Izmir, ancient Smyrna, is a multi-layered city, full of historic resonances – dusty and horribly over-built, but in a rather old-fashioned way that blends ’60s delapidation with Riviera charm. It really doesn’t care a jot about the rest of Turkey.
Izmir, ancient Smyrna, is all too often overlooked in favour of its beautiful environs. Yet its astonishing bay, which kept Smyrna a more viable harbour than its ancient neighbours, is still the focus of Izmir life today. The corniche, with its elegant waved pattern, captures the effortless elegance of ’50s Turkey. Tucked away high on the hill above the city stands ancient Smyrna’s agora; to the south is the excellent Izmir Archaeological Museum.
Fly to Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport. The slow but elegant Blue Train (Mavi Tren) travels overnight from Ankara to Izmir.
The region’s best-kept secret is the Manisa Kebab – the Aegean coast’s answer to Bursa’s Iskender Kebab.