During your stay in Istanbul, you may be lucky enough to have time to venture further afield to some of Turkey’s other magnificent sights. One place that’s relatively close to Istanbul that attracts many visitors is the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast. This is the third largest metropolis in Turkey and is a great opportunity to venture on a road trip from Istanbul.
The City of Izmir
Once known as Smyrna, Izmir has a long and interesting history. It still retains many landmarks from its time under Alexander the Great and the Ottoman Empire. Today, it is a thriving city with cosmopolitan attractions, including shopping, dining, museums and architecture. There are also many fine beaches in the area for exploration and relaxation.
Routes to Izmir
There are several ways to get to Izmir by car, depending on how much time you want to spend and how comfortable you are with going a little off the beaten track, so to speak. Many people prefer the faster route as it gets them to their destination quicker and offers an easy road to travel along the way. However, others enjoy seeing more of Turkey en route and don’t want to feel rushed getting to Izmir. The following are a couple of different ways you can arrange your travel.
The Fastest Way to Izmir
To get to Izmir by automobile with the greatest dispatch, it is recommended to take the car ferry from Istanbul to Bandirma. In Bandirma, you can pick up a double-lane highway that will take you all the way to Izmir. Travelers report that this route takes under five hours of driving time without stops.
Of course, you can still take a more direct route and stop overnight if you wish. There is a hotel at Akhisar as well as accommodations in Sindirgi and Manisa. You can also veer off the main road at Akhisar and go to Salihli for the night, a town known for its kofte, Turkish meatballs. You could even go this way to the ruins at Ephesus first, driving through Bozdağ, then head to Izmir.
The Leisurely Path to Izmir
If you’re in no great hurry to get to Izmir, an alternative route allows you to take in the famous battlefields and monument at Gallipoli National Park, the site of a long siege during World War I that changed the face of modern Turkey and put Australian soldiers on the map. Many visitors like staying over in Çanakkale when they take the Gallipoli route.
You can visit Troy when going this way too, and Assos, Pergamum and Ayvalik offer nice accommodations for a second night’s stay. The Ancient Theatre and Temple of Athena in Assos are worth a view.
Suggestions to Improve Your Journey
1. Map out your route well in advance and take care of any reservations needed along the way for ferries and overnight lodging. Our Concierge Department will be happy to assist you with this and obtaining your rental car, even in advance of your stay at Hotel Büyük Keban.
2. Be sure you are comfortable and legally able to drive in Turkey, especially in Istanbul, where the traffic can be quite daunting.
3. Take your time driving. It’s always better to plan for more time than you expected just in case of delays. You may also want to stop to take photographs and appreciate the gorgeous vistas around you, so you don’t want to feel rushed.
4. Don’t start on the road too late in the day. Since you will be in unfamiliar surroundings, you want the advantage of broad daylight for safe travel. Also, if taking some of the more mountainous routes, such as through Bozdağ, you will encounter abrupt changes in elevation and winding roads, which are best navigated during the day.
Driving through Turkey can be a wonderful way to experience the country and our many amazing historical sites and natural landmarks. Contact Hotel Büyük Keban today to book your reservation in Istanbul, and we will get started on helping you plan a road trip to Izmir that is both safe and memorable!