Izmir is the 3rd most populated city in Turkey, located in the Asian part of Turkey. Izmir is known as the most liberal and open-minded city in Turkey. For this reason, it is sometimes called infidel Izmir “gavur Izmir” by conservative politicians.
Izmir is a multicultural city with vibrant life that has something appealing for everyone. Millions of people come to Izmir every year, and these people leave the town safe and with good memories. This guide aims to help you be one of them.
Is Izmir Safe? Izmir is a safe destination with many historical, cultural things to explore, beaches to enjoy. The crime rate is low in Izmir and limited to pickpocketing and theft. Izmir people are known for their cultural openness and relaxed style of living.
As a Turkish local, I will give you a few travel tips about this magical city with maximum fun and zero trouble.
Is Izmir Safe? How Safe is Izmir?
Izmir is one of the safest cities in Turkey. The average income per capita is high, and you classify most people living in Izmir as middle income. The city is culturally rich, and Izmir fascinates its visitors with cultural festivals and many opera, ballet, jazz, and modern dance events.
Is Izmir safer than Istanbul?
Izmir is definitely safer than Istanbul and most of the Western Metropolitan cities. Izmir is less crowded and more orderly than Istanbul. Additionally, while Istanbul is full of immigrants from other Turkish cities, Izmir has a more homogenous culture.
5 Essential Safety Tips for Izmir
So, whether you are a solo traveler or with your family, I have compiled a list of useful tips accordingly to make your trip safer.
1. While Izmir is an open-minded place, I wouldn’t recommend talking politics to Turks. Turkish people are very passionate about their political views. Politics is the number one thing that you should not discuss with the Turkish people. A friendly conversation could easily turn into a debate.
2. In Izmir, it is easy to find Turkish English speakers. Izmir is one of the most educated areas in Turkey.
3. Stick with the city center and crowded areas, use your common sense, and do not go to places that locals are not going.
4. If you have any doubts or need real help, you may directly ask for help from the local shop owners. Local people feel obligated to help, and also local people believe they have to keep their neighborhoods safe and civil.
5. Most taxi drivers in Izmir are honest, yet scams happen. Insist taxi drivers to use the meters, and they are legally obligated to use taximeters. Read the section about taxis and calculate your fare.
6. Peaceful protests are common in Izmir, yet I would advise foreigners to stay away from public political gatherings in Turkey.
Is Izmir Safe at Night
Izmir is a safe place and provides many opportunities to enjoy during the night. While Izmir’s city center and coastal towns are secure at night, I would not wander walking around the industrial districts of Izmir late at night.
Urla Iskele, Bostanlı, and Alsancak Kordon are the perfect places to enjoy your night and drink in gourmet restaurants, chill out at pubs or walk near the seaside. If the weather is fine, you will find many locals enjoying around the shore all night long.
Is Izmir Safe to Travel for Solo Female Travelers?
During the daytime, you would encounter no problem in Izmir as a solo female traveler. Izmir’s girls are famous for their beauty. You would also see that women in this are more confident than anywhere in Turkey. People are respectful of feminine energy in this city.
My girlfriends never encountered anything serious, but time has changed, and I became a father. For this reason, I am more risk-averse, and I would not advise walking alone in deserted streets late at night. Please use taxis or public transport at night.
Is Izmir Safe to Travel for Families?
Izmir is a safe and excellent place to travel with families. Yet, there is something about Turkish that I should warn you about.
We do not have Western protectiveness about our children. In Turkish culture, smiling at other people’s children and talking with them is normal.
Turkish people love to show affection to children even though we just met them for the first time. This is normal in our culture, and you do not need to be afraid.
Second cultural shock may come to you when you realize that Turkish people are calling your children “cadi” (The witch) or “çirkin şey” (the ugly thing).
Turkish people believe saying too many good compliments may bring jealousy and bad luck.
For this reason, to protect your children from having bad luck, we usually compliment the opposite of how we feel about your children.
Is Izmir Safe for Students?
In my personal opinion, If I were to be a student again, I would go to one of Izmir’s Universities.
Izmir is neither as expensive as Istanbul nor as boring as other Anatolian cities for a student. Thus, Izmir is an excellent option for Turkish students and international students.
Especially Bornova area is a place created by university students for university students.
According to the data, there are more than 150.000 students in Izmir.
Is it Safe to Drive in Izmir?
Driving in Izmir can be problematic because of the high congestion areas in the city. Especially in the morning and at the end of the workday, traffic jams are common.
In summer, early in the morning and evening can also be problematic. Most people live in summer houses in summer, and they come to the city to work and return to their summer houses at the end of the day or the week.
The road conditions are near excellent throughout the district, and outside the city center, it can be pleasurable to drive with scenic roads.
Drive carefully because drivers may drive with unpredictable behavior.
If you wish to learn, check my articles on
- Driving tips in Turkey and how you can use a non-Turkish driving license in Turkey (Separate articles for UK driving license owners and US driving license owners)
- renting a car in Turkey
How is Healthcare in Izmir?
Izmir has excellent health services for every budget. Health services are very affordable and subsidized by the government. In Izmir, there are many private and public health services to choose from. Izmir has 60 Hospitals and 1348 Public Clinics.
According to UNDP, Turkey has a High Human Development on par with other industrial nations. Izmir has even better health services than other cities of Turkey because Izmir’s population has one of the highest living standards in Turkey. [Source] [Source 2]
Dangerous Parts of Izmir
Izmir has some ghettos and poor neighborhoods like most metropolitan cities. Yet, these places are not inherently dangerous. In any case, as a first-timer, it would be better to stay away from poor parts of the city.
Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Izmir tap water is not drinkable, and most locals use bottled water in their homes. Yet, you can use tap water to brush your teeth and for other cleaning purposes. It is also possible to use tap water for cooking at home.
There is too much lime and mineral in tap water. For this reason, tap water tastes awful.
You can check the article on the safety of Turkish tap water to learn more.
Security Risks (Terrorism) in Izmir
Izmir is safe from terrorism and very far away from conflict zones of the Middle East. There is a rare possibility that Turkey and Izmir may be a target of a terrorist organization.
I have lived most of my life in Izmir. Yet, not once in my lifetime feared that I was at risk of a terrorist attack.
Please do not let this rare possibility ruin your trip to Izmir. Izmir is not a city of fear. On the contrary, Izmir is a peaceful city full of warm-blooded Mediterranean people.
Natural Disaster Risks in Izmir
Izmir experiences earthquakes from time to time. Most of these earthquakes are rarely felt and have no impact on daily life.
The last big earthquake in Izmir was in 2020. That earthquake had a strength of 7.0 Mw, and 117 people lost their lives. Now, extra care is taken to prevent another such disaster.
Yet, Izmir is a city with a 3.5 million population, and I believe Izmir endured such a big earthquake with minimal casualties.
Is Public Transport Safe in Izmir?
Izmir has one of the best public transport systems in Turkey.
All subway, ferry, bus, and metro systems are integrated. You can securely reach the farthest districts of Izmir with its public transport system.
Is Food Safe in Izmir?
Food in Izmir, besides being safe, the food is very tasty in Izmir. There are many local delicacies like Boyoz, Kumru, and Bomba. The food in Izmir is typical Mediterranean Cuisine but reflects Izmir’s history. For example, Boyoz is a pastry without yeast, and this recipe relies on Jewish traditions of the Middle Ages.
Izmir is not a city of kebabs. Fresh vegetables, lamb meat, and seafood dominate Izmir cuisine.
Check my other guide if you wish to learn more about Turkish Food and What to expect in Turkish Cuisine.
Are Taxis Safe in Izmir?
Taxis are safe in Izmir, but there are some greedy taxi drivers in Izmir. Honest drivers are more common, but Izmir being a metropolitan city, it is hard to regulate all taxi drivers.
Some taxi drivers, especially in touristy parts of the city, may resort to cheating tactics to increase their fees and even try to confuse you with exchange rates.
Take a photo of the license plate coined in the rear of the taxis, by this way, you can easily contact the cab if you forget to take your belonging in the taxi.
Another situation is “pirate” taxi drivers. The official taxis have taxi signs on them; please do not use unregulated taxis if you are a first-timer in Turkey.
Locals sometimes use unregulated taxis for their lower costs, but I would not suggest them for tourists.
Check my other guide if you wish to learn more about Taxis in Turkey and the cost of taxis in Turkish cities, common taxi scams, and more tips.
How Much Taxis Cost in Izmir?
The starting fee of taxis in Izmir is 4,20 TL (0,50 USD), and you will pay an additional 4,30 TL (0,51 USD) per kilometer. The minimum fee applied is 10 TL (1,25 USD).
The same taxi fares are applied in the central districts (like Karsıkaya, Alsancak, Konak) of Izmir.
The Turkish Lira value will change due to inflation, but you can always calculate a rough estimate of your taxi travel.
You can check the distance with Google maps and use the USD numbers above to calculate your rough taxi fare.
Example cost taxi calculation.
A 20 km taxi ride in Izmir will cost you around 10,70 USD. 0,50 USD (starting fee) plus 10,20 USD (20 km x 0,51) for 20 km.
Taxi fees do not change day or night or for any other reason.
Tariffs may change depending on the location. For example, taxis in the tourist centers (like Cesme and Urla) in Izmir are a bit more expensive to use and in the city center taxis are cheaper.
Last Word About Travel Warnings about Turkey
You may also wish to check the United Kingdom, United States Government, Australian government’s travel warnings.
Remember, these warnings are not prepared city-specific, and they are written for Turkey as a whole.
I do not agree with them, especially for Izmir. I believe these reports lack essential and basic safety tips. Also, I think these travel warnings overestimate the rare possibilities.
I tried to give you a local perspective on safety in Izmir, my hometown, and where I spent the most beautiful days of my youth. If you liked this guide, you wish to check other guides about Izmir.
Friday 24th of June 2022
Hi, I read on a Turkey travel website today about someone being very disappointed in Izmir. He said it was dirty and compared it to the ghetto areas in the USA. We are a group of 6 older ladies visiting Izmir in October for two nights. We have a booking with the L'Agora Old Town Hotel & Bazaar in Konak. Would you suggest that we rather book at another hotel in a better area? The person who complained also stayed in Konak. Thank you in advance
Friday 24th of June 2022
Konak area is the oldest commercial hub of Izmir. Before locals usually did not spend time around the area at night and in late hours the area seem like a ghetto with one-floor commercial stores. Yet, in recent years, it changed considerably. Even I did spend time around the area at night, which I would not do a few years ago.
Karsiyaka and Bostanli are the best residential areas (richest and safest) these days, but there are limited hotels. If you want to walk out and enjoy the Izmir local life, definitely best choice is Karsiyaka and Bostanli.
Tuesday 25th of January 2022
Great information, thank you for making our visit to Izmir more enjoyable.