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Things to do

Top things to do in Izmir

 

From grand ancient sites to vibrant resorts and stunning beaches, here’s our low-down on the best things to do in Izmir.

Perched on the northwestern stretch of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, the area of Izmir has plenty to do for every type of holidaymaker. So much so, you may be a bit unsure of where to start!

And with all these attractions on offer, why spend every day at the beach? Check out the top things to do in Izmir:

  1. Ephesus
  2. St. John’s Basilica
  3. Ladies Beach
  4. Kusadasi
  5. Pamukkale
  6. Temple of Artemis
  7. Adaland Waterpark
  8. Çesme
  9. Özdere
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1. Ephesus

One of Turkey’s most famed ancient sites, Ephesus was a grand city that dates back to the 10th century BCE. It’s known for once being home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Sadly, most of the city is no longer standing, although it’s still worth visiting to admire the remarkably well-preserved Library of Celsus, as well as the huge amphitheatre and more.

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2. St. John's Basilica

At Ephesus, you’ll also find the site and reconstruction of St. John’s Basilica. It was built by the Roman Emperor Justinian back in the 6th century and was modelled on Constantinople’s Church of the Holy Apostles. Little is known about why the basilica fell into disuse and disrepair, but today only a partial reconstruction still stands. It is also the site of the Tomb of St. John.

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3. Ladies Beach

As the name suggests, this beautiful beach was once for ladies only, but not anymore! Located in Kusadasi, this long stretch of golden sand is the perfect place to lay down a towel and relax, watching the shimmering Mediterranean Sea fade into the distance. You’ll find water sports centres along the beach, and there are plenty of bars and cafés placed conveniently nearby along the promenade lined with palm trees. Just lovely.

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4. Kusadasi

Now, the popular seaside town of Kusadasi is a resort of two halves. On the one hand, it’s a beach lover’s dream thanks to a whopping eight spots to choose from – retreat in peace on oh-so calm Katsur or ride the waves with the surfing lot over at Long Beach. And that’s when you’re not hitting one of the town’s three waterparks. Yep, three.

But then on the other hand, there’s plenty of culture to be had. Kusadasi’s ancient city walls and cobbled streets are home to mosques, markets and a mix of late-night bars and traditional Turkish street eats.

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5. Pamukkale

When it comes to bucket-lists, these snow-white hot springs are well worth adding. And you’ll soon see why they’re quite rightly dubbed “Cotton Castle”. A whole hillside of centuries-old calcium pools sum up the scene, each filled with ice-blue water that looks cold but is actually toasty warm and perfect for plunging. Beats any spa we know of.

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6. Temple of Artemis

There are temples and there’s the Temple of Artemis (or Temple of Diana) – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and once the largest marble structure on earth. Taking centre stage in Ephesus during its heyday, this larger than life, marble-pillared marvel was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, eventually meeting its final end in 401 AD. Today, only ruins remain but it’s still worth a nosy.

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7. Adaland Waterpark

If it’s downtime you’re after, you can’t beat a wild day out at a waterpark – and as one of Turkey’s best, Adaland certainly delivers. Racking up nearly 20 epic slides, plus a dolphin park, you can easily spend a whole day here and get your money’s worth.

Freefalls, loops, kamikazes, rafts and coasters – they’re all here. As are classics like the lazy river, wave pool and giant Jacuzzi. And slides usually go down, right? Not the Slide & Fly – this little beauty actually lifts up at the end to send you soaring into the air and flying into a pool below.

Throw a tropical beach, rafting and dedicated kids’ zone into the mix and you’re ticking the box for every member of the family.

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8. Çesme

Swoon-worthy seafronts, al fresco dining and yacht watching – charming Çesme shouts sophisticated summer holiday and then some. When you’re not updating your Insta feed with dreamy snaps from picture-perfect Ilica Beach, there’s a 16th-century castle to explore if you’ve got the energy. And if you really want to stretch your legs, there are countless countryside walks to pick up from here.

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9. Özdere

Peace and quiet – that’s what this take-it-easy town promises. Start your go-slow day here on the beach with a book – there are miles of forest-backed spots to choose from – before slinking off for some shade and seafood at the harbour.

On a Saturday, the ideal way to while away the afternoon is to swing by the outdoor market to pick up local spices and hand-made souvenirs.

Posted: 30th May 2019.

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