What to do in Izmir, Turkey – Where to Go

What to do in Izmir, Turkey – Where to Go

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If you’ve not visited Turkey before and thinking about doing so, it’s time to stop thinking and start planning that first visit. You may be tempted to visit the thriving cities of Ankara and Istanbul, which attract visitors in droves but resist that urge and go with Izmir instead. Before you go, here are a few facts about Izmir to whet your appetite, plus a few recommendations for exploration when you arrive.

Fast Facts about Izmir, Turkey:

The third largest city

Istanbul and Ankara steal a lot of the limelight in Turkey when it comes to size – and although it is the capital city, Ankara has a considerably fewer million than Istanbul – but Izmir is no slouch when it comes to size. In fact, it’s the third largest city in Turkey, so don’t be surprised by all the hustle and bustle if you visit.

Izmir is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus is located a mere 3 kilometers southwest of Selçuk, in Izmir province. The city is the site of the Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and attracted pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean region.

The location of one of the Churches of Apocalypse

In the Book of Revelation, in the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus asks John, through an angel, to write on a scroll and send it to the seven churches. In this context, “churches” is believed to mean “community”. One of these is in Smyrna, in Izmir.

What to Do in Izmir, Turkey

In view of these amazing facts, you should take time to explore Izmir and see some of the locations that have these stories behind them. Of course, don’t just limit yourself to these. Izmir opens you up to a host of experiences.

Ephesus

ephesusImage by Son of Groucho, used under Creative Commons license 2.0

You can’t stay in the region of one of the most historically significant sites in the world and not pay a visit. This site does get tremendously busy, though, and the sun can beat down on you. The best approach is to visit early in morning before all the throngs of tourists arrive and the sun starts to truly heat the air up. The site is the largest collection of Roman remains in the eastern Mediterranean and the good news is that there is still more to be revealed. It’s a little like Pompeii in that aspect!

Retreat to an olive grove

If you visit Ephesus, you can also take a trip to Sirinse, which is just a few miles away from Ephesus, and experience an authentic taste of Turkish village life. Many tours to Ephesus will add on a trip to this village which has lots of olive groves – which may remind you a little of Cyprus – and vineyards. In true Turkish style and the presence of the old and the new together, many of the houses in this village date back to the 19th century.

Konak Square

konak-squareImage by LWYang, used under Creative Commons license 2.0

Konak Square is one of the main highlights of the city, with a 1901 clock tower standing at the center of the square, and is also the spiritual center of Izmir. Some even think of it as the spiritual heart of modern Turkey, as the fight for independence after the First World War began here.
But this spacious square isn’t just all about the impressive clock tower, though. Visit the small, octagonal, 18th century Yali Mosque, located next to the Governor’s Mansion. The mosque is a colorful site, thanks to the different colored tiles around the exterior windows, and the slender minaret adds extra elegance to the building.
Izmir is an intriguing region, as is its capital city of the same name. If you don’t fancy taking a coach tour of Izmir, you can always enlist the services of a local guide instead. This will help you to save some money, and you’ll also benefit from some extra insight that you may not have done so with an average coach tour.
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