Izmir is the third biggest city in Turkey with a population of approximately 3 million people. It is also the second biggest port after Istanbul and a good transport hub. Formerly known as the ancient city of Smyrna, Izmir is now a modern, developed, and busy commercial centre, set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centres are dotted with more traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th-century market, and old mosques and churches. However, the city has an atmosphere that is more in line with Mediterranean Europe than with traditional Turkey. The climate is comfortable with a relatively mild summer which is attributed to the refreshing breeze coming from the Aegean Sea. The long attractive palm-fringed promenade Birince Kordon, which stretches the entire length of the city up to the Alsancak Ferry Terminal, is a very popular spot for evening walks with many cafés and bars along the waterfront.
In addition to its natural beauty, Izmir also has a broad selection of culture and entertainment to offer from the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museums to the State Opera and Balet or from the Izmir State Symphony Orchestra to many entertaining bars and clubs. The cosmopolitan and lively city gets even busier during the International Izmir Festival (which takes place from mid-June to mid-July) with the worldwide performances and also because it is located very close to popular summer destinations like Çeşme, Bodrum and Ephesus. The city hosts an international arts festival during June and July. Izmir International Fair, in which various fair and exhibition events take place, opens its door to visitors at the beginning of September every year. Adnan Menderes Airport, located 16 km south of Izmir, serves as an international airport. Visitors can also travel around the city by means of buses, subway, ferryboats and taxis.
Izmir’s cuisine is a mixture of Ottoman, Jewish, Italian, Armenian, French and Greek traditions. The delicious fish of the Aegean Sea, the tempting mezes that consist of various vegetables and special ingredients as well as many other varieties of olive-oiled dishes are the most well-known tastes of the city.