Turkey’s third largest city is also one of its most liberal and has deep historic roots from having been an important port city since ancient times. From its sparkling Aegean coast to its many historic sights, Izmir has a lot to see and do, we’ve rounded up some of the essentials to make the most of your trip.
Visit Konak Square
Izmir’s iconic square is also one of its busiest areas and is named after the beautiful governor’s mansion (Vali Konağı), which is located there. When you visit the square, you must take a photo of the famous Izmir Clock Tower, which was completed in 1901 by Levantine French architect Raymond Charles to pay respect to the 25th anniversary of Sultan Abdülhamid II’s rise to power.
Take a stroll down Kordon
An essential part of Izmir, the city’s wonderful seafront promenade passes the Cumhuriyet Square, the famous Alsancak neighborhood, Konak Pier, and Konak Square. Kordon is the perfect place to stroll or bike by the waterside, lie down on the grass to catch some sun, or hang out at one of the many bars and restaurants that line the eastern edge.
One of the most impressive ruins in the heart of Izmir, Agora dates back to the 4th century BC and served as a marketplace with vaulted chambers and basilicas. After its collapse during an earthquake in AD 178, Agora was rebuilt by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius with a beautiful Corinthian colonnade and Faustina gate.
Go shopping at the Kemeraltı Market
Close to Konak Square, you’ll find this colorful bazaar, which dates back to the 17th century and features shops, small restaurants, tea gardens, and artisan workshops, as well as a few hidden churches and synagogues. One of the most authentic experiences you can have in Izmir, make sure to lose yourself among the labyrinthine streets with beautiful caravanserais and hidden courtyards.
Gaze at the view from Asansör
Translating to ‘elevator,’ Asansör was built in 1907 by Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu, a wealthy Jewish banker and trader, to allow for passage between the Karataş quarter and the hillside. The elevator inside the tower enabled passengers and goods to travel up the steep cliff. Nowadays, Asansör not only has one of the best views of the city but also one of Izmir’s most famous restaurants.
Visit the Izmir Museum of History and Art
One of Turkey’s largest collections of ancient artifacts, the Izmir Museum of History and Art has three pavilions with beautiful sculptures, precious objects, ceramics, jewelry, and much more from ancient Smyrna, Teos, Miletos, and Pergamon. Do spend a while browsing through the sculpture pavilion, a truly magnificent collection.
Travel to nearby Ephesus
Located an hour’s drive away, the ancient ruins of Ephesus are one of the most essential trips while in the Izmir province. Buses take off to Selçuk from the Izmir bus station, after which a short minibus ride will take you to the gate of Ephesus, the stunning ancient Greek city.