IZMIR: 5 Day Trips from Izmir, Turkey

Note: This article was originally guest-posted for Yabangee.

Izmir offers plenty of local sites within the city of four million people, but it is also known for its access to easy day trips nearby. If you have time, plan a few excursions outside Izmir. A longer trip inland to Ankara, Cappadocia, or the Black Sea can be tempting but don’t miss the coastal towns along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

Here are some of the best day trips you can take from Izmir:

FunkTravels Eski Foca

Şirince
Little exceeds a well-prepared Turkish breakfast. Şirince, once a Greek village of a mere 600 inhabitants situated north of Ephesus, is famous for its mesmerizing white houses and red-orange clay rooftops. If you are not there in time for breakfast, visit shops known for local fruit wine. Entry is free and you are treated to many free glasses of wine.

Ephesus (a.k.a. Efes)
Ephesus boasts of its 3000-year-old Greek city ruins. Most famous is one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis. The area seduces history lovers with its flavorful tales. Entry is 40 Lira (and an extra 15 lira for the newly excavated covered hillside homes) but if you are interested in history, Ephesus is a must see.  If you have time, trek out to the home of Mary, mother of Jesus, renown and highly visited by Catholic tourists.

FunkTravels Eski Foca

Go North to Eski Foça
Northwest of Izmir along the Aegean coastline, Eski Foça is named for the now endangered Mediterranean monk seals which also are the town’s mascot.  Several local companies offer boat tours that will take passengers closer to the island of the seals for approximately 50 TL which includes lunch. Otherwise, enjoy a meal by the seaside lined with renovated historical, yet charming, Ottoman-Greek houses. While all Turkish food is delicious, the meze, or appetizers, and fish are the best options to get in Foça.

Visit a Greek Island
Lesvos, Chios, and Samos, the closest Greek islands from Izmir, ascend from the sea disrupting the majestic view of Aegean Sea from Turkey. With the right visa, start early for a day trip (or stay overnight) by catching a bus to the ferry port and hopping over to the island of your choice. Chios is the most popular among travelers and is easy to access via a visit to Çeşme. Alongside its rich history, including adventures with Saracen pirates, and the Turks during the Greek Revolution, Chios also claims to be the birthplace of the poet Homer. Enjoy local wine, explore the ruined Byzantine village of Anavatos, and relax in the shade of a cafe or park. (Rhodes is a little out of the way, but well worth a visit!)

Cool off at the Beach!
While it’s not possible to swim in the bay in Izmir, beaches line the coast both north and south of the city center. Çeşme comes in an easy first with its pure white sand and crystal clear water, but it also draws a crowd to the much-enjoyed shopping district and nightlight. Take one of the many private buses from your neighborhood or a dolmuş to Çeşme center from the Izmir Otogar.

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or on the video answering one of the following questions:

  1. Have you visited Izmir?
  2. Did you take any day trip? If so, where did you go?

Like this post! Save it for later!

IZMIR: 5 Things to do in Izmir, Turkey

Note: This article was originally guest-posted for Yabangee.

Having lived in Izmir for over a year, I can say that I truly love the expat life here. Many people ask what the city is like and if it is worth visiting. And my answer? YES!

Istanbul or Cappadocia fare better in terms of tourism, but Izmir has things to do that are true to Turkish culture without having to fight the crowds. Also, the people of this lovely city are known for their friendliness and open-mindedness towards foreigners. If visitors are looking for the culture and experience of meeting with locals to truly understand what makes Turkey so wonderful, Izmir is your go-to location.

Here are just a few of the things you can do in Izmir.

Izmir Chronicles: Izmir is Worth Visiting (Part I)

Visit Izmir Clock Tower
Konak is home to one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city, the Clock Tower. Built in 1901, the white marble tower and North African style patterns on the columns marks the 25th year of Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II’s reign. Additionally, Konak’s established touristic center of Izmir offers historical mosques and many small streets with cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Shop ’til You Drop at Kemeraltı Market
Kemeraltı is the little ‘Grand’ Bazaar of Izmir. Anyone who has been to the noisy, maze of stalls in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul will prefer this one after a quiet, calm visit! Still a massive maze of stalls, find traditional Turkish gifts and more for a cost much less than Istanbul. Kemeraltı is also full of great, inexpensive restaurants. On a hot day, enjoy a fresh squeezed juice for around $1 in the nearby juice stalls.

Ride the Asansör
Asansör, which literally means elevator, was the first elevator built in 1907 to help people travel between the top of the cliff to the seaside. Just a 20 minutes stroll from Konak square, reserve a table for a sunset dinner at the top of the Asansör. The delightfully classy Italian cafe not only provides one of the best views in Izmir, but the prices are very reasonable as well.

Stroll the streets of Kadifekale
Kadifekale, or Velvet Castle, built by Alexander the Great into the Izmir hillside provides panoramic views across the city both towards the seaside and the land. Travel by taxi up the monstrous hill to the historic site to have more energy to explore the old walks and towers. Requiring less of the imagination than the ruins of Smyrna, visitors can see the layout of the castle while enjoying a bit of shopping in the shade of the tall trees. Walk back down the long hill or take a taxi again if you prefer.

Photo by Catie Funk

Be a Local and Drink a Beer by the Shore
Whether you are in Alsancak or Karşıyaka, this is Izmir! Gençler, or young people, can be found sitting along the seaside enjoying the breeze at the end of a hard work day. Friends and families picnic or drink a beer while others enjoy a walk or bike ride. Free concerts provide entertainment throughout the year.

Izmir’s gems are easily overlooked. However, once visitors engage in the history of this coastal city, visitors discover places and activities not offered anywhere else in Turkey. Its secrets lie with the locals and give visitors the best experience of Izmir. While exploring the areas of Izmir, don’t forget a mid-morning snack on a gevrek or two, a traditionally brewed coffee in a small cafe, and a peaceful stroll along the Kordon.

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or on the video answering one of the following questions:

1. Have you been to Izmir?
2. What sites did you see?
3. What did you find interesting?

Like this post! Save it for later!

FunkTravels Eski Foca

TURKEY: A Day Trip to Eski Foça – Lookbook

Northwest of Izmir along the Aegean coastline, Eski Foça is named for the now endangered Mediterranean monk seals which also are the town’s mascot.  

Like Alaçatı or Urla, Foça is an easy day trip from Izmir. We visited Foça for the first time with Turkish friends. This last summer we enjoyed a day boating with friends off the coastline near there. (Make sure to check out our video from our long day of boating!)

Several local companies offer boat tours that will take passengers closer to the island of the seals for approximately 50 Turkish Liras which includes lunch. While our recent tour was a private one, it was no less fun! 

Most people go to Foça for the day mostly to walk along the u-shaped bay area crowded with fishing boats.  The town is known for it’s clear, cold waters that can be enjoyed in the town near all the restaurants.

Another well-known past-time is choosing a water-front restaurant among the renovated historical, yet charming, Ottoman-Greek houses. While all Turkish food is delicious, the meze, or appetizers, and fish are the best options to get in Foca.

One of these days I will update this post with all the things to do in Foça, but for now, enjoy our lookbook and picture yourself in this town on a beautiful, sunny day!

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

We want to hear from you!

Did you enjoy this Lookbook of Foça?

Have you been to Foça, Turkey?

What did you love when you traveled to Foça?

Like it? Share it or pin it for later!

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

IZMIR: Izmir’s Largest Outdoor Market: Karşıyaka Bostanlı Pazar

Ever curious about what a local market looks like for us in Izmir, Turkey? Look no further than the Bostanlı Pazar!

In this article, I cover: 

How large is the Bostanlı Pazar?
What should you bring to the Bostanlı Pazar?
What should you be aware of before you go to the Bostanlı Pazar?

Here we go!

Depending on one’s love of crowds, the weekly outdoor market of Bostanlı Pazar competes for one of the best or one of the worst parts of Turkey. The empty covered parking in a matter of hours is filled to the brim with a surprisingly organized array of stands that sell fruit, vegetables, nuts, clothes and household items. The sellers can be heard in the distant calling out for buyers and sharing how scrumptious their products taste.

The Bostanlı Pazar, established in Karşıyaka’s (literally “the other side”) Bostanlı neighborhood, exceeds the normal neighborhood bazaar by being the largest market in Izmir. Not overly touristy, sights and sounds of daily life in Turkey engulf visitors as they enter the market. But unlike other smaller markets, tourists can still find more traditional Turkish items for sale such as Turkish towels and antique dishes. In addition, local vendors with shops downtown bring their rugs, purses and handcrafted jewelry to the market.

However, the experience is not for everyone. The market can be loud and very busy, especially in the afternoon and evening. Exploring the market in the morning will allow for a more relaxed experience. While the items are a bargain, quality items are rare. Bargain vendors sell clothes with minor defects, such as dresses/shirts with small holes in them or t-shirts with a slight offset in the print.

Time:

This famous Bostanlı Pazar is only open on Wednesdays.

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

How to get there:

The Bostanlı Pazar attracts visitors from all over the city. After taking a bus or ferry to the Bostanlı Iskelesi, the market is an easy 10 minutes walk. Several buses also travel from Karşıyaka and Bostanlı by the Bostanlı Pazar on their way to Mavişehir. Otherwise, for around 10 lira you can grab a taxi for a quick drop off right by the entrance.

Traveling by car presents a slight difficulty because the parking is difficult and hard to come by the later it gets in the day. The 6 lane seaside road between the Bostanlı Pazar and the coast becomes 4 lanes as visitors start parking in the side lanes. There is a small parking lot to the east of the market but it is usually packed with the seller’s vehicles.

What to bring:

  • Cash: Some vendors that sell higher priced items like rugs may have a credit card payment option. However, cash will usually get you a discount since there is no fee required for the payment.
  • Rolling cart: For larger purchases or hungry eyes, bring a rolling cart to make the trip home easier to manage! The kilos of fruits and vegetables quickly add up!
  • Camera: If you are touring the markets on vacation, bring your camera to take pictures! After checking the locals’ approval for a photo, you may find the seller calling you over to their stands to pose for a shot!

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

What to eat:

Of course, the vendors always offer up samples of their food but make sure to leave room for the gözleme stands outside of the covered Bostanlı Pazar.  Gözleme is like a Turkish quesadilla except not as much cheese and thiner dough (see video below!) With several stands to choose from, order a potato, spinach, cheese or eggplant stuffed gözleme and drink an ayran  (salty yogurt drink) and relax with your meal in the provided chairs and tables.

How to navigate the market:

If coming for the experience and not for a weeks supply of food, start the tour from the west side where the clothing and household items are sold. The middle section is full of vegetables and fruits that are in season, nuts, pickles and fresh herbs. The last section on the far east is reserved for cheese, olives, and seafood. Many varieties of cheese from different parts of Turkey can be found in these cheese stalls. Come hungry as vendors are eager to let you sample their products.

What to buy:

Some of the items that you see are priced about the same as what you would get from a local market, but other items, such as shawls and women and children’s clothing, can be found at ridiculously cheap prices (as low as 5 TL or less). Make sure to try the dried fruit and nuts (“kuruyemiş”).

 

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

Bostanlı Pazar Izmir Turkey

Visiting with the family:

The market spans a large area and even regular visitors find themselves lost among the ever-changing stalls. While it is possible to come with young children, it can be difficult. The crowds are tricky to navigate and they can easily get lost. Children who grow tired of shopping can enjoy the seaside park across the street.

A final note:

If you really want to experience a market in Izmir and you miss the Wednesday market in Bostanlı, there are other markets in nearby Karşıyaka on Sunday (only food) and Tuesday (only clothes and household items).

Note: This article was originally guest-posted for Yabangee.

 

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or on the video answering one of the following questions:

1. Have you been to this market – the “Bostanlı Pazar“?
2. What tips do you have?
3. What did you find interesting from the video?
Like this post! Save it for later!
Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir Pies

HOLIDAYS: How do expats celebrate Thanksgiving abroad? Glad you asked!

Thanksgiving celebrations in another country are NOT for the FAINT OF HEART. After celebrating 5 Thanksgiving in a foreign country, I have learned to be resourceful!

Last Thanksgiving we totally escaped up to Istanbul and celebrated with American friends. Don’t worry, I was not excluded from my share of the cooking, or eating, for that matter. In fact, I may have done MORE cooking because we were staying with the host of the Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, however, we decided to brave the holiday ourselves. Not alone though. We invited 30 of our friends and neighbors into our little apartment to celebrate the day with us!  Instead of the traditional Thursday celebrations, we waited until Friday night hoping it would be easier for guests to come.

This is what our actual Thanksgiving day dinner looked like… eating out and watching a movie at the nearby mall.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

And unlike almost all events in my life, I actually started early with the planning, menus, recipes, and activities for kids. I was very impressed with myself, and if you know me well, you would be too.

Turkey and all the stuffings: 

While the list looks ambitious, (and it was) we did NOT cook all that was on this list. ‘A’ was to assign out, the boxes were some I were to do… but of course, nothing happened like that. Almost everyone did bring something, but the Americans were the only ones I assigned a traditional Thanksgiving item too.

Jason was responsible for the turkey and gravy. I made a veggie tray and cheese tray for appetizers. My main course dishes were sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, and roasted veggies (which just collected juice from the turkey while it cooked).

We spent our weekly ‘Turkish’ cooking class prepping for the Thanksgiving party instead. I could not have made it through that week without my helpers that day! They cut up veggies, boiled sweet potatoes, made pie filling, and a list of other things I can’t remember right now. I had great ambitions to make green bean casserole, but unless you have those handy french onions or just a lot of time to fry your own… it just didn’t make the cut!

Our hardest prep work went into making the pie crusts. Yes, we made them from SCRATCH because Y’ALL, we can not get ready made pie crust here. It is just NOT A THING and it has yet to reach here. If you have ever made homemade pie crust, every stinking recipe calls for shortening, and well, yet again, it is not here in Turkey. Yet, somehow our brave American friends ordered a massive box of it from the local METRO (think SAM’S Club or COSCO) and they shared some with us!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Going to the store looks a little different here… I usually only buy what I can carry. If I know I am going to the weekly market or will buy a lot, then I bring my handy Pazar arabası or market car (no, I did not forget the ‘t’. The actual translation is ‘car.’)

Later that evening, I had a sweet friend take me to METRO to pick up our special ordered turkey. The people of METRO are my heros! I had given up on a whole turkey after asking several big stores, but METRO came through with a special order for us last minute. In Turkey, the stores do not start getting them in until the end of December to be used for New Year celebrations.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Our kilos of shortening: I stored the stuff on the left for later, and the right we used for the pie crust.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

P.S. – It also makes great turkey pot pie crust with leftover turkey!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Pre-cooked! I never got an after picture! While we make our own pureed pumpkin, an Australian friend of ours picked up 2 canned of Libby’s canned pumpkin on a recent trip to Ireland for her American friends living in Turkey! Crazy, huh?

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Jason did an AMAZING job with the turkey! I was so impressed. Everyone raved about the gravy he made from the turkey broth.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Having a 68 cm wide fridge means we had to be very creative with our storage!

 

Decor

Because of all the prep work, the day of our Thanksgiving party was actually calm and somewhat relaxed. I mixed up a few casseroles and my neighbors cooked them for me since our oven had the turkey cooking.  Jason and I worked together to rearrange our furniture and prepare a kid area in one of the back rooms.

I love decorating for the seasons, and thanks to the internet and a printer, I already had prints hung up for the season.  And thanks to $10 and a Dollar Tree in America, I decided to get plates, napkins, tablecloths, and a few other fallish items. The Dollar Store is one of the things I miss most here!

To seat 30 people, we had to be a little creative with our seating arrangement. And while it wasn’t ideal, everybody was great sports about it!

 

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Thanks LB for letting me borrow the banner!

Guests

Our guests were amazing. With over 7 different countries and a mix of English and Turkish, I was a little anxious to see how it would turn out. Our friends were warm and open to one another and I was very thankful to see conversation flowing freely between groups of people.

Due to the amount of food (people are so generous), we had 2 rounds of eating just like any good Thanksgiving. After Jason made a short speech and prayed over the food, I explained how it works (buffet style complete with Thanksgiving decor paper plates). Everyone enjoyed the first round of ‘savory’ foods and then we pulled out the sweets!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Finished turkey. We also had some extra turkey breast cooked for extra meat.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

 

 

Overall, our first time hosting Thanksgiving was a huge success. Yes, it was work, but we LOVED sharing this experience with our friends. Thanks to all our friends who came and made this a special time we will ALWAYS remember!

For a verbal account of our Thanksgiving party, listen into Episode042!

Episode042: When you host your first adult Thanksgiving

 

Your turn!

How was your Thanksgiving?

How do you celebrate?

If you are an expat, what do you like to make? What is easy or difficult to find in your country?

 

Here are a couple a pics from the day after!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

I spent some time on my winter cross-stitch with tv and coffee. Yes, that would be leftover pie on the table.

Not pictured: me in my jammies

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Leftover dishes that need to be returned! Poor Woody has a tendency to get left behind.