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and the second largest port city after Istanbul. Here are a few things to do in Izmir Turkey;
- Izmir Clock Tower and Konak Square
- Smyrna Agora Ancient City
- Cesme Beaches
- Pamukkale Day Trip
- Ephesus and Selcuk Day Trip
- Train from Izmir to Selcuk
Hotels in Izmir are good value but be aware it’s a huge city. If you choose somewhere close to Basmane Gare, the promenade or Konak Square you should be fine.
Izmir Clock Tower and Konak Square
The iconic landmark of Izmir is the Clock Tower. It’s history involves quite an interesting combination of countries. The Clock Tower was designed by a Frenchman and a gift from a German. To make things a little more interesting, the architectural style is Ottoman. Lastly, you can find similar clock towers in the former Ottoman controlled cities of Banja Luka, Sarajevo and Belgrade.
Adjacent to Konak Square is the Izmir sign. A photo with this sign is a must as a memory of your trip to Izmir Turkey.
You can see an ancient castle from most points of Izmir. This castle is called Kadifekale and so is the hill it sits on. It’s history dates back to the Roman Empire. Today, the castle is surrounded by slums therefore it’s not the most picturesque view in the world. However, if you travel to the castle it offers city views as well as views over the Gulf of Izmir. Alternatively, you can also witness these wonderful views from the Asansor which is much more convenient to visit.
Anyone who’s familiar with Portuguese or Spanish will associate the word Asansor with elevator. This is exactly the purpose of the Asansor in Izmir. It was built in 1907 to connect the lower coastline to the top of Izmir hillside. Nowadays you can simply take a taxi or the metro to the upper part of Izmir. However, as a tourist you may wish to take the elevator. Once at the top, witness panoramic views of Izmir city as well as the Gulf of Izmir.
Colorful Staircase – A Brazilian Connection?
You have an option to take the stairs from the coastline to the top of the Asansor. If you choose this option you’ll be rewarded with an Instagram worthy staircase. The reason this staircase grabbed my attention is because it’s similar to the famous Selaron Steps in Rio, Brazil. Another connection to Brazil is the OLODUM symbol from Salvador, Brazil. As a matter of fact, there’s also a similar version to the Asansor in Salvador known as Lacerda Elevator.
Gulf of Izmir
Adjacent to the city is the Gulf of Izmir. For this reason, there’s a beautiful promenade walk. On the promenade are several restaurants, shops, ferry ports and also a pier featuring a shopping mall. I’m sure you can find the perfect place on the promenade to enjoy a lovely Izmir sunset.
Smyrna Agora Ancient City
Also known as the Agora Ruins, Smyrna is the ancient Greek city which existed before modern day Izmir. It’s conveniently located in the center of Izmir therefore you can walk to it. Moreover, it’s both well preserved and restored so has become a top Instagram spot in Izmir.
Kemeraltı – Markets and Bazaar
Kemeraltı is the central district of Izmir which has endless markets and a bazaar area. As you walk through these markets, you’ll get a true Turkish experience. Unlike the tourist hot spots of Turkey, such as Istanbul, prices here aren’t inflated. As well as the clothing markets you’ll see lots of traditional Turkish restaurants as well as juice stalls. It’s also in this area you’ll find Hisar Mosque which is the most famous in Izmir.
Mosques of Izmir Turkey
As you explore Izmir, you’ll discover several picturesque mosques. Don’t be afraid to go inside as it’s likely you’re very welcome. However, there are a few rules you must adhere to. Firstly, women must cover up and wear a scarf, men must wear trousers, both must take off shoes. Additionally, avoid prayer times when you visit.
Izmir Ataturk Stadium
The Izmir Ataturk Stadium has a capacity of over 50,000 spectators. Unfortunately, they don’t offer stadium tours, nor are they friendly enough to welcome tourists to their stadium. However, if a match is on you may enter the stadium. It’s home to a couple of lower league Turkish teams so check the fixture list before arriving. Lastly, friendly Turkish teams who do welcome tourists to their stadiums include Antalyaspor, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Amed SK.
Cesme Beaches and Resorts
A short drive west from Izmir is Cesme. Cesme features a picturesque castle as well as several resort hotels. Surrounded by the deep blue Aegean sea, this part of Turkey is perfect for beach lovers and much cleaner than Izmir.
Pamukkale Day Trip
The UNESCO site of Pamukkale is an incredible site. It’s thermal water running down travertine terraces on a huge scale. Anyone who loves photography, Instagram photography or bathing in thermal water must visit Pamukkale. Did you know that adjacent to Pamukkale is the ancient city of Hierapolis? As a result, I highly recommend you stay overnight in nearby Pamukkale town to give yourself sufficient time to explore the area.
Ephesus and Selcuk Day Trip
Selcuk is home to one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis. In addition, you’ll find the Basilica of St John the Baptist as well as the former home of the Virgin Mary. Of course, the main draw to this part of the world is the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. Ephesus doesn’t disappoint and you’ll experience an overload of spectacular landmarks. On a walk through Ephesus you’ll see Library of Celsus, the enormous Ephesus Amphitheater as well as the Temple of Hadrian.
I recommend you stay in Selcuk overnight. Not only are the hotels extremely good value but you can also visit Ephesus long after the day tours have gone home.
How to get from Izmir to Selcuk
There’s a modern train service between Izmir and Selcuk. They leave around 3 times per day from Basmane Train Station. I recommend you check the current timetable online but it’s normally twice in the morning and the last one leaves early afternoon. The journey takes around an hour and takes you all the way to central Selcuk. Alternatively, there are regular bus services throughout the day. Enjoy the journey from Izmir to Selcuk!
Selcuk to Bodrum