Izmir is one of the most popular cities in Turkey for tourists to visit. Located on Turkey’s Aegean Coast, Izmir was founded by the Greeks around 3000 BC before being taken over by the Romans and rebuilt by Alexander the Great. The city later became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Accordingly, Izmir boasts a wealth of history for visitors to explore, including a number of important archeological sites.
Izmir is also known as ‘the city where the sun never sets’ because of the ample sunshine it receives year-round. Its proximity to a number of impressive beaches make it a popular summer holiday destination for tourists.
Visitors to Izmir can undertake a number of water sports and activities in the waters of the Aegean Sea, such as sailing, fishing, scuba diving, surfing, and boat tours of the surrounding coastlines. Those traveling with children will be able to make use of the extensive Aquapark located in Izmir’s northern suburbs.
Read on for a complete guide to traveling to Izmir, including the most popular attractions, whether it is safe to travel to Izmir, and whether you need a Turkey tourist visa to visit the city.
What Is Izmir Known for?
Modern Izmir is the third-largest city in Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara, the capital. A popular university town in Turkey, much of the population at any given time is made up of young students, giving the city a youthful feel. Its close proximity to the extensive beaches of the Çeşme peninsula and the Kusadasi resort also makes it ideal for a summer holiday.
Izmir is also worth visiting for the many historical and archeological sites in the city, which include:
- Asansör – Located in Izmir’s Karataş district, this historic elevator tower was built in 1901. The Asansör allows visitors to access the hillside from the port and boasts spectacular views from its top floor.
- Atatürk Monument – Located in Cumhuriyet Sqıare close to Izmir Bay, this famous war memorial was erected in 1932 and features a bronze equestrian statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
- İzmir Archaeological Museum – A large archeological museum which displays a number of artifacts from around the Gulf of Izmir, including busts, statues, and tools from the Bronze Age and the Greek and Roman periods.
- Kadifekale – The name of the hill located within Izmir’s urban zone, as well as the castle that sits on top. Also known as the Velvet Castle, the ancient fortress was built during the reign of Alexander the Great, and stills stands strong today.
- Kemeralti Carsisi – Izmir’s bazaar district and one of the liveliest parts of the city. Home to a huge historic market, as well as the Hisar Mosque, a large domed structure designed in a mix of Ottoman & European styles and which dates back to the 1590s.
- Konak Square – A busy square in the Konak district which is home to the Izmir Clock Tower, a historic landmark erected in 1901 to commemorate the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II.
There are also 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Izmir province that are well worth visiting. The Roman ruins of the Pergamon Akropal are located around a 2-hour drive north of the city, while the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus are around a 1-hour drive south of the city on the western coast of Anatolia.
Is Izmir Safe for Tourists?
Izmir is generally considered safe for tourists to visit. Like most large cities, petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft of valuables can occur but can be avoided if the traveler exercises caution. Visitors should especially be wary of pickpockets in the main tourist sites such as Kadifekale.
The city center and the main suburbs of Izmir are perfectly safe to walk around during the day, although visitors should exercise caution when venturing out at night. It is generally a good idea to avoid the Hilal and Halkapinar districts, close to the port and railway line, at night.
It is a good idea for all travelers to Izmir to be aware of the number for the Turkish Police (155), in the rare event that they do acquire assistance. The Izmir Police Department has a special ‘tourism police’ department which is able to help visitors in a number of languages, including English, German, French, and Arabic.
Visitors to Izmir should also check the current travel advice for Turkey in case of any developments in the country which may change the level of security.
Do I Need a Visa for Izmir?
All foreign travelers planning to visit Izmir should first check the Turkey visa requirements to see if they require a travel document for the country. There are only a few counties whose citizens are able to travel to Izmir without a visa for short stays. All other foreign citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter Turkey.
A number of nationalities are able to apply for a Turkey eVisa for Izmir through a simple online application, eliminating the need to submit a visa application in person at an embassy or consulate. An approved electronic visa for Izmir allows a total stay of 90 days in Turkey for purposes of tourism, business, or transit.
In order to complete the online Turkey visa application form, it is necessary to have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended date of arrival in Izmir. The applicant is required to complete the form with basic personal and passport information to receive an approved visa for Izmir via email.
The holder of an approved electronic visa is then able to present a printed copy of the visa alongside their passport upon arrival in Turkey, to gain expedited entry to Izmir.