21 Best Things To Do In Izmir – Attraction & Travel Guide

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

I loved my trip to Izmir, one of my favorite cities in Turkey, to go with my kids. I’ll now share with you the best things to do in Izmir – a place that has something for everyone to admire.

This is an underrated city in Turkey, which also happens to be the third biggest in Tukey—my ideas of what to see range from archaeological sites to bazaars and shopping. Plus, I have day trip ideas to take from Izmir.

Turkey Travel Blog_Top Things To Do In Izmir

When you think about big cities in Turkey, you probably automatically think of Istanbul first and then the capital, Ankara. Of course, those are two fantastic cities to add to your destination list. Still, you’re missing out on something special by simply assuming those are the only options—another excellent place to visit in Türkiye in Izmir.

Izmir is a fantastic, young, vibrant, and hip city with history lurking behind every corner. Located on the Aegean coastline, Izmir is also super-pretty and very Instagrammable. How about a snap of you enjoying a horse-drawn carriage ride along the waterfront? It’s possible in Izmir!

1. Izmir Clock Tower

Where to stay in Izmir - Izmir clock tower.

You cannot go past the clock tower when looking at places to see in Izmir; it is one of the best places to visit.

 Dating back to 1901, this clock tower was built to highlight the 25th anniversary of Abdulhamid II’s reign and is located in the Konak area of the city. Its typical Ottoman style means it’s super-elaborate and impressive to look at! You can’t visit Izmir and not have a photo taken with this iconic monument.

There are four fountains around the clock tower, which is so iconic it was printed on the old 500 Lira banknote (that is now no longer in circulation). 

2. Asansor – İzmir Historical Elevator Building (İzmir Tarihi Asansör Binası)

Another highlight of the Konak area of Izmir, Asansor, was built in 1907 and is a historic form of transport. The building itself is pretty unique, but the elevator is where the history is.

The elevator was built to transport goods and people up the steep hill beside it, but you can also see a fantastic panoramic view from the top these days. There’s also an imposing restaurant, which is so popular you’ll have to book ahead of time if you want to get a table.

3. Izmir Culture Park – Kültürpark

Kültürpark is a public park located in the central district of İzmir, Türkiye. With an area of over 35 hectares, it is one of the largest parks in the city. The park was opened to the public in 1971 and has since become a popular recreation spot for locals and visitors alike.

The park features various amenities, including biking, walking tracks, sports courts, a picnic area, and a playground.  In addition to these recreational activities, Kültürpark also hosts various cultural events throughout the year, such as concerts and festivals.

The Izmir Book Fair takes place every spring and covers ten whole days, so if you’re a book lover, this one is for you! Check online before you go to see if there are any events taking place at Culture Park, as there are regular concerts and festivals here, and it’s a great spot to enjoy the local area and soak up the green spaces.

4. Kemeraltı Çarşısı

If you like shopping for traditional and authentic souvenirs, you must ass Kemeralti Carsisi to your list of what to do in Izmir. One of the top attractions in Izmir is a fantastic shopping street with market stalls and a covered bazaar.

It’s also a busy spot and is often quite loud and vibrant. You can grab some fantastic souvenirs to take home to your loved ones. Just wandering around the area in itself is quite the experience, too!

5. Museums Everywhere! 

Izmir is definitely a city of culture, meaning countless museums to check out. Many are open-air and low in cost to enter. A few notable ones include: 


Izmir Archaeological and Ethnography Museum

If you’ve fallen in love with the various examples of archaeology you see around the city, you should spend a few hours at the Izmir Archaeological Museum.

You’ll find countless exciting artifacts within the museum, many of which date back to the Greek and Roman eras and the Bronze Age. This is one of the top things to do in Izmir for history and culture lovers.

  • Art & Sculpture Museum
  • Archaeological & Ethnography Museum (more on this one below)
  • Museum of History & Art
  • Izmir Women’s Museum
  • Ataturk Museum
  • Steam Locomotive Museum
  • Bostanli Archaeological Museum
  • Agora Museum (more of this one below)
  • Universal Children’s Museum

Be sure to look at the Turkey museum pass options, as there is one perfect for one while in Izmir.

6. Kızlarağası Inn

If you find yourself wandering the streets of Izmir, Turkey, make sure to drop by the Kızlarağası Hanı. It’s not just any old building; this place is a slice of history, dating back to the 18th century when it served as an inn for weary travelers and merchants.

Fast forward to today, and it’s transformed into a vibrant bazaar that’s a feast for the senses. Imagine walking through a maze of shops, each bursting with local crafts, colorful textiles, and sparkling jewelry. It’s the perfect spot to pick up a unique souvenir or soak in the local vibes.

But Kızlarağası Hanı isn’t just about shopping. It’s a cultural hotspot, too. Often, you’ll find events and exhibitions that give you a real taste of Izmir’s rich culture. And let’s not forget about the architecture! This place has an old-world charm that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Whether you’re a history buff, a shopping enthusiast, or just looking for a cool place to explore, Kızlarağası Hanı checks all the boxes. It’s a must-visit spot in Izmir that genuinely brings the spirit of the city to life.

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7. Agora Open Air Museum – Museo all’aperto dell’Agorà

Agora Open Air Museum

Agora is an open-air museum in İzmir, Türkiye. It is one of the area’s largest and most well-preserved ancient sites. Agora was the center of public life in ancient times in Izmir. Coming here is worth a visit. It was a marketplace where people would buy and sell goods and a place where people would gather to socialize, learn, and debate.

The site is huge, and they have not yet finished excavating it all as yet. There are statues and other well-preserved structures. Agora is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient history or archaeology.

You can walk freely amongst the ruins, allowing you to soak up the history of this beautiful place at your own pace. On a bright summer’s day, the white ruins and the blue sky contrast makes for a fantastic Instagram shot for your feed.

Also – not too far from Izmir, you’ll find Ephesus in Selcuk. This site encompasses the ruins of a marketplace home to the Greeks and the Romans. While this is one of the day trips from Izmir, you don’t necessarily have to travel too far to visit ancient ruins. 

8. Konak Pier

Where to stay in Izmir - Karşıyaka

Konak is the seaside district of Izmir, and the Konak Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Izmir. It is a long pier that extends into the Aegean Sea and offers stunning views of the city and coastline. Konak Pier is also a great place to people watch, as it is always filled with locals and tourists alike.

The pier is a beautiful spot to walk and grab an ice cream. The views out over the sea are stunning, and there are many local restaurants here where you can try some authentic cuisine, including fresh seafood. 

We opted to take sunset drinks along the pier. We loved not only the view but also the incredible hospitality of the team at North Pier’s, who were wonderfully accommodating to the children, bringing them fresh fruit as we sipped our cocktails. 

9. Alsancak

Alsancak is a vibrant and historic neighborhood in the city of Izmir. Situated on the waterfront, Alsancak is home to various shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. You can spend the evening in this area and enjoy the vibrant nightlife as the area is well-known for its lively nightlife scene.

Alsancak has a long history dating back to the Ottoman Empire. In fact, many of the buildings in the neighborhood are Ottoman-era structures that have been carefully preserved. This gives Alsancak a unique atmosphere.

If you’re looking for an authentic Turkish experience, Alsancak is the place to be. From its vibrant streets to its historic buildings, there’s plenty to see and do in this fascinating neighborhood. Oh, and the shopping in this area is also excellent if you prefer to avoid large malls. 

10. Balcova Cable Car – İzulaş A.ş. İzmi̇r Balçova Teleferi̇k

Balcova itself is a residential area that is bustling with everyday life. However, it is also home to the famous cable car that takes people to Dede Mountain. You can certainly count on a stunning view, that’s for sure. 

Once you arrive, there is a café at the top, where you’ll be able to enjoy refreshments. Or, you could choose to take a picnic up there and sit at one of the picnic tables to enjoy your own food – please remember to take all your litter with you. 

11. Mount Kadifekale Fortress

Walls of Kadifekale hill fortress on the top of Mount Pagos
Walls of Kadifekale hill fortress on the top of Mount Pagos near Izmirt city in Turkey

A trip to the top is one of the most fun things to do in Izmir. In the center of Izmir, if you look up, you’ll see a large mountain named Mount Pagos. You’ll get to see a fantastic view, and it’s a great way to escape the noise of the city center.

A fortress at the top of the hill dates back to when the Greeks claimed the entire area. This spot is drenched in history and is where Alexander the Great discovered Izmir. The castle’s ruins are still in pretty good condition, considering their age, and you can also check out the underground cisterns from Byzantine times.

The views are jaw-dropping, and you can see across the shimmering Aegean Se on a clear day

12. Visit One Of The Water Parks

There are several waterparks near Izmir. The top three are:

  • Adaland Water Park in Kuşadası
  • Aqua Fantasy Water Park in Kuşadası
  • Yalı Castle Water Park in Gümüldür

13. Hisar Mosque

Hisar Mosque Izmir, Turkey
Hisar Mosque in Kemeraltı

You’re wrong if you think Istanbul has a monopoly on stunning mosques! Izmir is home to the beautiful Hisar Mosque, one of the must-see places to visit in Izmir. The mosque was built between 1592 and 1598. You can’t miss this mosque as it is right in the city center, and it’s literally huge. Inside, you’ll find some stunning Islamic artwork, some of the best in the entire region.

When visiting a mosque, remember to adhere to etiquette at all times. This means removing your shoes and being quiet and respectful. Women need to cover their heads, and everyone needs to wear appropriate clothing.

14. Yassica Ada Island

If you’re visiting Izmir for a few days and want to see some of the local Izmir attractions beyond the usual, jump on the ferry over to Yassica Island. The journey will take you around an hour and a half, and you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from the busy city center.

Located 4 kilometers from the mainland, the island is uninhabited, giving it a chilled-out vibe. The beach is stunning, albeit small, and there is a quaint restaurant during the summer months. 

15. Visit The Local Churches

After your trip to Hisar Mosque, we suggest you take a look at the local churches.

  • Alsancak Catholic Church of Holy Rosary
  • St. Jean Church
  • St. John’s Cathedral
  • St. Polycarp Church
  • St. Voukolos Church

16. Forum Bornova

If you want to enjoy a spot of modern-day shopping and entertainment, the best place to go to is the vast Forum Bornova Mall. You’ll find a cinema, an amazing food court, numerous coffee shops, and countless national and international stores to spend your Lira in.

17. Party The Night Away

When you’re in Izmir, and the sun goes down, it’s time to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife.

A great place to start is, as I already mentioned, Alsancak, where the streets are buzzing with energy. This neighborhood is packed with bars, clubs, and cafes, each with its own unique vibe. Whether you’re into live music, DJ sets, or just a cozy spot to sip a drink, you’ll find it here.

Don’t miss the chance to wander down the bustling “Kıbrıs Şehitleri Caddesi” – it’s like the heartbeat of Izmir’s nightlife.

For a more laid-back evening, head over to the Kordon, the waterfront promenade. Here, the night is all about chilling by the sea, enjoying a drink, and maybe grabbing a bite from one of the many street vendors. The atmosphere is casual and friendly, making it perfect for a relaxed night out.

And if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, check out some of the rooftop bars in the city – I loved “SKY BAR: They offer not just great cocktails but also stunning views of Izmir, which makes for a pretty unforgettable night.

18. İnciraltı Kent Ormanı

If you’re itching to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some peace and quiet, you can find oneness with nature in Goztepe Kent Ormani. This is a little far away from Konak and Alsancak, but you can easily take a taxi in around 15 minutes. Just tell the driver you want to go to Kent Ormanı, and you’re good to go.

From here, you can see all along the water’s edge far down to Alsancak and beyond. But the beauty of this spot is that you can sit and have a picnic and even a BBQ. There are designated ‘huts’ which allow people to sit and enjoy their homemade meal with a firepit for cooking. There’s also a beach, a forested area (no BBQs allowed here), and plenty of walking trails.

It’s supremely beautiful and one of the hidden gem things to do in Izmir.

19. Eat Donuts At Donutime Izmir

Donutime Izmir_Roko & Vladimir Turkey

Kültür, 1383. Sk. no:2, 35220 Konak/İzmir

Sorry, but no mention of Izmir is complete without talking about donuts. And these donuts are something special.

This small shop looks like nothing from the outside, but when you enter, it’s like a wonderland of sugary goodness! The donuts are beautifully decorated in different colors and tastes, and you’ll be so spoiled for choice. It’s a good job. The owner is quite patient and doesn’t rush you to make a choice!

Donutime is located in Konak, quite close to the Kulturpark, so it’s the ideal excuse to grab a box and sit on the water’s edge, enjoying the sugary magic!

20. Walk Along Kordon

Walk Along Kordon Izmir

If there’s one thing people don’t tell you when you visit Izmir, it’s that you need comfortable shoes. Your feet will HURT, but it will be worth the blisters.

A great way to see more is to don those comfortable shoes and walk along Kordon. This is a path that runs from Alsancak all the way as far as the eye can see, past Konak and beyond. Along the way, there are grassed areas to sit and take in the view, and as you get further down, there are even stone seats that allow you to sit and dangle your feet over the edge – be careful, though!

During the warm weather, you’ll see people sitting, drinking, talking, laughing, and singing all along this pathway, which extends into larger grassed areas in parts. Strolling along the promenade, there are snacks sold en route, too, including fresh misir (sweetcorn), nuts, and tea/coffee.

21. Eat All The Turkish Food – Where To Eat In Izmir

Restoran Sakız Alsancak

If you’re looking for a delicious meal, be sure to check out Restoran Sakız. This charming restaurant serves up food from the Mediterranean, and the friendly staff will make you feel right at home. The menu features all of your favorite seafood (and steak) dishes, including calamari, fish, octopus, and all kinds of salad and meze options.

The meze fridge is huge and colorful. My kids devoured the freshly baked bread – it’s mouth-watering! With its tasty food and warm atmosphere, Restoran Sakız is the perfect place to enjoy a meal with family or friends.

It was not the cheapest place to eat; we ate here with friends and spent a pretty penny, but we enjoyed both the company and the service here.

North Pier’s

As we mentioned, we opted to take sunset drinks along the pier at North Pier’s. Not only were the drinks good, but the seafood here was top-notch! I highly recommend the orange and cognac shrimp. The service at North Pier’s is exceptional, and the staff are very friendly. 

Top Day Trips From Izmir

Urla From Izmir

If city life is getting too busy for you, take a day trip to the countryside and visit Urla. Here you’ll find small cafes and restaurants, a much slower pace of life, wineries, and local food, such as cheese and olives grown on site. 

Izmir To Ephesus

Around one hour away from Izmir, you will find a breathtaking Ephesus, one of the seven wonders. Many ancient city complexes claim to be excellent, and many are, yet Ephesus is something else entirely. It will feel like you are being transported back in time, with whispers of the past in the wind. 

Once an important city, Ephesus is famous for the amphitheater, Temple of Artemis, Temple of Hadrian, and much more. Outside the main complex, you can also pay a little extra to see the House of the Virgin Mary, where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent the last days of her life. 

Pamukkale Tour From Izmir

Cotton Castle Pamukkale magic
Pamukkale, Turkey


This trip will take a full day, but it’s more than worth the effort. You can drive yourself (it takes about 2.5 hours) or take a guided tour. Either way, you’ll get to enjoy the ancient hot springs and tour the ancient ruins of Hierapolis located nearby.

Pamukkale’s travertine pools The views from the terrace in Pamukkale are blinding white, which is a beautiful contrast with the blue of the water. There are 17 hot springs, and some of them are very warm indeed! 

Avoid going during the peak summer months if possible, as you’ll have very little space to explore. However, during the spring or autumn, you’ll have plenty of time to wander and explore easily. 

Çeşme & Alaçatı

What to see in Alaçatı ,Çeşme-İzmir Turkey

This is another full day that will take you to two of the nearby beach resorts. The beaches in the Izmir area of Turkey are nothing short of amazing, with clear blue sea and white sand. 

You’ll find vibrant nightlife in both locations if you can stay for the evening. Both sites have winding, cobbled streets and authentic ways of life. Be sure to sample some local cuisine, especially freshly caught fish.

Private Transfers


Back in the days of antiquity, Izmir was known as Smyrna. Like most of Turkey, the once-ancient city of Smyrna has passed hands between various empires over the years, including the Greeks, the Romans, and the Ottomans.

In Izmir, you’ll find a vast university city with fantastic shopping opportunities. You’ll notice a wonderful blend of old and new here. The nightlife is vibrant and varied, the gastronomy is seriously on point, and there is plenty of history to explore simultaneously.

To narrow things down for you, let’s check out a few things to do in Izmir during your visit to this cosmopolitan and downright beautiful city.
Top Things To Do In Izmir
Below are some of the top Izmir attractions we know you’ll all love, but first, people have asked us, “Is Izmir worth visiting”?

Is Izmir Worth Visiting


Yes, Izmir is 100% worth your visit.

Izmir is definitely worth adding to your itinerary in Türkiye!  Here are five reasons why:

  • First, the city has a lot to offer in terms of history and culture. There are plenty of museums, historical sites, and other tourist attractions to visit, as well as traditional Turkish restaurants and cafes
  • Second, the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Izmir is located on the Aegean Sea, so there are lots of opportunities to enjoy the stunning views in a relaxed and natural way
  • Third, the people are very friendly and welcoming. You’ll find that everyone is happy to help you out, whether you need directions or recommendations for places to eat and drink. In Izmir, my kids were gifted many treats and spoken to very warmly
  • Fourth, it’s a shoppers’ paradise. We found the shopping and bazaars here to be much less intimidating than shopping in Istanbul. It was much more laid back and far less intimidating. Though just as busy, we enjoyed selecting spices and souvenirs without the pressure
  • Finally, Izmir is a great place to relax and unwind. It’s a low-key kind of place where 4 million locals live. There’s something about the Mediterranean atmosphere that makes you feel at ease – do you know what I mean?

Whether you’re spending time on the beach or exploring Turkey’s third-largest city, Izmir, or using it as a base for a day trip, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time.

Has Izmir tempted you? What will you be adding to your Izmir must-see list first?

Izmir’s FAQS

What are the top attractions in Izmir if I only have one day in Izmir?

Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey, offers a range of attractions to explore. Some of the top attractions include:

  1. Konak Square and the Izmir Clock Tower
  2. Kemeraltı Çarşısı market
  3. The Kordon promenade
  4. Izmir Archaeology Museum
  5. The Agora of Smyrna

What is there to do in Izmir?

In Izmir, you can Explore the countless tourist attractions.

  • Visit historical sites like Konak Square and the Agora of Smyrna
  • Explore the Kemeraltı Çarşısı market for shopping
  • Take a stroll along the beautiful Kordon promenade
  • Indulge in street food and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere
  • Experience the lively nightlife scene

What are the top day trips from Izmir?

If you have more time, consider taking day trips to:

  • Ephesus, an ancient city near Izmir and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Pamukkale, known for its terraces of hot springs and travertines

Why is Konak Square important?

Konak Square is one of the main attractions in Izmir. It is the heart of the city and home to the iconic Izmir Clock Tower, which is considered a symbol of the city. The square offers stunning views and is a gathering place for both locals and tourists.

What can I do at the Kordon promenade?

The Kordon promenade is a popular spot to enjoy the waterfront and take in the beautiful view of the Gulf of Izmir. You can take a leisurely walk, have a picnic, or try delicious street food from the vendors along the promenade.

What is Kemeraltı Çarşısı?

Kemeraltı Çarşısı is a large open-air market in Izmir. It is a great place for shopping and finding unique Turkish souvenirs. The market offers a variety of products, from clothing and accessories to spices and traditional handicrafts. Don’t forget to practice your haggling skills!

Can I take a day trip to Ephesus from Izmir?

Absolutely! Ephesus is a historical site located near Izmir and can be easily reached on a day trip. It is one of the most well-preserved ancient cities and offers a glimpse into the past. The ruins of Ephesus, including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre, are a must-see for history enthusiasts.

What is the nightlife like in Izmir?

Izmir boasts a vibrant nightlife scene with various bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. You can experience the energetic atmosphere, dance to live music or enjoy a drink with friends. The city offers options for every taste, from trendy nightclubs to cozy pubs.

Comments (3)

  1. I loved Izmir when I was there a few years ago, I am thinking to go back with kids. Would you recommend it for small children?

    1. Izmir is a terrific spot for a family trip, we loved it. Start with the historical İzmir Tarihi Asansör Binası for breathtaking views and a neat slice of history. It’s convenient, free, and surrounded by cozy eateries. Museums like the Izmir Archaeological Museum are open for curious minds, offering a deep dive into the region’s rich past.

      For outdoor fun, Pırlanta Beach is a hit with families thanks to its shallow waters and expansive sandy stretches – perfect for building sandcastles and splashing around.

  2. Mit einer beeindruckenden Informationsfülle besticht dieser Blog durch seine klare Struktur und vermittelt das Wissen auf eine äußerst verständliche Art und Weise.

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