The jewel of the Aegean, Izmir is the major resort for holidaymakers who are looking to explore this part of Turkey with it’s lovely landscapes and magnificent coastline.

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
İzmir: Jewel of the Aegean. Photo Credit: Turkey Home

Turkey’s third-largest city, İzmir has been an important Aegean port since ancient times, when it was known as the Greek city of Smyrna; its seafront is as fetching and lively as any in the world. The city’s rich and fascinating heritage reflects the fact that it has been the home of Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Levantines and Turks over the centuries. Today, the city still enjoys its small but culturally-colorful Jewish and Levantine communities – and its unique and delicious cuisine attests to this. Despite its monumental history, Izmir and its delightful sea towns are among the must see places during the summer. If you want to enjoy sun, sea and the sand, you should definitely add Izmir to your holiday-route.

Here are some of the holiday havens of Izmir:

Çeşme

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
The imposing 14th-century Genoese fortress overlooking Çeşme harbor. Photograph courtesy of Çeşme.Net

The biggest and most famous of the beach resorts around Izmir, Çeşme is an essentially Turkish resort and thermal spa (Çeşme means ‘spring’), dominated by its 14th-century Genoese fortress with a labyrinth of twisting back streets behind. The attractive promenade is iined with restaurants. The long, sandy beach where most of the hotels are concentrated lies a little outside the town.

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
Çeşme’s long sandy beaches are located outside the town. Photograph courtesy of Gran Fondo

Özdere

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
Özdere, Photograph courtesy of Neredekal.com

A beautiful corner of the Aegean, Özdere is a coastal town in the Menderes district of the Izmir region. With a temperate climate, favorable location and nearly 40-kilometer-long coastline and blue-flag beaches, Özdere is a local centre of tourism.

The promenades and walkways along the shoreline host numerous taverns, shops and restaurants that cater to visitors.

Bergama (Pergamon)

The laid-back market town of Bergama is the modern successor to the once-powerful ancient city of Pergamon. Unlike Ephesus, which heaves with tourists year-round, Pergamon is for the most part a site of quiet classical splendour. Its ruins – especially the Asklepion and Acropolis – are so extraordinary that they were inscribed on Unesco’s World Heritage List in June 2014, the 999th site in the world (and the 14th in Turkey) to be so honoured.

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
The extraordinary ruins at Pergamon. Photograph courtesy of Wiz tours

The thermal springs of Pergamon made the city one of the principal centres of healing and beauty. One of the major thermal spas of Pergamon is within the Sanctuary of Asclepius (Güzellik Ilıcası). It is believed to have been commissioned by King Euamens of Pergamon, and its healing and beauty properties were enjoyed by Cleopatra.

Alongside its historic and cultural heritage, Bergama is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Trekking along the route to Kozak Plateau through the pine forests covering the Kozak mountain range between Bergama and Ayvalık, dotted with ruins and rural landscapes, also provide opportunities for photo safaris.

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
Pine forests on Kozak Plateau. Photograph courtesy of Bergama Belediyesi

Urla

Urla. Photograph courtesy of izmiryaziyor.com

38km from Izmir, Urla is situated in the centre of the peninsula bearing the same name.The Urla Peninsula prides itself on its 40km coastline, untouched small bays and 12 islets.

Urla has a very Aegean ambience with its small squares, coffee shops under the vines, village bazaars and restaurants serving delicious and healthy Aegean cuisine.

Liman Tepe is an archaeological excavation site not to be missed when visiting Urla. Liman Tepe, whose history goes back six thousand years ago, is recorded in history as the oldest settlement in the Urla district. It was one of the harbours of the Ancient Klazomenai City, and among the most significant harbour cities in the Aegean in the 3rd millennium B.C

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
Liman Tepe archaeological site. Photograph courtesy of izmirmuzesi.gov.tr

Foça

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
The lively harbour front in Foça. Photograph courtesy of Mapio.net

Cockerels and seals are the symbols of Foça, an ancient city referred to in the Legend of Homer.

Very well placed for access to Izmir airport, this pretty fishing village has a lively harbor front with excellent seafood restaurants.

Foça offers a unique combination of historical, natural and urban preservation sites and has  been declared a Special Environment Preservation Zone. It is also home to the endangered Mediterranean monk seals.

​Dikili

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
Dikili. Photograph courtesy of www.izmir-dikili.bel.tr

Dikili, located 120km north of Izmir, ia a lovely district appealing to local and foreign visitors alike and is famous for its spas.

The sub-district of Çandarlı, is a major tourist spot with its rich history and extraordinary beauty.

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
Çandarlı is a sub-district of Dikili. Photograph courtesy of Garenta

Natural attractions include a crater lake in Merdivenli village and pine forests and historical caves in Demirtaş and Deliktaş villages.

Enjoy the best of Aegean at Izmir's coastal towns
There’s an interesting cave formation in Deliktaş. Photograph courtesy of Sırtçantam Gezi ve Kültür Dergisi

We hope you’ve enjoyed our look at some of Izmir’s coastal towns. Next time you’re planning a visit to Izmir, why not give yourself time to visit one and see for yourself…

Sources: Daily Sabah/Lonely Planet/Turkey Home

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