We began our Turkish summer vacation in Izmir, spending four nights and day tripping to the coast and Ephesus. We opted for Izmir over the more popular Bodrum area due to flight schedule and cost (Izmir was much less expensive) after going back and forth regarding whether to stay in Izmir city, Alacati (an hour away on the coast) or further south (around Bodrum). We ended up thrilled with our decision and really enjoyed Izmir. We have already decided that we need to come back and spend a few weeks in Izmir during early retirement!
THE TURKISH CITY OF IZMIR
Contrary to what we thought prior to this trip, Izmir is a large historic city (the third largest in Turkey!) in Western Turkey on the Aegean cost. Izmir is about an hour flight from Istanbul or a few hours’ drive, which drive seemed quite popular with locals. Izmir is also only one hour from the beach and one hour from historical Ephesus (both on modern highways).
Aside from having a good location, Izmir is not super touristy and feels very much like a real Turkish city. Locals abound and you will be hard pressed to find too many foreign tourists out and about on a normal evening. The locals were also nice and seemed to really be enjoying their life on the sea. In fact, we met more than one person who left their busy life in Istanbul and moved to Izmir for a better quality of life. And I think that’s part of what we liked about Izmir, it was chill, there was no pressure to do anything, Izmir is safe and not expensive, and we felt like we were really in Turkey (not dropped into a foreign country with 100s of other Americans).