Ruins of Celsius Library in ancient city Ephesus near Izmir

Things to do in  Izmir

A city on the rise

Izmir's beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant bazaar make the city worthy of a visit. Noticeably less tourist-oriented than its Aegean Coast neighbors, the city allows visitors to discover a mix of ancient history and modern Turkey. Among the things to do in Izmir, you can sail across the sparkling turquoise waters, visit the various archaeological sites, and spend some time indulging in traditional Turkish food. Those interested in local culture can admire the elegant mosques and shop at the traditional Kemeraltı Market, interspersed among modern skyscrapers and malls.

Top 15 attractions in Izmir

Ephesus (Efes)

Ephesus (Efes) is one of the greatest ancient sites in the Mediterranean. During its heyday in the first century BC, it was the second-largest city in the world, with only Rome commanding more power. Many reconstructed structures and ruins, including the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, can be seen here.More

Pergamon (Pergamum)

The magnificent hilltop city of Pergamon dates back to the 5th century BC and was once a hotbed for learning, culture, and invention, flourishing until the 14th century. Remnants of the city’s most important structures remain, such as the Acropolis, the Red Basilica, aqueducts, a major medical center, audaciously steep amphitheatre and a historically important library.More

Agora Open Air Museum (Izmir Agora)

The storied past of Izmir—once the ancient Greek city of Smyrna—takes center stage at the Agora Open Air Museum (Izmir Agora. Dating back to the fourth century BC and rebuilt by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in 178, the Agora is one of the best-preserved sites of its kind in Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye).More

House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi)

St. Mary’s House in Ephesus is believed by many to be the place where the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, spent her final days, and has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors and pilgrims seeking the healing properties of the spring that runs beneath the stone home since its discovery in the 19th-century.More

Temple of Artemis (Artemision)

One of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the marble Temple of Artemis (Artemision or Artemisium at Ephesus once spanned more than 63,000 square feet (around 5,850 square meters. Today all that remains of 127 original columns plus countless frescoes and statues is a teetering pillar and some foundation fragments.More

Bergama Asklepion (Pergamon Asclepeion)

In Roman times, the Bergama Asklepion (Pergamon Asclepeion) was one of the world’s most important medical centers, built in honor of the Asklepios, the Greek god of healing. Situated in the ancient city of Pergamon, it dates back to the 4th century BC and is one of the most visited ruins of the Pergamon archeological site.More

Adaland Aquapark

One of Kusadasi’s best water parks, Adaland Aquapark boasts slides for every age and pace, from leisurely 6-person family jaunts through to freefall and boomerang rides. A wave pool, lazy river, jacuzzi, little kids’ zone, rafting course, and lively poolside disco make it a great space to while away the day.More

Sardis (Sart)

Just east of Izmir in Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye), Sardis—or Sardes—was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia before falling to the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. Its ruins span everything from a Roman gymnasium to the relics of a nearby Greek temple to the remains of the fifth church of the Bible’s Seven Churches of the Revelation.More

Izmir Clock Tower (Izmir Saat Kulesi)

Dominating Izmir’s busy Konak Square, the Izmir Clock Tower (İzmir Saat Kulesi has been a city landmark since 1901. Standing 82 feet (25 meters tall, with a fountain on each corner, its lacy tower and Arabesque arches have a distinctively Ottoman feel. The German Emperor Wilhelm II gave the 4-faced clock to the sultan as a gift.More

Ephesus Terrace Houses

A cluster of ancient 2-story homes spread across three tiers, the Ephesus Terrace Houses reveal how wealthy Romans lived during the city’s glory days. Glass floors let you admire geometric mosaics and still-colorful frescoes gleaming on the walls—it’s a small wonder some compare the site to Pompeii.More

Konak Square (Konak Meydani)

Studded with palm trees and presided over by the 82-foot-tall (25-meter-tall) Izmir Clock Tower, Konak Square (Konak Meydanı) is the navigational and social heart of the city. A popular meeting place, it’s home to important civic buildings and is located near Izmir’s historic ferry terminal and Kermeralti Grand Bazaar.More

Izmir Archaeology Museum (Izmir Arkeoloji Muzesi)

The Izmir Archaeology Museum (İzmir Arkeoloji Müzesi) is located next to the Ethnography Museum, not far from the city’s Konak Square. It was first opened to the public in 1927, but found its place in its current location in 1984. Many of the museum’s rich and varied artifacts derive from the Bronze Age, or from the Greek and Roman periods.This vast archaeological museum features various exhibition halls arranged across different floors, including laboratories, libraries, and conference halls, covering an area of some 5000 square meters.It’s estimated that there are approximately 1500 artifacts on display here, with items from the ancient city of Smyrna, as well as from a number of other ancient sites in the area, including Ephesus, Pergamon, Miletus, Aphrodisias, and Iasos.More

Basilica of St. John

In Christian tradition, St. John the Apostle came to Ephesus after St. Paul and ministered to the Ephesians. The vast Basilica of St. John, built by the sixth-century emperor Justinian, houses a fourth-century tomb that drew pilgrims from across Europe in search of miracles. It is still one of the world’s largest cathedrals today.More


On a hill with a strategic view of the Gulf of Izmir, the co-called Velvet Castle was built in the 4th century BC under Alexander the Great. Remnants of successive occupants, including Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans, may be found though not much remains of the fortified castle, except for towering ramparts, ruins of a 14th-century mosque—and the wonderful vista.More

Library of Celsus

A grand two-story facade adorned with statues of the four Virtues makes the Library of Celsus the most photographed and best-known monument in the Ephesus UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in AD 110 to honor Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, it once held 12,000 scrolls, making it one of the largest libraries in the ancient world.More

Top activities in Izmir

Pamukkale Tour from Izmir

Pamukkale Tour from Izmir

Ephesus Tour From Izmir

Ephesus Tour From Izmir

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All about Izmir

When to visit

Izmir is the perfect place to visit throughout the year. However, summer brings the best out of the coastal city. During the warmer months, you can enjoy days at the beach and water-based activities like sailing and diving. For an off-peak trip, autumn has cooler temperatures and striking sunsets painting a haze of oranges across the sky, while winter is relatively mild with plenty of cozy cafes to escape into.

Getting around

The best way to get around and make the most of Izmir is by using the public transportation system. Buses are an efficient and relatively affordable way for sightseeing throughout the city and beyond to nearby beaches and towns. If you prefer to have more freedom, many locals use cycling as a mode of transport, allowing you to explore Izmir however you like while taking in some spectacular views.

Traveler tips

Don't limit yourself to the city center—there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered in bustling and lively residential neighborhoods such as Foça and Karşıyaka. You should also brush up on the appropriate etiquette for navigating some common but specific areas, like hammams, bazaars, and streetside cafés—they will give you great insight into the intricate details of the real Turkish lifestyle.


People Also Ask

Is Izmir Turkey worth visiting?

Yes, Izmir is worth visiting. From colorful markets to Ottoman mosques, the city is packed with culture and history. In between visiting the many traditional eateries and tasting local cuisine. Take a stroll along the waterfront promenade or just sit back on one of the terraces overlooking the magnificent coast.

How many days are enough for Izmir?

Three days are enough for a quick tour around most of Izmir’s main attractions. However, it is better to leave more room for adventures outside the city, particularly if you are passionate about culinary experiences or are interested in learning more about world-famous ancient empires and civilizations.

Should I visit Antalya or Izmir?

If you're simply looking for a beach holiday, Antalya, known for its many resorts and stunning natural landscapes, is a great option. If you wish to experience the historical richness of Turkey while still enjoying a modern atmosphere on the beautiful coast, then Izmir is ideal.

Does Izmir have beaches?

Yes, the beautiful beaches of Izmir are an ideal destination for travelers looking to catch some surf or sun with stunning views. You can choose to soak up rays on the sandy shores or explore the coastline on a sailing boat from the harbor.

Is Izmir touristy?

Yes, travelers from around the world flock to Izmir every year to enjoy the coastal city’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, sun-drenched beaches, and historic sites. However, it's not as busy as other resort towns like Bodrum.

What's the most famous site in Izmir?

Izmir is home to many amazing sites and attractions, but its most famous site has to be the Agora of Smyrna. The ancient Roman site is not just a tourist destination—it’s an important piece of the city's lengthy and fascinating history that stretches back thousands of years.

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