By Plane -- As the primary entry point for visits to the popular destinations of Çesme, Ephesus, and Kusadasi, as well as a major and modern hub for international business travelers, Izmir's very modern Adnan Menderes Airport has effortlessly kept pace. In addition to Turkish Airlines, several airlines are now operating direct flights to Izmir from abroad. SunExpress (tel. 0232/444-0797; www.sunexpress.com.tr) flies twice weekly from London's Stansted Airport to Izmir in summer only. British Airways (tel. 0870/850-9850 in the U.K.; www.britishairways.com) flies direct from Gatwick 4 days a week. Thomson Airways (www.thomson.co.uk) flies direct from London Gatwick, Manchester; Cyprus Turkish Airlines also flies from Gatwick. Domestic flights are operated by Turkish Airlines (direct from Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Istanbul, Kayseri, Trabzon, and Van); AnadoluJet, their budget operation (tel. 444-2538; www.anadolujet.com), flies direct from Ankara.
In addition to flights direct to/from Istanbul, Atlasjet (tel. 0216/444-3387; www.atlasjet.com.tr) also flies to Antalya and Bodrum. Pegasus Airlines (tel. 444-0737; www.flypgs.com) flies from Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen Airport, as well as from Ankara, Adana, Diyarbakir through its partnership with IZair (tel. 444-4499; www.izair.com.tr). Onur Air (tel. 444-6687 or tel. 0232/274-1939 at the airport; www.onurair.com.tr) flies from Istanbul five times a day with additional flights on weekends (schedule is reduced in winter).
Turkish Airlines's Izmir office is located at Halit Ziya Bulv. 65, Çankaya, behind the new Swissôtel Grand Efes (tel. 0232/484-1220; www.thy.com). IZair is based out of the airport (tel. 0232/274-6231). Tickets and information for all of the airlines mentioned here is available at countless travel agencies around the city and region.
From the Airport -- The Havas shuttle (national toll-free tel. 444-0487 or local 0232/274-2276) runs daily service from the airport into the center of Izmir with a drop-off point in front of the Grand Efes Hotel on Gaziosmanpasa Bulvari. Bus departure times are coordinated with domestic airlines' flight arrivals; expect the ride into the city center to take about an hour. The fare is 10TL (midnight-6am the fare increases 25%). Shuttles from the city center to the airport depart from the same spot in front of the Grand Efes daily and hourly from 3:30am to 11:30pm.
Once the project to extend and integrate the metro into the existing (suspended) train system is completed, you'll be able to ride the rails either directly into the train station at Alsancak, or change at Halkapinar or Hilal if your destination is Basmane, Çankaya, Konak, or Üçyol (this section southwest of center is also under construction, extending west from Üçyol all the way to the thermal center of Balçova and to the hospital. See "Getting Around" below for details on riding the metro).
Metropolitan Bus no. 202 runs every hour on the hour daily (no buses at 2am and 4am) from the airport, stopping at all three terminals, to Çumhuriyet Meydani (in front of the Swissôtel Grand Efes). If you're going to the otogar or to Bornova, take Bus no. 200, which departs the airport daily and hourly at 20 minutes after the hour.
Taxis are also plentiful at the airport. A taxi to your hotel will cost, at minimum, 50TL, depending on traffic, whether or not the meter is running, or the driver's "fixed price." Base meter rates go up between midnight and 6am.
By Bus -- Bus service is frequent and comprehensive in and out of Izmir. Service from Istanbul takes around 9 1/2 hours; from Ankara, 9 hours; from Kusadasi, 1 1/2 hours; from Bergama, 2 1/2 hours; and from Bursa, about 5 1/2 hours. As with anywhere else in Turkey, prices vary from one bus company to the next by as much as $10, so shop around before buying your ticket.
Long-distance buses arrive into Izmir's enormous and modern main otogar (bus station), located about 8km (5 miles) outside of town. As part of your fare, the bus companies also provide transfer minibuses into the city center.
By Train -- Turkish State Railways (www.tcdd.gov.tr) operates three trains from Ankara: The Karesi Ekspresi leaves at 4pm for the 15-hour trip. A seat on the train costs 25TL. You have the option of sleeping in a bed on the Mavi Tren departing Ankara at 7pm or the 9 Eylül Ekspresi leaving at 8:50pm. Both trains have couchettes making that 14-hour journey a bit more pleasant. The cost is 80TL per person for single passengers, 60TL per person for two. A seat on the Mavi Tren costs 27TL. From Istanbul, you'll need to get a ferry to Bandirma in order to connect to either the 6 Eylül Ekspresi departing Bandirma at 9:50am (no service on Tuesdays) or the 17 Eylül Ekspresi departing at 4pm; the train takes about 5 1/2 hours and costs 17TL. Trains arrive into Izmir's Basmane Gari (tel. 0232/484-8638 or 0232/484-5353 for reservations), about .8km (1/2 mile) northeast of Konak, the town center. From Basmane Gari you will need to take a bus or taxi the short ride to your hotel. Note: Train departure schedules may change so confirm your itineraries well in advance.
By Ferry -- Denizline, the privately owned consortium now running the defunct Turkish Maritime Lines (tel. 0212/444-3369; www.denizline.com.tr) operates two cruise-type ferries (pool, fitness room, disco, kid's club) between Istanbul (Sarayburnu docks, adjacent to Eminönü) and Izmir (Alsancak Ferry Terminal). Cruises depart four times per week in summer at 5:30pm arriving the following morning at 8:30am. Those combining a visit to Turkey with a romp through the Greek islands may hop on a ferry in Chios for service to Çesme, an hour-long bus ride from Izmir's otogar. Ferries run daily from July through September 15 with fewer runs off-season. For information, contact Ertürk (www.erturk.com.tr), the agent located in Çesme.
Tourist information offices are located in several high-traffic areas: Gaziosmanpasa Bulv. 1/1 in the Swissôtel Grand Efes (tel. 0232/484-2147); Atatürk Cad. 418, Alsancak (tel. 0232/422-1022); Akdeniz Mah. 1344 Sok. 2 Pasaport (tel. 0232/483-6216); and the Adnan Menderes Airport (tel. 0232/274-2214). There's also an ad-hoc information booth in Konak behind the Clock Tower at the entrance of Anafartalar Caddesi. Free maps are provided at the tourist information offices, at travel agents around town, and often in your hotel room. For advance planning, log onto www.izmir.gen.tr.
Konak, named for the Ottoman government mansion (Hükümet Konagi) located nearby, is the area roughly containing Izmir's central district and center city, which embraces the Gulf of Izmir. A number of neighborhoods and zones are contained within Konak, including Konak Square, with its bustling seafront park, the little Konak Camii, and the Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi), the symbol of Izmir.
Just behind the tourist information booth at Konak Meydani (the main square) is Anafartalar Caddesi; judging by the magnetic stream of people pouring in, this must be the entrance to the shopping district, also known as Kemeralti. Winding through the oldest section of town are the narrow back streets of Izmir, where an unexpected 17th-century mosque, several synagogues, and a bedesten (privately owned marketplace serving as Izmir's Kapali Carsi) cohabit an area long overtaken by stores selling inexpensive gold chains.
To the north along the waterfront is Konak Pier, constructed as the Customs Building by Gustave Eiffel between 1875 and 1890 and reopened as a glossy shopping and dining destination. About a 15-minute walk farther up is Cumhuriyet Meydani, punctuated by an equestrian statue of Atatürk, and the grassy waterfront park and promenade of Kordon. This neighborhood around Cumhuriyet Meydani is home to a cluster of four- and five-star hotels, car-rental offices, and travel agencies. It's also part of the residential neighborhood of Alsancak, which boasts some restored homes, and another Atatürk Museum. Pasaport refers to the historic quay halfway between Konak Pier and Cumhuriyet Meydani. At the northernmost tip are the harbor and ferry terminal. South of Konak Square is the neighborhood of Karatas, today called Asansör for the 19th-century elevator that provides access to the cliff-top residential area. Once a thriving Jewish community, this is where you will find the Asansör and the restored houses of Dario Moreno Sokak. The neighborhood is just south of Konak and easily reachable by bus.
Up on the hill is Kadifekale, the fortress established by Alexander the Great. The views are great, and the trip is free, but save yourself the hassle and have a drink in the Hilton Hotel's Windows on the Bay instead.
About 15km (9 1/3 miles) to the southwest of Konak along the coastal road is the suburban district of Balcova, blessed by thermal springs most recently utilized by the new and luxurious Crown Plaza.
Much of what might hold a non-local's interest is located in convenient little clusters at various points around the city. Most of your sightseeing and shopping can be done on foot in and around Konak, which includes the museums and main-square attractions, as well as the bazaar, also known as Kemeralti. From Konak, Alsancak is reachable on foot along the scenic waterfront or via ferry service. If you're staying in one of the major hotels around Cumhuriyet Meydani, you're about dead center between Konak and Alsancak.
By Bus -- For those unable or unwilling to walk, there are municipal buses running regularly from the major bus hub at Konak (just in front of the Atatürk Cultural Center and on the street below the Archaeological Museum) south along the waterfront. The system is fairly extensive, but if you feel like tackling it, you can get routes by logging on to the municipality's website www.izmir.bel.tr/en/otobus.asp.
By Metro -- At the risk of plowing through millennia of archaeological remains, Izmir has completed the first phase of construction of a brand-new one-line metro. The line currently runs between Bornova, a residential suburb to the northeast of town, and Üçyol just south of Konak. In-between are stops at Konak, Çankaya, Basmane, and a couple more destinations not mentioned in this guide. The metro runs frequently between 6am and midnight Monday through Friday; service is sparser on weekends.
By Ferry -- Public ferries crisscross Izmir's bay between the city's eight recently refurbished ferry stations. The most useful routes are between Konak and the busy residential shopping area of Karsiyaka, between Pasaport (at Cumhuriyet Meydani) and Karsiyaka, and between Pasaport and Alsancak. There's also service between Konak and Pasaport, easing weary foot traffic along the shoreline. Fares on the ferry are about 1.50TL each way. Purchase your jeton at the ticket window prior to boarding.
Transport Made Easy with the Kentkart -- Izmir is one of an increasing number of cities to adopt an electronic payment system by way of a magnetic-stripped "city card." Like other prepay fare cards, the Kentkart offers discounts for use, so instead of paying the full fare of 3TL for a token (jeton), that ride on the bus, metro, or ferry will cost you only 1.50TL. But because the Kentkart requires an initial deposit of 3TL, buying one really only makes sense if you're planning on staying in town for the long haul. Alternatively, you can purchase a three-ride electronic ticket for 5.75TL or a five-ride ticket for 9.75TL. Kentkarts are available at bus ticket offices and in select shops; just look for the KENTKART logo for sales points.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.