İzmir is one of the oldest cities of the Mediterranean world and has been of almost continuous historical importance during the last 5,000 years. Excavations indicate settlement contemporary with that of the first city of Troy, dating from the 3rd millennium BCE. Greek settlement is first clearly attested by the presence of pottery dating from about 1000 BCE. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Greek city was founded by Aeolians but soon was seized by Ionians. From modest beginnings, it grew into a stately city in the 7th century, with massive fortifications and blocks of two-storied houses.
Captured by Alyattes of Lydia about 600 BCE, it ceased to exist as a city for about 300 years until it was refounded by either Alexander the Great or his lieutenants in the 4th century BCE at a new site on and around Mount Pagus (modern Kadifekale; 540 feet [165 metres]). It soon emerged as one of the principal cities of Asia Minor (Anatolia) and was later the centre of a civil diocese in the Roman province of Asia, vying with Ephesus and Pergamum for the title “first city of Asia.” Roman emperors visited there, and it was celebrated for its wealth, beauty, library, school of medicine, and rhetorical tradition. The stream of Meles is associated in local tradition with Homer, who is reputed to have been born by its banks. Smyrna was one of the early seats of Christianity.
Capital of the naval theme (province) of Samos under the Byzantine emperors, Smyrna was taken by the Turkmen Aydın principality in the early 14th century CE. After being conquered in turn by the Crusaders sponsored by Pope Clement VI and by the Central Asian conqueror Timur (Tamerlane), it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire about 1425. Although severely damaged by earthquakes in 1688 and 1778, it remained a prosperous Ottoman port with a large European population.
İzmir was occupied by Greek forces in May 1919 and recaptured by Turkish forces under Mustafa Kemal (later Kemal Atatürk) on September 9, 1922. The particular troops—be they Greek or Turkish—most responsible for the murder and mayhem that marked those events is open for debate, but the fact remains that İzmir was ravaged by fierce fighting. İzmir was then devastated further when a massive fire broke out three days after the Turks had recaptured the city.
The Contemporary City
The modern city, with spacious avenues and buildings constructed since 1924, stands mainly on the small delta plain of the Kızılçullu (ancient Meles) River around the eastern end of the gulf and on the heights and ridges to the south. Karşıyaka (formerly Kordelia) district, once a separate town across the gulf from central İzmir, now constitutes the northwestern extent of the city. Konak district is the commercial centre of İzmir; the city’s residential quarters are concentrated in Karantina and in Güzelyalı to the southwest and in Eşrefpaşa, north of the bazaar. South of the commercial centre lies Kadifekale (Mount Pagus), on which the old citadel of İzmir was built. Alsancak to the north is the site of the recently enlarged harbour, whereas industry is concentrated in suburbs along the gulf to the northeast.
After World War II İzmir grew rapidly, partly because of its location, for which it was selected as the site of the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s command for land forces in southeastern Europe. It also has a teacher-training school and the Aegean University, founded in 1955. Second only to the Istanbul region in industry, it produces foods, cement, cotton and woolen textiles and has petrochemical and engineering works. A large international trade fair is held there annually. Exports include agricultural products from its hinterland—chiefly tobacco, figs, cotton, and vegetables—as well as manufactures, carpets, and silk.
The city’s landmarks include the partly excavated remains of its agora and the ancient aqueducts of Kızılçullu. The archaeological museum has a fine collection of local antiquities. Situated near such famous ancient sites as Ephesus and Pergamum and numerous holiday resorts, İzmir has a growing tourist trade.
İzmir is located in one of Turkey’s most densely populated areas. The coastal region includes the irrigated and fertile valleys and delta plains of the Küçükmenderes and Gediz rivers.
The Izmir lies on 142m above sea level The climate in Izmir is warm and temperate. The winters are rainier than the summers in Izmir. According to Köppen and Geiger, this climate is classified as Csa. The temperature here averages 16.7 °C | 62.1 °F. In a year, the rainfall is 687 mm | 27.0 inch.
The driest month is July, with 3 mm | 0.1 inch of rain. The greatest amount of precipitation occurs in December, with an average of 144 mm | 5.7 inch.
July is the warmest month of the year. The temperature in July averages 26.3 °C | 79.3 °F. The lowest average temperatures in the year occur in January, when it is around 7.9 °C | 46.2 °F.
Izmir (İzmir), Turkey (Administrative unit: İzmir) – last known population is ≈ 2 847 700 (year 2014). This was 3.673% of total Turkey population. If population growth rate would be same as in period 2011-2014 (+0.76%/year), Izmir population in 2020 would be: 2 979 764.
How to get Izmir
An extensive network of road, rail and flight links makes travel to Izmir from Istanbul, Ankara, Mugla, Antalya and the rest of Turkey, quick and convenient.
Izmir has two railway stations, Basmane Station and Alsancak Station. Basmane in the city center serves regional trains and the Metro, and Alsancak in the north serves intercity trains and commuter train. Basmane station is linked by metro to Konak in the west and to Bornova in the east.
There are regular train services from Izmir to Ankara, Istanbul, Denizli and Aydin. It can be reached from Izmir to the other cities with journey via Ankara and Istanbul.
It is also possible to reach Izmir by sea with your private yacht or crusie ships. Luxury cruise ships call on the port of Izmir all year round at Alsancak. Cruise ships and the number of tourists come to Izmir increasingly every year.
It is very easy to reach to Izmir, by private car or by coach. Izmir Bus Terminal is huge and busy, with bus service to all parts of Turkey.
Minibuses shuttle between Izmir and the towns about every 20 minutes throughout the day. Izmir Bus Terminal is huge and has an internet cafe, plenty of facilities for food and drink and a large number of agencies selling tickets for coaches.
In summer and winter season, there are regular bus and minibus services from Uckuyular Bus Terminal to Cesme, Urla, Karaburun, Seferihisar and Gumuldur districts.
Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport is located 20 km south of the city center, has several daily flights to Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara. Izmir’s airport is expanding rapidly and recently both British Airways and KLM started flying to Izmir directly from Europe.
There are also regular domestic and international flights from many Turkish and European cities to Izmir. Izmir is considered as one of Turkey’s biggest airport hubs.
Events & festivals:
Izmir is full of museums, cultural centers and its socio cultural calendar. Izmir is one of the prettiest cities of Turkey with its events, exhibitions and local festivals year round. Some of the city’s festivals include Izmir International Fair and Izmir European Jazz Festival. This city is worth a visit. Entertainment events and exhibitions, fairs and conventions fill up Izmir’s calendar year round.
What to see & do in Izmir
From feasting with the locals to travelling back in time at ancient monuments, or just lounging on the beach… here are the best things to do in Izmir, Turkey.
Things to do in izmir
A laid-back city on Turkey’s West Coast, Izmir is in many ways Istanbul’s opposite. Istanbul bustles with imported voices, faces, and visitors from around the globe; in Izmir, you’ll mix with locals whose roots in the area go back to ancient times.
Istanbul offers a dizzying array of sights, colours, and sounds; in Izmir, the silent azure sea can soak up all your attention for hours. Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of fantastic active things to do in Izmir, too.
With only three days in the city, my Izmir itinerary was packed so full and I didn’t get to see and do half of the things I wanted to.
Izmir seems to be built for a slow pace, and I longed to spend more time relaxing in picturesque locations with a coffee or a glass of Turkish wine in hand.
If you’re heading to Izmir, leave yourself plenty of time not just to see the sights but also to chill in the charming city centre.
These are just some of the amazing ancient monuments you should check out, as they really are amongst the best places to visit in Izmir.
Any list of things to do in Izmir has to start at the ancient monument right in the city centre. Surrounded by hillside residential neighbourhoods, bustling market streets, and tall commercial buildings, Izmir Agora is just a part of the everyday landscape for most residents.
Inside the Agora grounds, the ruins of a Roman-Greek marketplace transport you back to the days when Izmir was an important stop on the Silk Road.
* Ancient water channel under the arches at the Izmir Agora.
The archways on the lower floor of the 2,000-year-old marketplace are still intact and the same fresh water that supplied the ancient market still bubbles out of fountains and runs through a channel along the floor today. This place was built to last!
- Address: Namazgah, Tarık Sarı Sk. No:29
- Opening hours: every day from 8:30 AM – 7 PM (summer season) & 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM (winter season)
- Price: 12 TL
The ancient Roman city of Ephesus was once a hugely popular stop on the Silk Road and it is now one of the most popular things to do in Izmir, welcoming almost 2 million visitors a year.
In ancient times, people from all over the world sailed to the port to stock up on exotic spices and fruits, visit the talented Turkish cloth-makers, or just soak up the flavour of the multicultural city.
* The Celsus library in Ephesus used to house 12,000 scrolls.
The restored Celsus library, constructed with a double-wall technique to preserve the 12,000 scrolls that were housed there, is a great reminder of the value we humans have always placed on knowledge and learning.
It’s an Izmir must see.
- Address:Atatürk, Uğur Mumcu Sevgi Yolu
- Opening hours:every day 8 AM – 6:30 PM
- Price:72 TL
High on a hilltop overlooking the modern town of Bergama sits the Pergamon Acropolis, an ancient Greek city that was a seat of power in the 2nd Century BC.
* The height and size of the Pergamon Altar in Izmir is just stunning.
The site is best known as the location of the Pergamon Altar, a colossal construction with soaring pillars.
For me, the highlight of Pergamon was the world’s steepest ancient theatre that hangs dizzyingly off the hillside overlooking the town of Bergama.
There are many things to see in Izmir but among many of Izmir attractions, this one’s unmissable.
- Address: Hamzalısüleymaniye
- Opening hours:every day from 8 AM – 5 PM (winter season) & 8 AM – 7 PM (summer season)
- Price: 20 TL
This Greek-Roman spa town is at the top of many traveller’s bucket lists for its white travertine terraces, created by the natural hot springs that flow down the hillside.
* The Pamukkale pools have been in use for thousands of years.
After exploring the ancient temples of Hierapolis and walking along the narrow pathway through Pamukkale, spend some time bathing in the hot mineral pools just as the Romans once did.
- Location: Denizli
- Opening hours:24h/7, but the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum is open every day from 9 AM – 12:30 pm & 1:30 PM – 7 PM
Have extra time and not sure what to do in Izmir? If you love the bustle and chatter of a busy market, don’t miss out on this Izmir tourist attraction.
In the welcoming central bazaar in Izmir, marketeers smile and shout, inviting visitors and locals alike to inspect their wares.
Unlike in many marketplaces around the world, Izmir’s marketeers are happy to chat, even if it’s obvious you won’t be buying a pound of sardines or a traditional Turkish wedding costume.
There’s plenty on offer here for the curious foodie, too. Invest a few lira for the chance to watch the happy candy vendor expertly twirl his vats of liquid sugar onto a stick for you.
Sweet, sticky Turkish delight is on offer in every colour of the rainbow while salty sour olives range from deep black-purple to bright green. A visit to Kemaraltı Market is definitely one of the tastiest things to do in Izmir.
- Address: Konak, Anafartalar Cd
- Opening hours: every day from 8 AM – 8 PM
BERGAMA BACK STREETS
To experience the local culture, there’s nothing quite like getting lost in the back streets of a small town, chatting with the curious locals, and discovering your own hidden gems.
An hour or two wandering Bergama is a perfect introduction to the local way of life. Make sure to leave a little time to explore Bergama before you head up the hill to the Pergamon Acropolis.
VILLAGE OF ŞIRINCE
The narrow streets of Şirince hide secrets behind every curve and the crumbling old houses are an architecture-obsessed photographer’s dream.
In the town centre, friendly shopkeepers wave hello and proudly show off their artisanal products.
Climbing up to the highest parts of the village is like wandering back in time. Tiny elderly women in traditional dress call to each other from open doorways, bread bakes in arcing stone ovens, and cats lounge on every available surface, soaking up the afternoon sun.
What to eat & restaurants
When people sit down to eat in Turkey, there’s no such thing as a quick bite. The dishes start small, with shared plates of olives and crusty breads to snack on.
* Don’t eat too much of this. At Turkish meals there is plenty more to come!
But that’s just the warm-up. Soon the table is filled with melt-in-your mouth roasted eggplant, grilled whole fish, savoury greens smothered in sour cream, potato and lamb stew, green salads with shredded cheese, fresh sweet peppers and radishes, smoked eggplant dip with creamy melted cheese… it’s an endless exotic parade.
When you’re sure you can’t eat another bite, out comes another bottle of Raki, a clear anise-based alcohol, served alongside an overabundance of tempting Turkish sweets.
You’ll never leave a dinner table in Izmir feeling less than achingly full!
SAVOUR TURKISH COFFEE
In Turkey, coffee isn’t a drink — it’s an event. The thick brew takes time to simmer and steep, so the wait is filled with conversation over tiny squares of Turkish delight and delicate pieces of dried fruit.
* Sip Turkish coffee carefully, there are grounds at the bottom!
Turkish coffee is made by adding coffee grounds and water to a small pot and then it’s left to simmer for several minutes. Sugar is added during brewing, since the coffee is poured straight from the pot into a cup, with no straining or filter.
Don’t stir your coffee and be sure to leave a little in the bottom of the cup, or you’ll end up with a mouthful of bitter coffee grounds.
LOUNGE ON THE BEACH
Arranged in a u-shape around a sheltered bay, Izmir has more than its fair share of coastline. One of the best free things to do in Izmir is to take a walk on the long shoreline promenade, soaking up the sunshine. Visit in the evening for the bustling seaside bar and restaurant scene.
For an amazing day at the beach, though, it’s better to head out of the city to one of the dozens of white sand beaches dotted around Çeşme, Dikili, and Pamucak.
GO TO SURF SCHOOL
If kicking back on the beach is not your thing, enrol in surfing, kitesurfing, or sailing school.
* There are plenty of things to do in Izmir, Turkey, especially on the water
There are plenty of calm waters near Izmir that make the perfect training ground for water sports novices. Try one of the surf schools in Alaçatı if you’re a beginner.
For one of the most adventurous things to do in Izmir, seek out the rougher coastal waters at Pırlanta where strong winds and wild waves hit the shore for at least six months of the year, making it a hot destination for surfers from around the world.
Transportation in Izmir
İzmir is a transportation hub for western Anatolia. İzmir has an extensive bus system, a developing metro and commuter rail system and a large urban ferry network. The city also has a highway to Çeşme and Aydın as well as a ring around the city. Mass transportation is operated by four separate public agencies all owned by the İzmir Municipality.
İzmir is a major hub in roadways in the Aegean Region of Turkey. İzmir is the hub of motorways in the region and also is connected to the European road network. (The İzmir Beltway), (İzmir-Aydın Motorway), the (İzmir-Çeşme Motorway), and the (İzmir-İstanbul Motorway) are the 4 motorways that serve İzmir.
ESHOT, along with İZULAŞ are the two main bus transit service in İzmir. Buses serve all districts, however, denser network presence attained in the central area. ESHOT is owned by the İzmir Municipality (İBB). Also there is an intercity bus terminal in Bornova with many daily buses to all around Turkey.
İzmir was the start of the oldest railway in Anatolia; The İzmir-Aydın Railway. The city is also a rail hub and the headquarters of District 3 of the Turkish State Railways is housed in Alsancak Terminal. İzmir also has the Turkey’s largest commuter railroad; İZBAN, which carries an average 100,000 passengers daily. The İzmir Metro is a developing Rapid Transit system, opened in 2000. The railroad junction in Hilal is the only crisscross junction in Turkey, between two main lines.
Intercity and Regional Rail
The Turkish State Railways operates intercity and regional rail services to and from İzmir. Like İstanbul, İzmir has two main railway stations. Alsancak Terminal and Basmane Terminal. Basmane station services frequent regional train service to the south and southeast of the İzmir Province. Alsancak station services mainline trains to Ankara, Bandırma and Afyon as well as regional service to Uşak.
Four mainline trains service İzmir. The İzmir Blue Train and Karesi Express are overnight trains running daily to Ankara, via Manisa–Balıkesir–Kütahya and Eskişehir. The 6th of September Express and the 17th of September Express are fast daily trains to Bandırma, with İDO connections to İstanbul. A daily regional train to Uşak, via Manisa operates from Alsancak. Regional train service to the Aydın Province and southern İzmir Province operate from Basmane station. Turkey’s third busiest regional corridor; the İzmir-Ödemiş corridor starts at Basmane station. 7 daily trains operate to and from Ödemiş. A daily regional train to Aydın, 4 daily to Nazilli (via Aydın) and 2 daily trains to Tire operate as well as a daily train to Söke.
The İzmir Metro is a developing rapid transit system, currently running from Fahrettin Altay, through Konak to Evka-3, . İzmir Metro is currently being expanded to Narlıdere and Tınaztepe .
Tram İzmir is a tram network in İzmir, Turkey. Owned by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and operated by İzmir Metro A.Ş., the system consists of two separate lines: one in Karşıyaka, which opened on April 11, 2017, and the other in Konak, which opened on March 24, 2018.
The operating system length consists of 21.6 km (13.4 mi) and 32 stations. The total cost of these two lines is about ₺450 million (approx. US$120 million).
If you are looking for luxury and western brand names, head to the big and bustling shopping malls in Bornova, which also offer numerous eating, leisure and entertainment opportunities. Some of the greatest shopping can be experienced in the open-air markets or bazaars, however, where you can put your haggling skills to test and find the best bargains in the area. Although Kemeralti Bazaar is the heart and soul of Izmir, don’t miss out on the opportunity to find unique and original holiday souvenirs in the neighboring resorts of the city.
Get lost in the maze of Kemeralti, the historical market area of Izmir and one of the liveliest places in the region. Time will fly by as you browse from stall to stall for the best bargains in the city. Pick up items like clothing or jewelry, but be ready to barter. From Konak Square, head down Anafartalar Caddesi, the principal thoroughfare where you’ll find shops specialized in different trades. For antiques and traditional craftwork like pottery and carpets, wander the glorious Kizlaragasi Han, a smaller version of Istanbul’s famous Covered Bazaar.
If the hustle and bustle of the Bazaar isn’t for you, put on your fancy garments and shop till you drop in Alsancak, the Beverly Hills of Izmir. Slightly up-market by Turkish standards, this is the place to buy fancy clothes. Alsancak’s buzzing streets are full of designer outlets and most western brands, including Mango, Zara and Guess, which are open until late. Are those wedding bells ringing? Alsancak is idyllic to shop for a fairy tale wedding dress. But this area offers much more, it’s also home to retailers selling Turkish goods and even to an alley specialized in American merchandise.
Bornova houses two of the largest shopping malls of Izmir, Forum Bornova and Park Bornova. While the former offers great opportunities to shop for homeware as well as leisure and entertainment facilities, Park Bornova is Izmir’s largest outlet center and boasts its own movie theaters, indoor bowling and entertainment center. Here you’ll find Turkish and international fashion brands at outlet prices. Don’t pass up the bazaars here every Wednesday and Sunday which sell a large variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, clothing, kitchenware and crafted products.
Agora Shopping Center
Agora Shopping Center is a shopper’s delight. With an area of 29.400 m2 closed space and 89.000 m2 open space; this is the biggest mall in Izmir. From clothing to accessories, cosmetics, household items, textiles, music, book stores, electronics, movies, toys, and endless entertainment options, there’s nothing you won’t find in this massive mall, home to 178 national and international stores. Take a break from shopping and grab a bite at one of the many restaurants serving Turkish and international cuisine. Children won’t get bored here either, as there is a huge entertainment area just for them.
Izmir shopping tips
Don’ be afraid to haggle; this is a common practice in Turkey, and vendors expect you to barter for every item. If you are looking for exclusive souvenirs, hand-painted pottery and carpets made in Izmir are goods you won’t find elsewhere. Don’t forget to check out the shopping district of Kersikaya Carsi where you can find clothing with a traditional Izmir style. Even though this is a safe and friendly city, beware of pickpockets who mostly operate in the Bazaar area.
- Aliağa Devlet Hastanesi, Aliağa
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- Bayındır Devlet Hastanesi, Bayındır
- Bergama Dr. Faruk İlker Devlet Hastanesi, Bergama
- Bornova Türkan Özilhan Devlet Hastanesi, Bornova
- Bozyaka Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi, Bozyaka, Konak
- Buca Seyfi Demirsoy Devlet Hastanesi, Buca
- Buca Doğumevi ve Çocuk Hastalıkları Hastanesi, Buca
- Çeşme Alper Çizgenakat Devlet Hastanesi, Çeşme
- Çiğli Devlet Hastanesi, Çiğli
- D.Y. Hastanesi, Alsancak, Konak
- Dikili Devlet Hastanesi, Dikili
- Behçet Uz Çocuk Hastanesi, Alsancak
- Suat Seren Göğüs Hastalıkları Ve Cerrahi Eğitim Hastanesi, Yenişehir, Konak
- Eşrefpaşa Belediye Hastanesi, Yenişehir, Konak
- Foça Devlet Hastanesi, Foça
- İzmir Eğitim Diş Hastanesi, Konak
- Karşıyaka Devlet Hastanesi, Serinkuyu, Karşıyaka
- Kemalpaşa Devlet Hastanesi, Kemalpaşa
- Kiraz Devlet Hastanesi, Kiraz
- Menemen Devlet Hastanesi, Menemen
- Nevvar – Salih İşgören Alsancak Devlet Hastanesi, Alsancak, Konak
- Ödemiş Devlet Hastanesi, Ödemiş
- Seferihisar Necat Hepkon Devlet Hastanesi, Seferihisar
- Selçuk Devlet Hastanesi, Selçuk
- Tepecik Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi, Yenişehir, Konak
- Tire Devlet Hastanesi, Tire
- Torbalı Devlet Hastanesi, Torbalı
- Urla Devlet Hastanesi, Urla
- Özel Akut Kalp Damar Hastanesi, Gaziemir
- Özel Atakalp Hastanesi, Konak
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- BatıAnadolu Central Hospital, Bayraklı
- Ekol Kulak Burun Boğaz Hastanesi, Çiğli
- Özel Deniz Hastanesi, Yenişehir, Konak
- Özel Diabet Hastanesi, Yenişehir, Konak
- Özel Ege Sağlık Hastanesi, Alsancak, Konak
- Özel Egepol Hastanesi, Karabağlar
- Özel El Ve Mikrocerrahi Hastanesi, Alsancak, Konak
- Özel Gazi Hastanesi, Alsancak, Konak
- Özel Gözde Hastanesi, Yenişehir, Konak
- Özel Hayat Hastanesi, Konak
- Özel İzmir Hastanesi, Konak
- Özel Karataş Hastanesi, Karataş, Konak
- Özel Kaşkaloğlu Göz HastanesiAlsancak, Konak
- Özel Kent Hastanesi, Çiğli
- Medical Park İzmir Hastanesi, Karşıyaka
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- Özel Şifa Üniversitesi Bornova Eğitim Araştırma Hastanesi, Bornova
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- Özel Tınaztepe Hastanesi, Buca