Guide to Izmir

Guide to Izmir

Izmir is the largest city on the Aegean coast of Turkey and the second largest port in the country after Istanbul. Ancient Smyrna – the name Izmir bore in the ancient period – was founded by the Greeks in the 3rd millennium BC. e. For such a long time, the city managed to be under the rule of the Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Now it is a multimillion-dollar metropolis with high-rise buildings, trendy bars, seafood restaurants, shopping centers and a beautiful embankment. The atmosphere of the Greek islands here is surprisingly combined with Turkish flavor. We talk about the main attractions of the city, and also share tips for a beach holiday.

Entry rules

Russians can stay in the country without a visa for up to two months within six months; to enter, they only need a foreign passport. The local currency is the Turkish lira (TRY), the rate is approximately 3.6 rubles*.

Guide to Izmir

How to get there

15 km from the center of Izmir is the Adnan Menderes International Airport, where Aeroflot has direct flights from Moscow. Ticket prices start from 31,000 rubles* in both directions. Flight 5.5 hours.

It is convenient to get from the airport to the city center by taxi or public transport. A taxi costs from 100 TRY (about 360 rubles*). Tickets for city buses No. 200, 202 and 204 – from 7 TRY (about 25 rubles*). The trip will take from 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic.

Where to stay

Izmir Palas Hotel (rating 8.6) – the hotel is located on the city’s Cordon embankment. The rooms are decorated in a classic style, breakfast is buffet style, and the restaurant serves Aegean cuisine and seafood. A night in a standard room with breakfast and city view costs from 10,800 rubles*.

Hay Hotel Alsancak (rating 9.2) – a hotel with shared loft spaces, a cozy cinema room and modern-style rooms located 5 minutes walk from the coast. Standard room with breakfast costs from 12,600 rubles* per night.

Izmir Marriott Hotel(score 9.1) – a hotel with panoramic views of the sea harbour, a seasonal outdoor pool, lounge areas and a stylish rooftop bar. A fitness center with a heated pool and jacuzzi is available to guests. A night in a standard room without meals costs from 13,000 rubles*.

What to see

Konak Central Square

Guide to Izmir

The main pedestrian and tourist artery of the city. It is always crowded here, because there is a central bus station, a metro station and a ferry pier. The square is rich in architectural monuments. Right in the center rises the hallmark of Izmir – the 25-meter Clock Tower (or in Turkish Saat Kulesi) made of marble. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century and fascinates with its skillful openwork decoration. The top of the building is decorated with a clock donated by the German King Wilhelm II. The tower looks especially beautiful at night, when the lights are turned on.

At the edge of the square stands the miniature octagonal Yali Camii Mosque. The shrine was built in the 18th century and, as befits any mosque, it has an elegant minaret, a massive dome and stained glass window frames. 

Izmir Elevator (Tarihi Asansor)

One of the main attractions in the city. The elevator was built in 1907 to make life easier for the local population – before its introduction, people had to walk up hundreds of steep stairs from the sea coast to the residential area located at the top of the hill.

At the end of the last century, the tower was restored, and now tourists come here not only to take a ride in the unusual elevator. At the top you can dine in a restaurant that offers panoramic views of the city at night and a picturesque view of the bay. An observation deck is also located on the tower’s balcony, and there is also a cafe there. After leaving the elevator, you will find yourself in the ancient Jewish quarter with narrow streets. The walls of houses here are often painted in bright shades of red and blue.

Kemeralti Market

Guide to Izmir

People come to the main market of Izmir to feel the atmosphere of the Old City. After all, this is not only a place where trade is in full swing from morning to evening, but also a whole collection of architectural monuments. The bazaar appeared in the 17th century, and to this day many Kemeralta shops are located in the ancient parts of the caravanserai building. Locals often call the market a smaller copy of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

In the shopping arcades you can find almost everything, from souvenirs and clothing to delicious delicacies, expensive antiques and handmade leather goods. They also offer to try real Turkish coffee, which is ground and prepared right before your eyes.

Cordon Embankment

The promenade is more than 3 km long and is located along the Izmir Bay and the main street Ataturk Kadesi. This is a well-maintained pedestrian area with recreation areas, bicycle paths, art objects and fish restaurants. Walking along it, you can see Greek-style houses, synagogues, many piers and the early Christian church of St. Polycarp. On the embankment, instead of the usual asphalt, there is a black and white coating that repeats the image of sea waves.

Ancient ruins of the agora of Smyrna

Guide to Izmir

The ruins of the ancient market square are located at the foot of Mount Pagos in the Namazga quarter. This is an archaeological site and open-air museum; all the buildings on the territory were erected during the era of the Roman Empire, when the ancient city of Smyrna existed on the site of modern Izmir.

Only in the 20th century large-scale restoration work took place here, and now people come here to admire the columns with capitals, arches, gates and ancient tombs. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the central shopping area was originally used as an Ottoman cemetery over time.

Teleferik cable car

The Izmir cable car is almost 50 years old, but after a global reconstruction, which was completed in 2015, it was completely renovated. Now it is a modern funicular with 20 spacious glass cabins. On it you can climb a hill about 420 m high in just 3 minutes, the cost of the trip is 25 TRY (about 90 rubles*). From a bird’s eye view you can see the surrounding nature, dense tree crowns and a panorama of the city.

At the top of the hill you will find an observation deck, a landscaped green park and several restaurants. If desired, for 3 TRY (about 10 rubles*). You can see the sea bay and embankment with binoculars. Or go on a picnic, because there are barbecue areas and gazebos. The main thing is to take warm clothes with you, as it can be windy at the top.

Izmir Wildlife Park

Guide to Izmir

This is one of the largest zoos in Turkey, where most of the animals live in natural conditions. Here you won’t find unkempt enclosures or cramped cages, because the park has separate themed areas for more than 1,500 residents. For example, in the African savanna with an area of ​​17,000 square meters. m live zebras, ostriches, giraffes and hippos, which are separated from visitors by a high fence.

Predators dangerous to humans (for example, lions and tigers) are fenced with a glass barrier. The park has an interesting landscape design; it’s nice to walk along the paths surrounded by plants and flowers, clean ponds and fountains. Here you can also stop by a cafe, relax in gazebos or picnic areas, and take your children to the playgrounds. The entrance ticket costs 20 TRY (about 70 rubles*).

Izmir Culture Park

This is one of the favorite places for city residents to walk in the fresh air. The park is located in the busiest area of ​​Izmir, Alsancak. There are many landscaped paths, an abundance of greenery, flowers and palm trees, benches and fountains, and exhibitions, concerts and film screenings take place every weekend.

In the park, check out the history and art museum, stroll to the open-air theater, or admire the artificial lake with an island in the middle. A large area is occupied by attractions and street cafes.

Hisar Mosque

Guide to Izmir

Izmir’s largest mosque, built in the 16th century during the Ottoman Empire, is actually located right in Kemeralti Market. Next to other historical buildings, it amazes with its size – a huge central dome and more than 10 small, 8 massive columns, a minaret with a balcony and a spacious courtyard with a fountain in the Rococo style.

You can spend a long time looking at the plaster decorations located on the facades of the mosque. Mihrabs, arches, domes, windows and column capitals are decorated with images with star motifs, bunches of grapes, flowers and leaves. And in front of the entrance to the mosque you will see an inscription made of gold leaf, which translated means: “Whoever enters there will be safe.”

KEY Car Museum

The private museum was founded more than 20 years ago by three Turkish collectors who traveled the world and collected vintage cars and other interesting exhibits. The collection includes about 130 cars, among which you can see quite rare vintage cars, for example, produced in 1886.

Motorcycle lovers will also like it here, because it’s interesting to see what they were like in the 19th and 20th centuries. A separate section of the museum is occupied by an exhibition of miniature cars; about 2,500 different copies of car brands from all over the world are collected here. The entrance ticket costs 200 TRY (about 700 rubles*).

Ataturk Museum

The luxurious mansion in the neoclassical style was built at the end of the 19th century. Now it houses a museum named after the first president of Turkey and one of the most influential politicians in the history of the state – Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Surrounded by restored interiors and antique furniture, you can get a closer look at the history of the country.

The President stayed in this building for 10 years, which was his residence while visiting Izmir. The city actually gave him this house, closing the hotel that existed here. Among the exhibits you can see books, clothes and other personal belongings of the politician. Entrance to the museum is free.

Beach holiday

Guide to Izmir

Izmir is a huge port city, so for a relaxing beach holiday it is better to go to the surrounding villages.

For example, 65 km north of the city you can relax on a blue flag beach in the small village of Foça. After swimming, tourists walk in the beautiful bay of Old Foça Host. Along the shore there are fish restaurants, ancient architectural monuments, and expensive yachts are moored on the pier.

One of the most developed and popular resorts is Çeşme, which looks like a small Greek town with low-rise buildings in blue and white colors. It is located 90 km from Izmir, and here you can find beaches for every taste: sandy, pebble or wild, where diving and surfing lovers prefer to relax.

*Prices are current at the time of publication.

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