Things to Do in and Around Izmir

Is Izmir Worth Visiting?

Many people ask me this question as I lived in this Izmir for over a year, and my answer is... hell yes! Well, ok in terms of tourism Izmir doesn't really compare to places like Istanbul or Cappadocia, but there is still a lot to see and do. On top of this the people in Izmir are some of the most friendly and open minded in all of Turkey, so if you want to make friends with some local people and get a feel for what their lives are like, this is a great place for that too!

Here is just a few of the things you can do in Izmir.

Konak

Konak is considered the touristic center of Izmir and is full of historical mosques, the famous clock tower and many small streets with cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cock Tower in Konak Square in Izmir Konak Square

Kemeraltı Market

Kemeralti is basically the Grand Bazaar of Izmir, and personally I prefer it to the Grand Bazaar! It's a massive maze like market where you can buy absolutely ANYTHING. During my last visit we joked that the only thing you can't buy in this market might be bacon 😉 Everything is, or at least should be cheap if you know how to bargain.

turkish coffee kemeralti konak izmir Streets of Kemeraltı

kızlarağası hanı Kızlarağası Hanı in Kemeraltı

Kemerali is also full of great, cheap restaurants here like my personal favourite Antik cafe, where you can eat a top quality iskender kebab for just 7tl (€2.50)! Oh and keep your eye out for the juice stalls nearby this restaurant where you can get a glass of freshly squeezed juice for just €0.20!

Iskender kebab in kemeralti konak izmir Iskender kebab at Antik Cafe

Asansör

20 minutes walk from along the seaside from Konak square you can find Asansor, which is an elevator built in 1907 to help people travel between the top of the cliff to the seaside. Definitely no visit to Izmir is complete without checking this place out, not only for the history but for one of the best views in Izmir. There is a fancy Italian cafe at the top, but despite its classiness the prices are VERY reasonable, around 3tl for a coffee.

View of asansor in Konak, Izmir View of Asansor and the Kordon

Drink a Beer by the Sea in Alsancak

To me, this is Izmir! Since the first day I visited this city I have spent countless nights with friends, sitting on the grass by the sea drinking our beer from the shop. There are often free concerts here, or just enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of 1000s of young people spending good times with their friends.

drinking beer on kordon in Alsancak Drinking beer on the grass in Alsancak

Around Izmir:

Ephesus (AKA Efes)

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city founded around 3000 years ago. It is most famous for the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. It was also considered the home of Mary, mother of Jesus. Entry is 25tl but if you are interested in history Ephesus is a must see.

Ephesus Ephesus - Photo by Esther Lee

Sirince

Not far from Ephesus is Sirince, a small Turkish village famous for its beautiful white houses and for making fruit wine which you can buy in shops around most of Turkey. Entry is free and you will be treated to many free glasses of wine to try as you walk around its streets. As it is very close to Ephesus it is recommended to see both these places in a one day trip.

Sirince Şirince

Go to the Beach!

While it's not possible to swim in Izmir center, there are many beach areas within a short bus or car ride from Izmir.

The best of these, and in my opinion the best in all of Turkey is Ramo beach on the south coast of Cesme. Pure white sand, crystal clear water, much less crowded than other beaches in Turkey and no hotels what-so-ever! You can also camp there, just ask permission from one of the security at the bar or go find a quiet spot in the wild.

It can be hard to find, which is probably the reason for its natural beauty, but don't let that put you off. Click here for a map. You can either take a dolmus from Cesme center, or walk/hitchhike from Çiftlikkoy. The beach is completely free to enter, but some dishonest bars may try to charge you 20tl to pass through their bar. DO NOT PAY, they do not have the right to do this, if they won't let you pass simply walk around the side of the bar.

Ramo Beach Ramo Beach, Çeşme

There are also several other beaches around Cesme, as well as in Foca to the north, and Kusadasi further south.

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Posted in Beaches, Lists, Turkey
9 comments on “Things to Do in and Around Izmir
  1. I had considered visiting these places, including Izmir, last May when I went to Istanbul, but ended up going to Greece after that. Do you think these areas are safe for a female solo traveller? I’m trying to gather opinions.

    • Well I wouldn’t consider Turkey a dangerous country, but for women especially you have to take care, there are still a lot of closed minded people, especially in Istanbul and the central/eastern areas.

      Best thing to do is to find a male travel buddy on couchsurfing, don’t ever hitchhike alone and carry a pepper spray that you can get for 7tl around the bazaar areas.

      As with most places around the world, if you take care you will be fine.

  2. Anna says:

    In the chapter Sirince it should be “its” (personal pronoun) in both places instead of “it’s” (abreviation from “it is” or “it has”).. Sorry, I know I’m sick;P And as for the article itself, I regret I haven’t read it half a year ago – we were in Izmir but we just saw the Konak, ate in some restaurant and went further south as we weren’t much impressed with the city..

    • Dan Norris says:

      Haha thanks Anna. You’re right. It’s definitely no secret that my grammar is pretty awful at times 🙂 Next time please just mail me though to save my embarrassment! 😉

  3. radoslav says:

    it is safe

  4. Anne says:

    I live in izmir for three years now and i think you missed some other nice places. For example kadifekale, where you have got the real view over izmir especially from top of the houses around there. Its quite near from konak. Really poor people living there, but its also interesting to see their handmade ovens to Bake bread an just enjoy the non touristic atmosphere. I also like travelling by ferry to bostanli or karsiyaka or visit the hipodrom and bet a bit on the horses.

  5. Hesham Neamatollah Effendi says:

    I have visited 46 cities in Turkey over the years. I started off as a packpacker and at age 72 I still enjoy travelling to Turkey every year, sometimes twice a year. I find your reviews very interesting and informative.

    As for Anna who finds fault with your grammar I would like to say, it is not how you say it but what you say that is important to me as a tourist junky.

    As for Stephania, the Italian backpacker I would like to say: No matter where in the world you travel, your brain is your best weapon against crime. If you view life as an occupational hazard then going anywhere is dangerous.

  6. Fatma Içen says:

    Turkish courses from, a turkish, english teacher, for english speakers living in izmir.. Courses are to be given at your place cause i have no suitable courseplace at my home.. Grammar besides practical, daily turkish sessions.. Pls call me from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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