Thinking Of Izmir… And Pondering When To Go Back

Today, 9th September, is the day that Izmir commemorates Independence Day. So, as we’re thinking all things Izmir, and trying to work out when we can fit in a little return visit some time in the not-too-distant future, we thought we’d have a look back at previous visits. Because Izmir is a city that me and Barry shouldn’t really have fallen for. It’s big, there’s lots of concrete and high rise buildings, and that’s just not our scene…but we fell for Izmir big time. Why? For lots of reasons…

Because of Izmir street food

Yes, there is absolutely no need to go hungry in Izmir and it’s not going to cost you a fortune, either. If you’re on a budget, like we always are, you can fill your boots (well okay, your belly) and still have kuruş and lira left over to do the other things you want to do.

Izmir Street Food

A feast of Izmir street food

But for us, as long as there’s good food to be had – and it’s not a difficult task to find good food in Turkey – we’re happy. Everywhere you go in Izmir city centre, you’ll see carts selling simit (or gevrek, as the Izmirli call it) and kumru; small cobs filled with white cheese, tomato and a crispy green chilli. And then there are the foods we swooned over:

  • Midye dolma – You can get stuffed mussels in most coastal towns and cities in Turkey but they are particularly big and meaty in Izmir.
  • Çeşme Kumrusu – Well, we weren’t allowed to leave the city without trying this famous street food! Not for the dieters but, hey, if you’re out and about exploring a city, who cares about the calorie count. Certainly not us.
  • Nohutlu pilav – Ahh, our hike up to Kadifekale was rewarded with fabulous views over the city, a wander around the castle ruins and a surprisingly tasty tub of chickpeas and rice topped with roast chicken and pickled chillies.
  • Söğüş – And then we discovered söğüş; a cold ‘kebab’ of lamb’s cheek, tongue and brain. Omit any of the three mentioned if you like – but, for us, there was no way we were doing things by halves. Click any of the links above to see what we thought of our foodie delights.

Because of historical Izmir

Yes, Izmir is a city of concrete, high rise apartments and buildings, but amongst all that is clues to the past. We trudged uphill (very steeply, I might add) to Kadifekale.

Izmir Agora

Izmir’s lonely agora

I explored the Agora and, bizarrely, had the whole place to myself. Spooky but amazing all at the same time. Digs are ongoing, here. Another reason to return to see what’s changed. And in the old, crowded, pedestrianised streets that make up Kemeraltı, there’s the covered bazaar, Kızlarağası Hanı. Food galore around here and also, Izmir’s famous fincanda pişen Türk kahvesi. Asansör gave us views along a coastal strip of the city, as well as a refreshing beer (well, we had just walked it there) and the story of how the lift came into existence. The steepness of the hills around here, no wonder someone saw fit to construct a lift!

Izmir Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower)

Izmir Saat Kulesi

And of course, there’s the famous Izmir Saat Kulesi. This clock tower appears on just about every Turkey tourism poster that advertises the Izmir region.

Because of Alsancak

We love Alsancak, packed with narrow streets full of bars and inexpensive eateries. We’ve stayed here on both of our visits to Izmir. We loved the street market that suddenly popped up one Sunday morning, we love the easy stroll to the breezy seashore, and in summer, we love that people just sit out on the grass at night. You can see this in the photo post we did about Izmir at sunset.

Summer Nights In Izmir

Summer nights in Izmir

This city is a city that puts a smile on your face. And, as with any other city, it’s going to take many more visits before we can say we really know it. We’ve barely started – so much to see (and feel) of the city itself and then there’s the whole Izmir region. Virgin territory for us…as is much of the Aegean coast for that matter. Hmm, think we need to start doing some planning.

Because of Izmir people

The links above are just a few of things we’ve got up to when we’ve been in Izmir. But it’s not just buildings and scenery that make a city special for us. It’s the atmosphere; the feel. People make that atmosphere. For us, it’s people that make Izmir, that make us want to keep going back there…and we hope to be back soon!

If you fancy a little visit to this great city then check out Izmir Hotels On Booking.com

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Comments

  1. I’ve been to Izmir twice…Alsancak,…and agree it’s a fairly cool ,large bunch of highrise and LOTS of people (city)
    The kordon,pedestrian zones, and the market/alley south make for an interestingly ‘casual’ city -trip. Parks in & around, back from the water, and the proximity to Efes make it an easy visit.Try one of those outdoor, in the bush restaurants, like one on the way to Urla for some awesome Turkish breakfast! Being in Urla, or Cesme, or any swimmable beach in short time is a bonus, since the deepwater port isn’t. ( not near Alsancak) Food is good , and the treats even better!! ;)…( Turgu?..the big giant shop on the corner @ start of pedestrian zone headed for the water), and a few of the small baklava shops!!! Mmmmhhh yummy!

  2. If I had to live in a city, I too would choose Izmir, ( but I hope I don’t have to)

  3. Lovely post to remember Izmir, I agree with you. Even though I love Istanbul, if I were to live in a city in Turkey, I would choose Izmir first. The people, outlook for life as well as the beautiful landscape, history and the food, glorious food! 🙂 Hope you go back soon, Ozlem x

  4. Thanks for reminding me that I’ve only ever been to Izmir bus station very early in the morning. Really must go back and see more of the city one day.

    • We were exactly the same, Mette. Always trundling through Izmir bus station without actually seeing what lay beyond. Glad we finally got to explore Izmir and we really fell for the place ad hope to get back there very soon! 🙂

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