Must Visit Tourist Attractions in Izmir, Turkey
Situated on Turkey’s stunning Central Aegean Coast, in the western part of Turkey, the beautiful metropolitan city of Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city.
Situated on Turkey’s stunning Central Aegean Coast, in the western part of Turkey, the beautiful metropolitan city of Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city after Istanbul and Ankara. Historically known as Smyrna, it is one of the largest ports and oldest settlements in the Mediterranean Sea region that seems to be built for a slow pace and the silent azure sea can soak up all the attention in Izmir.
Izmir boasts of many fascinating cultural and archeological heritage sites with more than 3000 years of urban history, lovely coastal climate, outdoor opportunities, and unique local flavors for visitors to explore. The palm-lined promenades lining the bay can make the visitors feel like they are in an ambience that is a blend of Los Angeles and a Western European city. Izmir is also referred to as the most Western-oriented Turkish city due to its modern and well-developed commercial and industrial center, glass-fronted buildings, etc.
Izmir is also one of the main hubs for exporting several agricultural as well as industrial products from its port. The visitors can engage in a number of water sports and activities such as sailing, fishing, scuba diving, surfing, etc. in the waters of the Aegean Sea. Its cuisine with a lot of olive oil, various herbs and seafood is one of the unique features of Izmir. Turkey experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers, mild cold and rain in winters. The charm of each of the tourist attractions of Izmir has made it an ideal destination for tourists and if you also wish to feast with the locals or travel back in time at ancient monuments or simply relax in picturesque locations with a glass of Turkish wine in hand, you should plan your journey to Izmir with the help of our list of must-visit places in Izmir.
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Izmir AgoraIzmir Agora
Izmir Agora, also referred to as the Agora of Smyrna, is an ancient Roman site situated between the streets of Kemeralti Market and the hillside of Izmir. ‘Agora’ was the name for ‘public gathering place, city square, bazaar or market’ in an ancient Greek city where social events occurred. Izmir Agora is an open-air museum located in the Namazgâh neighborhood that allows the visitors to admire the remains of the ancient Roman city on the Aegean coast of Anatolia that was earlier known as Smyrna.
The Smyrna agora is a rectangular building which has a wide courtyard in the middle and galleries surrounded by columns, inside which the ruins of this Roman-Greek marketplace transports the visitors back to the historic days when Izmir Agora was an extremely popular stop on the Silk Road. Surrounded by hillside residential neighborhoods, bustling market streets, and tall commercial buildings, Izmir Agora offers a glimpse of the eighty-five years old history of this place. Built by the Greeks in the 4th century BC, the place was ruined in 178 AD by an earthquake and was later renovated as per the order of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the only agoras in the worlds built within a current-day major city, featuring a three- layered structure, basilicas, still-standing marble columns, archways, and ancient graffiti that provide a glimpse into what the multilevel Roman bazaar looked like in the past. The ancient water channels under the arches, built by the Romans, which are still in operation, can be seen in the current museum.
The reconstructed Faustina Gate, Corinthian colonnades, statues of ancient Greek gods and goddesses are eye-catching, and the vaulted chambers are equally appealing. Along with the remains of the ancient city, the remains of a Muslim cemetery can also be found on the edge of the agora. This historical and architectural treasure in Izmir is definitely going to be a visual treat for history enthusiasts.
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Konak Square and the Clock TowerIzmir Clock Tower
The traditional Konak Square, designed by Gustave Eiffel, is a busy square found between the popular bazaar and downtown waterfront. Located in the southern end of Atatürk Avenue in the Konak district of Izmir, this place has been converted into a shopping mall recently and acts as the common meeting point for locals as well as tourists. It is well connected to buses, tramway systems and urban ferries and is also an entryway to the old bazaar. It is surrounded by the famous government buildings such as the Governorate of Izmir Province, the City Hall of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, etc. and also features some of the best cafes and restaurants. The Cultural Center of the Ege University is situated at the south end of the square which includes an opera house, music academy, and a museum of modern art. The palm trees and waterfront give the area a distinctly Mediterranean feel and walking around Konak Square, the sights and sounds of nearby bustling cafes, restaurants and shops is a pleasant experience. It houses some of the most famous attractions such as the beautiful Konak Yali Mosque; however, the most significant attraction is the Konak Clock Tower in the middle of Konak Square.
Located at the center of Izmir, the iconic Izmir Clock Tower was built in 1901 as a tribute to Abdülhamid II, the Sultan of the Ottoman’s empire, in order to honor his twenty-fifth year of reign and is considered as a prominent landmark of the city. The fact that the four clocks on the external surfaces on the tower were a gift from the German Emperor Wilhelm II adds to the historical significance of the tower. This 25 meter tall tower, designed by the Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Père, has the Ottoman architectural features and is decorated in a traditional and unique style that draws tourists from across the globe. Four fountains with three water taps are also set around the base of the tower in a circular pattern, and the columns are inspired by Moorish designs. This historical Clock Tower should be on your list of places to explore in Izmir.
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Kemeralti Market is an old bazaar that dates back to the seventeenth century stretching from Konak Square through to the ancient Agora and is considered as one of the city’s most important commercial hubs. Located along the curve of historic Anafartalar Street, this pedestrian center of Izmir is a stunning place with lots of people, delightful smells and flavors coming from all sides. This bustling bazaar is home to eateries, shops, mosques, artisan’s workshops, tea gardens, coffee houses, and synagogues. Unlike other market places in the world, in this bazaar, the marketers smile and are happy to chat with the visitors apart from inviting them to inspect their products. It is one of the most favorite venues for shopping for both tourists and local residents to buy anything and everything under the sun at budget-friendly prices.
The plethora of shops offer local handicrafts, jewelry, leather goods, pottery, clothing and other valuable goods. This is a perfect spot for tourists to buy exclusive souvenirs and gifts for their loved ones. The bazaar is also home to the city’s largest mosque, Hisar Cami which stuns the visitors with its beautiful blue and gold motifs. If you feel tired then you can visit the hidden courtyards, historical sites of worship, and grand caravanserais in order to rest and recover. You can also take a break at one of the numerous cafes and eateries, between the Hisar Mosque and the Kızlarağası Han Bazaar, that serve the city’s famous Turkish coffee along with other delights. If you are a shopping enthusiast who enjoys the bustle and chatter of a busy market, then you should not miss out on this attraction in Izmir which is guaranteed to enthrall the shopaholics with its colors, goodies and awesome deals.
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Izmir Wildlife ParkIzmir Wildlife Park
Spread over 4,25,000 square meters of area, the Izmir Wildlife Park is one of the best places to visit in Izmir for wildlife enthusiasts as well as nature lovers. Established in 2008 by Izmir Municipality, this park is one of Europe’s largest natural wildlife parks and is surrounded by lush green trees, beautiful flowers and a pleasing pond making it an excellent picnic spot and a splendid weekend getaway for kids as well as adults. The presence of rarest species of birds, tropical animals and rare flora make it an alluring site. Unlike the other zoos, the animals are not caged and are able to wander freely in their natural habitat. The free-roaming area of the park is home to over 1200 wild and tame animals of approximately 120 different species including mammals, birds, reptiles and endangered species.
The wide range of animals residing in the beautifully designed park grounds include birds from the forests of Africa, zebras, red deer, wolfs, Tigers, lions, bears, hippopotamus, African antelopes, camels, monkeys, ostriches, Asian elephant, hyenas amongst many others. The tropical center also features crocodiles, insects and snakes. There is a special garden for the children to ride horses and also recreational areas for parents to enjoy the park along with their children. If you wish to bond with the animals and birds and embrace nature, you must visit Izmir Wildlife Park and witness the magnificent grounds and fascinating animals as they go about their daily life.
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Kordon is a gorgeous seafront coastline in the Alsancak quarter of Izmir that stretches from Konak Pier to the busy square of Konak Meydani, also known as Konak Square. It is a large and approximately 5 kms long coastline that is always alive and colorful at any time of the day. The walking paths of this place dotted with bars, cafes, and restaurants on its eastern edge allows the visitors to walk along the wide roads and have the famous Turkish coffee or beer at one of the street cafes while witnessing the picture-perfect view of the sunset. You can enjoy the panorama of this seafront coastline while sitting on a bench soaking up the mild smell of the sea. A wide array of museums situated here such as Ataturk Museum, Arkas Art Center, etc. narrate the tale of the rich history of Izmir. There are also bicycles available for hire as riding a bicycle to have a scenic trip of this seafront promenade is a great idea. Owing to the numerous historical assets, its unique culture and a lively urban life, it attracts a large number of travelers amid the day. This iconic seafront promenade makes for a great spot for you to relax and have a joyful time with your friends and family.
Located on the Çeşme Peninsula of Turkey, the beach town of Alacati, roughly 1 hour from the city of Izmir, is a small town with a laid-back atmosphere. This charming town is a hidden gem that boasts of architecture, vineyards, and windmills. It is an eclectic blend of all things old school and luxurious. The rich history of Alacati is the result of its Greek past and it was declared as a historical site in 2005. The traditional Greek stone houses, narrow streets, vintage boutiques, cafes and restaurants make you feel like you are on a small picture-perfect Greek island. It is surrounded by beaches and tons of beach clubs which make it a hip place to hang out on hot summer nights. Alacati bustles with activity starting in spring as it hosts thousands of tourists from all over the world in small stone houses converted into boutique hotels. These boutique hotels are beautifully furnished and cozy enough for the travelers escaping from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Food is a delight in Alacati with restaurants serving fresh seafood and dishes prepared with special herbs along with trendy cocktail bars serving mouthwatering mojitos and world-class wine. Owing to the strong wind, the sports center at the Alacati Marina in the south is one of the popular attractions of the town for windsurfing and kite surfing. If you also wish to wander through the bougainvillea-framed cobblestone streets and check out the colorful buildings, then what are you waiting for? Head towards Alacati.
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