Kusadasi, a once sleepy fishing village back in the ’70s, is now a sprawling and bustling resort town, overflowing with hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment hubs to accommodate the multitude of tourists visiting every year.
Kusadasi (pronounced koosh-ada-suh – Kuş meaning bird….adasi meaning “island of” ) is also a popular port of call for many cruise ships passing by Turkey’s Aegean Coast, making it one of the most visited destinations in the country. There is not much to see around the town center. However, all it takes is a few minutes drive to see many interesting and spectacular attractions in the area.
Ephesus is Kusadasi’s biggest attraction. It is located 18 km away from the town center and only a 25 minute drive away. You can join a group tour for a hassle-free trip or you can be more adventurous and take the minibuses for much lesser cost. Once you get to the ancient city of Ephesus, you can’t help but marvel at the traces of history, spanning about 3,000 years, laid out before you.
Make sure to visit the Terrance Houses while at Ephesus. This homes are believed to have been occupied by the wealthy of Ephesus and are situated on the hillside overlooking the city. They have been painstakingly excavated and are in amazing condition showcasing frescoes and mosaics from Roman times. The oldest building dates back to the first century BC and continued in use as residences until the 7th century AD.
The ruins are impressive, starting from the Agora and the Temple of Isis, as you explore farther you will discover the Odeion, the Baths of Varius, the magnificent temple of Hadrian, the imposing Librabry of Celsus, the House of Love and the Great Theatre.
Other must-see attractions in Ephesus include the Temple of Artemis which was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of World, the House of the Virgin Mary which was believed to have been where she spent her last years, the Church of St. John and the Cave of the Seven Sleepers. There are just so much to see in the area that you cannot afford to miss it as many find a visit here a life changing experience.
Cooling off in Kusadasi is easy with the many beaches available for you. If you just want to stay within the city center, you can try and find a place to lounge on the narrow shore of Ladies Beach, however if you want a wider playground with much less tourists milling around, then a 15 minute drive north of town to nearby Pamucak Beach is worth it.
Just be prepared to bring everything you need because there are fewer services and facilities in the Pamucak Beach area, although, there is a small hotel nearby where you can get some drinks and meals. If you want a more scenic location for your beach excursion, then you should head south to Dilek National Park. It is also a 15 minute drive from the resort town. The park’s north shore is perfect for swimming and features four main beaches. You can also simply enjoy the picturesque setting while having a picnic at the park’s charming wooded areas or follow its hiking trails if you are up for a scenic walk.
You can also take a quick trip to the nearby Greek island of Samos. It is only one hour and fifteen minutes away by ferry. A walking tour of the Samos’s outstanding architecture and colorful bazaars is a must when you get there. Also, make sure to get a sip of the local wine that is famous all throughout the country. Finally, visit the islands popular attractions such as the Monastery of Agia Triada and the Roman Baths in Pythagorion, to name a few.
Shopping in Kusadasi in plentiful, from hand knotted rugs to exceptional hand crafted art and sculpture. There is also no end of stores and shops selling genuine “fake” watches. Be prepared to bargain wherever you shop in Kusadasi and in the heat of exchange make sure you are negotiating the right currency. The Turkish Lira is worth far less than the desired Euros, so have a plan and know the conversions before you bargain!