Izmir, on the Aegean coast, is Turkey's third-largest city and has been slightly off the tourist track – until now. With its turquoise bay and lively promenade revel in this fabulous holiday destination which has a cosmopolitan yet laid-back cultural vibe. Izmir is not a beach resort but within an hour’s drive the town of Çeşme has some of the best stretches of sand on the Aegean.
You can shop until you drop in Izmir with tempting jewellery, leather, rugs and ceramics but don’t forget your luggage limitations! Spend a day exploring Kemeralti bazaar, a labyrinthine stretching from Konak Square with eateries, workshops, mosques, tea gardens and synagogues. While walking through the colourful streets and peeping into hidden courtyards stop at a coffee house to try the Turkish coffee,fincanda pişen Türk kahvesi. In the evenings hang out on Kordon Promenade to watch the sunset. Here there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars serving delicious Turkish specialties.
Izmir, once the Greek city of Smyrna, also has mix of museums so get in touch with your arty side at the Arkas Art Centre which houses Turkish impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Visitors interested in architecture will be intrigued to find a stylish jetty, Konak Pier, designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) which houses a cinema, cafes and shops.
Treat yourself to day tours to make the most of your holiday. At Pamukkale, relax in a natural hot spring pool for a holiday highlight and on the way history lovers should ensure a stop at the ancient city of Hierapolis. Of course, nobody should miss UNESCO-listed Ephesus, Turkey's best preserved ancient city. From Izmir catch the train to Selcuk or take a tour being offered in your hotel. Arrive early to miss the crowds and the heat of day on this open site.