Kusadasi on the Aegean coast of Turkey is one of the country’s most popular cruise ship and holiday package destinations. This is partly due to its modern, cosmopolitan ambiance but also the vast amount of attractions, and places of interest are a big lure. The holiday resort has adapted with travel trends to accommodate masses of international tourists passing through but has still respected and paid homage to its beautiful landmarks, making it ideal for people who like to explore and get to know the destination they are traveling to.
We have intricate knowledge of all those places and speak as experts because our office near the marina helps thousands of people every year to have a good time. Indeed visitors have plenty of things to do in Kusadasi so and let’s look at what they are.
Fun Things to Do in Kusadasi
Visit the Ancient City Ruins of Ephesus
Undoubtedly the first place that should be on everyone’s bucket list when they visit Kusadasi is Ephesus ancient city ruins, one of the most visited attractions in Turkey. As an important sea trading post of the old world, the former Greco-Roman metropolis also played a significant part in the spread of early Christianity having hosted Saint Paul, Saint John, and the Virgin Mary. Intense excavation work over many years has revealed many landmarks including the iconic Celsus Library, the third largest in history.
Also, the Roman terrace houses sitting on the Bulbul Mountain, with their mostly intact mosaics, are worth paying the extra entrance fee to see. Lastly, the massive 25,000-theatre stadium once used by Pavarotti and Elton John enjoyed, even more, fame, a few years ago following the discovery of a gladiator graveyard nearby. A visit to Ephesus can be short as 3 hours or longer if you have an intense passion for history. (See all our tours going to Ephesus)
See the Virgin Mary’s House
In the hills of Selcuk, a small, unobtrusive stone house receives many pilgrim visitors from both the Christian and Muslim religions. Although not verified, many believe, the simple dwelling is where the Virgin Mary spent her last days before her assumption. The Roman Catholic Church runs the shrine, discovered in the 19th century by an independent explorer, retracing the visions of a nun.
Perhaps a reflection of her lifestyle, the house is neither elaborate nor grand and only consists of one main room. Following the path around from the exit of the houses, into the flower gardens, visitors come upon three water taps stepped in urban legends. If you are to believe them, each valve represents either health, wealth or fertility but none of them have labels so drinkers are throwing themselves to the concept of good luck.
Drink Wine in Sirince Village
Traveling up a winding mountain path, the small village of Sirince hid from view has also become a tourist mecca, as visitors descend to taste the much talked about homemade wine. Possibly started by freed slaves from the ancient city of Ephesus, the narrow cobbled paths pass by traditional houses and the small but strangely atmospheric church of Saint Mary. In between exploring the village, tasting the wine and admiring the impressive landscape views, local restaurants serve a delicious array of Turkish cuisine. Combine all this with the womenfolk of the village who sell cotton goods and an ideal insight into a remote Turkish village comes alive.
Indulge in a Turkish Bath in a Traditional Hamam
Originally dating from the Roman Empire and adapted by the Ottomans, this long-standing tradition leaves you relaxed and feeling stress-free. After sweating it out in a sauna, be scrubbed down with a loafer and olive soap to get rid of dead skin and leave you with a fresh, pampered look. If a deep, dark suntan is important to you, do the Turkish bath at the beginning of your holiday for it to last even longer. (Find out more.)
Go Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is big business in Turkey because a colorful variety of sea life and shipwrecks sit under the water. Novice divers can also do it because the qualified instructors start with a safety briefing and a try dive to find out whether you will like it. If you do, then an instructor will accompany as you swim underwater to a maximum of 6 meters to feed the fish!
Relax on a Lazy Day Boat Trip
If spending time on the water is your idea of a brilliant summer holiday, a lazy day boat trip cruising the coastline is perfect. After being picked up and boarding the boat, visit several scenic bays and beaches. As well as stopping off for snorkeling and swimming breaks, the trip includes a BBQ lunch, and there is the optional paid extra of a fully stocked bar as well. This trip is one of our most popular for package holiday people.
Visit Selcuk Town Centre
A short distance from Kusadasi, the working town of Selcuk has not excelled in tourism as Kusadasi has, yet an impressive collection of landmarks are worth visiting. Anyone wishing to continue their journey into ancient Ephesus should see the museum holding many artifacts while just up the road is the Temple of Artemis that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Unfortunately, just one single column stands portraying a dim shadow of its former glory yet in the distance, the Isa Bey Cami is worth seeing.
An excellent example of ancient Seljuk architecture, the mosque dating from 1375 is simple, but a pleasant and non-crowded insight into a holy place of worship in Turkey. A five-minute walk uphill brings us to the stone gate of Saint John’s Basilica. Although his bones are not in the tomb, it is widely believed to be the place of his burial since he was the only one of the apostles that were not martyred. The baptism pool here is remarkably intact and a visual exploration into its historic past. Combine a visit to all these old marks with a delicious Turkish meal in a local restaurant, or a visit to the nearby Pamuk beach.
Explore Dilek National Park and the Swim in the Cave of Zeus
When in Turkey, do as the Turks do and that is to explore the wonders of nature. The 68,000-acre Dilek National Park on the outskirts of Kusadasi has many walking trails, small, uncrowded beaches, and local wildlife including the resident boars. Getting around is easier with a hire car, or book our jeep safari tour that also stops at the nearby Cave of Zeus for a refreshing swimming break.
Go to Pigeon Island
Almost everyone in Turkey associates Kusadasi with its landmark Pigeon Island, reached by a promenade running alongside the harbor. It is from where; the town gained its name, and the Ottomans used it as a military barracks. A slow, relaxing, and pleasant morning spent wandering the gardens and admiring the view of the shoreline is especially ideal for romantic couples.
Catch the Ferry to Samos
Available only during the summer, many people combine a Turkish holiday with a Greek one by catching the ferry over to the island of Samos that is famous for its wine. Sitting 1200 meters from the Aegean coastline, mythology says that Samos is the former home of Poseidon god of the sea, or if you are not into history, indulge in a feasting bonanza in a traditional Greek tavern.
See Inside the Ancient Caravansary of Kusadasi
A landmark of the old town, the ancient Caravansary is now a hotel and evening entertainment venue, yet the inside still portrays old fashioned exotic hotels from days gone by, used by traveling salesman on the old silk road. Built in 1618 and sitting near the new port area, it underwent extensive restoration in the 1960s.
Sunbathe on Ladies Beach
Plenty of beaches surround Kusadasi, but one of our favorites is Ladies Beach, on the outskirts of the town. With a variety of water sports, bars, and restaurants, it has all the ingredients for fun filled family days out in the sun. A few urban legends suggest how it got its name. One says that when Kusadasi was still a fishing village, women waited on this beach for their husbands to come back from hazardous fishing trips. The other is that in history, males could not use the segregated stretch of sand.
You may also be interested in seeing our list of things to do in Kusadasi on private and guided tours and excursions. Listing all the places above and further afield such as Pamukkale and Didyma, each trip gives details, photos, and an inquiry form to contact us.
Alternatively, if you are also traveling to other places in Turkey, check out our travel blog talking about souvenirs, food and much more. If you are in Kusadasi and would like to come and see us in our office, a map and directions can be found here on our contact page.