Information & Facts
Izmir boasts some interesting archaeological sites and museums,
including the Izmir Museum of Archaeology, but when history and
culture begins to pall visitors can relax in the city's parks.
Kulturpark, site of the annual International Fair, provides a good
day out all year round with its amusement park, zoo, restaurant and
tranquil gardens; Fuar has many restaurants, bars, and kebab
stalls. Kadifekale castle is a popular attractions, as well as the
Teleferikcable car. You can also walk along the waterfront
promenade or wander the small streets of Alsancak. There are
numerous opportunities for excursions out of the city. Just a short
dolmus (mini-bus) ride away to the west is the beautiful Cesme
Peninsula with its stretches of sandy beach, where visitors can
enjoy watersports or take a boat trip along the coast. Various
local operators offer day trips into the surrounding countryside,
taking in a variety of interesting destinations from thermal baths
and fishing villages to the famous Roman ruins of Ephesus.
Turkish is the official language, but English is widely
understood in the main tourist areas.
The official currency is the New Turkish Lira (TRY), which was
introduced on 1 January 2005, whereby six zeros were dropped from
the TL and the sub-unit New Kurush was created. Currency can be
exchanged at banks, exchange booths, post offices, airports and
ferry ports; banks have the worst rates and highest commissions,
but will exchange lesser known foreign currencies. Banks open
mainly Monday to Friday, but some are open daily in tourist areas.
ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but
Turkish ATM keypads usually do not have letters of the alphabet on
their keys. Most bank branches have ATMs which accept Cirrus and
Plus. Major credit cards are widely accepted; the most popular are
Visa or MasterCard, but American Express is accepted in many of the
more expensive places. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at some
banks and currency exchange offices, but are not as welcome as cash
or credit cards. US dollars or Euros are preferred. Some pensions
and hotels in the most popular destinations accept US dollars as
Visitors should be aware that temperatures can be extreme in the
height of summer.
Holidaymakers will find that the nightlife in Izmir can be as
hectic or as sedate as you wish. Most of the after dark action for
visitors is centred on the Kordon Boyu, Passport Pier and
Karsiyaka, where nightclubs and bars stay open until the early
hours. 1448 Sokak in Alsancak has a number of clubs, and is a
popular area for gay nightlife. More cultural entertainment is on
offer too, like performances of the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra.
The city is particularly lively during the annual International
Arts Festival, which takes place between June and July, and the
carnival-like International Fare at the end of August.
The holiday destination of Izmir is renowned for its many
seafood restaurants, but whatever your taste it is catered for in
this city, which is well supplied with extremely affordable good
eateries, particularly along the Kordon Boyu Promenade. The local
speciality is the delectable fish, Cipura, so popular that it is
farmed and served up in dozens of city restaurants. It is best
enjoyed grilled, with a salad of fresh greens and herbs sprinkled
with olive oil. Reputedly Izmir's top seafood restaurant is the
Deniz, while for traditional Turkish, spiced up with belly dancing,
head to the Sini Sofrasi restaurant, or Topçu'nun Yeri, a
down-to-earth sidewalk cafe.
Like any modern city and holiday destination, Izmir has its
share of shopping centres, and here the best stores are to be found
lining the Kordon Promenades in Alsancak, Karsiyaka and Cumhuriyet
Avenue. Visitors, however, do better to head for the atmospheric
old district with its narrow streets and hidden doorways. There are
bustling markets in Konak Square and Kemeraltý. There is a larger
mall called Forum in nearby Bornova. Shopping here is a fascinating
experience, and you can buy anything from antiques and dried figs
(for which Izmir is famous), to fine jewellery, hand-made shoes and
a variety of clothing.