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At once ancient and contemporary, Izmir will take you on a unique journey through Turkey's rich past and captivating present. Full of monuments, markets and museums, with a modern seafront promenade dotted with green spaces, it’s easy to see why it’s been dubbed the Pearl of the Aegean.
Tucked away in the west of Turkey, Izmir is a classic seaside destination – and one that has enough surprises to keep you on your (sand-covered) toes. In the wider Izmir province, for example, you’ll find Ilica, which is famous for its thermal hot springs and Foça, where a traditional fishing village with a beautiful beach awaits.
One of the most fascinating things about the city is how much history is on show. You don’t have to look hard to see the echoes of Persian, Roman and Ottoman rule: Izmir Clock Tower, Kadifekale Castle, Yali Mosque and the agora are all worthy contenders for your historic hitlist. The Museum of History and Art, with plenty for art lovers to enjoy, is also worth a look-in.
As for the more modern aspects of the city, these can be traced back as far as 1922 when the Great Fire of Smyrna felled most of the city. The clean, cultured and contemporary squares and green spaces, all set against sea views and soaring mountains, are some of the lasting legacies of the tragedy. From great restaurants and family-friendly bars to shops and a wildlife park, Izmir today feels very cosmopolitan.
If you want to explore further afield, holidays in Izmir will put you within firing distance of other notable destinations in Turkey, including UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ephesus. You’re also close to many Greek islands, such as Chios. Hop on a ferry with passport in hand and enjoy a multicentre break.
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