Izmir is the second largest city in Turkey after Istanbul. During my time in Turkey, I got an opportunity to talk with the locals and 90% of them responded with Izmir as their favorite city in the entire country. This city is considered as one of the best cities to live in Turkey by expats and locals alike. If you are one of those who love to experience life in the city then you will probably love Izmir.
THINGS TO DO:
CLOCK TOWER: The clock tower the most photographed site in Izmir. The best part is that it is located right outside the Konak Metro station. Although, you cannot go in the tower, there are several cafes and bars nearby where you can sit and look around. This tower is also very near to the market and hence can be viewed on the way to the market. You’ll find plenty of people clicking pictures of this tower, children playing and people passing by.
ALSANCAK: Alsancak is basically a sea face where you can spend an evening. Although Izmir is located on the coast, there are no beaches to swim. It only has a sea-face where you can take a walk, sit and enjoy with your friends or family, or ride a bicycle. There are several cafes opposite the sea-face, which makes a popular hangout for locals and youngsters.
ZOO: The zoo in Izmir houses various animals from different continents. There are plenty of animals of African, Asian, European & American origin. To be honest I didn’t visit here as I am completely against keeping animals outside their natural habitat. Also, I will definitely not recommend this activity in this city as well.
MARKETS: Markets bring out the culture of any city. Similarly, it does in Izmir as well. The Kemeralti Market is one of the most visited markets of this city. It’s crowded, crazy and huge. There are plenty of things one can buy and if you love food, you’ll enjoy the quaint and tiny shops to sip a cup of coffee or tea now & then. Having said that, there are plenty of markets on different days. If you happen to visit on the same day make sure to go offbeat!
MUSEUMS: Archaeology museum, sculpture museum, Ataturk Museum, Agora open air museum, Key museum, Toy museum. Phew! You name it and they have it. There are plenty of museums as you can see and it’s a treat for any museum lover to explore this city. Also, it would definitely be difficult to explain each museum in detail so, check out your preferences and choose a handful
HOW TO REACH IZMIR:
Izmir is the second largest city of Turkey after Istanbul. Therefore, it is well-connected by air, train & roads and buses.
BY AIR: It has its own airport and several flights fly daily to and fro Izmir from different destinations. It is very easy to go from Izmir airport to city center as the train station is located right outside the airport. Just cross the road & there’s the station.
BY TRAIN: If you plan to go by train then Basmane Gar will be the main railway station where you will land. From there the city center is pretty near & walk-able (depends upon your accommodation).
BY ROAD: Being the second largest city, it’s well-connected by bus. You can book your tickets online on Kamil Koc or simply buy a ticket one or two days before your travel. However, during festivals & weekends it’s advisable to book it in advance.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST:
ACCOMMODATION: Depending upon the season & your budget, the accommodation starts from $10-$15 in hostels. However, if you plan to live in luxury the cost will definitely be 5-6 times higher than that of hostels. Hence choose your accommodation wisely. To make choosing your stay simpler, scroll down to read Where to Stay part.
FOOD: It is said that Izmir specializes in Sea-food due to its closeness to the sea. Hence, make sure to try their sea-food. Apart from that there are several vegetarian options available for the vegetarian lovers. The cost of food starts from around $5 and goes higher if you eat in the touristic locations, like in front of the sea. If you plan to cook your own food in hostels, the cost is lesser than $5. Hence, it’s a great way to save some money.
TRANSPORTATION: The train is the only thing you need to travel in Izmir. It’s cheap, fast & well-connected. Share taxis are another option to go within the city and are a little costlier than the trains but cheaper than private taxis. There are several stops for share taxis from the main areas, so make sure to confirm the nearest site for share taxis. shared taxis will cost simply $1-$2 and the metro/train is lesser than that. Also, you can walk down to most of the places.
ACTIVITIES: Entrance is required to be paid only for the zoo & some of the museums. The range of these tickets are from $1-$5 dollars. Apart from that, rest all is free. This is one of the cheapest city in terms of activity. However, the cost of entrance to Ephesus is a little expensive. Check out my post on Ephesus.
WHERE TO STAY:
Staying for 2 nights is enough in Izmir.
Luxury: Swissotel Grand Efes and Key Hotel
Mid-budget: Movenpick Hotel
Economical: Shanti home and Lotus Garden Hostel
If you wish to check out some more options, then you can do so here: Accommodation options in this city
It’s a great city to visit and submerge oneself into the history of Turkey. The city comes to life after evening and boasts about its café culture. In my opinion, Izmir is not one of the most beautiful places in Turkey (unless you love only cities!) I guess the locals over-rated it. There are plenty of beautiful cities and villages that are hidden away from the public eye. However, if you are a city-traveler, you’ll not be disappointed!
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11 thoughts on “Izmir: The simplest way to make the best of this city”
This is a great guide for first timers to the city. Especially so because not many people end up writing about it and mostly cover popular tourists spots like Istanbul, antalya etc.
Thank you so much guys!
I haven’t even heard of this city before so thanks for sharing this article! I can’t believe how cheap it is for everything there! Definitely one for the bucket-list I think! Thanks again.
It’s the second largest city after Istanbul in Turkey! And you’re welcome 😀
Ya know…I’ve never given any other city in Turkey any thought other than Istanbul. Great article!
Thank you so much!
Great summary of Izmir! I have never been but it has been on my list, also I have friends in Cesme so I really wanna go one day.
Also heard they have amazing food (I looove Turkish food:))
Thank you for sharing such a useful and comprehensive guide to Izmir! It’s so helpful to know what types of activities and sights there are to see, and approximately how much it costs to travel there. I can’t wait to visit Turkey and after reading this Izmir is definitely on my list!
Why have I not heard of Izmir? Usually second cities are so well-known, they overshadow the capital. Must check it out.
Unfortunately, we were only able to visit Istanbul when we visited back in 2012 but even that small taste was enough to make me want to go back. To me, Turkey has a vibrant and aesthetic culture.
Izmir looks beautiful and you mentioned it has great seafood too. So that makes it plus for us. Istanbul was already on our list and now Izmir too. I liked your pictures. Would love to explore turkey some day for sure!!