Turkey’s third most populated city and the country's largest port after İstanbul, İzmir is a modern city with views of the azure waters of the Aegean Sea, wide boulevards and swaying palm trees. Historically named Smyrna (meant “the land of the holy mother”), İzmir is the starting point of a regional tour to the extraordinary remains of ancient civilizations located in Ephesus, Bergama and Selçuk as well as the scenic holiday resorts of Çeşme and Kuşadası.
The ancient city of Ephesus was one of the greatest cities of the ancient Greeks and also a sacred site for Christians due to its association with several biblical figures, including St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary. It is home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World as well as the Ephesus Museum and St. John’s Basilica.
Another important historical site Bergama (historically called Pergamum) is amongst Turkey’s iconic archaeological sites with the Acropolis, the Asklepion of Pergamum and one of the seven churches of the Apocalypse. A visit to the House of the Virgin Mary (Meryemana) is also a must here.
After a daily tour to the ancient sites of Ephesus, Bergama and Selçuk with our professional guides, visit the neighboring village of Şirince, located on a hillside surrounded by apple and grape orchards on the east of Selçuk. Once home to Greeks, now the village is inhabited by Turkish entrepreneurs and villagers who have restored some of the ancient houses in the area and have transformed them into guesthouses. For a relaxing and romantic tour, visit Şirince at sunset, and don’t hesitate to taste the famous local wines in one of the family run wineries or restaurants.
Located by the Aegean Sea, İzmir is a short drive to the country’s best holiday spots, Çeşme and Kuşadası. Kuşadası is a major stop for luxurious Mediterranean cruises with wide beaches and exclusive hotels. As famous as Kuşadası, Çeşme is the top destination for the Turkish jetset for long weekends and summer vacations. Windmills, wind roses and traditional stone houses give the region a picturesque look.
A visit to Pamukkale will also be very impressive with the snow-white cliff-side travertines, the result of thousands of years of deposits left by calcium-rich natural springs coursing down the mountain. Take the helicopter directly from your hotel and turn that 3 hour drive into a quick 30 minutes.