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The Turkish city of Izmir tries hard to impress, and if you give it a chance, it will. Located along the western coast of Anatolia, Izmir was once Smyrna, the ancient Greek city in Anatolia. However, following Ataturk’s conquest of Turkey, the city was left severely battle-scarred. Much of Izmir is now a developed, modern metropolis with a Mediterranean, rather than a Turkish, ambiance. The city is surrounded by a bay and a mountain range, as well as by beautiful Aegean towns, easily reachable with a car rental.
Who to Book With
Izmir is a big transport hub in the Central Aegean coast of Turkey. Car hire companies are widely present in the city. They include Sixt, Alamo, Budget, Hertz, National and Europcar. You will encounter the same companies when you book car online, which is usually cheaper. Those who wish to rent a vehicle on the ground can simply head to the historic Konak district, where the offices of several car hire firms can be found.
Best Time to Go
It can get freezing in Izmir in the winter, with temperatures below 0°C made even worse by the rains. Summer can be unbearable too, as the weather gets very dry and hot. Therefore, the best times to visit are in the spring or autumn.
Need to Know Essentials
When getting your rented vehicle, you will have to show the following:
- A photo licence or an International Driving Permit
- The credit card of the renter
- Online booking confirmation
Being the transport hub of the country’s Central Aegean region, Izmir is surrounded by many major roads. Three major highways connect Izmir to Çevre Yolu, Aydın Otoyolu and Çeşme Otoyolu. Once in the city, it must be noted that local drivers can be aggressive. Utmost caution must be taken by visiting drivers.
The public transport system in Izmir is integrated, in that payment for any 90-minute window of travel covers all forms of transport. Local public transport includes buses, the metro and ferries. Private taxi cabs are also widely available for hire.
The Izmir Metro covers many parts of the city. It is currently nine miles long, but extensions are underway. It begins in Hatay, just south of the metropolitan area, and goes northeast towards Bornova. The base fare is around £0.40, although when the Kentkart (Citycard) pass is used, it is only £0.30. There is also a commuter service, called the IZBAN, with two lines running across the city. The Northern Line covers the districts in the northern Izmir all the way to Aliaĝa, while the southern line covers the southern districts, stopping Adnan Menderes Airport before terminating at Menderes. Fares on this line are just £0.60.
Taxi cabs roam the city, and fares tend to be very reasonable. Many private companies are available, including Topcu Taxi, Hilton Taxi, An Taxi, Birlik Taxi, Atakent Taxi and several others. Fares are set for the usual destinations. From Izmir Airport to Kusadasi, a resort town south of Izmir, the fare is around £43.
About 1,500 buses ply different routes within and around Izmir. Buses are run by ESHOT, with tickets sold at street kiosks and on the buses themselves. Fares are around £0.70, and the major stations are in Montrö Meydanı and Konak.
Izmir is wrapped around a gulf, making ferry travel an effective means of transport for both locals and visitors. The major ports are Konak, Alsancak and Pasaport, and a ticket (token) costs about £1.
Izmir provides a great base from which to explore the Central Aegean. Motorways and roads connect it with many great destinations along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Many cities here resemble Greek or Italian seaside towns more than Turkish metropolises. The region has a history dating back to antiquity, and many destinations close to Izmir have a number of preserved historical sites. Nice beaches and laidback seaside towns are also within easy reach.
Foça - This is a favourite seaside destination among locals of Izmir, but still relatively unknown to the outside world. It is an easy drive to the north of the city. In Foça, visitors will find a well-preserved old town as well as great swimming and snorkelling spots.
Çeşme - Another seaside town close to Izmir, is quite famous with foreign tourists visiting the Central Aegean region of Turkey. The city has an imposing old citadel and a preserved old quarter. Kite surfing and windsurfing are popular activities here.
Selçuk - This is a daytrip destination that is well worth any visitor’s time. It is jam-packed with historical sites, the most prominent of which is the spectacularly-preserved Roman city of Ephesus. A Byzantine citadel and a Roman aqueduct can also be found here.