Pick up your car at Izmir airport and explore the place where Homer began his odyssey and where the Virgin Mary ended hers.
"We pack a whopping 5,000 years of history, but now we're one of Turkey's most cosmopolitan cities! And did we mention our beaches?"
There is history, for sure, although many historic buildings were destroyed in the great fire of 1922. But the consequential rebuild has given the city a distinctly modern edge. And, yes, there are great beaches.
Izmir's friendly locals, stunning beaches and breathtaking mountains make it perfect for laidback explorer types. Offers cultural sophistication with a distinctly exotic essence.
Turkish natives are irrepressibly friendly and welcoming. Plus, with Izmir being a hive for history students, there's a good mix of young and old.
Scorching. But relief from the somewhat oppressive summer heat comes courtesy of a beautiful breeze off the Aegean Sea.
No trip would be complete without sitting down to enjoy some hot Turkish apple tea with the locals.
Proving that Izmir is home to inspiration and creativity, epic poet Homer, author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, was born there.
The Virgin Mary's house, where she spent her last days, still stands today in the pretty, historic town of Selcuk.
"Although it has a dramatic setting around a bay backed by mountains, most of Izmir is modern, which makes it a hard city with which to fall in love at first sight. Give it a chance and you may find Turkey's third-largest city growing on you." - Lonely Planet
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Perfect for culture vultures, this modern museum boasts some of the finest excavation gems known to Izmir. Make sure you check out the impressive and awe-inspiring statues of Demeter, Poseidon and Artemis.
There is a visitors car park.
Bit of a shopaholic? Then head for this authentic Turkish street market with its eclectic and memorable maze of stalls. And remember, half the fun is in the bartering.
Park at either Kemeralti Cami or Kemer Plaza.
Not only is this a thoroughly beautiful slice of history built by Alexander the Great in 332 BC but, thanks to prime positioning, it also offers stunning views over the city and adjoining bay.
You can park at Anafartaar Cd.
This natural wonder, also known as the Gediz Delta, offers you the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in all things green; a perfect complement to the bustle of a city break.
There is an on-site car park.
No Turkish holiday would be complete without a trip to authentic baths. This one, with a stunning domed ceiling and marble finishing, makes it as pleasing for the eye as it is for the soul.
There is a visitors car park.
These ancient Turkish ruins will transport you straight back in time. Plus, as it's still used for outdoor concerts, you may even catch some modern music heroes rocking out the 44,000-seat amphitheatre.
Head south-east out of Izmir on the E-87/O-31 for about 30 miles, then south-west to Ephesus on the D550 for about five miles.
Situated near Bodrum, this tomb site of King Mausolus is well worth the drive. Boasting stunning sculptures, it also ticks off seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World from your list.
Head south-east out of Izmir on the E-87/O-31 for about 80 miles. At Aydin join the D550 going south/south-east for about 60 miles, then at Yeni turn east on to the D330, for approximately another 70 miles to Bodrum.
Head to the west side for some memorable mountain action. Boasting beautiful scenery, you'll also be treated to early Turkish art in the form of awe-inspiring rock carvings that date from 13th century BC.
Head east on the D550 then D300, then south on Pinar to Kemalpasa. If you miss Pinar you can double back where the D300 meets the Kemalpasa road, forking back towards Izmir. The journey is about ten miles.
Set in the hot-spring Mecca of Cesme, beach action doesn't get much better than this. Known for its golden beach, it really does offer the full sun-and-sand relaxation combo.
Take the E881/O-32 west from Izmir for roughly 80 miles to the beach.
" If you don't know how to speak Turkish you will probably get lost inside the city as it's difficult to find your orientation outside of Kordon. The bus service is slow and inefficient so you are better off hiring a car. Driving isn't stressful, but you should be aware that no cars are allowed in the Saat Kulesi, which keeps the area peaceful. "