St. John's Basilica view in Selcuk, Turkey

Things to do in  Selçuk

Gateway to ancient Ephesus

Selcuk is a town in the Aegean region of western Turkey located close to the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. The town itself contains ancient ruins, layers of history, and tree-lined avenues, and serves as a jumping-off point for Ephesus as well as the nearby village of Sirince, the House of the Virgin Mary, and the beach resort town of Kusadasi, among other things to do. Selcuk is easily reached from Izmir and the Izmir Airport.

Top 15 attractions in Selçuk

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

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

Ephesus Terrace Houses

A cluster of ancient 2-story homes spread across three tiers, the Ephesus Terrace Houses reveal how wealthy Romans lived during the city’s glory days. Glass floors let you admire geometric mosaics and still-colorful frescoes gleaming on the walls—it’s a small wonder some compare the site to Pompeii.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

Cave of the Seven Sleepers

According to a third-century story of the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, several Christian men in Ephesus (present-day Selcuk, Turkey) sought sanctuary in a nearby cave to escape persecution by the Roman Emperor Trajan Decius. They fell asleep, waking some 250 years later and discovering that Christianity had become widely accepted in Ephesus. After natural deaths, the “seven sleepers” were buried in the same cave, which quickly became a pilgrimage site.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

Isa Bey Mosque (Isa Bey Camii)

Isa Bey Mosque (İsa Bey Camii) was built in 1375 near the ancient city of Ephesus in what is today Selçuk, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). Parts of the mosque were built using stones and columns from the ruins of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis. It was designed asymmetrically instead of a more traditional symmetric layout and includes a large courtyard. The mosque uses a Selcuk style of architecture rather than the Ottoman style that was used more often in later years.Visitors can admire the facade on the western side which is covered in marble and carved with geometric designs and calligraphy inscriptions. You can all see the brick minaret that has survived over the centuries on the north side of the mosque and two domes in the center. The mosque sits below the citadel near the Basilica of St. John. From the mosque, you can look up at the impressive ruins of the citadel and the basilica. The view from the hill where the basilica sits gives an impressive perspective of the mosque as well.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

Temple of Domitian (Temple of the Sebastoi)

One of the greatest ancient Roman cities was Ephesus, and its ruins are located in Selcuk, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). It is one of the most popular sites to visit in Turkey. Near the ancient Agora, visitors can see the remains of the Temple of Domitian and Domitian Square. The Temple of Domitian, formally known as the Temple of the Sebastoi, was built in honor of Emperor Domitian's family, and it is the first structure here known to be dedicated to an emperor. Though not much remains of the temple today, archaeologists have learned much about its structure.Visitors can see the remaining foundation of the temple and imagine what it might have once looked like. It was approximately 165 feet by 330 feet and sat on vaulted foundations. The northern end was two stories tall and was accessed by stairs, which can still be seen today. There were also several columns on each side of the temple. Reliefs from some of the columns can still be seen here as well.More
Aqua Fantasy Aquapark

Aqua Fantasy Aquapark

Aqua Fantasy Aquapark is a haven for thrillseekers in Selçuk, Turkey. With water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a dedicated kids area, this destination offers something to visitors of any age. Enjoy the luxuries of soaking up the sun poolside or spend an exhilarating day hitting the slides—it's up to you.More

Public Latrine at Ephesus

The ruins of the ancient Roman city of Ephasus are located in Selcuk, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). The city was the second most important city in the Roman empire during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. One of the popular sections of the ruins is the Public Latrine, next to the Hadrian Temple and the Bordello. The public latrines were the city's public toilets, and they were built in the 1st century AD as part of the Scholastica Baths. These baths were built to provide the city with the modern conveniences of public works, including 36 marble toilets.Visitors can still see, but not use, the toilets that are lined up along the walls. There was an uncovered pool with columns surrounding it which supported a wooden ceiling. Underneath the latrines was a drainage system. There was also a trough with relatively clean water near where your feet would be. People who wanted to use the toilets had to pay an entrance fee.More

Baths of Varius

The Baths of Varius was a bathhouse built in the 2nd century AD in Ephesus in present-day Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye). The north and east walls of the original building were carved from natural outcroppings of rock. Several renovations over a few centuries gave the building a unique look, including the addition of a hallway that was 130 feet long and covered in mosaics from the 5th century. The baths covered a large area and had several different rooms, including separate rooms for cold, warm, and hot water. There were also private rooms for a few wealthy citizens of Ephesus. It is believed one section functioned as a gymnasium.The Romans place a high value on personal cleanliness, so the Baths of Varius would have been an important building in ancient Ephesus. Most but not all sections of the baths have been excavated, and no restoration work has been done yet. Some sections are in decent shape, but it might take some creativity to imagine what other sections once looked like.More

Top activities in Selçuk

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All about Selçuk

When to visit

Selcuk is worth a visit at any time of the year. Spring and autumn (April-May and September-October) have the most optimal weather when the forecast is warm but not overly hot. Winters are mild and crisp, while summers are sweltering and sunny. If you’re visiting Ephesus, consider that summers might be too hot and bright if you’re not prepared for abundant sunshine.

Getting around

Getting to Selcuk from Izmir Airport is easily done by train, bus, or taxi. Getting around Selcuk is easiest in a car, taxi, or bus. Minibusses, shared cabs, and private taxis all depart regularly for Ephesus, which is only one mile from Selcuk. Other minibusses regularly go to Kusadasi and Sirince and other places in the area.

Traveler tips

The early months of the year are a great time to visit Selcuk. The oranges are ripening on the trees, the air is cool but not too cold, and the crowds at Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, and other popular sites will be less busy. Travel from the airport on the local train, which is a fast and easy way to reach Selcuk.


People Also Ask

Is Selcuk worth a visit?

Yes, Selcuk is worth a visit. The town itself is charming, with early Turkish architecture and ancient historical ruins within the town limits and all the amenities of a modern place to stay. It’s the easiest place to base yourself if you want to visit Ephesus, which is only one mile away.

What is Selcuk known for?

Selcuk is known for its proximity to Ephesus, the sprawling ancient city that is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions, as well as the village of Sirince and the beaches of Kusadasi. Selcuk is also known for its annual Camel Wrestling Festival every January.

How long should I spend in Selcuk?

Two or three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Selcuk. This gives you time to get to know the town while also visiting the surrounding attractions. Ephesus can take most of a day to see the entire site, while Sirince is worth at least an afternoon.

Can I walk from Selcuk to Ephesus?

While Selcuk is very close to Ephesus, the entrance to the site is most easily reached by taxi, bus, or car. However, once you arrive at Ephesus, the only way to explore the ancient city is by foot. There is plentiful parking at the site if you come in your own car.

Is it better to stay in Selcuk or Izmir?

Whether you stay in Selcuk or Izmir depends on what your interests are. If you primarily want to see Ephesus, it makes more sense to stay in Selcuk. Also, if you prefer a quieter town to a large city, you should stay in Selcuk, as Izmir is a major Turkish city.

What are the top attractions to visit in Selcuk?

Within Selcuk, the Isa Bey Mosque and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. Around Selcuk, the top attractions are the ancient city of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, the Temple of Artemis, Sirince, the Ayasuluk Citadel, and more. Selcuk is a great place to base yourself to see a wide range of historical sites.

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