Izmir is the erstwhile Smyrna, a name the Greeks gave to the city. It is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East, but it is also a city where much has been due to warfare. The agora and the fortress keep date from the city's glory days. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and it is a mixture of a real oriental city and modern efficiency. There is still the old Kemeralty Bazaar where it is swarming with people, but the port, on the other hand, is thoroughly modern. Between mid-June and mid-July, the annual music festival is held with international artists. All music genres are represented (pop, rock, jazz, classical, etc.) and there are often concerts in ancient amphitheaters.
The city has over 3.5 million inhabitants, who are know for their tolerance, which is expressed in a dynamic lifestyle and less of a distinction between men and women than is found in more traditional Islamic communities.
Izmir is located on the west coast of Turkey, of the Aegean Sea. It is a drawn-out city with Konak as its old commercial centre. The modern city is located primarily on a flat river delta, on the east side of the Gulf of Izmir, and on the hills to the south.
The city is a commercial and industrial centre with an important port. In and around Izmir colorants, soap, textile and tobacco are produced. In the surrounding areas fruit is also grown, part of which is exported directly and part of which is processed by the vast food industry. These products are exported via the port.
In addition, there are many fairs and exhibitions every year. The largest takes place in September: the International Exhibition in the Kültürpark.
The international airport of Izmir - Adnan Menderes Airport -is located 18 kilometres to the south of the city along the road to Selçuk and Ephesus. From the airport there are several flights every day to Istanbul, Ankara and Antalya and there are also many direct connections to European cities. Every 20 minutes there is a shuttle bus (Havas) from the airport to the city centre. There is also a train connection with the Basmane train station in Izmir.
From the airport, a rental car will take you to the world famous ruins of Ephesus (60 kilometres) in about an hour.
About eight kilometres to the north-east of the city there is an enormous bus station, where luxury buses leave in every direction. There are hourly bus connections to important destinations: Istanbul (traveling time: 10 hours), Ankara (9 hours), Antalya (9 hours), Bursa (7 hours), Marmaris (6 hours), Bodrum (4 hours) and Konya (8 hours).
The city has two train stations. For visitors the Basmane station in the centre is the most important. From there, there are intercity trains bound for Ankara (traveling time: 14 hours), Denizli (5-6 hours) and Isparta (9 hours).
In addition, there are ferry connections from the city's port to Istanbul (19hours hours) and Venice (70 hours). The Alsancak Ferry Terminal is located 2 kilometres to the north of the city centre.
In the city itself the so-called dolmus minivans offer a good (and cheap) method of transportation. Most of them follow a fixed route.
Izmir is not a small city and it is an important economic centre, which means that it is a fairly busy place. In addition, the centre is filled with narrow, winding roads. The hotel area (see below) has excellent through roads and is easy to reach. Most hotels have parking facilities on their premises.
With a rental car you can make beautiful trips in the surrounding area, but you should keep the Turkish style of driving in mind, which is quite different from ours.
People have a habit of changing lanes suddenly, and most drivers simply ignore traffic signs. On rural roads you may encounter unexpected obstacles, especially after a curve. People and herd of cattle often are in the middle of the road. Avoid driving in the dark. In addition to the dangers listed above, many Turkish cars drive with their lights of (!) to save energy.
Make sure you observe the speed limit (in residential areas 50 km/h, in rural areas 90 km/h and on the motorway 120 km/h). The Turkish police monitors car speeds regularly, especially at the edge of cities.
The city has a wide range of good to very good hotels, some with a lovely view on the Bay of Izmir. The most luxurious hotels are situated to the north of the old centre between the Kültürpark and the sea. Cheap guest houses (in Turkish: pansiyons) are located in the old city centre around the bazaar. Outside of Izmir, there are only simple hotels. Normally speaking, it is not hard to find a room in Izmir, but if you have a certain area in mind we recommend booking your accommodation in advance. After all, Izmir is an important economic centre and it also attracts many tourists.
For more information about Izmir, we recommend Google, and the following sources: