You can fly from Istanbul to Izmir in an hour and twenty minutes and it can cost you less than 50 euros if you search for good deals. But when you fly a lot, like I do, then it can be really nice to travel a bit more old fashioned at times and using ferry and train to get from Istanbul to Izmir is a lot nicer for me than taking the plane. Here is a bit of information about how to travel from Istanbul to Izmir, using ferry and train as means of transport.
Take the ferry from Istanbul to Bandirma.
If you plan to take the the journey then you should start early in the morning from the Istanbul harbor called Yenikapi. It’s quite easy to get to by tram if you are in Istanbul. The ferry leaves at 7am in the morning, so you might wanna spend the night in a hotel near the Yenikapi harbor. There are several hotels in the area, which is called Fatih. The area is not the nicest part of Istanbul though, so be prepared for a somewhat scruffy neighborhood if you decide to stay there. I spend the night there in a small cheap hotel called “Paris 2” which was quite ok considering I only paid 40 Turkish Lira for a room there. The ferry that you need to take is the one to the town Bandirma, across the Marmara sea. The ferry leaves early in the morning at 7am and arrives to Bandirma a little past 9am. The ferry to Bandirma is very modern and has several cafes where you can buy food and drink. You have nice views over the Marmara sea during the journey, but I have to admit that I had a little nap on the ferry cause I was getting up so early.
Take a break in Bandirma.
Once you get in to Bandirma, you have a few hours before the train leaves. I got in at 09:20 and my train was not until 15:55, but that was totally fine as Bandirma is a town that deserves a visit, even if it’s not a top tourist town. It sits nicely by the Marmara sea and has a charming little harbour and a nice square with a few cafes and restaurants. I found myself a nice steakhouse where I had a nice lunch before hopping on the train and spend a few leisurely hours strolling around Bandirma.
Then take the train from Bandirma to Izmir.
At 15.55 I took the train heading to Izmir. The train was nice and modern and had a had a nice comfortable seat in a single row. The journey goes mostly through greenish farmland, but also passes some bigger towns like Balikesir and Manisa. From what I could see, there were no other foreigners on the train, so you will not be taking a tourist train if you take this journey, but will be traveling with locals, which just makes the journey more interesting in my opinion.
Arriving to Izmir.
The train from Bandirma terminates at Alcanpak station in Izmir. Be ware that there is more than one train station in Izmir. Alcanpak station is very centrally located though, just a block from the seafront and I found a lovely little pansiyon there called Deniz Pansiyon, which I can highly recommend. Their website is http://www.denizpansiyon.com/ and I paid 70 Turkish Lira for a very clean room with bathroom, air con and free wifi in the room.