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:

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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!

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FunkTravels Expat Living Izmir Turkey

EXPAT LIVING: 5 steps to help you when the unexpected happened

Most people hate adulting.

However, I kinda like the challenge of it. I enjoy being independent, making decision, moving to another country, traveling…. My husband and I like coming together to figure out what dreams we want to pursue and how we can make those dreams happen together (even though it’s not always easy!). It is fair to say that my life has been somewhat easy and I believe that God has protected me from a lot. Even then, adulthood is not really about easy or hard… it just is part of life.

Recently, I had some health issues. It was one that actually required us to have surgery. In the states or your home country, a native has years of knowledge and context built up in order to make a good medical decision.

But as an expat in a foreign country ….with foreign language ….with foreign medical systems… We had a lot of questions floating around our heads for a month.

    1. Do we wait?
    2. Do we do the surgery?
    3. How bad is it really?
    4. What if we waited?
    5. What are other problems lurking around in there?
    6. Is the hospital we chose good?
    7. Is the health care sufficient?
    8. What will insurance cover?
    9. How much money does it cost here?
    10. etc, etc, etc???

Sometimes you have so many questions that you aren’t sure where to start. But since we had so many answers to seek out and we were able to, we waited. But instead of being idle, we waiting actively.

Here are 5 ways to help you  when you have to make decisions about the unexpected.

  1. Talk with your global insurance company – Like most other full-time expats, we have a global insurance. Our company already has an established relationship with the hospital near us. (Unfortunately, it took 3 visits to finally get it all sorted out.) Our company has been great to work with and has taken care of extra logistics/reports directly with the hospital.  We found out that our insurance provides extra services for expats to help them make the best decision.
  2. Ask for a second opinion – Unfortunately, we had heard here that a lot of doctors do unnecessary surgery just for the extra money.  We went to one of the best hospitals in our area, and felt it unnecessary to go to another hospital. However, our insurance provide a 2nd opinion via their services. Not just 1 doctor, but 3 doctors reviewed our case and helped talk through what could be done in our native language
  3. Research – I had heard about my cyst before, but I really was not overly familiar. As I didn’t have the normal systems, I didn’t know how important it would be to jump into surgery. (We were on a time crunch since we are leaving to travel for 2 months this summer.) So take some time and just google about your systems, the medicine, suggested protocols for how to deal with your diagnosis…. There are so many videos out there of medical experts that simply explain a problem and talk through solutions.
  4. Seek advice from other locals, expats, and friends back home – I am an experience information gatherer. I will buy products and change lifestyle choices because of how others. This was no different. Ask other expat about their local experiences with doctors and surgery. I have found that most people are happy to share and help others!
  5. Pray – Not religious? Neither am I. But I believe in a living and loving God who created me and wants good things for me. Because of that, I prayed a lot and we had a whole group of people praying as well! Maybe you don’t believe that, but do you know others who do? From my experience, those who do pray want to know how to prayer for others. And what could it hurt to have others praying for wisdom, health, and healing?

While these tips may not be new to you, they may help give you someplace to start if you are just paralyzed by how to make a decision. Expat living is challenging enough, but having to make medical decision in that environment as well can seem defeating. But be strong, push through fear, and figure out what will work for you!

 

 

Questions for our readers:

Are you an expat? Have you had surgery in a foreign country before?

If so, how did it go?

What story or tips can you share about your medical experience in a foreign country?

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

TURKEY: Day trip out to Doğanbey and the Ottoman Costume Museum

Are you looking for a summer day trip but want something out of the usual summer sun and sea? Doğanbey is a perfect option and cultural experience as well.

Doğanbey… I had never heard of it before the international women’s group I belong to decided to take a day trip there. It’s totally not surprising that I have never been before though. Being a foreigner and newcomer to Izmir, I have a LOT learn about the beautiful southwest coastline of Turkey.

An adventurous group of local and expat ladies loaded up in a hired mini bus at 9 am and made the 2+ hour drive from Izmir to the little town of Doğanbey. I will cover the history, what to see, the stone houses, and other various info below!

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

History of Doğanbey

Doğanbey Village dates back to the late 9th century. The first name of the Doğanbey village was Domatia (orDomatça), which means ‘rooms’ in Greek and comes from the name of the square shaped courtyard. Domatça eventually became Doğanbey and then Old Doğanbey and is settled in the district of Söke near Aydin.

The last Ottoman Sultan, Abdülhamit Han, re-established this area as a commercial center on top of the ruins of the Aegean islands. There was a lot of trade between the areas of Greek, Cyprus, Crete, and Samos . During WWI, there was a lot of fighting between the Greeks, that sided with the Brits, and the Turkish militia. It is said there are still empty cartridges from those days that can be found in the area. When the Turkish army entered Izmir in 1922, the Greek Cypriots abandoned it. There are only a few families left.

In 1924 during the great Turk/Greek exchange, Turkish citizens from the larger Ottoman Empire, which reached into Bosnia and Thessaloniki, were brought in to settle here. From many other ruins I have seen, it seems the Greeks enjoyed settling inland into the hills while the Turks prefered to be on the flat lands or closer to the seaside. With Doğanbey it is no different, the people literally settled in the middle of a mountain surrounded by serenity and nature.

The Turks abandoned the mountainous, stony, barren, and windy area of Doğanbey and established Yeni Doğanbey near flat area by the farming fields. Eventually, the villagers began to sell ruinous houses that were too much trouble to repair. The lecturers, artists, and architects from Istanbul bought many of the ruins of Greek houses and have lovingly restored the village. There has been a great effort to retain the education and historical significance of this place with the public schools, the German dignitaries, the writers, the artists, and the collectors.

The town is for the artist and architects who bought the ruins of the Greek houses at reasonable prices and carefully and lovingly restored them. Together they are like one big family as they organize, plant flowers, and beautify the area. They want to set an example to others who also want to restore other older historical areas.

This tiny little town is not searching for tourists or money and ironically enough, they have no desire to commercialize. Even some residents do not want people to flock to the streets to take photographs of the cobbled pathways of the homes. Signs are hung on the window reading “Please respect our private property with silence and do not take photos.” (which makes me love the town even more!)

 

What to see

In the middle of this quaintness is a costume museum which features carefully preserved Ottoman and Turkish dresses. As part of our pre-arranged day tour, the costume museum directors Nevzat Bey and Emel Hanim greeted us kindly and sincerely. Their home has the second largest collection of Ottoman clothes in Turkey.

Having once moved from country to country for work, his wife would organize Turkish Fashion shows for locals. She personally shared how she started and organized the shows. Since our group was much larger than the museum could accommodate, we took turns listening to the history of the city given by the Nevzat Bey, and the history of the costume show given by his wife, Emel Hanım.

While some of us were touring the museum, others explored the village. In the heart of the area, there are 2 small cobblestone paved streets which are too small to be called a village anyway. If you need a break from touring around, there are a couple of cafes. While I didn’t personally have time to try them, the Mola Cafe and has been recommended to me. There is a guesthouse (Mola Pension) and two boutique hotels (Domaça House and Casa Luna) as well.

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

 

Stone Houses

All Greek houses are under SIT board protection and can only be restored to the board’s standards. The goal is to preserve the historic nature and style.  Each of the gardens is very well-kept and tasteful with cactuses, colorful flowers, fruit trees and pines, and historical artifacts. In the middle of the cobbled streets there are channels for rainwater to escape downhill.

Since our group of ladies were headed to the seaside for lunch, we toured the town by foot for the time we had, and then headed on to Karine Restaurant. The restaurant had organized a fix menu of mezes (appetizers),  fish, dessert, and tea. After lunch we headed back to Izmir, but not without a quick stop by the ancient city of Priene.

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

 

How to get there:

By car, follow İzmir-Aydın motorway (E87) to the exit of Söke. From Söke, go towards Didim-Milas-Bodrum. You will continue towards Güllübahçe and onward to Didim. Follow the signs indicating Tuzburgazı-Doğanbey and eventually Tuzburgazı, you will see the sign for Doğanbey. After 5 more km, you will reach Doğanbey Köyü.

Doğanbey Köyü step by step: (Our 20+ group rented a minibus from Izmir)

  • Minibus (2ish hours)
  • Old Doğanbey Houses
  • Costume Museum
  • (If time, check out a local cafe)
  • Bus to the restaurant
  • Karine Restaurant
  • Priene Ruins
  • Minibus return (2ish hours)

 

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Turkey Izmir Doganbey Costume Museum

Hotel/Guesthouse recommendation: (I have not stayed here.)

  • Mira Cafe & Pension
  • Casa Luna Guest House

For those who are tired of city and beach and for those who want to experience the nature and calmness, this is your place! It forces you to stop and be still – take a walk or a restful hike, breath in the fresh air, read a book, sleep in, rest and recharge. The village practically draws you to take a break from the rest of the world with its offers of simplicity and charm.

Questions for our readers:

Have you been to Doğanbey? What did you think?

Do you have any suggestions for this visit?

What other interesting facts do you know about this area?