The coastal city of Izmir has long been in the shadow of its big brother, Istanbul. But over the course of 15 years, Izmir has transformed itself into a very nice beach town with plenty to see and do. Its geography lends itself to being much more than just a bustling port town so here are some suggestions for spending 48 hours in Izmir, Turkey! Written by world explorer, Lee Abbamonte.
8AM WALK THE KORDON
The Kordon is a coastal street lined with tons of restaurants and bars. On the opposite side is a beautiful cornice-like park along the water that offers stunning views across the bay. This is where many locals hang out or go for a morning stroll so people watching is at a prime.
1PM ARKAS MUSEUM
After lunch on the Kordon, pop into the gorgeous and historic Arkas Museum to see some really nice art from Hoca Ali Riza, a famous local artist. Even if you’re not an art enthusiast, the building itself is worth a look.
Used by locals and tourists alike, this elevator brings you to the best view of Izmir. A great place to stop for a snack or coffee, stare down the gorgeous coastline that seemingly goes on forever.
7PM KEMERALTI BAZAAR
This is a great old bazaar that is much more manageable than the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. You can still haggle all night, but it feels less frantic and the people are nicer. Also, there are many little side alleys and lounges to relax or have a coffee in. Well worth a visit around dusk.
7AM EXPLORE EPHESUS
Get up early and start the drive 90 minutes south to the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus is the site of one of the original Seven Wonders of the World and is an archaeological phenomenon not to be missed. Take your time strolling the old streets and exploring the impressive ruins and amphitheater. It’s a great way to spend a morning!
Sirince is a fabulous little mountain town just a stone’s throw away from Ephesus and the town of Selcuk. A can’t miss spot for its picturesque, quaint and other-world feel, the people and markets are wonderful and it’s a great place to have lunch. Try hiking up to the Nisanyan Hotel and be treated to the best views in town - if you are lucky, you just might get a tour of the stunning grounds.
4PM YEDI BILGELER WINERY
Welcome to Tuscany! It’s not really, but it looks and feels just like it. A great example of how Turkish wines and wineries are making a name for themselves in the world, don’t forget to try the amazing home cooked food and walk around the vineyard cottages for stunning mountain backdrops and pool foregrounds.
9PM SKY BAR IN THE SWISSOTEL
If you’re still standing after a long day, there are plenty of places to grab a nightcap. Want to stay close to home though? The Sky Bar in the Swissotel offers great views, cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere for carefree imbibing. Cheers!
WHERE TO STAY: THE SWISSOTEL BUYUK EFES
ISMET KAPTAN MH GAZI OSMAN PASA BULVAN NO: 1 KONAK, TURKEY
The Swissotel is the most modern hotel in Izmir and is perfectly located right off the water in the center of town. The hotel itself is like an art gallery with a sculpture garden in the middle. With newly renovated rooms and suites, it’s the perfect place to stay for business or pleasure. There’s a fantastic restaurant called Aquarium that’s actually built into the pool. For fine dining or a fabulous cocktail, try Sky Bar and don’t miss the flames of fig!