Daily Attractions One Hour Away From Izmir City Center
İzmir is a paradise not only with its city center but also with its hidden beauties all around. Here are the 10 most beautiful destinations that you can reach in just one hour from Izmir city center to have a quiet and peaceful day.
1. Sığacık (Seferihisar)
Sığacık is a fisherman village located in Seferihisar, Turkey's first "Slow City" (Cittaslow). In Sığacık, where you can reach only a 50-minute journey from the city center, you can take photos of some restored and preserved houses inside the Sığacık Castle, which was built in 1522 by order of Suleiman the Magnificent, then walk around the narrow streets. If you plan your trip on Sunday, you can visit Sığacık Bazaar, which is set at the narrow streets of the Sığacık Kaleiçi region. It is one of the most popular bazaars in Turkey. What differentiates it from the others is the fact that only products made in Seferihisar are sold here. You can also swim in the Akkum Beach or enjoy the blue water of the untouched bays by boat tours from Sığacık Port.
2. Kavacık (Karabağlar)
We also suggest you spend a day in Kavacık, a village famous for its grapes in the district of Karabağlar, which is only 10 kilometers away from Izmir city center. You can reach Kavacık through a road surrounded by pine forests that overlooking the Gulf. It is a small village with only 200 households and untouched natural beauty. It was established by Yoruks in the first half of the 19th century, and it is rumored that there are 200-year-old tombs in the area. Kavacık village is suitable for day trips, camping, and trekking. There are various waterfalls on the mountain trekking routes as well. Along with the cultural and natural beauties of Kavacık Village, the Kavacık Grape Festival is organized each year to promote the Kavacık grapes (a French-origin grape a.k.a. Alphonse Lavallee) grown in this area and is a lively festival with thousands attending.
3. Urla District Center
Urla, which is only half an hour away from İzmir's city center, is also the hometown of famous Yorgo Seferis, Neyzen Tevfik, and Tanju Okan. You can take a walk in Zafer Street which has become a kind of art street and then take a break to take photos in Tanju Okan Park, which is made in memory of the famous Turkish singer. You also visit the Historical Arasta Bazaar and Malgaca Bazaar mentioned in Evliya Çelebi's Travelogue. If it's a Sunday, you can visit Urla Herb Market, which is established in the pier area, to buy some delicious Aegean herbs such as radish grass, fennel, chickpeas, cibes, and scallops. If you visit Urla in August, you can see in Urla Traditional Grape Harvest Festival.
4. Bademler Village (Urla)
After enjoying Urla's central neighborhood, you can visit Bademler village, the first village to have a theatre in Anatolia, where many plays have been staged since 1930s. It is also famous for its library, museum of special children toys, and flower greenhouses. Don't forget to taste gözleme (pancakes), ayran (a yoghurt drink), and kalburabastı (a dessert) when you're in this surprisingly clean village. One last reminder: the first Turkish movie to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, director Metin Erksan's Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer) was filmed in this village. Since you're already in Bademler, you can also visit the nearby villages of Germiyan, Kuşçular, and Yağcılar and taste delicious olives.
5. Alaçatı (Çeşme)
People say "its fame exceeds the borders of Turkey" for many places. However, not many of them live up to this reputation. However, when it comes to Alaçatı, we can easily use this phrase because Alaçatı is a vacation destination which ranked eighth in the New York Times' "31 Places to See on Earth" list in 2010. With its deep blue sea, houses with bougainvillea hanging from the windows, and cobblestone pavements, Alaçatı is a town of tales from the 1800s. In this charming town, you can enjoy the sea, surf, stop by the colorful Alaçatı Bazaar set up on Saturdays and of course, sip your coffee next to the windmills and watch Alaçatı from the top of a hill.
6. Ildırı Village (Çeşme)
While you are in Çeşme, do not forget to stop by Ildırı, the cute fisherman village. When you visit Ildırı, the first thing to do is to visit the Ancient City of Erythrai. To raise awareness about the archeological site in the locals and to liven agro-tourism, Ildırı Culture and Art Festival has been held in the Ancient City of Erythrai at the end of August lately. The festival attracts people of all ages with music, theater, seminars, and workshops. Products and handicrafts produced by the locals in their houses without using any technological tools are exhibited and sold during this festival. After this history-filled experience, you can come to the center of Ildırı and visit the village streets and taste the fresh seafood brought by the fishing boats returning from the sea towards the evening.
7. Efes Antik Kenti (Selçuk)
The Ancient City of Ephesus, which is only 1 hour away from the city center, is a treasure that everyone should see at least once in their life. This magnificent ancient city, which has made it into the Unesco World Heritage List, invites you to a magical journey in history with its magnificent buildings such as the Temple of Artemis, Odeon, Agora, The Theater, Celsus Library, Kuretler Street, Hadrian's Temple, Herakles Gate. Although the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, has not reached today, you can see many valuable artifacts found in the ancient city in the Selçuk Ephesus Museum.
8. Şirince (Selçuk)
Şirince (which means “cute” in Turkish) village of Selçuk district lives up to its name thanks to its nature, streets, houses, and hospitable people. You can visit stone mansions in Şirince, which welcomes you with its cobbled streets, or you can stay in those mansions that serve as hotels and pensions today. While having your dinner, do not forget to open a bottle of Şirince wines made with the essence of many fruits such as blackberry, blueberry, melon, and strawberry. Nesin Mathematics Village and the village market are among the other must-see destinations in Şirince.
9. Eski Foça (Foça)
Thanks to its picturesque fishing boats along the coast, flower-lined streets adorned with stone houses, a blue flag beach, and the most famous sunset, Eski Foça (meaning Old Foça in Turkish) is one of the most peaceful destinations. The places to visit in Eski Foça, which was one of the most important settlements of the ancient Ionia include Beşkapılar Castle and City Walls, Eski Foça Port, Athena Temple, Cybele Open Air Temple, Kayalar Mosque, Fatih Mosque, Devil Bath, and The Windmills. Orak Island, İncir (Fig) Island, and the Siren Rocks where Mediterranean monk seals live are as popular and worthy to see as the beaches of the region.
While it may take over 1 hour to reach Bergama, the last destination on our list, you can be sure that the unique experience you will encounter here will be worth the extra 15-20 minutes of drive. The ideal destinations for those who want to explore the historical texture of the region are The Ancient City of Pergamon, which is located about 5 kilometers away from the city center and known for many historic firsts, the Asklepion, which is the first health center of the Roman period, the Red Basilica, part of the Temple of Serapis, which is dedicated to the Egyptian god. İzmir Bergama Museum and Bergama Library, which are located in the center of the district, are among the places where you can learn about the region. Kozak Plateau, on the other hand, is the perfect destination if you’d like to spend time with nature.