9 Places to visit on your first trip to Izmir

Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and second most important port on the Aegean coast, to the west, it is surrounded by the Aegean Sea, and it encloses the Gulf of Izmir. The City is the capital of Izmir Province (Turkish: Izmir ili), a province and metropolitan municipality of Turkey in western Anatolia, situated along the Aegean coast.

#1 The City of Izmir

The Konak Square is main square of the city center, famous for the clock tower, built in 1901. There are also Konak Yali Mosque and Kemeraltı Bazaar around the square. The Asansör (Elevator) is a landmark that was constructed in 1907. The purpose was to help residents to go to their districts on the top of the hill. There is a restaurant on the top of the elevator, with a bird-eye view of İzmir. Alsancak (Punta, Reşadiye) is a neighbourhood of small streets with lots of bars in old Greek houses, where you can have tea, raki or a beer.

#2 Ephesus

Ephesus is a large archaeological site and one of Turkey’s major tourist attractions. The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis (near present-day Selçuk), which was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus also attracted Christian settlers (Greeks and Jews), including St. Paul who lived in Ephesus for three years (in the AD 50s). There is a tradition that St. John settled here with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also wrote his gospel here.

#3 House of Virgin Mary

The House of Virgin Mary is located on the top of the “Bulbul” mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. In the 1980’s, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary has a pilgrimage place for Christians. It is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary as the mother of one of their prophets. Every year, on August 15th a ceremony is organized to commemorate Mary’s Assumption.

#4 Bergama

Bergama is known for its interesting archaeological ruins from the Ancient Greek city of Pergamon and its wonderful center for walking around. It is a popular tourist destination due to its close proximity to the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon. Arasta Ottoman market is great place to explore.

#5 Kuşadası

The ancient port city of Kuşadası presents a perfect blend od sea, sun and the unspoilt beauty of nature. It has become a popular holiday resort, especially for visitors from Northern and Western Europe.

The City WallsKaleiçi Camii — the mosque built in 1618 for Grand Vizier Öküz Kara Mehmed Pasha and The Öküz Mehmet Pasha caravanserai is near the docks. It was built in 1618 as a strong-room for the goods of seamen. Guvercin Adası (i.e., ‘Pigeon Island’) — the peninsula at the end of the bay, has a castle and swimming beaches, including a private beach and cafe with a view back across the bay to the harbour of Kuşadası. There are public beaches at the back of the peninsula, towards the open sea.

#6 Çeşme

The district of Çeşme is a very popular summer resort in particular with the residents of nearby Izmir and includes such historical sites as 16th-century castle and an ancient caravanserai. The white sandy beaches stretch lazily along a road lined with exquisitely built houses, several large hotels and a number of restaurants, serving excellent seafood and Turkish specialties. Most of the hotels the hotels are set on beaches outside the town center and the peninsula has excellent conditions for windsurfing, with Alacati’s beach being one of the best spots.

In Cesme it is possible to have a complete spa treatment alongside a beach holiday, as the area offers a wide range of hotel accommodation with some of the hotels having their own spas, making use of the area’s natural mineral waters.

#7 Foça

The district of Foça is situated on the site of the ancient city of Phocaea and is said to have been founded by the very same people who founded the French city of Marseilles, Attalia in Corsica and Ampurias in Catalonia. Arround 600 BC the inhabitants of Foça decorated their buildings, temples and ships with wooden statues of cockerels, and according to a legend, one such statue is still hidden somewhere in the town.

#8 Sığacık, Seferihisar

The colorful Sığacık is one of the rare towns with constant settlement in the citadel for 500 years. The facades of 284 houses and streets of historical Sığacık town have been restored. Sigacik Market is amazing place where You can buy organic local products. The town is first “Cittaslow” in Turkey.

#9 Alaçati

The town of Alacati lies to the south of inland from Ilica and the coast. Windmills dot the hills above Alacati, a delightful and typical Aegean town, with some converted into cafes. There is a good beach a couple of kilometers to the south and many lovely bays along the coast southeast of town are accessible only by yacht, ensuring peaceful and relaxing anchorage in this popular sailing region.

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