Imagine a city that offers an amazing history to discover, award-winning wines to savour, local festivals to visit, and needless to say, exquisite bays and beaches to haunt. Turkey’s the third biggest city Izmir is a spectacular holiday destination that should be firmly on your list of places to visit.
The biggest coastal city of the Turkish Aegean, Izmir, formerly known as Smyrna, has more than four million inhabitants and is often said to be the most European city in Turkey. Making your way through the labyrinth that is Kemeraltı Basar, with its countless coffee houses, vendours, and glittering distractions this seems like a bold statement. Yet, spend a few minutes walking and you’ll end up at Kültürpark, with its open-air theatre, amusement park, and art museum and the hip neighbourhood of Alsancak which offers shoppers extravagant boutiques, and a chic bars and pubs. Izmir offers a lot of different flavours and it would be a shame not to taste them all. It is a beautiful city to discover and make your own. A climb on top of Kadifekale hill with its ancient ruin of the city’s castle, a bit of window shopping at the Konak Pier shopping centre, and an evening stroll along the sea promenade are just a few of the things that are possible in a day’s visit.
And should you decide you have seen enough of the city, there is much to see around Izmir
The region around Izmir boasts some of the most important and best-preserved classical sites in the world. A car ride south of Izmir lie the remains of Ephesus. The former metropolis is one of the largest ancient cities in the world. Visitors can amble in the shade of monumental columns and on ancient pavements, and it does not take much imagination to repopulate these ruins with the hustle and bustle of Roman life. The Library of Celsus, the amphitheatre and the Temple of Hadrian are sure to impress even those who normally cannot muster much interest for ruins. And if that does not convince the hard-boiled holdout, Ephesus is also the site of one of the ancient world’s seven wonders, the temple of Artemis – all in all, well worth a visit.
You may remember the name of this adorable village (A pun! Şirin means ‘adorable’ in Turkish) from news reports in 2012 when it became the centre of attention. A number of people believed that it was the only safe haven from the apocalypse which the end of the Mayan calendar indicated for 2012. The idea that Sirince could be a haven for the end times does not seem farfetched once you visit it. Greek immigrants built their picturesque houses there and the village is nowadays well-known for its wine, cuisine and as an ideal spot to catch a wave, if you like to surf.
Speaking of wine, how does the idea of spending a day walking around vineyards, learning how to make wine, and, most importantly, tasting wine sound to you? If that sounds like a day well spent, then Urla Bağ Road is just a perfect spot for you. There are currently eight wineries in Urla with the 9th one starting production in 2022 which offer tours and tastings.
Situated on the Cesme peninsula the village Alaçatı looks decidedly photogenic. Traditional stone houses with colourful balconies line the narrow streets and sandy beaches invite you to stay. The village is famous for its lively inhabitants and special local festivals. Every year in spring, the most famous festival of Alaçatı, Alaçatı Herb Festival is being held. The area is known for its various herb cultivation and locals compete in cooking herb-based dishes. As a visitor it would surely be impolite not to try at least some of them. If you are planning your trip for summer, then experience the Alaçatı Kite Festival where over a thousand kites colour the sky. What is also great is that buses to Alaçatı and Çesme are free of charge during the festival. If it is July and you are there, do not miss the Surf Festival where Turkey’s most famous surfers are braving the waves.