Located on the Aegean Sea, Izmir is less frequented by tourists and is known as the most Western-oriented city in Turkey. Izmir was the last destination of our three-week itinerary around Turkey and we had three days to visit the country's third-largest city. We were happy to discover another coastal town and Izmir is known to be a young and vibrant city, with many students and good nightlife. I particularly appreciated the city's laidback, hipster vibe, which was a change from the other places we had visited in Turkey so far!
How we got to Izmir
If you've been following our journey, you will probably have guessed by now that we took the bus to get to Izmir, but there are also flights. We opted for another day bus and left Antalya at 1:00 pm. The journey took 7 hours with regular stops as usual and we arrived at Izmir's bus terminal at around 8:00 pm. We then took the local bus n°302 to our Airbnb.
The 302 bus (timetable) goes from the bus terminal to the city centre, the journey takes approximately 40mins (depending on traffic). You can't pay on board with your CB like in Antalya so you can either purchase the Izmirimkart (which gives you access to all transport including the cable car) or pay in cash.
Getting around Izmir
Getting around Izmir is very easy! There are buses, tram lines and the metro. The Izmirimkart is very practical for all your travels within the city. The card costs 6 TL (~0,30€) and can be recharged at any metro station (no minimum recharge amount). After that, each trip costs 3 TL (~0.14€). There is also the possibility to hire bikes!
Where we stayed in Izmir
Once again, we opted for an Airbnb room. Although Izmir is a lovely city, the best part of our trip was hands down our Airbnb hosts. Mohammed, Arzu and their flatmate Volkan are some of the sweetest and most generous people we have ever met and their Airbnb was perfect for three days in Izmir!
Their flat is ideally located in the centre of town, with a beautiful view of the sea. The room is large, nicely decorated and very clean (the whole flat was). The hosts' instantly made us feel at home and we very quickly became friends. We look forward to seeing them again!
What to see and do in Izmir for three days
In all honesty, Izmir is probably not the most "beautiful" city in Turkey. There are relatively few tourist attractions that are really worth the diversion but despite that, we really enjoyed this last leg of the journey. It was a relaxing end to the trip as the city is calm and the people were very laid back. Although we spent most of our days with our Airbnb hosts, chatting and cooking, there are a few things to see and do in Izmir!
Did you know that the Balçova cable car is the second oldest in the country? The Balçova Teleferik (GPS point) is definitely a great place to visit in Izmir and offers a fantastic view of the city and sea, plus it's cheap!
It was a good 40-minute tram ride from our Airbnb but the weather was nice and the tram is very efficient. We then walked 10 minutes to the cable car station which then took us to the summit of Mount Dede. The ascent takes three minutes and once at the top, there is a little forest with viewpoints, restaurants and cafes.
The Balçova Teleferik line opens at 11:00 am and closes at 9:00 pm. It operates from Tuesday to Sunday.
The ascension takes 3mins.
The price for a return ticket costs 17TL (~0,85€). You can top up and pay with the Izmirimkart or pay by CB. They don't accept cash.
Izmir Clock Tower
We came across the Clock Tower by chance when looking for the bazaar. We didn't end up going to the bazaar as it started to rain heavily but we did walk by the Clock Tower. There's not much to do around the tower itself but it's a place to visit in Izmir as it's considered the symbol of the city!
The last place to visit in Izmir is the Asansör in the Karataş district. This district is full of trendy bars and cafes, street art and music, which we both really enjoyed. The Asansör (which is derived from the French word ascenseur meaning lift) is a historical building built in 1907 in order to facilitate the passage from the narrow Karataş shoreline to the hill.
Built of red ashlar, the 155-step lift, at an elevation of 58 metres, has now become one of the most visited historical sites in the city. It is considered one of the most beautiful places in Izmir to watch the sunrise and sunset and it's free!
You will likely have to queue to go up the lift but it goes by quickly or you can walk up. We decided to go up the lift and once at the top, the elevator opens onto a landing where you can sit to have a drink. There were a lot of people when we were there so it was a little underwhelming, to be honest, I was expecting a little more, the view was nice but not breathtaking either. I think as it was winter, we didn't get a proper view of the sunset, so maybe in summer, it's more worth it! That being said, the Ascensör remains a place to visit in Izmir for its architecture, history and view of the city!