Sitting on the coast of the Aegean Sea, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and second largest port. Once known as Smyrna, its history goes back to around 3,000 B.C. Today, Izmir is a modern city with a European feel that serves as a jumping off point for visits to nearby Ephesus, Pergamum and Asclepion.
How to Get to Izmir
Arriving in Izmir, you’ll dock at Alcansak, about a 20 minute walk from Konak Square – the center of town. If you don’t feel like walking, taxis are also available outside the terminal. A one-way trip should cost around 12-15 Turkish lira. The terminal is also about a 5 minute walk from the upscale Alcansak neighborhood, which offers plenty of shopping and dining opportunities.
Another option is to join the city’s hop-on hop-off bus sightseeing tour, which passes right in front of the port every thirty minutes.
One Day in Izmir
More likely than not, if you dock at Izmir, you’ll hop on one of your cruise ship’s excursions to Ephesus, Pergamum and/or Asclepion. If, however, you decide to hang around Izmir, there’s enough to keep you busy for the day.
Izmir’s hop-on hop-off bus tour mentioned above is a great way to familiarize yourself with the city and get around easily. Make your first stop at Konak Square in the center of town. The square is known for its clock tower, built in 1901, as well as the Konak Yali Mosque and the Kemeralti Bazaar located nearby. Then, head over to the bazaar to peruse the stalls of ceramics, jewelry, carpets and copper and try your hand at haggling.
To get a taste of old Izmir, make your way up to Kadifekale, an old castle sitting on a hill above the city, and visit the ruins of Agora, a marketplace dating to the 1st century B.C. that was once one of the most impressive in the Roman Empire. Izmir also has a few small museums worth checking out, including the Archaeological Museum and the Ethnography Museum located in Bahribaba Park, as well as the Ataturk Museum, the Izmir Museum of Arts and Sculpture and the Izmir Museum of Commercial History.
On your way back to the port, wander through the narrow streets of the Alsancak neighborhood to check out the old Greek houses and perhaps stop for a drink along the way.
At the port, you can find a variety of shops and cafes as well as city maps offered by the local chamber of commerce. There is also an internet café about 200 meters away from the terminal. The official language is Turkish but visitors should be able to get around fine speaking English.