İzmir, a stunning city in Türkiye’s Aegean region with coastal charm, has been named one of the “Best Cities” for 2024 by Lonely Planet. With its ancient cities, beautiful beaches, scenic landscapes, unique cuisine, and undeniable charm, İzmir has rightfully earned its place among the guide’s top recommendations.
Coastal and cultural richness
Lonely Planet highlights İzmir’s coastal location as a major advantage, offering a delightful mix of historical and contemporary culture, delicious Aegean cuisine, and a high quality of life. The guide suggests exploring İzmir’s historic bazaar, cultural and artistic venues, vineyard routes, beautiful beaches, and ancient ruins. Don’t miss the annual International İzmir Festival, held in June and July, featuring concerts and dance performances, while tasting local wines that are produced in Urla, one of İzmir’s vineyard routes.
Despite being Türkiye’s third largest city, İzmir maintains a relaxed atmosphere that contributes to its high quality of life. While the ancient city attracts millions of tourists each year, according to Lonely Planet, İzmir is still waiting to be fully discovered. The city offers a comfortable living experience, with nearly two kilometres of beautiful coastline stretching to the vibrant Kemeraltı Bazaar. İzmir’s exceptional location also provides easy access to picturesque seaside towns and beaches, including Foça, Urla, Karaburun, and the Çeşme Peninsula. These areas offer unique experiences, from farm-to-table meals in Urla to exploring Aegean herbs and seafood in Alaçatı. İzmir’s culinary scene is further validated by its inclusion in the Michelin Guide this year.
Ancient treasures and cultural heritage
For those interested in ancient history, İzmir offers the archaeological sites of Bergama and Selçuk. In Bergama, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, visitors can explore the region’s history dating back to the prehistoric era.
Selçuk City is famous for the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as well as the ancient city of Ephesus, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other significant sites in Selçuk include the Basilica of St. John and the House of the Virgin Mary. Şirince, known for its fruit wines and recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, is also worth a visit. Located on a green hillside with stunning views of the mountains of Selçuk, Şirince offers a charming experience.
Arts, culture and modern attractions
İzmir is a vibrant destination for arts, culture, and history. The recently opened İzmir Culture and Arts Factory, located in the restored late-nineteenth-century Alsancak Tekel Factory, is a noteworthy attraction. This venue is also home to the Ephesus Culture Route Festival, İzmir’s most important event, taking place from October 28 to November 5 this year. In addition to galleries and museums showcasing traditional and contemporary art, the city hosts a variety of events.
İzmir is the first city in Türkiye to be chosen for the EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route. With its cycling routes and “Bicycle Friendly” certified hotels, İzmir is an ideal destination for travellers who want to explore the region on two wheels.