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Why The City Of Izmir Should Be Added To Your Travel Itinerary

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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.


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.

A collage of 6 photos of Turkish street food. The main photo is of stuffed mussels. Smaller photos show various sandwiches and a pile of rice with whole chickens on top.
Izmir is, quite rightly, famous for its street food scene

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! Named after the Aegean town of Çeşme and not one for 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.

A tunnel-like view through stone archways at Izmir Agora.
Izmir’s Ancient Smyrna 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!

A tilted view of Izmir Clock Tower against clear blue skies. A tall palm tree stands beside to the right.
Izmir clock tower is the symbol of the city

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.

A row of apartment blocks over Turkish bars and restaurants at dusk.
Izmir summer’s evening in the Alsancak neighbourhood

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!

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Wednesday 16th of September 2015

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.

Turkey's For Life

Sunday 20th of September 2015

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! :)

Ozlem's Turkish Table

Wednesday 10th of September 2014

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

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 11th of September 2014

Yeah, Izmir definitely has its own vibe - and for us, it's a nice one. We were surprised by the cheap food prices - happily. :)

Backto Bodrum

Wednesday 10th of September 2014

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

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 11th of September 2014

We could do a while there, definitely. :)


Tuesday 9th of September 2014

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!

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 11th of September 2014

Thanks for all those tips. Will check them out, hopefully, next time we go to Izmir. :)

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