Things to do in Kusadasi

Things to do in  Kusadasi

Ancient ruins with a modern twist

With its popular beaches and European-style shops and restaurants along the waterfront, Kusadasi is primarily regarded as a resort town frequented by cruise ships and populated by European holiday-goers. But this city on the west coast of Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) offers the seasoned global traveler plenty to love, including a stunning example of 17th-century Ottoman architecture at Okuz Mehmed Pasha Caravanserai. Apart from the attractions, however, the city’s most enticing appeal is its prime location with easy access to some of Turkey’s most popular historic and natural attractions. Take a short ferry ride to the Greek island of Samos, home to Pythagoras and Epicurus, or spend the day lounging aboard the deck of a boat on the Mediterranean Sea. The large set of Aegean ruins at Ephesus—including the House of Virgin Mary, Basilica of St. John, and Temple of Artemis—lure travelers away from the city, as do the smaller but equally important sites at Priene, Didyma, and Miletus. With so many tours geared to please the cruise passengers coming and going from Izmir Port, finding a streamlined shore excursion to any of these attractions is a breeze. Private tours offer customizable itineraries best suited to your interests, while group tours help you save money on the most popular attractions.

Top 15 attractions in Kusadasi

Kusadasi Castle

Built and extended between the 14th and 18th centuries, picturesque Kusadasi Castle sits on Pigeon Island (Guvercin Adasa), an islet connected to Kusadasi via a causeway. Originally constructed as a military base, the fortress is composed of outer walls that enclose its gardens and an inner castle with a tiny museum.More

Ephesus (Efes)

Ephesus (Efes) is one of the greatest ancient sites in the Mediterranean. During its heyday in the first century BC, it was the second-largest city in the world, with only Rome commanding more power. Many reconstructed structures and ruins, including the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, can be seen here.More

Kusadasi Caravanserai (Öküz Mehmed Pasha Caravanserai)

Built in 1618, the Kusadasi Caravanserai is an authentic Ottoman-era inn situated close to Kusadasi’s harbor. Commissioned by Ottoman statesman Okus Mehmed Pasha, the building functioned as a trading house for centuries; today, it's used as an outdoor entertainment, festival, and arts venue.More

House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi)

St. Mary’s House in Ephesus is believed by many to be the place where the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, spent her final days, and has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors and pilgrims seeking the healing properties of the spring that runs beneath the stone home since its discovery in the 19th-century.More

Temple of Artemis (Artemision)

One of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the marble Temple of Artemis (Artemision or Artemisium at Ephesus once spanned more than 63,000 square feet (around 5,850 square meters. Today all that remains of 127 original columns plus countless frescoes and statues is a teetering pillar and some foundation fragments.More

Adaland Aquapark

One of Kusadasi’s best water parks, Adaland Aquapark boasts slides for every age and pace, from leisurely 6-person family jaunts through to freefall and boomerang rides. A wave pool, lazy river, jacuzzi, little kids’ zone, rafting course, and lively poolside disco make it a great space to while away the day.More


Perched below the rugged flank of Mt. Mykale, Priene is one of Turkey’s most attractive Greco-Roman archaeological sites, with an enormous Hellenistic theater, the spectacular ruins of a temple of Athena, a synagogue, Roman baths, and more. Trees and wildflowers (in season) make the ancient setting particularly atmospheric.More

Sardis (Sart)

Just east of Izmir in Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye), Sardis—or Sardes—was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia before falling to the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. Its ruins span everything from a Roman gymnasium to the relics of a nearby Greek temple to the remains of the fifth church of the Bible’s Seven Churches of the Revelation.More


Located 48 miles (78 kilometers) south of Kusadasi in Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye), Didyma is a sanctuary centered on the 2nd-century-BC Temple of Apollo, once among the largest in the ancient Greek world. Now reduced to giant broken columns and chambers, the temple once drew thousands of pilgrims who came to worship Apollo and consult its prophesy-giving oracle.More

Dilek National Park (Dilek Milli Parki)

Covering 87 square miles (227 square kilometers), the Dilek Peninsula-Buyuk Menderes Delta National Park occupies a peninsula south of Kusadasi on Turkey’s (officially the Republic of Türkiye) Aegean coast. Natural wonders abound here, from pebble beaches and wildlife to footpaths, ancient ruins, and a canyon hiking trail.More

Miletus (Miletos)

The ancient metropolis of Miletus dates back to 1,400 BC, and was once a thriving port city known for its wealth and strategic position. A shifting river eventually led to the city's abandonment, but not before it was destroyed in 499 BC and rebuilt on a grid plan that inspired Roman cities.More

Basilica of St. John

In Christian tradition, St. John the Apostle came to Ephesus after St. Paul and ministered to the Ephesians. The vast Basilica of St. John, built by the sixth-century emperor Justinian, houses a fourth-century tomb that drew pilgrims from across Europe in search of miracles. It is still one of the world’s largest cathedrals today.More

Library of Celsus

A grand two-story facade adorned with statues of the four Virtues makes the Library of Celsus the most photographed and best-known monument in the Ephesus UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in AD 110 to honor Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, it once held 12,000 scrolls, making it one of the largest libraries in the ancient world.More


Şirince, a small village of just 600 inhabitants, has a long history dating back to the fall of Ephesus. Today, the mountainous town is mainly known for its well-preserved stucco homes, olive groves, and wineries with verdant backdrops. St. John the Baptist Church is another popular attraction, adorned with stunning Byzantine frescoes.More

Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus

The Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus is one of the highlights of the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). It was built around 118 AD and is actually more of a monument to Hadrian, Artemis, and the people of Ephesus. Hadrian's temple is small, but there is a beautiful arch on the outside, a porch, and a small main hall. The porch is supported by pillars and Corinthian columns. A statue of Hadrian once stood on a podium in the temple, but it has been lost. On the front of the porch are bases with the names of Galerius, Maximianus, Diocletianus, and Constantius Chlorus inscribed on them, indicating that the bases might have once held statues of these emperors.Panel reliefs on the inside depict Medusa warding off the bad spirits, the mythological foundation of Ephesus, and various religious scenes. The reliefs seen today are plaster replicas, while the originals are protected in the Ephesus Museum.More

Top activities in Kusadasi

Private Ephesus and Sirince VillageTour from Kusadasi
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Private Ephesus and Sirince VillageTour from Kusadasi

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Private Shore Excursion: Ephesus, Terrace Houses, St. Mary House, St. John Basilica
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Private Guided Ephesus Day Tour with Lunch
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Private Guided Ephesus Day Tour with Lunch

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Ferry to Samos from Kusadasi

Ferry to Samos from Kusadasi

Ephesus, House of Mary, Artemis Temple Tour with lunch
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All about Kusadasi

When to visit

For the high season buzz, come in July and August when the Aegean coast fills with Turkish and foreign travelers. By September, temperatures remain warm but the crowds thin. If you’re using Kusadasi at a jumping-off point to visit archaeological destinations such as Ephesus or the Temple of Artemis, get an early start in summer to avoid crowds and heat. Seeing the ruins requires a lot of walking, so consider a spring or fall trip for milder weather.

Getting around

Although many visitors opt for a hired driver or guide, getting around Kusadasi independently is a breeze thanks to the city’s network of domus routes, or shared minibus services. A staple of any Turkish city, they can be flagged down like a taxi from most street corners with a hand wave. Routes connect the town center to outlying beaches. To explore the Ephesus ruins, it’s best to take a taxi or private bus service, or go on a tour.

Traveler tips

Kusadasi may be bustling and cosmopolitan, but it also runs rich with Turkish traditions. Keep your eyes peeled for the nazar, a blue symbol meant to protect against the evil eye. If you’re hankering for a less crowded coastline, then skip jam-packed Ladies Beach and head south to pristine Dilek Peninsula National Park. Or, consider coming in early fall, when the days are still warm but the hordes have moved on.


People Also Ask

What is Kusadasi, Turkey known for?

Kusadasi in Turkey is known as a popular holiday destination due to its wealth of experiences and attractions. Travelers have the chance to delve into the local culture at the vibrant Eski Cami mosque in the center of town and explore centuries of history, including the nearby Ephesus ruins.

Is Kusadasi worth visiting?

Yes, Kusadasi is worth visiting for its beautiful beaches, endearing hospitality, and hot summers. From sunning in the sand to snorkeling and scuba diving along the coastline, there is no shortage of activities. As home to Ephesus—one of the largest ancient ruins in Turkey—Kusadasi attracts history buffs, too.

Is Kusadasi popular?

Yes, Kusadasi is a top Turkish travel destination, and it’s growing in popularity among tourists from around the world. Located in the western part of the Turkish coast, the town boasts a mix of activities and historical monuments including Manisa Castle and Ephesus, as well as a notable nightlife scene.

Is Kusadasi bigger than Marmaris?

Yes, the medium-sized city of Kusadasi is bigger than Marmaris if you’re measuring by population, although both of the cities’ numbers swell when tourists come to town. Kusadasi has bigger beaches, but Marmaris is known for large resorts, so choosing a destination depends on your preferences.

Which is better: Kusadasi or Antalya?

Both Kusadasi and Antalya offer rugged, coastline views. Kusadasi boasts a bustling bazaar, crystal blue waters, shops and restaurants, and the ancient ruins of Ephesus. Meanwhile, Antalya delivers golden beaches, views from mountaintops along its coastline, as well as natural wonders such as the Manavgat and Kursunlu waterfalls.

What day is market day in Kusadasi?

In Kusadasi, market day is every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Visit around midmorning to find a wide array of goods, including fresh produce, and traditional items. The market includes a variety of vendors and is the perfect spot to pick up locally made gifts. Don’t forget to sample the delicious street food.

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