Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, is a whirl of culture and colourful architecture, where life jogs along at a wonderfully laid-back pace. On the Aegean coast, this port city fringes the Bay of Izmir in west Turkey. An important port since ancient times, Izmir city breaks brim with history, and the Greeks, Romans and Ottomans have ruled here over the centuries. There are echoes of the past almost everywhere you look, from fascinating archaeological sites and open-air museums in the city centre, to the majestic ruins of Ephesus, one of Turkey’s most magnificent ancient sites, about an hour’s drive away.
History lovers are spoilt for choice on city breaks to Izmir, and can spend hours marvelling at ancient artefacts and art at its museums. But the city’s rich history can be soaked up just as easily by strolling the streets, lined with bazaars and Ottoman-era mosques. After days spent sightseeing, relax at restaurants specialising in ‘meze’ and fresh seafood, or dinky bars hidden down cobbled streets. Shopaholics will be in their element. Kemeralti Market is a labyrinth of a bazaar packed with stalls selling brightly coloured spices, souvenirs and trinkets. If the lure of the coast proves too much, many beautiful expanses of sand can be found a short bus ride away. Izmir, with its storied history, captivating archeology and fantastic beaches, adds up to an irresistible city break.
This colourful, busy market is a feast for the eyes – even if you’re not shopping, it’s worth browsing the many stalls and admiring the local handiwork.
See the Agora
Gaze up at the towering Corinthian colonnades, Faustina Gate and other ancient structures in this vast space, which dates back to the 4th century BC.
Jewellery, coins and pots from ancient times are all on display at the Izmir Museum of History and Art, set inside the manicured grounds of Kulturpark.