The Best Things to Do in Izmir and Selcuk, Turkey

Discover a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty with the top things to do in Izmir and Selcuk, Turkey. From exploring the ancient city of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world, to visiting the vibrant Kemeralti Bazaar in Izmir, there is something for everyone in this region. Take a day trip to the hot springs of Pamukkale, hike the stunning mountains of Yamanlar, or relax on the beautiful beaches of Cesme and Alacati. Don’t forget to pay your respects at the significant Christian pilgrimage site of St. John’s Basilica in Selcuk. With a perfect blend of historical wonders and coastal beauty, Izmir and Selcuk offer an unforgettable travel experience.

In this exciting video, join us as we take you on a virtual tour of Izmir and Selcuk in Turkey. We’ll explore the top attractions, historical wonders, and coastal charms that make this region a must-visit for travelers. From strolling along the bustling Kordon Promenade in Izmir to stepping back in time at the iconic Ephesus, there is so much to see and do. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Izmir at the Kemeralti Bazaar, and then venture to Selcuk to discover ancient ruins such as the Temple of Artemis and the remarkable city of Pergamon. End your journey by relaxing in the hot springs of Pamukkale or trekking through the scenic mountains of Yamanlar. Join us on this virtual adventure and uncover the captivating attractions and experiences that await you in Izmir and Selcuk, Turkey!

Table of Contents

Explore Izmir

Welcome to Izmir, a vibrant coastal city in Turkey that offers a perfect blend of rich history and modern appeal. In this article, we will take you on a comprehensive tour of the top attractions and experiences in Izmir and its neighboring town, Selcuk. From strolling along the Kordon Promenade to discovering ancient ruins and indulging in delicious cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this captivating region. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore!

Visit the Kordon Promenade

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Izmir is by taking a leisurely stroll along the Kordon Promenade. As you walk along the waterfront, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the city skyline. The promenade is lined with palm trees and parks, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the fresh sea breeze. You can also find numerous cafes and restaurants along the way, allowing you to savor delicious street food while taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

Shop at the Kemeralti Bazaar

For a truly immersive cultural experience, head to the Kemeralti Bazaar in Izmir. This vibrant marketplace dates back to the 17th century and is a treasure trove of shops, stalls, and boutiques selling everything from traditional Turkish carpets and ceramics to unique handicrafts and spices. As you wander through the narrow lanes of the bazaar, you’ll be captivated by the sights, sounds, and aromas of the bustling marketplace. Be sure to take your time exploring the maze-like streets and don’t forget to haggle for a good price!

Marvel at the Clock Tower

An iconic symbol of Izmir, the Clock Tower stands proudly in Konak Square and is a must-visit attraction. Built in 1901, this striking Ottoman-style tower features beautiful Arabic calligraphy and is an important historical landmark in the city. Take a moment to admire its intricate architectural details before exploring the neighboring Konak Square. Here, you can sample traditional Turkish tea, browse local shops, and soak in the lively atmosphere of this bustling square.

Discover the Agora Open Air Museum

Step back in time and explore the Agora Open Air Museum, located in the heart of Izmir. This ancient Roman marketplace served as a hub of commercial and social activity in the city centuries ago. Today, visitors can wander through the well-preserved ruins and imagine what life was like during the Roman era. Marvel at the columns, arches, and other architectural remains that tell the story of Izmir’s rich history. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the Agora offers countless photo opportunities.

Admire the Izmir Clock Tower

Another architectural gem in Izmir is the Izmir Clock Tower. Built in 1901, this stunning tower is a testament to Ottoman architecture and is adorned with beautiful Arabic calligraphy. It stands as a symbol of the city’s rich history and is a must-visit attraction. Located in Konak Square, the clock tower is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it the perfect spot to soak in the vibrant energy of Izmir. Take a leisurely stroll around the square, sip on traditional Turkish tea, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of this bustling area.

Discover Selcuk’s Ancient Ruins

Just a short drive from Izmir lies the town of Selcuk, known for its ancient ruins and historical landmarks. Step back in time as you explore the well-preserved ancient city of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world. Walk along the marble streets, marvel at the grand Library of Celsus, and imagine life in the bustling streets of this ancient civilization. The ruins of Ephesus offer a unique glimpse into the past and are a must-see attraction for history enthusiasts.

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Explore the Ephesus

Ephesus is the crown jewel of Selcuk and a must-visit destination for history buffs. This ancient city was once a thriving hub of commerce and culture, and today, visitors can explore its well-preserved ruins. As you wander through the marble streets, you’ll come across impressive structures such as the Library of Celsus, the Great Theater, and the Temple of Artemis. The grandeur and architectural brilliance of Ephesus will leave you in awe, and you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the rich history of the region.

Visit the Temple of Artemis

Right outside of Selcuk, you’ll find the remarkable Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although only fragments of the temple remain today, its historical significance and architectural beauty are undeniable. Take a stroll around the ruins and learn about the ancient Greek mythology associated with the temple. Nearby, you can also visit the Artemis Museum, which houses artifacts and exhibits that shed light on the temple’s fascinating history.

Wander around the Sirince Village

Just a short drive from Selcuk, you’ll discover the picturesque hillside village of Sirince. Known for its traditional architecture, vineyards, and handicrafts, Sirince offers a charming escape from the bustling city. Take a leisurely stroll through the village’s narrow streets, lined with quaint stone houses and boutique shops. Sample locally-produced wines, savor delicious Turkish cuisine, and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the locals. Don’t forget to try the village’s famous fruit wines, known for their unique flavors.

Discover the ancient city of Pergamon

Another hidden gem near Selcuk is the ancient city of Pergamon. This magnificent archaeological site boasts awe-inspiring structures such as the Acropolis, the Temple of Trajan, and the breathtaking Theater. As you explore the city’s ruins, you’ll be transported back in time and marvel at the grandeur of this once-thriving ancient civilization. The panoramic views from the Acropolis are worth the trip alone, offering sweeping vistas of the surrounding countryside. So don’t miss the opportunity to visit Pergamon and witness its historical wonders.

Learn at the Ephesus Museum

To delve deeper into the history and artifacts of Ephesus, pay a visit to the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk. This fascinating museum houses a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the daily life of the ancient inhabitants of Ephesus. From statues and sculptures to intricate jewelry and pottery, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural heritage of this ancient city. The museum is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and anyone looking to gain a deeper appreciation for the region’s historical significance.

Day Trip to Pamukkale

If you’re looking for a unique and breathtaking experience, consider taking a day trip to Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its thermal waters and white travertine terraces. Pamukkale, which means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is a natural wonder that has been shaped by mineral-rich thermal waters over thousands of years. As the water cascades down the terraces, it creates stunning pools and terraces that resemble a snowy landscape.

Experience the thermal waters

One of the main attractions in Pamukkale is the opportunity to experience the healing properties of the thermal waters. These mineral-rich waters are believed to have therapeutic benefits and have attracted visitors for centuries. You can take a dip in the natural pools and soak in the warm waters, allowing your body to relax and rejuvenate.

Marvel at the white travertine terraces

Aside from the thermal waters, the white travertine terraces are the highlight of Pamukkale. These natural formations are made up of layers of calcium carbonate, creating a stunning white landscape that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. As you walk barefoot on the terraces, you’ll feel the soft and warm texture under your feet, creating a unique sensory experience.

Explore the ancient city of Hierapolis

Located atop the white travertine terraces is the ancient city of Hierapolis. This once-thriving spa center was home to temples, bathhouses, and theaters, and today, visitors can explore its well-preserved ruins. Walk along the ancient streets, visit the impressive Roman Theater, and learn about the history of this ancient city. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, as you can take a dip in the ancient Cleopatra’s Pool, which is filled with thermal waters.

Visit the Roman Theater

The Roman Theater in Hierapolis is an architectural masterpiece that is not to be missed. This well-preserved theater once seated around 15,000 people and hosted various performances and events. As you walk through the theater’s seating areas and stage, you’ll get a sense of the grandeur and scale of this ancient entertainment venue. Climb to the top of the theater to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and imagine what it would have been like to watch a performance in ancient times.

Discover the Temple of Apollo

Another significant attraction in Pamukkale is the Temple of Apollo, an ancient religious site dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Although little of the temple remains today, its historical importance and religious significance are still evident. Take a moment to reflect as you explore the ruins of the temple and consider the cultural and historical impact it had on the region.

Visit Cesme and Alacati

For a taste of the Mediterranean, make sure to visit the coastal towns of Cesme and Alacati. Known for their beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant atmosphere, these towns offer a perfect escape for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts alike.

Relax at Cesme beaches

Cesme is renowned for its pristine beaches, where you can relax and soak up the sun. From popular sandy beaches like Ilica Beach to more secluded and hidden gems like Altinkum Beach, there is a beach for every preference. Rent a sunbed and umbrella, take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters, and simply unwind in this idyllic coastal paradise.

Try water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing

If you’re seeking adventure and excitement, Cesme is also a hub for water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. Take lessons from experienced instructors and ride the waves of the Aegean Sea. Cesme’s consistent winds and perfect conditions make it an ideal destination for these thrilling activities. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, there are options available for all skill levels.

Enjoy the vibrant nightlife

As the sun sets, Cesme comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. The town offers a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants where you can dance the night away or simply enjoy a drink with friends. Explore the narrow streets of the old town, discover hidden cocktail bars, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing evening or a night full of excitement, Cesme has something to offer.

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Stroll around the Alacati streets

Just a short drive from Cesme, you’ll find the charming town of Alacati. Known for its traditional architecture and cobbled streets, Alacati offers a quaint and picturesque setting. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets, lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and cafes. Explore the local shops and discover unique souvenirs, handmade crafts, and locally produced goods. Alacati’s laid-back atmosphere and welcoming locals make it an excellent place to unwind and experience true Turkish hospitality.

Visit the Alacati Flower Festival

If you happen to visit Alacati in the spring, you might get the chance to experience the vibrant Alacati Flower Festival. This annual festival celebrates the beauty of flowers and nature and attracts visitors from all over the world. Enjoy colorful parades, exhibitions, and cultural performances that showcase the region’s traditions and natural beauty. The Flower Festival is a unique and joyful celebration that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Hike the Yamanlar Mountains

For outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, the Yamanlar Mountains offer a range of hiking trails and stunning views. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Izmir region.

Enjoy stunning views of Izmir

As you ascend the Yamanlar Mountains, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Izmir and its surrounding areas. From panoramic vistas of the city to lush green landscapes, the viewpoints along the trails provide the perfect backdrop for unforgettable photos. Take a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty of nature as you enjoy the stunning views that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Choose from a range of hiking trails

The Yamanlar Mountains offer a variety of hiking trails suited for hikers of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there are options available for everyone. Choose from shorter trails that meander through the foothills of the mountains, or embark on longer and more challenging routes that take you up to the summit. Whatever trail you choose, you’re sure to be rewarded with incredible scenery and a sense of accomplishment.

Spot diverse flora and fauna

As you hike through the Yamanlar Mountains, keep an eye out for the region’s diverse flora and fauna. The mountains are home to a variety of plant species, including wildflowers, aromatic herbs, and towering pine trees. You may also encounter various bird species, butterflies, and other wildlife along the way. Take time to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you and learn about the unique ecosystems that thrive in this mountainous region.

Visit the historical Yamanlar Mosque

At the summit of the Yamanlar Mountains, you’ll find the historical Yamanlar Mosque. This beautiful mosque dates back to the 18th century and offers a peaceful sanctuary for prayer and contemplation. Take a moment to explore the mosque’s architectural details, admire its serene surroundings, and learn about its historical significance. The Yamanlar Mosque is a place of tranquility and spirituality, providing a unique cultural experience.

Explore the Yamanlar Nature Park

After your hike, be sure to visit the Yamanlar Nature Park, located at the foot of the mountains. This expansive park is a haven for outdoor activities such as picnicking, cycling, and horseback riding. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the park’s walking trails, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and embrace the serenity of nature. The Yamanlar Nature Park is the perfect place to unwind and recharge after a day of adventure.

Religious Sites in Selcuk

Selcuk is not only home to ancient ruins but also boasts several significant religious sites that are worth exploring. Pay your respects and immerse yourself in the spiritual richness of this unique region.

Pay respects at St. John’s Basilica

St. John’s Basilica is a significant Christian pilgrimage site located in Selcuk. It is believed to be the burial site of the apostle John, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. As you explore the basilica’s ruins, you’ll feel a sense of reverence and history. Marvel at the architectural remains, including the grand entrance and the baptistery, and learn about the basilica’s deep religious significance.

Visit the Isa Bey Mosque

Another notable religious site in Selcuk is the Isa Bey Mosque. This historical mosque dates back to the 14th century and showcases exquisite Seljuk architecture. Marvel at the intricate carvings and beautiful mosaics that adorn the mosque’s interior. Take a moment to relax in the peaceful courtyard and reflect on the spiritual aura that permeates the mosque. The Isa Bey Mosque is a testament to the rich Islamic heritage of the region.

Explore the Cave of the Seven Sleepers

Legend has it that the Cave of the Seven Sleepers is the place where seven young Christian men sought refuge from religious persecution in the 3rd century. They fell into a deep sleep that lasted for centuries, and when they finally woke up, they were astounded to find a changed world. Today, visitors can explore this historical site and learn about the fascinating story behind it. The cave offers a unique opportunity to connect with ancient tales and reflect on the ever-changing nature of time.

Discover the Basilica of Saint Polycarp

The Basilica of Saint Polycarp is another significant religious site in Selcuk. Named after the disciple of Saint John, who was martyred in the city, this basilica is an important pilgrimage site for Christians. The basilica’s ruins bear witness to the rich Christian history of the area and offer visitors a glimpse into the past. Explore the remnants of the basilica, including the ancient walls and the altar, and reflect on the spiritual heritage that has shaped the region.

Learn about the history of Christianity in the area

Selcuk and its surrounding region have played a significant role in the history of Christianity. From the early followers of Jesus to the rise of the Byzantine Empire, this area has witnessed the growth and spread of the Christian faith. Take the time to learn about the religious and historical significance of Selcuk and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s complex past. Whether you’re a devout Christian or simply interested in history, Selcuk offers a unique opportunity to explore the roots of Christianity.

Marvel at the Temple of Artemis

No visit to Izmir and Selcuk would be complete without witnessing the magnificence of the Temple of Artemis. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the temple holds great historical and cultural significance.

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Witness one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Temple of Artemis was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a list compiled by ancient Greek scholars to honor the most extraordinary architectural achievements of their time. Although only fragments of the temple remain today, its historical importance and grandeur are undeniable. Stand in awe as you imagine the scale and beauty of the temple in its prime, and appreciate its inclusion in such a prestigious list.

Explore the ruins of the temple

As you wander through the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, you’ll witness the remnants of this once-magnificent structure. The temple was built to honor the Greek goddess Artemis, known as the goddess of the hunt and the moon. Admire the marble columns, examine the details of the sculptures, and try to envision the temple in its original form. Despite the passage of time, the ruins of the Temple of Artemis continue to inspire awe and wonder.

Learn about ancient Greek mythology

The Temple of Artemis is not just a historical site but also a place of rich mythology. Discover the stories and legends that surround this ancient Greek goddess and gain insight into the beliefs and customs of ancient civilizations. The significance of Artemis and her temple in the religious and cultural landscape of ancient times is a fascinating topic to explore.

Visit the nearby Artemis Museum

To delve deeper into the history of the Temple of Artemis and the ancient city of Ephesus, visit the nearby Artemis Museum. This small but informative museum houses artifacts, sculptures, and exhibits that shed light on the temple’s history and the culture of the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the area. Gain a deeper understanding of the religious and cultural practices associated with the Temple of Artemis and appreciate the archaeological significance of the site.

Enjoy the serene surroundings

The Temple of Artemis is situated in a tranquil setting, surrounded by lush greenery and serene landscapes. Take a moment to appreciate the peacefulness of the area and the natural beauty that surrounds the ruins. The Temple of Artemis offers a unique blend of historical significance and natural splendor, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

Enjoy Izmir and Selcuk’s Coastal Beauty

One of the highlights of visiting Izmir and Selcuk is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the coastal beauty of the region. From relaxing on the beaches to indulging in delicious seafood, there are endless ways to enjoy the stunning coastline.

Relax on the beaches of Izmir

Izmir is blessed with beautiful beaches that offer the perfect escape from the bustling city. Whether you prefer lively and vibrant beaches or secluded and serene coves, Izmir has something to offer. From popular beaches like Altinkum and Cesme to lesser-known gems like Bademli and Ildiri, there is a beach for every preference. Soak up the sun, swim in the turquoise waters, or simply relax with a good book. The beaches of Izmir are the ideal place to unwind and recharge.

Swim in the Aegean Sea

The pristine waters of the Aegean Sea are ideal for swimming and water activities. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters and experience the joy of swimming in one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful seas. Whether you’re an experienced swimmer or a novice, the calm and inviting waters of the Aegean will beckon you to dive in and embrace the joy of being in the sea.

Try seafood delicacies

When in Izmir and Selcuk, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in delicious seafood delicacies. The coastal region is renowned for its fresh and flavorful seafood, from succulent grilled fish to mouthwatering shrimp dishes. Visit one of the many seafood restaurants along the coast and savor the taste of the sea. Whether you’re a seafood enthusiast or trying it for the first time, Izmir and Selcuk offer a culinary experience that will tantalize your taste buds.

Visit the Cesme Marina

For a taste of luxury and sophistication, head to the Cesme Marina. This modern and well-equipped marina is a popular destination for yacht owners and sailing enthusiasts. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, admire the sleek yachts, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or simply looking for a picturesque spot to enjoy a cup of coffee, the Cesme Marina offers a charming and scenic setting.

Sunset walks along the coastline

As the sun begins to set, take a romantic sunset walk along the coastline of Izmir and Selcuk. The stunning coastal landscapes come alive with colors as the sky transforms into a canvas of oranges, pinks, and purples. Take a leisurely stroll hand in hand with your partner or enjoy a peaceful moment of solitude. The breathtaking sunsets of Izmir and Selcuk are a sight to behold and provide the perfect backdrop for unforgettable memories.

Immerse in Cultural Experiences

In addition to its historical and natural attractions, Izmir and Selcuk offer a range of cultural experiences that allow visitors to embrace the unique traditions and customs of the region.

Attend Izmir International Fair

If you’re lucky enough to visit Izmir during the Izmir International Fair, you’re in for a treat. This annual event celebrates the region’s culture, industry, and innovation and attracts exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. Explore the exhibition halls, discover local products and crafts, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the fair. From live music performances to art exhibits, the Izmir International Fair offers a unique cultural experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Explore local art galleries

Immerse yourself in the world of art by exploring the local galleries in Izmir and Selcuk. From contemporary works to traditional Turkish art, the galleries in the region showcase a wide range of artistic styles and mediums. Admire the creativity and talent of local artists and gain a deeper insight into the cultural heritage of the region. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of visual arts, the galleries of Izmir and Selcuk offer a visual feast for the eyes.

Discover Selcuk’s traditional crafts

Selcuk is known for its rich tradition of craftsmanship, and a visit to the town provides an opportunity to witness traditional crafts firsthand. Explore the local workshops and learn about traditional techniques, such as carpet weaving, pottery making, and wood carving. Watch skilled artisans in action and appreciate the talent and dedication that goes into creating these beautiful works of art. You may even have the chance to purchase unique and locally-made souvenirs to take home.

Try Turkish cuisine

No visit to Izmir and Selcuk would be complete without indulging in the rich and flavorful cuisine of Turkey. From mouthwatering kebabs to aromatic mezes (appetizers), Turkish cuisine is a delight for food lovers. Sample local specialties such as köfte (meatballs), pide (Turkish pizza), and baklava (a sweet pastry). Explore the local restaurants and street food stalls, and savor the authentic flavors that reflect the culinary heritage of the region. Don’t forget to try a cup of traditional Turkish tea or Turkish coffee to complete your culinary experience.

Participate in a Turkish cooking class

For a hands-on culinary experience, consider joining a Turkish cooking class in Izmir or Selcuk. Learn from experienced chefs and explore the flavors and techniques of Turkish cuisine. From preparing classic dishes to mastering traditional cooking methods, a cooking class allows you to delve deeper into the culture and traditions of the region. At the end of the class, sit down with your fellow classmates and enjoy the delicious meal you’ve prepared together.

Conclusion

Izmir and Selcuk offer a diverse range of attractions, making them the perfect destination for both history enthusiasts and beach lovers. With a blend of historical wonders, coastal beauty, and cultural experiences, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this captivating region. Whether you’re strolling along the Kordon Promenade, exploring ancient ruins in Ephesus, soaking in the thermal waters of Pamukkale, or indulging in delicious Turkish cuisine, Izmir and Selcuk promise unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the rich history and natural beauty of Turkey. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and explore the wonders that await you in Izmir and Selcuk.