The grand port city of İzmir, Turkey's third-largest, is a proudly liberal, long-time centre of commerce that has emerged as a smart alternative base for travel in the west of the country. Formerly the famed Greek city of Smyrna, İzmir lives by its kordon (seafront) which, especially around leafy Alsancak, is as fetching and lively as any large seaside city in the world.
With its Levantine and Jewish heritage, İzmir is proudly distinct from the rest of Turkey; indeed, its fellow countrymen sometimes still regard İzmiris with a degree of suspicion. That's certainly not to say there aren't Turkish flags aplenty between the palms, but İzmir does have a liberal, laid-back feel. During Ramazan, when some bars in İstanbul and elsewhere close, it's business as usual in the countless watering holes on the balmy kordon.
İzmir is also developing a reputation for its cultural and civic foresight. The International Arts Festival in June is adventurous and vast, while a number of decrepit industrial bulidings have found new life as communal and creative spaces.
İzmir destination guides
Izmir Shore Excursion: Private Tour to Ephesus, House of Virgin Mary and Temple of Artemis
When your cruise ship arrives in Izmir, make the most of your time with this private shore excursion to Ephesus, where you'll see some of most famous sights in Turkey. With your private tour guide, walk around the ancient city, a former center of the ancient world and one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the eastern Mediterranean.
Izmir Shore Excursion: Day Trip to Ephesus and House of Virgin Mary
When you're in port in Izmir, don’t miss exploring the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean. This Turkey shore excursion also includes a visit to the House of the Virgin Mary, where Mary spent her final days.