Izmir - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Izmir


Izmir is Turkey's third largest city, a busy port, commercial centre and gateway to the Aegean Coast, but despite its size (population around three million) and importance it still retains enough holiday ambience to draw visitors to linger. Izmir is lively and cosmopolitan, and it is also scenic with palm-lined promenades lining the bay, backed by graceful avenues and attractive horizontal terraces rising up the slopes of the surrounding mountains.

Visitors come to see the sights, haggle in the colourful bazaar, and dine on delicious meals at the many waterfront restaurants. Formerly known as Smyrna, Izmir is ancient, dating from around 3,000 BC, but today is thoroughly modern, having been almost obliterated by a fire in 1922 and rebuilt. There is still some worthy sightseeing to be done in the city, however, like the 19th-century clock tower, the 18th-century Konak Cami mosque, and an archaeology museum. A must-see is the city's landmark public elevator, linking Mithatpasa Street with the summit of the hill at Halil Rifat Pasa, from where there is a stunning view across the city and the bay. The best way to enjoy Izmir is to join the promenaders in the balmy evening air strolling on the esplanade, or jogging along in a horse-drawn carriage, between Konak Meydan and Alsancak.

Information & Facts

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 payment.

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