The third largest metropolitan city in Turkey, Izmir is a bustling commercial centre that has it all. While it was once the ancient city of Smyrna in the Ottoman Empire, the area is now populated with the modern shops and entertainment, with a rich culture and plenty of natural beauty.
Located on the south-west coast of the Aegean Sea, there are several beaches in the area. Some are geared up for families with sunbeds, sandy beaches, shallow seas and watersports to keep even the most restless kids amused, while others are quieter and more secluded for those who want to relax. The city is also surrounded by mountains which are beautiful whether you want to hike through them or admire them from afar. If you’re the outdoorsy type, the huge Dilek National Park isn’t far away.
Temperatures during summer hit an average of 30°C, so it’s a great place for those in search of some sun. Winter is also mild, and while it might be too chilly for a dip in the sea, it’s still just as pretty to look at. Whether you want to experience a Turkish bazaar, sample some traditional foods, or party the night away, Izmir has plenty of choices.
A hugely popular resort, Kusadasi has white sandy beaches and shallow waters that are perfect for paddling. One thing’s for sure – you won’t go hungry here. There’s a huge selection of restaurants, which mean you can pretty much eat your way around the world – just don’t miss out on the authentic Turkish dishes; they’re delicious.
Known as ‘the beautiful waterfront’, Izmir Town more than lives up to its name thanks to the pretty harbour dotted with picture-perfect restaurants. We’d recommend getting a table outside to eat some delicious mezze while watching the world go by, before going for a post-dinner stroll on the palm tree-lined pier.
The nearby town of Cesme is quieter than the buzzing Izmir, with an impressive 14th-century fortress smack bang in the middle of it. By day, the beaches are full of splashing kids and thrill-seekers on banana boats and surfboards, and by night the beach bars come alive, perfect for those with a taste for cocktails.
Visit the Grand Bazaar
Have a wander through the backstreets of Kusadasi, and you’ll soon come across the Grand Bazaar. The marketplace has been there since ancient times, selling spices, hand-woven carpets and antique lamps – prepare to try out your haggling skills!
Explore an ancient city
Take a 20-minute drive north from Kusadasi, and you’ll find Ephesus – one of the most well-preserved Roman settlements in the world where you can really get an insight back in time. It’s even possible to make out the ancient libraries, gymnasiums and an amphitheatre.
Try watersports at Ladies Beach
With a kilometer-long stretch of sand, Ladies Beach is home to a hive of water-based and beachside activities. Under the watchful eye of trained lifeguards, you can jet ski, kayak, windsurf, and much more besides. After all that excitement, you can head to the bustling line of cafes and restaurants.
Get back to nature in Dilek National Park
This national park has 277 sq/km of protected land to explore, featuring mountainous walking trails, forests, a delta region and beautiful coves. You can go swimming, spot some wild boar and fallow deer, go for scenic hikes to view stunning panoramas, and even try bird watching – it’s a nature lover’s paradise.
Fresh and flavoursome, Turkish cuisine has influences from the Mediterranean, north Africa and the Middle East. Sharing a mezze of flatbread, meats, and spicy fruits and vegetables is a typical way to enjoy a meal. For something a little different, try Ayran – a foamy drink of yoghurt, water and salt that’s hugely popular with the locals.
Restaurants in Izmir
While there are plenty of restaurants and cafes serving cuisine from all over the world, it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies. Make sure you try Tarhana soup – the dish of choice in the region. Onions, tomatoes and peppers are mixed with tarhana – a sticky mix of yoghurt and flour. Crumble some feta cheese on top, and you’ve got yourself a tasty dish. A lot of restaurants in Izmir will have this on the menu, so keep a lookout for it.
If you’re looking for a break with a huge variety of things to do, Izmir is your place. Bustling with shops, restaurants and bars for those who like to socialise, history lovers can find out about the city’s past during the Ottoman Empire, there’s lots of beaches to relax on, and a beautiful national park to explore.
Perfect for family trips, a couple’s holiday or a getaway for a group of friends, there’s something for everyone. With so much to do and plan, the last thing you’ll want is to have a stressful and hassled booking experience – that’s where easyJet holidays comes in. We’re dedicated to making your trip as easy as possible, which starts with being able to book your flights and hotel at the same time. If you’d like to see what else Turkey’s Bodrum area has to offer, read through our other destination guides – there’s bound to be something to tempt you.