After experiencing our first ever trip to Izmir Turkey whilst filming a new travel series, we want to shout from the rooftops, about what a wonderful destination we found it to be. Izmir exceeded our expectations on every level and it should certainly one for the bucket list!
With a short flight time of around four hours from seven UK airports, Izmir is so accessible. If like us you love a perfect mix of sunshine, food, shopping and culture, this is a destination that will tick all of your boxes. Whether you are looking for total relaxation or you wish to be more active, you can find plenty of experiences to suit your mood.
We began our visit with a boat trip and would recommend this to be one of the best ways to truly appreciate the stunning turquoise Turkish coastline. We had the chance to stop off in hidden coves and swim in the sea.
Another excursion that showed us a different side to Izmir was a jeep safari to Millie Park. We had the opportunity to venture off the beaten track and see some of the wildlife and really immerse ourselves in the unspoilt hidden natural beauty spots. A highlight was feeding the wild boars on the beach in Millie Park that are very tame and eager to show themselves off to visitors.
Something we were not expecting was the amount of rich cultural sites Izmir has to offer. A trip to the ancient roman city of Ephesus was simply unforgettable. Other highlights include exploring Bird Island and the house of the virgin Mary.
As self-confessed shopaholics, we were beside ourselves with the multitude of affordable shopping opportunities, from the outdoor markets, shopping malls and outlet centres. With so many bargains to be found from quality leather handbags, beautiful jewellery and clothing, it really is worth bringing an empty suitcase, as you can get carried away.
Spa goers will appreciate the unique experience of a traditional Turkish Bath treatment. We visited a historic Turkish Bath in Kusadasi which was more than 600 years old. Our skin has never felt so soft and we left feeling completely relaxed.
If you love your food, don’t worry, you will never go hungry in Izmir, even if you are vegetarian. The choice and variety of both traditional and international cuisine on offer is exceptional. For those who enjoy something sweet, you must try the apple tea and Turkish delight, available in so many different varieties.
A trip to the picture perfect resort Alacati is well worth the journey. The cobbled streets and colourful buildings are stunning, a photographers dream location.
We stumbled upon the ‘Viento Boutique Hotel’ which is a beautiful place to stop for a drink or some lunch. You can even enjoy a dip in their pool, or float around on the hotels inflatable flamingo!
If you have ever had any stereotypical preconceptions about Turkey, let them go. The people are so incredibly helpful; the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed and the scenery and cultural sites are breath-taking.
It’s a destination that truly offers something for everyone, be it a couple, a family, an independent traveller or a ‘Blonde & Brunette Abroad’.
Laura Hamilton & Hayley Sparkes x