Izmir, Turkey: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Izmir is one of the major and most important trade, transport and tourism hub of the entire country. It is the capital of the Aegean region of Turkey and its third largest city, after Istanbul and Ankara. Izmir is one of the oldest settlements on the entire Mediterranean basin, having been constantly inhabited for more than 5000 years and, until 1928, the city was known by its former name, Smyrna. The region is abounding in historical and cultural sites that draw archaeologists and historians, as well as tourists and travelers all year round.
Today, the city is composed of several districts that form the Izmir Municipality, thus creating the impression that there are more than one city, as the landscape changes when travelling around Izmir. The Konak district is its historical center, most of the popular sights, such as the promenade and the classy Alsancak neighborhood, the Agora of Smyrna, Kadifekale, an ancient castle, the city's landmark, the clock tower and, the Kemeralti, the Grand Bazaar of Izmir are located here.
Throughout its history, Izmir was inhabited by many nations, such as Armenians, Greeks, Jews or Arabs and they all left their mark on the cuisine, architecture and the general character of the city. Today, after a series of events that took place in the twentieth century, such as the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923 and the rapid development of the sixties and seventies, Izmir's demographics changed.
Overall, it is a safe and tourist friendly city, one of the most modern and liberal in the entire Turkey. The best parts to stay and hang around are Konak and Alsancak where most of the shopping and entertainment takes place. Generally, the prices are cheap for food, accommodation or any other items. People are, usually, helpful and kind, being accustomed to tourists and travelers.
The Izmir region is one of the most popular tourist destination of Turkey. The city of Izmir represents the gate to some of the most renowned holiday resorts in the Mediterranean, such as Kusadasi, Cesme, Ephesus, or, Foca. Further north, outside the Izmir region, but easily reachable by bus or car in about 3 hours is Ayvalik, a small town, popular with Turkish tourists. The resort of Ayvalik is comprised of the town itself as well as two islands connected with bridges to the mainland. It is one of the few places in Turkey where Greek can be heard on the streets daily. The adjacent archipelago is a Natural Park. From Ayvalik, there are daily ferries to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The Adnan Menderes airport operates both domestic and international direct flights, permanent or seasonal. As a port, it is connected to the Greek island of Chios, from Cesme. On the mainland, the Otogar (bus station) is one of the biggest in the country, taking travelers to any destination in Turkey. Also, there are some train routes that link Izmir to Denizli, where Pamukkale is located, Ankara, Isparta and Istanbul, with a ferry connection, across the Marmara Sea, at Bandirma.