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Top 10 Things to do in Izmir


Our Top Ten things to do in Izmir - Don't leave until you've experienced the best Izmir has to offer

Izmir is Turkey's third largest city and is a bustling commercial centre surrounded by mountains forming a stunning natural harbour. Although most tourists don’t come to Turkey for the cities unless we’re talking Istanbul, there is a lot to see in and around Izmir and it has its fair share of lively bars and clubs, top class restaurants and great shopping opportunities at local bazaars. Additionally the city has plenty of archaeological interest having been inhabited for over a millennia.
1 Wonderful Beaches
Wonderful Beaches
Ok, you may be in a city and a big industrial and commercial area but you don’t have to go far to find natural beauty on a beautiful beach. A short drive west of Izmir leads to an area renowned for picture postcard coves and gorgeous beaches. The pretty resorts of Cesme, Alacati and Altinkum are some of the best beaches on the Aegean coast with pristine white sands, warm seas and secluded, protected bays, ideal for families or those wanting to take part in water sports.

2 Wreck Dives
Wreck Dives
The Aegean has been a busy and important waterway for thousands of years and despite the tranquil looking water on a hot summer day, countless storms over the centuries have accounted for many ships. From Izmir and the surrounding resorts, dive companies will take you scuba diving out to some of the well known wrecks and let you see history on the seabed as well as the amazing variety of sea life that has made the wrecks their home. For the less adventurous, much of the watery fauna can be seen by snorkelling from the beaches or taking a glass bottom boat trip.

3 Pamukkale
Further inland, Pamukkale is an amazing geographical phenomenon. Unique in the world it is like an iced wedding cake with dozens of tiers. The mini plateaux hold the hot spring water as it flows down from the top of the mountain. On its way it adds layers of brilliant white limestone to the ancient plateaux that cascade to the bottom of the mountain. Visitors to Pamukkale can bathe in the waters which are reputed to have health giving properties.

4 Izmir Clock Tower
Izmir Clock Tower
A favourite with regular travellers to Izmir, the pretty clock tower is set in a picturesque plaza where you can sit and people watch whilst sipping a cooling drink. The area is very photogenic and especially if you cross the plaza to the small domed building opposite the clock tower where the plaza looks out over the sea. There is also a large government building on the plaza which was built to fit in with the ambience of the place. A good venue to relax and watch the world go by.

5 Kemeralti Bazaar
Kemeralti Bazaar
Trying, and coming close to emulating the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, Kemeralti Bazaar
should be on every Izmir visitor’s list. Just as in Istanbul, the place is crowded and packed floor to ceiling with an array of everything you could ever need and more. Once again, the stall holders appreciate a bit of haggling and as long as you offer sensible prices and aren’t rude, you’ll often walk away with a bargain. Make sure you grab a guide to the bazaar as it is easy to get lost in its maze-like interior.

6 St. Polycarp Church
St. Polycarp Church
This church can be found where Gaziosmanpaþa Boulevard crosses Necatibey Boulevard. The building was built in 1625 in honour of St. Polycarp, who was killed in A.D. 155 in Kadifekale at the age of 86 because of his strong beliefs and faith. It is said that they tried to burn him at the stake but the flames wouldn’t touch him so he was stabbed to death. The church is part of the seven churches of the revelation and a lasting symbol of the Christian settlement in Smyrna.

7 The Agora
The Agora
The Agora, which was eventually a Roman market place, was the largest of its kind in the world and was established in 333 BC by Alexander the Great on the slopes of Mt. Pagos. An earthquake in AD 178 destroyed it but it was rebuilt soon after by Marcus Aurelius. The Agora was originally partially excavated in 1932-41, revealing an open square (140x140m) bordered by porticoes and a huge civic basilica on the north side. Digging started again in 2002 and is still in progress; hundreds of roman graffiti’s have been found in the basement of the Basilica. Inscriptions also indicate the existence of a church. Interestingly, this Roman bazaar is only a stone’s throw away from the Ottoman bazaar.

8 Ethnography Museum
Ethnography Museum
This museum is located opposite the Archaeology Museum and is located in Bahribaba Park, south of Konak. The beautiful stone building that houses it was once a hospital, built in 1831. The exhibits include a comprehensive collection of folk art which is displayed on the first two floors and which showcases the lifestyle, customs and traditions of Izmir and its environs in the 19th century. There are also displays of traditional handicrafts such as felt making, wood block printing, clog making, blue bead making, tin processing, rope weaving and pottery as well as many costumes, textiles, jewellery, kitchen utensils and camel saddles and finally an exhibition about camel wrestling!

9 The Archaeology Museum
The Archaeology Museum
With so much history nearby you’d expect a central place for its display and that place is the Izmir Archaeology Museum located in Bahribaba Park, just to the south of Konak. Here you see displays from all of the many cities from different civilisations that have been excavated within the Izmir area including; Bayrakli (ancient Izmir), Ephesus, Pergamon, Miletus, Aphrodisias, Clazomenae, Teos and Lasos from which the displays of sculptures, ceramics, coins and jewellery come. The most famous exhibits are the Terra-cotta Sarcophagi and a bronze statue of a runner.

10 Konak Pier
Konak Pier
Formerly very run down, Konak Pier has been renovated and turned into a chic shopping district selling only top brand designer labels. If you can’t afford the ticket prices in the shops, at least take a stroll around the area watching the boats ply to and fro. In the evenings the enticing restaurants get very popular and a warm friendly atmosphere prevails. If you’re in the city, try to book a meal here, for the view – and for the delicious food

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