Izmir – A Circular Coastal Stroll & Sail Of The City

We’re very fortunate that travelling on a budget is made much easier for us by the fact that we both love to walk. In Izmir, apart from catching a local bus from the otogar into Alsancak, we walked everywhere. Sitting on the Aegean Sea, Izmir’s a breezy city, so late summer ambles (we were there at the beginning of September) are perfectly pleasurable, especially when you know you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from a refreshment stop of whatever description.

Izmir Commuter Ferry

Izmir commuter ferry

And, because the city stretches around the curved inlet at the end of the Gulf of Izmir, that means regular, cheap commuter ferries carry passengers between the opposite shores; perfect for incorporating a little sail across the Aegean into a circular walk. We were staying in an apartment in Alsancak and, as Alsancak has its own pier and ferry stop, it was an ideal place to begin our journey.

Izmir From Alsancak

View of Izmir from Alsancak Pier

The Izmir commuter ferries are made of sturdy stuff, just like the vessels that ply the Bosphorus routes of Istanbul, so the choppiness of the sea isn’t a factor. Our ferry cut through all the waves, leaving us able to enjoy the sea breeze and the views along the the shoreline of Alsancak and down towards historic Pasaport Pier. The crossing only takes 10-15 minutes before you disembark in the neighbourhood of Karşıyaka.

Alsancak To Karşıyaka Ferry

Arriving At Karşıyaka

Karşıyaka holds its own in modern Turkish history as the burial site of Atatürk’s mother, Zübeyde Hanım. Unfortunately, time commitments meant we couldn’t make it there (a must-visit for another time) so we wandered through the pedestrianised shopping area of Karşıyaka before making our way back to the seafront to head towards Bostanlı.

Karşıyaka Buildings

Karşıyaka historic buildings

As with the Alsancak and Konak areas of Izmir on the opposite shore, amongst the high rise apartment blocks, there are still random historic buildings that catch the eye in Karşıyaka – and there’s a few monuments and statues along the harbour, too, but we’ll save those for another post. For now, we’ll just walk along the seashore towards Bostanlı.

Apart from a brief detour along Karşıyaka’s shopping street (just opposite the ferry terminal), this circular trip is all about taking in the sea air. There’s not a lot of quaint prettiness happening here. Concrete rules. We’re not fans of concrete. But the waves crash against the sea wall, providing cooling spray mist; there’s a chilled out atmosphere as people enjoy a Sunday stroll or a spot of fishing; dads peer through binoculars as their children battle the strong currents in some type of sailing competition taking place in the middle of the bay…the concrete is forgiven.

Walking from Karşıyaka to Bostanlı, Izmir

Walking from Karşıyaka to Bostanlı

We keep following the sea wall; sea to the left and grassed areas, main road and seafront apartments to our right. As we hit Bostanlı, we now need to scan right for its ‘tourist attraction.’ You see, Bostanlı is becoming famous for its leaning apartment blocks. And lean they do. They’re not difficult to spot. We’re no engineers and wouldn’t even try to guess what’s causing this – no doubt the residents are quite keen to find out…

So now we get to Bostanlı Iskele (the ferry point you can see in the photo above). Here, we have a choice of ferries, all going back to the opposite shore. We take the Bostanlı to Konak ferry option and, luckily for us, it’s just about to leave.

Bostanlı To Konak Ferry, Izmir

Crossing the Gulf of Izmir between Bostanlı and Konak

This time, the journey is around 15-20 minutes. We pass other commuter ferries (and the poor kids trying to complete whatever circuit they were doing), we can see the opposite shoreline with the Hilton Hotel dominating the scene, we can see Kadifekale reminding us of its presence (at this stage, it was still unconquered) and, as the ferry draws closer to Konak Pier, we can just make out Asansör, almost camouflaged amongst the sprawl of buildings.

Walking back to Alsancak From Konak, Izmir

Walking back to Alsancak From Konak

And so we disembark at Konak, the opposite end of the shoreline to Alsancak. But never fear because the walk back to Alsancak takes in some Izmir sights, as well as more than a few bars / restaurants / coffee shops. Izmir Saat Kulesi is just opposite, so, if you’ve not been there yet, off you go to see that. We’ve already got too many photos of it from too many angles so we’re taking a left and sticking to the seafront.

If it’s summer and your legs get tired, you can always hop onto a horse and cart (you can see one in the photo)…but if you do that, you’ll miss out on all those refreshment stops.

Alsancak-Karşıyaka-Bostanlı-Konak-Alsancak – Useful Info:

  • The distance between Karşıyaka and Bostanlı is roughly 2 km.
  • The distance between Konak and Alsancak is also around 2 km.
  • We did this journey on a Sunday, but, for more flexibility, when the ferries are more regular, we recommend other days.
  • Karşıyaka is worth a bit of your time so you can visit the grave of Zübeyde Hanım, (Atatürk’s mother) and other monuments dotted around the neighbourhood.
  • Bostanlı has a market (pazar) every Wednesday if you’d like to combine your walk with a market stroll.
  • You need an Izmir Kent Kart (Izmir City Card) to board public transport, including the commuter ferries, in Izmir. Keep an eye out for a future post about the Izmir Kent Kart. Easy when you know how – and don’t worry, they’re cheap!
  • Fancy staying in Izmir? Use our best price finder for Izmir Hotels.

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Comments

  1. Luckily the sea is now quite clean. When I first arrived the head of the bay whiffed so awfully that we had to hold our noses on the way into Alsancak from the old airport.

  2. We loved the vapur as well to Karşıyaka and strolling around in the area in Sept.! I could spend the whole day on the ferry and relax. 🙂

  3. Your Izmir post wetted my appetite even more for the Aegean, lovely read! Will be there with my culinary & cultural tour early April, can’t wait!! Sadly we will miss the city of Izmir but we will be swinging around.. great trips here, thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. @ BacktoBodrum: It’s no turquoise lagoon but still lovely to sail across to Karşıyaka and glad it’s cleaner now than it was in years gone by! 🙂

    @ Joy: Very relaxing isn’t it. Think we’ll take the ferry that stops at all the piers next time just to sit on there for longer. 🙂

  5. @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Good luck with your tour. We’re enjoying the mild Mediterranean temps at the moment but may well crave some Aegean air over summer. 🙂

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