Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and the first port of call for many flying into the region. However most don't stay to explore the city, instead heading on to resorts in the south. Life in Izmir goes on regardless of the tourist traffic; with men hawking their wares in the bustling bazaar and the daily call to prayer echoing throughout the city, making this is the real Turkish heart of the Aegean.
Surprisingly this modern sprawl has grown from the ashes of the ancient metropolis Smyrna. Today little of this ancient past remains, save the city's ruined agora and the imposing Kadifekale fortress, which rises up behind the city's colourful gypsy quarter to offer some of the best views in Izmir.
Izmir's main value is as a base, with the Ionian ruins that attract so many to this region lying south along the coast. The most impressive is Ephesus. Home to many ancient wonders, this city was the Roman gateway into Asia. Then there is the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, once famous throughout the ancient world for the abilities of its oracle, now it's a popular day trip, easily accessible by car from Izmir.