With a bit more time up their sleeves, though, they certainly might want to add İzmir to the itinerary since this is a city that is not only becoming more interesting for visitors with every passing year but is, with the addition of the İzban train line to the old Metro, getting ever easier to navigate, too.
Here are our suggestions for getting the best out of İzmir.
Feed the pigeons with
the locals in Konak Square
Konak Square is, in many ways, the heart of old İzmir and while you scatter seed for the thousands of pigeons who congregate here you can admire the elaborately carved clock tower (1901) that is the symbol of the city, the petite, tile-clad Konak Cami, and a cactus garden that grows ever more beautiful as it matures.
Sip a ‘fincanda pişen'
coffee beside the Kızlarağası Han
Just as the real meyhane action off İstanbul's İstiklal Caddesi has migrated from the Çiçek Pasajı to Nevizade Sokak so İzmir's coffee-drinking action has migrated from inside the lovely restored Kızlarağası Han to the narrow bazaar streets beside it where students gather to sip Turkish coffee boiled directly in a cup. The difference in taste? Not much that you'd notice. The atmosphere? Fantastic, and quite enough to set you up to explore the Kemeraltı Bazaar, a network of crumbling hans and narrow pasajs (arcades) wrapped around a collection of late Ottoman mosques, the finest of them is the Şadırvanlı Cami, whose ablutions fountain is covered with intricate paintings. Best lunch stop? Wherever you can grab a table at Hisarönü in front of the Hisar Cami.
Taste the old Turkey on Anafartalar Caddesi
Anafartalar Caddesi loops round the bazaar from Konak before tripping its way east towards Basmane Station. The bazaar is full of cruise passengers checking out the bargains but you may well have Basmane to yourself. Here, once-grand houses gone to seed are now stuffed with ultra-cheap hotels for long-stay residents down on their luck. Cafes with two or three tables rub shoulders with greengrocers and hardware shops. On one corner stands the Dönertaş Sebili, one of the most impressive public water dispensaries to be seen outside İstanbul; in another, the ruins of Romano-Byzantine villas that appear to have been destroyed during seventh-century Arab incursions are still being uncovered.
Ponder the Roman past in the Agora
Great new interpretation panels have made the site of the old Roman Agora, off Anafartalar Caddesi, a much more interesting place to visit. Check out in particular the earthquake-strengthening measures that were taken after a temblor of A.D. 178 brought its magnificent buildings crashing down.
Ponder the even remoter past at Tepekule
The oldest settlement of the İzmir area was around Yeşilören, near Bornova, after which a walled town seems to have been established around 6000 B.C. in what is now the suburb of Bayraklı, accessible on the İzban. Come here to see the “earliest presently known stone fountain of Western civilization” and to admire the reconstructed columns of the ancient Temple of Athena.
Inspect the ancient cisterns inside Kadifekale
Take the bus uphill from Konak to explore Kadifekale (Velvet Castle) on a site possibly chosen by Alexander the Great. The restored walls are impressive, as are the remains of huge cisterns used to store water (afterwards you may want to hop the İzban to Şirinyer to inspect the ancient aqueducts that helped bring the water into town). Here, too, you'll find women from Mardin weaving brightly colored runners on unusual horizontal looms. The surrounding hillside is being cleared of housing and planted with trees as part of a project to bring in more tourists.
Escape from traffic
in the grounds of the Kültür Parkı
Feeling the strain of the pounding city traffic? Then take a break in the grounds of the Kültür Parkı. The Central Park of İzmir, this large green space is dotted with statues, sports facilities, tea gardens, arts spaces, even a parachute tower -- plus you can cut through it to get from Basmane to Alsancak.
Take the poor man's cruise from Konak to Karşıyaka
Every day cruise ships dock in Alsancak Harbor and disgorge hundreds of tourists intent on getting to Ephesus. Beat them at their own game by taking the ferry from Konak to Karşıyaka, the Moda of İzmir, where a few fine old mansions still lurk amid the promenade apartment blocks. Here you'll find the extraordinary “road to nowhere” sculpture built to commemorate murdered Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. Return fare: less than TL 4. Pleasure factor: a million dollars.
Admire the view from the top of the Asansör
İstanbul may have been built on seven hills but İzmir is actually the more obviously hilly city and, in areas like the Karataş quarter, getting about can involve hacking up and down some heart-stopping staircases. In İstanbul the answer was the state-funded Tünel from Karaköy to Galata. In İzmir it was the Asansör, an elevator enclosed in a lofty brick tower that was paid for by philanthropist Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu. It goes without saying that the bay views from the top are stunning, and that there's a restaurant poised to take advantage of them. Get to the bottom of the Asansör on foot from Konak along Mithatpaşa Caddesi or to the top by the Metro to Üçyöl.
Cafe-hop your way
round the side streets of Alsancak
The great fire that raged along the Kordon for four days in September 1922 wrote off many of İzmir's finest buildings. Fortunately the little terraced houses of Alsancak with their cute little cumbas (upstairs bay windows) survived, and many now accommodate small cafes, bars and restaurants. One of the most interesting is Jackson's, which once housed the British consul, but you'll soon find your own favorite.
Check out the exhibits
in Alsancak's new Mask Museum
İzmir's least missable museum is the archeology one, just uphill from Konak Square, where you'll be able to inspect the finds from the Agora and other local Roman sites. Even more interesting was the Ethnography Museum housed in an old hospital right next door, but this is currently closed for restoration. Recently, though, İzmir has decided to inject a lighter touch into its museum scene. In Alsancak one of the lovely old houses now showcases an unexpected collection of masks from all around the world, while up on the winding Varyant road behind the Archeology Museum a new Toy Museum has just opened. Coming soon: a Cartoon and Humor Museum.
Enjoy a fish supper at sunset on the Kordon
Hard though it may be to believe it but one of the highlights of your trip to Turkey could actually turn out to be a fish supper eaten in one of the many restaurants that line the Kordon, the landscaped promenade that skirts the Bay of İzmir and is perfectly poised to scoop some superlative sunsets. Kordonboyu Balık Pişiricisi is one of the best if you can manage to land a table there. Can't afford the premium prices? Then grab one of İzmir's famous kumru sandwiches stuffed with white cheese and tomatoes from a vendor working the shoreline. Fresh mussels stuffed with rice and pine nuts and sprinkled with lemon make an equally tasty alternative.