Without doubt one of Turkey’s most lavishly cosmopolitan cities, Izmir is regarded as the gateway to the Aegean coast, making it exceptionally popular for all the right reasons. Hotels range in price and quality from the exceptional and expensive to the quant but charming, while the local selection of restaurants offer some irresistible fresh-caught seafood dishes. Truly a city by the sea, Izmir has thrived by its position, allowing visitors to enjoy beautiful sea views from any one of the sea-fronts many cafes and bars, before taking to the labyrinth-like Bazaar to find anything from toys and trinkets to lovingly created Persian rugs.
Izmir (ancient Smyrna) is one of Turkey's most cosmopolitan cities and the gateway to the lush Aegean Coast. The Swissôtel Grand Efes (Gazi Osman Paşa Bulvarı 1) rates top for luxury with five-star views as well as facilities. With swish, contemporary décor hidden behind a historic facade, Key Hotel (Mimar Kemalettin Caddesi 1) is another fine choice. For something more intimate, with a good-value price tag, Met Boutique Hotel (Gazi Bulvarı 124) offers colourful, minimalist-inspired rooms and friendly service, while those counting their pennies will love the fantastic old-world ambience of Antikhan Hotel (Anafartalar Caddesi 600), which has spotless rooms and a peaceful inner courtyard.
The labyrinth alleyways of Izmir's Bazaar Area make for super local market shopping. You'll find everything from cheap plastic bowls and clothing to beautiful Turkish carpets, colourful glass lamps, and copperware. Even if you're not a shopper it's a great place for people watching. For a more sedate shopping experience, head to Dösim (Cumhuriyet Bulvarı 115) right on the waterfront. This store has a good-quality selection of handicrafts at fixed prices. If you're looking for clothes, Konak Pier Shopping Centre (Konak Pier) is Izmir's premier mall.
Izmir is defined by its seafront and if it's seafood you're after, you're in the right place. Deniz (Atatürk Caddesi 188) is the most famous top-end seafood restaurant in the city; dress to impress to dine here. More down to earth but no less delicious is Sakız (Şehıt Nevresbey Bulvarı 9) with a menu that fuses traditional Turkish staples with modern twists. For a cheap and filling feed, hike up the hill to Kırım Ciǧ Börek (Birleşmis Milletler Caddesi). There are plenty of cafés and bars along the seafront serving alcohol as well as coffee. Alinda Cafe Bar and Cafe Melanie on Atatürk Caddesi are both popular places to chill out with a beer.
Izmir European Jazz Festival
This long-running event is a 15-day feast for jazz connoisseurs with renowned big-name artists and lesser-known faces all holding performances at venues across the city.
International Izmir Festival
Izmir's biggest annual festival sees performances held across the region as well as in the city itself. Both famous international stars and local musicians and dancers are involved in the month-long programme which ranges from rock concerts to opera.
Izmir International Fair
Turkey's oldest tradeshow is held in Izmir's huge Kültür Park annually. It brings together exhibitors from across the world, as well as Turkey.
International Izmir Short Film Festival
A showcase of the latest documentary, drama, animation and experimental short films from international as well as local directors are brought together for this festival. As well as screenings, visitors can attend a wide variety of discussions and Q&A sessions on cinematic subjects.
Efes Pilsen Blues Festival
Part of a national event, which tours Turkey's major cities, this blues festival holds a two-day concert in Izmir with a programme crammed full of performances.