The Hornet Guide to Gay Izmir, Turkey
İzmir is the Pearl of the Aegean region. It’s nearly 3,000 years old and it’s one of the most hospitable places for gays in Turkey. You will enjoy carousing the seasides and beaches and sampling the delicious cuisine. Gay İzmir also has a decent nightlife full of Middle Eastern fun.
Gay İzmir Bars & Cafes
There are plenty of gay bars and cafes to go to in İzmir. Here are a few of our favorites.
Ehlikeyf Cafe is a gay-friendly cafe and bar. Ehlikeyf opens for business at noon, and it stays open until 2 a.m. This inclusive, friendly place also boasts a wide selection of inexpensive drinks. It’s a great place to relax and chat with your friends … and make new ones too! If you’re looking for a lively crowd, Ehlikeyf Cafe gets really busy every Friday and Saturday night!
Cix Club is a great club for dancing your heart out to trans trance music. The cover charge is about $4; though the drinks aren’t cheap, they won’t break the bank either. You can mingle with trans people and rent boys inside. But be careful — the owners aren’t responsible for any stolen goods.
Gullum Bar & Cafe is a small place for guys to dance and find a quick hookup. While the prices are a bit high, and the staff isn’t friendly, Saturday night is always super fun. It’s full of handsome, hot guys for you to chat with (and hopefully more!).
Club KA is another gay-friendly club. A majority of its clientele are trans people and rent boys. While it’s worth checking out, it’s small and expensive. It’s also not secure, so beware of thieves.
If you visit İzmir, you have to try the delicious local cuisine. Nothing compares to an authentic Turkish meal. For starters, you must have an İzmir Lokma. It is a traditional treat that looks like a donut. Unlike a donut, however, lokma is soaked in syrup, honey or chocolate sauce and dusted with cinnamon. When you taste it, you will fall in love! Lokma is very easy to find; it’s available nearly everywhere.
İzmir Midye dolma is another local cuisine. Midya dolma is made with mussels and filled with rice. It’s extra-delicious when you drizzle it with lemon juice. İzmir Kumru is a sesame-seed bread full of cheese, sausage, and tomato. Kumru pairs nicely with another local favorite, Ayran, a milkshake-like drink made of yogurt, water and salt.
For breakfast, we highly recommend Boyoz. İzmir is the only city where boyoz is commercially made. It’s a bread made from flour, sunflower oil and tahini. Boyoz tastes the best with a hard boiled egg and tea first thing in the morning.
İzmir köfte is another traditional Turkish dish. Köfte is a classic dish made of delicious meatballs with diced tomatoes and green peppers. We particularly recommend pouring tomato sauce over the meatballs. Finally, you must try Kokorec — which is one of Turkey’s favorite fast foods. Kokorec is mostly goat and lamb organ meats cooked, chopped and grilled. Kokorec is perfect as a sandwich after a night of drinking.
There are many beaches around İzmir. But the best ones are in the Cesme area, close to the Greek Islands. Many Cesme beaches are “Blue Flag” certified. While the people of İzmir generally don’t care if you’re gay, for safety reasons we highly recommend being discreet when you’re out and about.
Alacati and Deliklikoy in Cesme have beautiful green sea water. These beaches are perfect for sunbathing — nude or otherwise! And if you’re looking for some fun — there’s some semi-private areas that are the perfect spot for a fast hookup. Just be sure to be careful and discreet!
Altınkum is a well known gay beach in İzmir. And it’s perfect for late night rendezvous — there’s a beautiful view of the sunrise. The water and sand will make you feel like you are in the Bahamas; after all, “Altinkum” means “golden sands” in Turkish. And like Alacati and Deliklikoy, there are selected areas available for nude sunbathing.
General Helpful Tips
Turkey is mostly Muslim and can be homophobic. With that in mind, it is a good idea to be careful while you are traveling in Turkey. However, İzmir is the exception. Here, you can hold hands with your boyfriend. You’ll get a lot of looks, but no one will say anything directly to you.
However, kissing or making out in public can be risky in İzmir, like everywhere else in Turkey. Turkey is a patriarchal society and places a great importance on masculinity. While you should be yourself, for safety purposes, we highly recommend acting discreetly if you aren’t familiar with the surroundings.
Be careful with drugs. Don’t be intoxicated on the streets. And always ask the price before you do or buy something. Be wary of pickpockets. If you need police assistance, just call 155, and you’ll be connected with the police. However, don’t argue with them. They are here to help you, but they can also be very homophobic.
Nearly all Turkish doctors know English. But it is always nice having a friend fluent in Turkish, especially during an emergency — most of the paramedics don’t speak English. If you need an ambulance, you can get one by calling 112. You’ll need to know where you are, though — Turkish ambulances don’t have GPS. You’ll need to tell the paramedics where you are, so it is wise to know your address by heart.
Turkish Hammam/Bath Tips
Turkish hammams or baths are have been a tradition for hundreds of years. Nowadays, some of the hammams are even gay-friendly. There are two types of hammams, generally speaking. There are straight-only hammams that don’t allow gay men to use their facility. But there are also gay-friendly places where the management will sometimes turn a blind eye for men seeking a bit of action.
There are laws to make sure that hammams are not promoted as a sex club. Because of that, they won’t advertise themselves publicly as “gay-friendly.” The best way to discover if a hammam is gay-friendly, just go to one and observe. If you see or hear something kinky, you’re in the right place.
The majority of the clientele are over 40 at the gay-friendly hammams. They’re mostly bears and their admirers, who use hammams as a way to meet people and socialize.
Hotel Accommodation Tips
When finding a hotel, we recommend staying away from places that don’t have offer breakfast. You also likely don’t want to pay under €15 per person. The police typically patrol cheap hotels like these, as they’re known for prostitution. If you’re having sex during a police raid, you will be arrested.
If you’re in a hotel rated lower than three stars, you might find yourself in a similar situation. All Turkish hotels have to record all visitors in a police-controlled system. Because of this, you can’t invite a date to your room in these hotels.
However, if your hotel is three stars or higher, they’ll usually allow you to have visitors. After all, you are paying a premium. But before you invite a date back to your room, always let the reception desk know.
Photo by pixelfit via Istockphoto